Since the news of Eric O’Flaherty’s UCL tear broke yesterday fans have wondered whether veteran closer and TJ surgery alumni Brian Wilson might be on the Braves radar. The answer is probably yes, he along with others who might be willing to take a short term deal to prove their health and ability are certainly on that radar. The details are more complicated.
Backstory – Who Is Brian Wilson?
Brian Wilson (@BrianWilson38 on Twitter) pitched for Louisiana State University until his junior season when he injured had his first TJ surgery. The Giants drafted him in 2003 and he moved quickly through their system reaching San Francisco in 2006. He was up and down that year posting a 5.40 ERA and a 1.767 WHIP. He started 2007 in the minors but by the end of the year he had become Giants’ closer saving six games with one blown save.
In 2008 he racked up 41 saves in 2008 but had a 4.62 ERA and a 1.444 WHIP. That ERA dropped In 2009 to 2.74 and the WHIP dropped to 1.203 but he blew seven of his 45 save opportunities. he improved again in 2010, leading the NL with 48 saves to go with a 3-3 record, a 1.179WHIP and a 1.81 ERA. He added six more save and a win in the post season and Braves fans will sadly vouch for.
Wilson was again in the top three in saves with 36 in the first five months of 2011 but elbow issues ended his season in August. He tried to avoid a second TJ surgery by rehabbing the elbow but appeared in only two games in 2012 before having the operation and missed the rest of the season. He was ever present on the Giants bench as they marched towards another World Series and while his saves total didn’t grow his beard did to almost comic proportions. The Giants fans embraced it and his other eccentricities like:
- Wearing a pair of orange cleats so bright Marlins manager Edwin Rodríguez complained to MLB and they fined Wilson $1,000 then used a magic marker to color half of the shoes black.
- Told Jim Rome in an ESPN interview that he had become a certified ninja in a dream. He said that although it takes a lifetime to achieve such things in a dream that’s only 12 minutes.
- Asked why his beard kept getting noticeably darker and said it was because they played a lot of day games and the beard was tanning in.
- Frequently references to “The Machine” from the movie 8mm and appeared to get a phone call from it during another Jim Rome interview pulling a leather BDSM mask from his pocket and claiming it belonged to the Machine.
Amid all of his publicity stunts however Wilson remains a devout Christian and gives freely of his time and resources within the community. On Memorial day 2011 Wilson endowed two scholarships for LSU ROTC in memory of his father, an Air Force veteran who died of cancer when Wilson was 17. But back to baseball.
In April 2012 Wilson said he expected to be back with the Giants in 2013. The Giants did not exercise their $6.8M option and instead nontendered him. The enigmatic Wilson was upset or perhaps not. Since that time he’s made statements that can be interpreted pretty much as you’d like to interpret them. After being released by the Giants and workouts for a couple of teams indicated he wasn’t ready, he said he would not work out for anyone until he was sure he was completely healthy. Last week Brian Sabean was asked by Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com whether he had been in contact with Wilson. Sabean said he hasn’t been in touch with him lately and doesn’t know how Wilson is throwing although he has heard that his former closer is “working out like a fiend” and is “going to try to showcase himself over the All-Star break or thereabouts.”
That’s A Wrap
I doubt Wilson is ready now and as such he’s not an immediate option. If he does workout he’ll likely do it in Brian Wilsonesque style like renting Radio City Music Hall and inviting teams he’s interested in signing for or something like that. Speaking of the Yankees he recently said he would never sign with the Yankees. . .or did he? You can watch the video and decide for yourself at that TMZ link. Please note that the beard seems thicker than ever, darker too. Perhaps he’s been tanning it a lot lately. In any event his style is likely contradictory to the “Braves Way.” Wilson will not shave that beard to please anyone except Brian Wilson nor will he mitigate his persona to please any team. While his talent is certainly desirable the rest of him just doesn’t fit, Peter Moylan was about as off center as the Braves can accept. Compared to Wilson Pete is a monk. Can you really see this Brian Wilson on the Braves team bus?