The Giants Have a Historic Issue Developing Outfielders

Earlier this week, a friend and I were sharing a good laugh about the Giants’ horrendous outfield production this season, when the topic of the upcoming MLB draft arose. The conversation went from humorous to thought provoking when he asked me the following question:

“Who was the last decent homegrown player the Giants have developed at any outfield position?”

I paused. The internal wheels began to spin. “Well, there was…no, they didn’t draft him. But they had…no, he came in a trade. Hm. Um, last legitimate starting outfielder was, uh…”

I flailed. Darren Lewis was the first name I could muster. But Darren Lewis was drafted by the Oakland A’s, and was traded to the Giants in late 1990 after appearing in 25 games with Oakland that season. And he stretched the term “decent” to begin with.

Another friend posited Chili Davis, whom the Giants drafted in 1977. Sure, Chili was a fine homegrown outfielder. Chili was a bright spot on some bad Giants teams in the early 1980s, and was very good when the team returned to the playoffs in 1987. But he was drafted 40 years ago; the franchise has lived at least three life cycles since then. Who is the last true, long term (Which we’ll define as more than two full seasons) starting outfielder the Giants have drafted since the mid-1980s?

Chili

Davis spent his first 7 big league seasons in San Francisco, and went on to reach 350 home runs in his career. Photo Courtesy of pinterest.com

So, with plenty of help from my favorite sources of draft and minor league info: TheBaseballCube.com and BaseballAmerica.com, I dug. I pored through every outfielder the San Francisco Giants drafted from 1985-2015, which came out to more than 100 picks. I left out 2016, because it’s unreasonable to think any pick from last year would have already hit the big leagues. A 30-year period seemed perfect, as it would span five general managers, five managers, and six farm directors (A position, I found, that isn’t officially designated every season).

The results were startling. It wasn’t just my memory failing me when I struggled to come up with an answer to who was the last above-average outfielder drafted by the Giants. San Francisco hasn’t developed a single All-Star outfielder in 30 years, and of the small percentage of their outfield draft picks who have even cracked the big leagues, none have really come close. Let’s take a look at the list of Giants outfield picks since 1985 who had at least one major league plate appearance:

1985-1989

  • Trevor Wilson (drafted as both an OF and pitcher)
  • Ted Wood
  • Reggie Williams
  • Steve Hosey

1990-1999

  • Adam Hyzdu
  • Dax Jones
  • Calvin Murray
  • Marvin Benard
  • Chris Singleton
  • Keith Williams
  • Dante Powell
  • Jacob Cruz
  • Chris Magruder
  • Doug Clark

2000-2009

  • Jason Ellison
  • Adam Shabala
  • Todd Linden
  • Fred Lewis
  • Daniel Ortmeier
  • Travis Ishikawa (1B/OF)
  • John Bowker (1B/OF)
  • Clay Timpner
  • Roger Kieschnick
  • Juan Perez
  • Ryan Lollis

2010-2015

  • Gary Brown
  • Jarrett Parker
  • Mac Williamson
  • Austin Slater

Go ahead, rub your eyes and scroll through again. Unfortunately they aren’t deceiving you. From that illustrious group, let’s break it down further to the players on the list who had a total of 200 or more major league plate appearances with any team:

  • Trevor Wilson (as a pitcher)
  • Adam Hyzdu
  • Calvin Murray
  • Marvin Benard
  • Chris Singleton
  • Jacob Cruz
  • Chris Magruder
  • Jason Ellison
  • Todd Linden
  • Fred Lewis
  • Daniel Ortmeier
  • Travis Ishikawa
  • John Bowker
  • Juan Perez
  • Jarrett Parker

And of those, the players who had at least 200 plate appearances with the Giants:

  • Calvin Murray
  • Marvin Benard
  • Jason Ellison
  • Todd Linden
  • Fred Lewis
  • Daniel Ortmeier
  • Travis Ishikawa
  • John Bowker
  • Juan Perez
  • Jarrett Parker

Next, let’s knock off Bowker and Ishikawa, who appeared in more games as first basemen than they did as outfielders. Finally, let’s whittle it down to the players who had more than 1,000 plate appearances in a Giants uniform, a rough equivalent of two full seasons:

  • Marvin Benard
  • Fred Lewis

There you have it folks, the two most accomplished outfielders drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the last 31 years. Benard, a 50th round pick in the 1992 draft out of Lewis-Clark State College (Idaho), and Lewis, chosen 10 years later in the 2nd round out of Southern (Louisiana).

