Giants

Wilson's agents talking to many clubs, but not Giants

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Wilson's agents talking to many clubs, but not Giants

NASHVILLE – The Giants are keeping the door open to re-sign Brian Wilson, but they expect the popular three-time All-Star closer to roam the market for awhile to assess his value.

Giants vice president Bobby Evans said he had two phone conversations with Wilson’s agent, Dan Lozano, following the GM meetings a month ago. But they haven’t spoken about Wilson at the winter meetings here at Opryland Resort.

Lozano told the San Francisco Chronicle that seven teams have shown interest in Wilson as either a closer or setup man; the agent didn’t specify whether the Giants were counted among those teams.

Evans stressed that the Giants want to remain engaged, and that has been communicated to Lozano and Co.

“He hasn’t been out there long. He needs time to see what his options are,” Evans said. “There’s clearly an understanding we have interest to keep the door open and bring him back.”

The market for Wilson remains difficult to gauge. On one hand, Joakim Soria, another closer who had his second Tommy John surgery in April, just received a two-year, $8 million deal with an option for 2015 from the Texas Rangers. On the other hand, some officials privately expressed concern with Wilson’s eccentric personality, and wonder if the act will become a distraction if plans go awry and he ends up pitching in a losing environment.

One rival GM suggested Wilson’s best course would be to re-sign with the Giants, where they know him and understand him and would be patient if he struggles to regain his form.

Health remains a major question for Wilson, who underwent his second Tommy John surgery on April 19. Although recovery from a first reconstructive elbow surgery is a full 12 months, and typically even longer following a second procedure, Wilson has vowed to be ready by opening day.

Evans acknowledged that goal is far from a guarantee, though.

“Being out there opening day is a great goal, and I wouldn’t put it past him, if his medical team supports that,” Evans said. “But it’s more important you be there for the last out in the second half of the season. … Brian understands that.

“Whether it’s us or anybody else who signs him, you have to prepare for him not to be out there if it’s not in his best interests. It may mean some alternative plans at the beginning of the year. We’ll have to wait and see.”

Just moments after the distillation of those comments were posted on Twitter, they apparently elicited a rapid response by way of Yahoo! Sports reporter Tim Brown:

“Source: Brian Wilson has been told by surgeon James Andrews that he will be cleared for spring training and ready by opening day,” Brown posted to his Twitter account.

Yes, it's clear the Giants and Wilson don't agree on much these days. Expect more back-and-forth between Wilson’s camp and the Giants, who non-tendered the right-hander on Friday rather than offer him a contract that would net him a salary of no less than $6.8 million through arbitration. Wilson was said to feel jilted by that decision, even though he pocketed $8.5 million for throwing just 56 pitches last season.

Harder to quantify is Wilson’s legacy in San Francisco and the residue of his contributions in 2010, when he contends he sacrificed his arm down the stretch before throwing the final pitch to clinch the franchise’s first World Series title since moving from New York in 1958.

With Wilson currently a free agent, the Giants’ current plan would be to use 2012 postseason hero Sergio Romo as the closer, augmented by Jeremy Affeldt and Santiago Casilla.

On a side note, prominent agent Scott Boras touched on the Giants bullpen during his annual briefing with reporters on Wednesday, saying it was an anomaly for a club to succeed without a stable, established presence in the closer role.

Boras is representing bullpen ace Rafael Soriano, of course.

Giants hire David Bell to fill key front office role

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AP

Giants hire David Bell to fill key front office role

SAN FRANCISCO -- A familiar face is returning to the Giants organization to serve a key front office role.

The Giants announced Friday that David Bell, their former third baseman, has been hired as Vice President of Player Development. General manager Bobby Evans said Bell will oversee all aspects of player development, including hitting, pitching, strength and conditioning and the operations of the minor league affiliates. 

"He was the perfect fit," Evans said. "His experience is so strong and encompasses so many aspects of the game. He’s got a really strong base of experience and background and understanding of the game, and he has a passion for the game and working with young players. He really showed a desire to pursue this opportunity." 

Bell, 45, played 12 major league seasons and spent 2002 with the Giants. He hit 20 homers that year as the starting third baseman and scored the winning run in the final game of the NLCS. Since retiring, Bell has served as a minor league manager for the Reds and a big league coach for the Cubs and Cardinals. He spent last season as the bench coach in St. Louis. 

Shane Turner had previously served as farm director, but at the end of the minor league season he was asked to take a role as a special assistant in baseball operations. While Evans did not announce any other changes Friday, there are expected to be other moves within the organization's depth chart. At least one member of the coaching staff is still in the running for a managerial opening. 

Dusty Baker won't be remembered the way he should be remembered

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AP

Dusty Baker won't be remembered the way he should be remembered

Firing a manager is easy, and there are lots of ways to do it.

Dusty Baker, for example. He worked this year on the last year of a contract, which usually means there won’t be another one, and he relied on his players to deliver the goods.

Which, as we remember from our reading, they didn’t do. Again.

But Baker was marked for the chop unless those players did deliver, and when they didn’t, general manager Mike Rizzo did the expedient thing.

He fired one person rather than several. And changed exactly nothing.

Baker’s managerial career is probably over now, as most teams don’t look at 68-year-olds to fix their teams. He will never manage a  World Series champion, something he ached for, and he was always be caricatured in part as the guy who didn’t speak metric, and who believed in players as men whenever in doubt.

And the Nats didn’t betray him, either. They were always not as good in the big moments because someone else was, and they became part of Washington’s new fetish – Why Can’t We Win One? It’s as if having a cringeworthy President isn’t good enough for them.

So the time came, and he will be replaced by someone who will either win and get credit for work that was largely his, or he won’t win and the town can continue to wallow in its tedious We’re-The-New-Cubs pity. It is the circle of life.

At least it is for groups of people. For individuals, the circle of life is actually nothing more than a straight line that ends abruptly. For Dusty Baker, as it did for Tony La Russa in Phoenix two days earlier, that day came today. He deserves to be remembered as a very good manager who won a lot more than he lost, made more friends than enemies, and was honest from Day One until the end.

Which, as we also know, doesn’t matter a whole lot on days like this.