Wednesday, January 28, 2009

San Francisco Giants' Offseason Continues to Thrill: Will Clark Is Back

Man, the San Francisco Giants' offseason just keeps getting rosier and rosier. This time, it's not a player acquisition that has me amped. In fact, the most recent player acquisitions have been by rival National League West squads and they aren't exactly insignificant.

Of course, they aren't particularly earth-shattering either.

The Arizona Diamondbacks have apparently signed Jon Garland and that doesn't bother me too much. Garland's a good pitcher and he joins an already-loaded staff of Brandon Webb, Dan Haren, Doug Davis, and Yusmeiro Petit/Max Scherzer (I'd wager on Scherzer). However, he features a sinker ball and that means he's like a poor man's Webb—whose arsenal includes arguably the best sinker in Major League Baseball.

That could be a significant problem when Garland tosses in the same series as Webb. Jon'll either be a nice little warm-up for the real thing if he throws before the ace. Or he'll be a sight for sore eyes (or lumber) after Brandon's put the opposing eight through the grinder.

Even if Garland throws to expectations (or slightly above), he still doesn't turn the Snakes into a terrifying specter that looms over the NL West.

Nah, that doesn't worry me too much.

Even less irksome is the developing story down in La La Land.

The increasingly kitten-like Los Angeles Dodgers have been throwing significant parts left and right, but the latest murmurings seem to have them going after Randy Wolf. That doesn't bother me in the slightest little bit. Not that Wolf isn't a perfectly good pitcher, it's just that he scares me about as much as I'm sure Randy Johnson scares Bum fans (man, I can't wait for the dog days of summer and trips down to LA).

However, the real news out here in the NL West is—once again—the San Francisco Giants. There's a sliiiight chance my bias is showing through here.

My beloved Giants have brought back one of my most beloved players in the history of baseball. That would be William Nuschler Clark, Jr.

That's right, we can all stand up and shout "hum baby" because the Thrill is back in San Fran!

So maybe it's not quite the same thing since the Thrill won't be a player. In fact, he won't even be a hitting instructor. He'll be a special assistant and that seems to mean he'll spend the majority of his time doing community relations. But, according to the story, about one-third of his time will be spent trying to impart bits of his substantial hitting prowess to the younger guys (and any older ones who are secure/wise enough to sit at Clark's elbow).

No, Will Clark won't be going into the Hall of Fame.

Not even I, one of his most ardent supporters, would argue he has what it takes to break down the gates of Cooperstown. But check the career numbers—1976 games played, 7173 at-bats, 1186 runs scored, 2176 hits, 440 doubles, 284 homeruns, 1205 runs batted in, a .303 average, a .384 on-base percentage, and a .497 slugging percentage.

That breaks down out to an average 162-game campaign of 588 at-bats, 97 runs scored, 178 hits, 36 doubles, 23 HRs, 99 RBI, and the same averages.

To round out the resume, the Thrill tallied five top-15 finishes in Most Valuable Player voting, six All-Star appearances, and two Silver Slugger awards. Again, not a rap sheet that will get him into the Hall. But it should get Will Clark the ear of any young ballplayer with a functioning central nervous system and a desire to make it in the Show.

Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow (who played actually played with Clark in the Bigs) have always said that the Thrill was destined to be a teacher of baseball when ever the subject arose.

I am one of many who are smiling tonight at the thought of that grimace back in the Orange and Black. Hopefully, Will Clark can help make the San Francisco Giants better in 2009. That's not really the point.

Because, either way, the Thrill is back.

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