For a player chosen in a round so late it doesn’t exist anymore, Marvin Benard had a solid major league career. During his four-year peak from 1998-2001, he averaged 12 home runs and 50 RBI per season, posting a 105 OPS+. His best season came in 1999, when he finished the year with a .290 average, 16 homers and 64 runs driven in across 625 plate appearances as the Giants primary center fielder. Not bad for a guy who could have easily been just another minor-league wash out.

Benard Bulldoze

Listed at 5’10, 180 lbs, Marvin Benard was a charter member of the Giants “Fightin’ Hydrants” of the late 1990s. Photo Courtesy of Daily Sports Pages

The expectations for “Freddy Lew” were quite different. Chosen 66th overall, Lewis jumped straight from High-A San Jose to Triple-A Fresno in 2004, finishing the year with a .301 average, .876 OPS, and 34 steals over 121 games. The following season he became Baseball America’s #78 ranked prospect and spent all of 2005 with Double-A Norwich, notching 42 extra-base hits and stealing 30 bags with a respectable .757 OPS.

Next came a full season at Fresno, where Lewis knocked 12 homers and stole another 18 bases, bringing his minor league total to 30 HR and 121 SB across four seasons. Now 25, it appeared the Giants had a talented outfielder capable of being a top-of-the-order hitter with serviceable power, who also brought an element of speed the major league club lacked at the time. Lewis earned a call-up that September and went 5-11 with five runs scored, stirring excitement in a fan base that would soon say goodbye to their larger-than-life left fielder.

After a strong start to the 2007 campaign with Fresno, Lewis was called up in early May to a big league club on it’s way to a last place finish. He burst on to the scene with a cycle against Colorado just four days after his promotion, and hit .287 with a .782 OPS over 180 plate appearances, positioning himself for a starting left field role 2008. All he had to do was take over for arguably the greatest to ever play the game.

San Francisco once again struggled in 2008, but Fred Lewis gave the indication that finally, after 20+ years of homegrown outfield futility, the franchise had found an every day player with big upside. Lewis slashed .282/.351/.440 with 45 extra-base hits and 21 steals, adding 81 runs scored.

But 2009 saw him regress to a .258/.348/.390 line in nearly 200 fewer plate appearances, and the now 28-year-old appeared to run out of time in San Francisco. Andres Torres rose to the starting left field role heading in to 2010, and Lewis was dealt to Toronto in early April. Just like that, the Giants most successful outfield prospect in two decades was gone without ever reaching his anticipated peak.

Since Fred Lewis the Giants have had a couple more false alarms when it came to touted outfield prospects, most notably 2010 1st rounder Gary Brown. The Fullerton product rose to #38 on Baseball America’s top 100 prospects following an outstanding 2011 season in San Jose, but stalled in Triple-A and ended up making a grand total of seven big league plate appearances.

Most recently the Giants have been awaiting the development of 2010 2nd rounder Jarrett Parker and 2012 3rd rounder Mac Williamson. Parker, finally given a chance at a regular starting role in 2017, had a significant portion of his season taken away by the left field wall at AT&T Park. Parker will turn 29 this winter, and after seven seasons in the Giants organization is beginning to run out of time.

Williamson has yet to stick in the big leagues as a result of both injuries and inconsistency, and there have been indications San Francisco is preparing to move on from the soon-to-be 27 year old. Rather than allow Williamson to get significant big league at-bats this season, they opted for a parade of aging replacement players in left field, and after that failed miserably the team has apparently moved on to younger prospects like Orlando Calixte and Austin Slater.

You saw Calixte throw that ball into the stands in Milwaukee, right?

So here’s to Heliot Ramos, whom the Giants selected with the 19th overall pick yesterday. Just 17 years old, with a potentially long baseball life in front of him.

Fingers crossed.

-AC

 

 

 

The 1997 San Francisco Giants: 20 Years Later (Part II)

In Part 1 (found below), we discussed the climate surrounding the Giants in late 1996, and the series of offseason roster moves that created an overnight contender heading into 1997. Today, we’ll cover the second half of the 1997 season, all leading up to the thrilling two-game set with the Dodgers that September, and the eventual clinching of the NL West.

