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Say, Friend, That's A Lot Of Santiago Casilla

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... Or should we say, Jairo Garcia?!

He would have gotten away with it if it weren't for you meddling kids. Wait, no -- he did get away with it. Santiago Casilla has gone from frustrating Oakland prospect to butt of wrong-name-and-age jokes to scrap-heap discovery to major-league closer to <a smattering of boos from the home crowd> to his old/newish dominating middle relief self.

That last incarnation was during the 2012 playoffs, and it might have helped Casilla put a little contractual hop in his winter step. He's getting a three year, $15 M papyrus from the Giants, with apparently a fourth-year club option. Hello, scratch. It's a lot of years and dollars to give to a guy who, until 2010, was a washed-up late 20's journeyman.

But he's been on the good side of consistent in his three years with the Giants. My fellow fanbirds might recollect all those grumblings and scattered boos this summer when Santiago essentially gave up gopher after gopher ball to lose the closer job. For the record, I grumbled but never booed. For a while he was awesome, simply dominating. Then came the occasional home run, and another... which I can forgive from a reliever who has great stuff. Walks that turn into runs, however, I cannot abide, and Casilla did his best job yet limiting them. He posted his best career BB/9 rate in 2012 and his best ground-ball ratio. All that, and a career high innings pitched, too. Casilla threw the ball really well last year in a ton of high-leverage situations. He got a little unlucky with the home runs.

That's no guarantee of future performance, of course, and a 32-year-old arm is a 32-year-old arm, metonymically and tautologically speaking. A three year contract could go kerblooey in year one, and the Giants know it. Odd thing is, they didn't have to pile on like this. Casilla was under contract, due a final year of arbitration eligibility, in 2013. Unlike Affeldt, who would have found plenty of suitors on the open market, Casilla wasn't going anywhere for a while. He was likely to make north of $5 million then hit the free agent market a year from now.

Apparently the Giants felt a slightly discounted Casilla in 2013 was worth the risk of paying roughly the same amount of guaranteed money in 2014 and 2015. That tells me they really really like the look of his medical records, which they are intimate with, and they see the performance we've all seen the past couple years and believe it's repeatable (except for the home runs). It also means they're comfortable with the idea of flushing $10 million down the Jairo-hole in a post-2013 nightmare scenario. They know the risk of human pitching flesh.

Finally, the contract has to be an ominous sign for Brian Wilson. I'm sure the door hasn't closed yet, but one can imagine the Giants pointing to Javy Lopez, Casilla, and Affeldt, all making $4 to $6 million in 2013, and telling Wilson he has to make concessions with his twice-reconstructed elbow.

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Header photo courtesy of Flickr user eviltomthai under a Creative Commons license.