The news that pitcher Boof Bonser is returning to the San Francisco Giants received little fanfare -- and deserved less. But, for those who love to wallow in sports arcana, the move represents the closest one can come in real life to hitting the "undo" button.
Of course you can't hit the undo button, so this remains a weak substitute. But in an era when virtually every quantifiable argument can be settled -- and by someone whipping out a phone no less -- it's nice to be able to engage in sporting speculation once in a while.
That's because Bonser was one of the players given away by the Giants in one of the team's worst trades of all time -- arguably one of the worst trades in league history.
And now he's back.
In late 2003, Bonser was sent to Minnesota along with Joe Nathan and Francisco Liriano in exchange for catcher A.J. Pierzynski. The Giants' prodigal pitcher ended up being the afterthought in an utter wreck of a deal for San Francisco.
Liriano quickly blossomed into an all-star, going 12-3 in 2006 -- though arm problems have tempered his career. Still, he won 14 games last year and pitched a no-hitter in May -- and he's only 28. Nathan, meanwhile, quickly became one of the most dominant bullpen aces in all of baseball for the Twins, saving 246 games between 2004 and 2009. This would have been easier to stomach for Giants backers if Pierzynski's one-year tenure here hadn't been such a total failure -- his batting average dropped 40 points and he managed the improbable feat of being the least-favorite teammate on a roster featuring Barry Bonds. He then rubbed salt in the team's wounds by absconding to the Chicago White Sox and becoming a key player on a championship side.
Whether Bonser would have been more than a mediocre journeyman if he'd stayed here is unknowable. The team certainly could have used Nathan and Liriano -- and not used Pierzynski -- but, at this point, that's neither here nor there.
The great thing about a World Series Championship is that the failure epitomized by the Pierzynski debacle is no longer cumulative. Instead of hearing Bonser has returned and going into a foul mood because of what he represents, Giants fans can simply think, "Good luck to him."
After all, the team is on a roll when it comes to reclaiming long-lost prospects.
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