The White Flag Trade

On the final day of July, the Giants and White Sox agreed to a nine-player deal that became infamously known to White Sox fans as “The White Flag Trade”. While Chicago stood just 3.5 games out of first place in the AL Central, GM Jerry Reinsdorf traded three pitchers; starters Danny Darwin and Wilson Alvarez, as well as relief ace Roberto Hernandez, for a package of six minor-leaguers that included Mike Caruso, Bobby Howry, and Keith Foulke.

Osvaldo Fernandez had made his last appearance of the season on June 25th, and just a week after the deadline deal, VanLandingham was waived. While Darwin and Alvarez would provide a steady presence at the end of the rotation, Roberto Hernandez was the key figure in the trade, as he joined Tavarez, Rodriguez, and Rod Beck in forming a staunch bullpen.

Hernandez ChiSox

When Roberto Hernandez arrived in San Francisco, he brought a career 2.87 ERA and 161 saves with him. Photo Courtesy of ESPN.com

The White Flag Trade received the majority of the publicity, however it was a much quieter deal made two weeks before the deadline that set the stage for the most memorable moment of the 1997 season. On July 16th, the Giants sent catcher and former first-round pick Marcus Jensen to Detroit in a straight up exchange for Tigers catcher (and Stanford alum) Brian Johnson. A part time player with Detroit, Johnson was acquired to replace the struggling Rick Wilkins (who was soon released) and became the Giants primary catcher for the season’s final two months, knocking 11 homers and driving in 27 runs over 56 games.

Boosted by the new acquisitions, the Giants went 16-13 in August, but still found themselves 2.5 games behind the Dodgers as the campaign entered it’s final month. For the first time since the 1982 season, the arch rivals were locked in a playoff race that was going to come down to the wire.

September

Oddly enough, in the days before the unbalanced schedule, the two teams would face each other just twice in the month of September. Scoreboard watching took on a new gravity as the clubs battled to the finish. The Florida Marlins held a comfortable lead in the Wild Card race, meaning it was division or bust for the NL West foes.

Up two games on September 7th, the Dodgers went on a five-game slide, allowing the Giants to pull even on September 14th. The Giants dropped their next two games to the powerhouse Braves however, while Los Angeles swept a two game series over the Cardinals.

That set up the match up that would define the season, as the Dodgers entered 3Com Park on Wednesday, September 17th up two games in the division. 56,625 fans, the Giants largest home crowd of the season (by a comfortable margin), packed the venerable concrete hulk to watch 12-game winner Kirk Rueter toe the slab against the Dodgers 13-game winner Chan Ho Park.

In a game that took a tidy 2 hours and 26 minutes, Rueter out-dueled Park, allowing just one run on four hits over seven strong innings. Park only allowed two hits himself, but a 2-run first inning homer off the bat of Barry Bonds was the difference in the ballgame. Roberto Hernandez entered in the 8th and slammed the door, and the Giants had cut the Dodgers’ lead to just one game.

The following day, another 52,000 stormed through the Candlestick gates for a game that began at 9:40AM local time. The pitching match up featured two veterans, as 39 year-old Tom Candiotti faced off against the 34 year-old Terry Mulholland. Mulholland, a former first round pick by the Giants, had been reacquired in early August and was making a spot start in place of the injured Mark Gardner.

The Giants led 2-1 after four innings, and put up three more runs in the fifth on the strength of a 3-run bomb from Bonds, his 35th of the season. The Dodgers struck back with two in the top of the 6th however, thanks in part to an error by Gold Glover J.T. Snow to begin the inning.

Mulholland would be relieved in the seventh by Julian Tavarez, who retired Wilton Guerrero to begin the inning before allowing singles to Todd Hollandsworth and Eric Young. Dusty Baker then pulled Tavarez in favor of Roberto Hernandez, who entered with runners at the corners and one out. A stolen base moved Young to second, but Hernandez fanned Otis Nixon for the second out. But in stepped MVP candidate Mike Piazza, who lined a two-run single to left that knotted the game at 5-5.

The Giants would load the bases with one out in the bottom of the seventh, but Mark Lewis lined in to a double play to end the threat. After Doug Henry tossed a perfect 1-2-3 top of the 8th, the Giants put runners on first and second with two outs in the bottom half of the inning, only to strand two more men as Snow popped out to end the inning.

