There have been a number of comments concerning Brian Giles, so I thought he should be the topic of a post.
In my previous posting regarding our potential free agents and the trading deadline, I did not include Brian. I did not include him principally because he's not a free agent at the end of this season should the Club decide to exercise the option, so he automatically falls into the category of "less likely to be traded". Furthermore, at this stage we're just not terribly interested in trading him.
Before anyone gets upset at that statement, I will say that we would entertain trading anybody if we felt it would make us better - I don't believe in the concept of "untouchable". Every player has a threshold that would force our hand. Certain players may very well have a threshold that is completely unrealistic, so for all intents and purposes, they're untouchable, but nobody is truly untouchable. Anything can happen.
Many of the arguments in favor of trading Brian suggested that the chances are slim for the Padres in 2009. Given the current state of the NL West, our history the past four seasons, the continued maturity of our young players, and payroll flexibility this winter, nobody at the Padres is ready to acquiesce to such an outlook. Don't misunderstand me, we will always attempt to be prudent as we assess the balance of short-term and long-term, but I don't believe any team in baseball should be ready to give up on a season nine months before it even begins, especially with the parity in today's game.
The second reason, and the more important one, is very simply that Brian is the type of player we want our young position players to emulate. It's one thing for us or our coaches to try to explain our philosophy, but it's quite another, and much more powerful, to have a working example. I don't think I can emphasize this enough, especially considering the number of young position players currently on the team and expected to be on the team going forward.
In the current season Brian is hitting .301 with a .394 obp and a .433 slg. His .394 obp stands 6th in the NL, and it's the best on the Padres by a wide margin. Furthermore, Brian has walked more than he has struck out so far this year, which would mark the 10th consecutive season of that accomplishment. Though the slugging percentage is below his .512 career mark, it is the highest in his past three seasons and his ISO has been very steady over the past three years. In short, throughout his career Brian has personified the patience with power philosophy - posting quality at-bats in seemingly every plate appearance. He has been precisely what we want our young hitters to become.
In addition to his performance on the field (and in the outfield, for that matter), Brian also brings a number of intangibles to our team. First and foremost, Brian plays hard and plays through pain. Before banging his knee into the wall last season he had played in at least 158 games for three consecutive seasons. He wants to be on the field, and he wants to win. As many of you know, Brian is also a bit, how shall I say, irreverant in the clubhouse, which is incredibly helpful over the course of a long season. He loves playing the game, and it shows.
Brian may be the elder statesman among our position players at this point, but that leadership role could positively impact the Padres in 2008, 2009, and well beyond.