Giles Retires

Former Padres outfielder Brian Giles announced his retirement Thursday. I’ve had plenty to say about Giles over the years, most of it good.

I’ll defend the trade that brought him home to San Diego for as long as anyone will listen. And I’ll always appreciate him for carrying the club on his back in 2005, leading the Padres to their first post-season appearance in 7 years.

Here’s the nasty truth about getting old. Sometimes when skills disappear (health is a skill), they don’t return:

  • 2008: 653 PA, .306/.398/.456, 137 OPS+
  • 2009: 253 PA, .191/.277/.271, 55 OPS+

We never saw the prodigious power out here that Giles displayed in his prime, when he got to play in the smaller NL Central parks. What we did see were ridiculous plate discipline and a hard-nosed style of baseball that made him a pleasure to watch.

Three moments that exemplified the type of player Giles was will stick in my memory for a long time:

  • He once chased a fly ball into the right-field corner at Petco Park, grabbed the fence with his bare hand, and pulled himself up the wall, nearly making a spectacular backhanded grab of what turned out to be a home run. The only thing that kept him from catching the ball was a fan, who must have been shocked to see Giles’ glove up there, a good 12-15 feet off the ground.
  • Another time, he took out Houston’s catcher (I think it was against Houston; that’s not the part that sticks with me) on an attempted double play. It was a clean play that knocked the poor guy off his feet and sent his throw sailing down the right-field line, allowing Giles to score and prolonging the inning.
  • My favorite Giles moment, though, occurred when he nearly decapitated Kevin Kouzmanoff after Kouz delivered a game-winning single in his rookie campaign. This was during that horrendous slump at the beginning of Kouzmanoff’s Padres career. As soon as the winning run crossed home plate, the entire team went nuts. And whenever the team went nuts, you could always count on Giles to take things to an entirely different level. The memory that lingers is of Giles flying in from who-knows-where to knock Kouz on his noggin. I remember thinking, “Dude, he just got a hit. Go easy on the kid; you might need him tomorrow.” But going easy never seemed to be Giles’ way.

Thanks for everything. We had fun. From the looks of it, so did you.

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10 Responses »

  1. We got value. If we had Bay and Perez we make it in 2004 [Perez had a monster season that year], maybe enough to get us one extra strike/out/game/non-plate touching out in 2007, but he was under-rated in his time in SD. Played smart OF, incredible plate discipline and clearly cared about the game.

    And while people may gripe about losing Bay/Perez, thus blaming KT, you have to look at where KT got Bay/Perez. Perez was a FA out of the Mexican League and Bay was gotten for nothing from NYN. So who can blame KT for wanting to turn his alchemy into something solid and reliable, which he did? I don’t.

    Somehow Giles feels connected to KT. The key trade to inaugurate the new park. Lots of promise and hope. We had the misfortune of pairing against STL in ’06 and ’07 (we are 1-9 in post-season against STL, I think, and 11-13 against everyone else) but I really wish for our sake, and KT’s, we had gotten deeper in those years.

    Hopefully Hoyer will turn us into the next Twins, but I will remember Giles’ time here fondly.

  2. Great ballplayer, great attitude, local guy… An awful lot to like about Brian Giles and his time as a Padre. I’ll miss him and I’m glad I had the chance to watch him play for the Home Team.

  3. “We never saw the prodigious power out here that Giles displayed in his prime, when he got to play in the smaller NL Central parks…”

    What? You mean you and Bud Selig are clueless about PEDs?

    Give me a break! It wasn’t age or health…It was a broken body built on steroids.

  4. Love what he brought to the team, underrated and underappreciated by fans while he was here.

    Too bad, his off the field domestic trouble is what was seen/captured by camera last.

    I wish him well and hope that he taught Venable all he knows about breaking up a double play and playing that RF corner.

  5. One of my fav. players…His 2009 is one of the worst seasons I’ve ever witnessed.

  6. The one play that sticks out was the time Giles was beaned and spent a couple minutes on the ground. Peavy was pitching that game and got thrown out for plunking the opposing pitcher in retaliation.

    After a couple minutes on the ground, Giles got up slowly and sort of stagger-trotted to first. He noticed nobody was paying attention to him, expecting him to stay on the bag – so he stole second! I remember thinking, man that is one tough dude!

    BTW – I agree, that was a good trade for the Padres, but it was a bad career move for Giles. Had he stayed in the NL Central, he might have put up numbers that would have him getting serious HOF consideration.

  7. @Paul: Thanks for the comment. I look forward to your proof.

    @Larry: Funny you should mention the HOF. My colleague Ben Jedlovec at THT wrote a thoughtful article about Giles’ credentials.

  8. And let’s not forget, the most orange player ever! Orange Giles ftw!