The teams traded zeros in the ninth before “Shooter” took the hill for the top of the 10th. Beck allowed three consecutive singles to begin the inning, and it appeared inevitable the Dodgers would take the lead. Up came Todd Zeile, who stepped in with 27 home runs and 85 RBIs on the season. Beck struck out the slugger looking however, before facing pinch hitter Eddie Murray, in the final season of a Hall of Fame career. This time Beck was able to induce an inning-ending double play, miraculously escaping the bases-loaded, no out jam unscathed.

Shooter

Few players were more synonymous with Giants baseball in the 1990s than Shooter, who recorded 199 saves with San Francisco. Photo Courtesy of sfgate.com

It appeared then, that fate was on San Francisco’s side.

After both bullpens recorded three up, three down innings in the 11th, the game moved to the 12th still tied at 5-5. Beck, still in the game and rolling following his escape in the 10th, retired the Dodgers in order in the top of the inning.

As the game crept into it’s fourth hour, catcher Brian Johnson stepped to the plate to lead off the bottom of the 12th inning. He would face Dodgers left-hander Mark Guthrie, in to relieve Todd Worrell. Johnson had already reached based three times on the day, with two base hits and a walk. He had struck out in his other two plate appearances.

On this day however, one swing would forever place him in San Francisco Giants lore. The Oakland native and Stanford alum sent Guthrie’s first pitch screaming in to the left field bleachers for a game ending homer, tying the NL West race and sending the home crowd into delirium. Both arms extended above his head, Johnson was greeted by a mob of teammates at home plate, and took his curtain call as chants of “Beat LA” echoed into the early afternoon sky.

It was arguably the biggest moment at Candlestick Park since the Loma Prieta quake struck before Game 3 of the 1989 World Series, but one that fans will remember fondly instead of with grave reverence.

While the moment was huge, the Giants were still far from securing their first trip to the postseason in seven years. They had nine games yet to play: two with Colorado and a whopping seven with the San Diego Padres. The Dodgers would finish the season with the inverse, with two against the Padres and seven against the Rockies. The Rockies stood at 79-75, while the Padres were scuffling at 73-81.

Momentum, schedule, and fate were all on the Giants side, and they would deliver. The Dodgers were swept at home by the Rockies following the walk-off in San Francisco, while the Giants took two of three from the Padres. Los Angeles would never get closer than 1.5 games for the rest of the season, as the Giants would win six of nine, clinching the division with a 6-1 victory over the Padres on September 27th. Fittingly, it was a Rod Beck strike out that sealed the NL West.

Bonds, who had up to then been criticized during his time in San Francisco for his brooding, “diva” attitude celebrated arm in arm with fans behind the Giants dugout. He stayed to absorb the moment while many teammates headed to the clubhouse for the team celebration. More than four years after signing the superstar, the Giants were finally heading to the postseason.

Unfortunately for Giants fans, while San Francisco may have been the team of destiny during the regular season, they ran into the team that may have been fate’s favorite in the postseason. The Florida Marlins won the first two games of the NLDS via walk-off hits, and would secure the third and clinching game in San Francisco with a 6-2 victory. They would go on to defeat a stellar Atlanta Braves team that won 101 games for the NL pennant, and defeat the Cleveland Indians in one of the most memorable World Series in baseball history.

While the playoff run was short-lived, the 1997 Giants ushered in a new era of winning baseball for San Francisco, which would finish with a winning record every year from 1998-2004, including a run of four straight 90+ win seasons from 2000-2004. The opening of Pacific Bell Park in the year 2000, coupled with a 97-win team, marked the complete revitalization of a franchise that was on the precipice of leaving the city just eight years prior.

But most importantly, it was the first season in which your author was old enough to fully pay attention and be aware of what was happening in a Major League game, and I have fond memories of raising two fists in the air following neighborhood round-trippers. A lifelong love affair had begun, and here I sit, 20 years later, just as smitten with a team and a game that has been the guiding light of my life.

Thanks, Brian.

