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Misfits And Castoffs, Part One

(originally written 11/3/10)

We all know Edgar Renteria cracked the decisive bomb in Game 5 of the World Series against Texas. We know Brian Wilson wrapped up the 9th as he has countless times since the season opened. We know Tim Lincecum brought his A game and brilliantly controlled a high-power offense with his assortment of fastballs and changeups. We know Bruce Bochy stood at the wheel, navigating his roster masterfully through unfriendly seas, all the while keeping its members focused, involved, and unified. No easy task when you’re dealing with men who make up to five times the salary you do.

But no four men win any one game, let alone a championship, on their own. The Giants suited 42 players in 2010, the vast majority of whom stayed in the organization and participated in the celebratory festivities. This column gives proper due to all the contributing Giants, whether they were a fire-breathing closer with a massive beard, or a pinch-running rookie in his MLB debut.

#41 Jeremy Affeldt, Reliever

So dominant in 2009, Affeldt had an injury-plagued 2010. Still, he came up HUGE in Game 6 of the NLCS against Philadelphia after Jon Sanchez hit the showers early. Those two scoreless, hitless innings kept that game in hand when it was one big Philadelphia hit away from chaos. 

#15 Bruce Bochy, Manager

With the lone exception of bringing in Tim Lincecum as a setup man in NLCS #6, Bochy pressed EVERY button correctly. He resisted the urge to overuse the very effective Javier Lopez. He picked good spots to start Pablo Sandoval. He knew just when to sit Andres Torres in favor of Aaron Rowand. He shuffled his left side quartet effectively. My favorite move: He showed confidence in the slumping Pat Burrell, who had to die a little more inside with every K. A no-brainer for N.L. Manager of the Year (sorry, Dusty)

#9 Pat Burrell, Outfielder

I don’t care that Burrell K’d 10 times in 12 World Series AB’s or whatever the final tally ended up being. (Better that than double plays). He had so many big hits for the Giants during the regular season when at least one team thought he was finished as a major leaguer. Not to mention his huge home run in the NLDS against Atlanta, and a couple of walks against the Phillies in the NLCS that started or prolonged critical rallies.

#2 Emmanuel Burriss, Second Base

#40 Madison Bumgarner, Starter

What else can I say about MadBum? All he does is shut down the star-studded Ranger lineup in Game 4 of the WS—one more inning and he’s the youngest WS shutout tosser ever. He’s still the youngest lefty ever to start a WS game, having barely turned legal in time for the champagne celebration!

#18 Matt Cain, Starter

He put the screws to Atlanta in the NLDS. He shut out Philadelphia in the NLCS. He shut out Texas in the World Series. About the only thing he didn’t do for the Giants’ cause was pin Jimmy Rollins’ leg under an automatic tarp. I TOLD you at the beginning of the season Cain was not to be ignored, even with the more decorated and chic Lincecum. Give him a nickname already!

#46 Santiago Casilla, Reliever

One of the “castoffs” not with the Giants at the beginning of the season, Casilla, a hard-throwing reliever dismissed by Oakland over the winter, was summoned from AAA when Brandon Medders went down. He pitched his way into a permanent relief role, even setting up at times. Casilla coughed up a big hit to Placido Polanco in the LCS, but he proved his worth in the regular season and then some.

#7 Mark DeRosa, Outfielder

The quissential “regular without a regular position”, DeRosa was slated to play left field for the Giants in 2010. Unfortunately, a lingering past wrist injury refused to heal, and he ultimately needed season-ending surgery. Though his on-field contributions ceased in June, by all accounts DeRosa’s veteran leadership never took a hiatus. We all wish him a full recovery for 2011.

#1 Tim Flannery, Coach

Unlike the Phillies, when Flannery puts up his hands, Giants runners stop. He did run Andres Torres into a couple of outs at home this postseason, but since neither cost the Giants a game, we can say Tim did his job.

#14 Mike Fontenot, Infielder

Fontenot, another “castoff” from Chicago, made his impact in the regular season, singling off the allegedly unhittable Arthur Rhodes to key the Giants’ final scoring push in the infamous comeback vs. Cincinnati in August. Also, he drove home the first Giants run vs. Ubaldo Jiminez in the “Darren Ford Game” vs. Colorado in September. 

#34 Darren Ford, Outfielder

The mere existence of a “Darren Ford Game” says it all. Ford pinch-ran and madly dashed home on a (slightly) wild pitch in the aforementioned September game vs. Colorado; it proved to be the winning run of a nail-biter—versus a division rival, no less. Ford has come far from his legal problems of the recent past, and we’re all pulling for him to make it.

#26 Mark Gardner, Coach

As a bullpen coach, “Gardy”, at one time the team’s default ace starter, didn’t directly affect the club in any way fans would notice. So I’m not sure how to credit him. Let’s see—none of the crucial relievers tripped over him and got hurt; that’s gotta count for something. Good job, Gardy, the longest-tenured uniformed Giant (1996-2001 playing, 2002-present coaching.)

#6 Jose Guillen, Outfielder

Now, I admit I was a bit skeptical when Guillen, on his first day with the Giants, jumped off the top rope and slammed Mike Murphy through a clubhouse table. (It IS possible that happened only in my subconscious, thanks to Barry Zito on KNBR’s “Unicorn Hour”…)

But Guillen held strong for the Giants, even notching a six-RBI game as well as a superlative catch inside the Wrigley Field ivy. Unfortunately, he was unable to take the field—or even appear at it—in October due to what’s officially deemed a “neck injury”. Details of said injury later spread; Guillen was up to his neck in a federal HGH shipment investigation. Knowing their absent mate had bigger problems than facing Cliff Lee had to have taken some pressure off the Giants. So for that, good shot, Jose.

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