Friday, February 15, 2008

Kim in the Orange and Black?

Kim after throwing No. 715. photo by artolog

Buried deep in Henry Schulman's story about Zito getting named the Opening day starter ahead of Matt Cain -- a routine spring training story if there ever was one -- is the fascinating news nugget that the Giants have offered Byung-Hyun Kim a minor-league contract. This is the same guy who:

-- gave up HR 715 to Barry Bonds two years ago and

-- managed blow back to back saves in the 2001 World Series. In Game 4, he gave up a 2-run HR to Tino Martinez with two out in the bottom of the 9th; Brenly left him in for the 10th and he gave up a walk-off HR to Jeter. Amazingly, on the next night, Brenly brought him out again in the ninth to close out the game with the Yanks trailing 2-0 and he gave up a double, got the next two guys and then gave up a game-tying HR to Scott Brosius. Soriano won the game in the 12th with a hit off Albie Lopez. I remember thinking when Brosius hit his HR that this must be some kind of record -- for the same guy to give up game-tying 2-run homers with two outs in the bottom of the 9th in two consecutive World Series games.

The pitch to Brosius was Kim's last of the year. Brenly finally realized that Kim wasn't going to stand up under the pressure and he'd better get someone else to close games -- which is why the Big Unit relieved in the 8th inning of Game 7 and wound up with the win. Randy Johnson was the first guy since Mickey Lolich to get three wins in a series -- thanks, in no small part, to Kim. Johnson, Lolich, Gibson, Lew Burdette and Harry Brecheen are the only guys to have gotten 3 wins in a World Series since 1920, when Stan Coveleski beat the Dodgers three times. (In the first series in 1903, Bill Dineen and Deacon Phillipe each won three games; five other guys did it in the next 14 years -- Christy Mathewson, Babe Adams, Jack Coombs, Joe Wood and Red Faber).

You can't really blame Brenly for going to Kim on back to back nights since he had saved three games in the postseason up that point. So, seven years later, we can say Kim is a bizarre guy with the wacky sidearm delivery that doesn't seem to fool left-handed batters, which means he's never going to have much success as a starter; it's never a surprise when he falls apart as a reliever. Obviously, he has some talent to have stuck around the bigs for seven years, although he hasn't been really effective since 2003. But is signing a marginal guy like Kim -- when the team has what may be the worst offense in MLB -- really what Brian Sabean ought to be doing right now?

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