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.