Brian Giles Signs With Los Angeles Dodgers

Tom FroemmingCorrespondent IFebruary 9, 2010

PHOENIX - MAY 26:  Brian Giles #24 of the San Diego Padres warms up on deck during the major league baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on May 26, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

It looks like Brian Giles is holding on too long.

The 39-year-old former all-star signed a minor league contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers Sunday. It would appear Giles' best-case scenario is to be the Dodgers' fifth outfielder, primarily serving as a left-handed bat off the bench.

Just two seasons ago, Giles hit over .300, with an on-base percentage a shade under .400 in 147 games. Last year, he hit just .191 with two home runs in 61 games.

Maybe Giles' knee still has enough life in it to provide some value to Los Angeles. Maybe he can be a guy who can get a hit when they need one or get on base to start a rally.

But I doubt it.

Giles has been on the decline for quite some time now, and the shame of it all is his glory days will soon be washed from the memories of baseball fans, it they haven't been already.

From 1999-2002, Giles averaged 37 home runs and 109 RBI. He wasn't just your typical free-swinging slugger, either. He hit .309 over that span, and amassed 144 more walks than strikeouts. In 2002 alone, he drew 135 walks, struck out just 74 times, and posted a .450 OBP.

He was a late-bloomer who was stuck behind some great hitters in Cleveland. Giles was drafted out of high school way back in 1989 and made his Major League debut with the Indians in 1995. In '96, he solidified himself as a Major League hitter, posting a .355 average in 51 games playing behind the likes of Albert Belle and Manny Ramirez.

In 1997, Giles received regular playing time, hitting .268 with 17 homers and 61 RBI in 130 games. He put up similar numbers in 1998 (.269, 16 HR, 66 RBI) and was traded to the Pirates that offseason for relief pitcher Ricardo Rincon.

At 28-years-old, Giles broke out with a monster year in 1999, hitting 39 home runs, kicking off that amazing four-year run that defined his career.

He was traded to the San Diego Padres, his hometown team, midway through the 2003 season for Jason Bay and Oliver Perez. He had a respectable five seasons in San Diego before falling apart last year.

With none of the gaudy career numbers, no memorable postseason moments, or any individual awards, Brian Giles is not Cooperstown bound. The fact that he played in the steroids era hurts his case even more.

Giles was a skilled batsman who had an excellent approach at the plate. For four years, he was among the game's best hitters. It's just too bad those years were spent playing for a Pittsburgh Pirates franchise that won just 43 percent of its games during that span.