Santiago Casilla signed with the A’s yesterday, which is bad news for Giants fans who enjoy a good blown save, finely aged, with just a hint of sulfur. Here’s an unfair joke about him:
“The one thing I know is he's strong enough to be a whipping boy,” said Brian Sabean. “I don't revel in his demise. It's time for everybody to do a gut check.”
That’s a quote about Armando Benitez! Very mean. Santiago Casilla had a great career and doesn’t deserve that, but on the other hand, it was so, so easy. You see my dilemma.
Back in April, in an article that has aged really, really well, I wrote that Santiago Casilla is probably the most underrated Giant ever. Here’s just one of the many sentences that would keep me up at night if I thought anyone remembered or cared about them:
And we should appreciate him more, because one day your cyborg grandchildren will ask you why people spent 7 years being nervous to see Casilla enter a game, and you will honestly have no idea.
Well, uh, you’ll have an idea for one of those years.
But let’s not remember the bad times (2016). Let’s look at some of the good that Santiago Casilla did in his time in San Francisco.
Absolutely shut down Paul Goldschmidt, Adrian Gonzalez, and Yasiel Puig.
Paul Goldschmidt, destroyer of worlds, eater of souls, hit .154/.389/.154 against Casilla. That’s two singles, four walks (two intentional), and one hit by pitch in 18 plate appearances. Goldschmidt never drove in a run against Casilla and struck out three times. Tim Lincecum would have murdered every last person on the face of the Earth to be that good against Goldschmidt, and don’t you forget it.
Gonzalez was even worse. He hit .071/.133/071, which translates to one hit and one walk in 15 plate appearances. He struck out five times, and his OPS against Casilla would have been an abysmal batting average.
Puig went 2 for 11 with a walk and no extra base hits against Casilla, which is extra satisfying because he is, of course, a massive butt.
Was great in the playoffs
Santiago Casilla appeared in 25 playoff games for the Giants and allowed runs in two of them. That seems good, right? I think that seems good.
Here are the two times he allowed his own runs: In Game 1 of the 2012 NLDS, he turned a 2 run deficit into a 4 run deficit by allowing three singles, a wild pitch, and a passed ball on Buster Posey. In Game 4 of the 2010 NLCS, he cashed in one of Madison Bumgarner’s runs on a Placido Polanco double, and then giving up his own by loading the bases and giving up a wild pitch. And they weren’t technically his runs, but Casilla also cashed in three Jonathan Sanchez runs in Game 2 of that series on a bases clearing Jimmy Rollins double.
Since then, nothing. Over his last 20 appearances in the playoffs, Casilla hasn’t given up a single run, whether it was on his record or anyone else’s. He saved Games 1 and 4 of the NLDS against the Nationals, both one run games, only giving up one baserunner total in the two (and that was a semi-intentional walk to Bryce Harper, which was a fine idea). He pitched a scoreless ninth inning in Game 3 of the 2014 NLCS and got the save the next day in Game 4, striking out Matts Carpenter and Holliday to do it. He was the winning pitcher in Game 4 of the 2012 World Series, which you’ll recall was the final game because the Giants swept that series. Bruce Bochy being able to count on Santiago Casilla was a big, big part of Giants postseason success.
In fact, go read Grant’s Santiago Casilla Instructional Hitting Video article again. Go now. It’s still great.
John Baker, former MLB catcher and current Mental Skills Coordinator for the Cubs, according to his Twitter, did a livestream last year where he answered questions about his playing career. Baker was a minor leaguer with the A’s in Spring Training of 2006, which is when Casilla, then with the A’s, admitted that he wasn’t Jairo Garcia and that he’d used false documents when he signed as an international free agent.
Baker said that people were wondering how Casilla was going to act that spring. After all, there’s some shame and guilt involved in deceiving people, and it’s hard to know what someone will do when that’s all been revealed. But when Casilla got to camp, he was all smiles. When they asked him why he was so happy, he said, “Because you guys are my friends, and now I don’t have to lie to my friends anymore.”
Let’s wrap things up with these four tweets from Hank Schulman.
Bochy seemed distressed a few days after the season that he did not get to talk to Casilla before they all left for the winter, after ...— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) January 12, 2017
... Bochy failed to use him in Game 4 against the Cubs. Now, I'm told, Bochy wrote Casilla a long and heartfelt letter saying how sorry ...— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) January 12, 2017
... he was they could not talk, and letting Casilla know how much Bochy appreciated all he had done over the years. Despite hard feelings...— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) January 12, 2017
... and everything that happened, Casilla confided in folks that he truly wanted to stay. But club was ready to move on.— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) January 12, 2017
Farewell, Jairo, and sorry for calling you Jairo all those times and also not appreciating you when you were good.