-AC

 

 

1997 San Francisco Giants Notables:

Position Players:

Barry Bonds: .291/.446/.585, 40 HR, 101 RBI, 37 SB

Jeff Kent: .250/.316/.474, 29 HR, 121 RBI

J.T. Snow: .287/.381/.510,  28 HR, 104 RBI

Bill Mueller: .292 BA (led team)

Stan Javier: 25 SB

Jose Vizcaino: 151 hits (2nd on team)

Pitchers:

Shawn Estes: 19-5, 3.18 ERA, 181 K

Kirk Rueter: 13-6, 3.45 ERA, 1.28 WHIP

Rich Rodriguez: 71 G, 3.17 ERA, 131 ERA+

Julian Tavarez: 89 G (led league)

Rod Beck: 3.47 ERA, 37 SV

Roberto Hernandez: 28 G (after 7/31 acquisition), 2.48 ERA, 4 SV

 

 

 

The 1997 San Francisco Giants: 20 Years Later (Part I)

The Loma Prieta Hangover

After a lopsided defeat in the earthquake-mired 1989 World Series, hard times would fall upon the San Francisco Giants in the early 1990s. Following a 90-loss 1992 season in which attendance at Candlestick Park dropped to 1.5 million, it took a famous 11th hour push from a Peter McGowan-led ownership group and a vote from National League owners to block the sale of the Giants to a Tampa-based group that would have moved the team to St. Petersburg.

The effort to save major league baseball in San Francisco seemed to rally the Giants as they headed in to the 1993 campaign, and new ownership staked their commitment to bringing winning baseball back to the city by signing reigning National League MVP Barry Bonds. Bonds made an immediate impact with the Giants, setting career highs with 46 home runs and 123 RBIs, and joined established stars Matt Williams, Will Clark and Robby Thompson in forming a powerhouse team. However, in spite of the MVP season from Bonds, 38 homers from Williams, and the presence of two 20-game winners in the rotation (Bill Swift and John Burkett), the 103 win Giants infamously missed the playoffs by a game; an occurrence that many believe helped push divisional expansion and the creation of the Wild Card.

1993Giants

The 1993 Giants led the NL West by as many as 10 games as late as July 22, but still could not hold off a furious Atlanta Braves run. Photo courtesy of thisgreatgame.com

Following the demoralizing end to the 1993 season, the Giants were unable to replicate the same success in the strike-shortened 1994 and 1995 seasons, and by 1996 had fallen to the bottom of the National League, losing 94 games and seeing home attendance drop to second-lowest in the league. There was no question the star-studded 49ers were the toast of San Francisco, and the Giants were merely attempting to regain respectability after missing the playoffs in seven straight years.

Dawn of the Sabean Age

On September 30, 1996, senior vice president of player personnel Brian Sabean was promoted to general manager, taking over for Bob Quinn. Sabean wasted little time making a splash, trading homegrown favorite and four-time All-Star Williams to the Indians in exchange for 2B Jeff Kent, SS Jose Vizcaino, RHP Julian Tavarez, and a player to be named (RHP Joe Roa). Sabean was mercilessly criticized for the move, as fans saw a beloved All-Star swapped in exchange for what was at the time an underwhelming trio.

Kent, in spite of a couple of 20-homer seasons during his stint with the Mets, was traded to Cleveland in the middle of the 1996 season, and failed to make a major impact with the Indians. Vizcaino had been traded four times in six seasons since his 1990 debut with the Dodgers and was a productive player, but not one that would make fans forget Williams. He had shared the middle infield with Kent in New York, and was also included in the deal that sent the second baseman to Cleveland. The pair would presumably fill the middle infield gaps left by departing free agents Shawon Dunston and Thompson.

Kent Mets

Kent, a UC Berkeley product, was originally drafted by the Blue Jays, but did not see significant big league time until a trade to the New York Mets in 1992. Photo courtesy of pinterest.com

Tavarez had burst on to the scene at age 22 with an outstanding rookie campaign for the 1995 AL pennant winning Indians, but endured a rough 1996 season that made him expendable in the eyes of title-contending Cleveland. In him Sabean saw a viable set-up man for resident closer Rod Beck.

That move came on November 13, 1996. Just 13 days later, on November 26, Sabean would make another trade that would reshape the Giants infield, stealing back-to-back AL Gold Glove winning first baseman J.T. Snow from the Angels in exchange for under- performing starting pitcher Allen Watson.

Just a day prior, on November 25, Sabean had quietly added right-handed reliever Rich Rodriguez via free agency. Rodriguez enjoyed strong seasons in the early 90s with San Diego, but had appeared in just one regular season game since 1994, and had spent the entire 1996 season in Triple-A.

To help plug the gap at third base left behind by Williams, Sabean acquired 2B/3B Mark Lewis from the Tigers in exchange for minor leaguer Jesse Ibarra. In addition to Lewis, the Giants would employ young homegrown 3B Bill Mueller, who had batted .330 in a 55 game audition with the team in 1996.

