The Giants have a deal in place to sell Brett Pill’s contract to a Korean team called the KIA Tigers (reported first by Andrew Baggarly), which seems right because Brett Pill was kind of like a KIA during his time with the Giants. Unassuming, inexpensive, and once used by Blake Griffin as a prop in a dunk contest. Sorry, bad analogy. It’s tough to make sense of this because it seems like Pill was destined to become the next Travis Ishikawa, a guy who went to the Brewers and bounced around the Majors for a while as a power bat off the bench. Except Pill never took to pinch-hitting, which is probably why he’s agreeable to a move to the Far East where he’d presumably get as many at-bats as he could handle. A nice raise probably helps, too. Pill is still negotiating with KIA, but it sounds like he’ll join a team in Asia — either in Korea or Japan — at some point in the near future. When looking back at his Giants career, many fans will see him either as the guy who stole playing time from Brandon Belt or was unfairly held back because Belt was the hot prospect and the Giants were a bunch of ageists. Some thought Pill was the next Paul Goldschmidt (seriously), others thought it laughable that he was on the 40-man roster, let alone the 25. Funny thing about that. Pill and Belt lockered next to each other, and seemed to get along quite well. The love from Pill’s fans (and there are a lot of them) probably stemmed from a few things. Big, strong guys who can hit the ball a long way don’t come through the Giants system that often. Pill was nice and he never complained. He was also tough. After trying to play through knee pain early on in Spring Training, Pill underwent knee surgery in San Francisco and within a week was back with the team and lobbying to take BP. From what I’ve been told, Pill was a beast in the weight room and one of team’s hardest workers. The shoulders? Broad and never slumping. The slumping occurred in the batter’s box instead, at least at the Major League level. Pill hit some memorable home runs, but the typical at-bat I’ll remember looked something like this:
- First pitch: fastball (called strike)
- Second pitch: breaking ball (swing and a miss)
- Third pitch: breaking ball in the dirt (swing and a miss)
His supporters, who pointed to the numbers in Fresno and his rare chances to play when he was up with the Giants, said all Pill needed was a shot. Now he’ll get his chance to replicate what John Bowker has done with the Yomiuri Giants. Or not, since Bowker is only hitting .235 after two seasons in Japan (although after a terrible first year, Bowker’s numbers jumped to .262/.315/.502 with 14 home runs over 105 games in 2013). In Pill’s place steps Michael Morse, a much more expensive righty power guy who can play a corner outfield spot or first base. Brian Sabean said he wouldn’t rule out Morse getting some time at first base the other day, which spurred a minor Twitter freakout among fans worried that this means Belt will sit against tough left-handed starters more often than before. Pill may soon be gone, but his spirit lives on. And we’ll always remember spandex jumpsuit day.