Finally, to help complete an outfield that already contained Bonds and the power hitting Glenallen Hill, the club was able to sign center fielder Darryl Hamilton to a free agent contract. Hamilton was coming off a career year with Texas in which he posted a strong .293/.348/.381 line to go along with 184 hits, 10th most in the AL. Hamilton also brought an element of speed and was known as a strong defender; he did not make an error in 147 games played in 1996. Sabean and the Giants were in talks with Hamilton early in the offseason, but broke off talks as the center fielder pursued other offers. However a better offer did not materialize, and San Francisco was able to sign Hamilton at a fraction of their original offer.

The team chose to stick with an in-house approach to the starting rotation. They re-signed Mark Gardner, who had a team-leading 12 wins in 1996, retained 13-game loser Osvaldo Fernandez, and chose to fill out the rest of the rotation with a trio of young arms: William VanLandingham, Shawn Estes, and Kirk Rueter.

VanLandingham was a top prospect and former 5th round pick of the Giants who had pitched well in limited action across the 1994-1995 seasons. However he stumbled to a 9-14 record with a 5.40 ERA in 1996, his first full season in the starting rotation. Estes was a former #11 overall pick by the Mariners whom the Giants acquired in a 1995 deal that sent Salomon Torres to Seattle. After a strong showing in 11 starts in 1996, the 24 year-old Estes was ready to step in at the top of the rotation.

Kirk Rueter debuted in 1993 with a perfect 8-0 record and 2.73 ERA for the Montreal Expos, and was 12-6 over 29 starts across the 1994-1995 seasons. In spite of a tenure in Montreal that could only be described as an overall success, the Expos chose to swap Rueter for Giants RHP Mark Leiter at the 1996 trade deadline . Rueter finished the 1996 season with a stellar 1.93 ERA over four starts with San Francisco, poising himself for the thick of the rotation in 1997.

Winning Baseball Returns

The new look Giants opened the ’97 season with a 5-2 defeat at the hands of the Pittsburgh Pirates, with the newly signed Rich Rodriguez taking the loss after allowing 2 earned runs that broke a 2-2 tie in the 7th inning. From that point on however, the Giants would do very little losing in the month of April. They ripped off a 13-2 run over their next 15 games, and finished the month 17-7 overall. The club’s hot start was matched by the power hitting Colorado Rockies, and the teams sat tied for first with the second best record in the National League.

The team went just 14-14 in the month of May, but were able to build a 2.5 game lead in the NL West, and were seeing immediate dividends from some of Sabean’s offseason acquisitions. Like a fish to water, Kent took to the role of protecting Barry Bonds in the line up, and through 52 games the pair combined for 19 homers and 72 RBIs. Jose Vizcaino had a .342 OBP and had piled up 26 runs scored, and Rich Rodriguez emerged as a pivotal piece of the bullpen, posting a 0.94 ERA over his first 29 appearances.

As spring became summer, J.T. Snow found the power stroke he had been missing early on, and belted 15 home runs while driving in 39 runs in June and July. And Julian Tavarez, who’s ERA sat at 7.11 at the end of May, lowered that number to 3.79 after a dominant two month stretch in which he allowed just five earned runs over 34 IP. On July 6th the Giants record stood at 51-36, second best in the NL, and they had opened up a six game lead on the Dodgers, who had overtaken the fading Rockies for second place in the division.

Tavarez

After a shaky start to the year, Julian Tavarez recaptured what made him an outstanding rookie in Cleveland, finishing the season as the National League leader in appearances. Photo Courtesy of Getty Images-Otto Greule Jr.

As the non-waiver trade deadline approached however, San Francisco went on a slide, going 6-12 from July 10-27. The team saw it’s lead in the division shrink to just 1.5 games over the surging Dodgers, and it became clear they would look to bolster their roster at the deadline. VanLandingham and Fernandez were a combined 7-11 with a 4.95 ERA at the back end of the rotation, so starting pitching became a top target for Sabean and the Giants front office.

 

On July 30, 1997, the Giants record stood at 59-49, and the charging Dodgers had cut their division lead to just a half game. San Francisco’s front office knew they had a pennant race on their hands, and the following day would make a trade that would pay serious dividends in the second half.

Look for Part 2 of the 1997 Giants story tomorrow, on Tales From the Stick.

-AC