Study shows that the Giants have been one of the least successful teams at making good trades since 1961.

Now tell me something a hardcore, old timer Giants fan doesn't know. The study, done by Studes of Hardball Times, used Win Shares to measure how trades worked out, i.e. how much Win Shares gained vs. Win Shares lost. The Giants ended up 4th worse since 1961 with -344 W.S. (then Boston with -380, Atlanta with -391, and the worst, the Mets with -680!).

The surprise to me is that the Giants are not even last, not by a mile. We have a long litany of horrible trades that ended up lopsided for the other team. For gosh's sakes, we've traded away for virtually nothing two Hall of Famers, a number of 40+ homer hitters when that was a rare and special thing, a 50 homer hitter when that was a rarer and more special thing, and a number of fan favorites. For entertainment I used to look through the Sunday list of player stats for ex-Giants and how they were doing so much better than the current Giants. Then at the World Series I would do the Giants version of the Cubs World Series curse and count the number of players who were ex-Giants on the two World Series participants (the one with the most Giants always lost when I checked).

The first big lopper was before my time but a big one nonetheless: Orlando Cepeda for Ray Sadecki. And who can forget this whopper of a loser (well I guess the player we got in trade since he was an admitted total drunk): Gaylord Perry for Sudden Sam McDowell (who wasn't sudden any more). I'm still cursing that one, damn Indians ripped us off! But that was soon followed by another total loser of a trade: George Foster for Frank Duffy. That's an All-time trio of horrible trades - two Hall of Famers and a 50 homer hitter - and we haven't even finished the 1971 season yet!

Not as big but still hurt was the trade of Chris Speier for Tim Foli. Tim was serviceable at least, unlike the losers above (well Sadecki did well but had a losing record still). We also lost King Kong Dave Kingman in trade (but at least got $100K). Still in the early 70's.

Then there was a lull in trades, or perhaps my memory, before we get to some good ones in the 80's. Rob Deer was given away for magic beans (at least baseball's version of magic beans, two prospects who never did anything). Jack Clark was given away for David Green and others, though we did get a player who lives in Giants lore out of it in Jo-say Urrri-bay, the literal player to be named later (I think his name was Jose Gonzalez or some other common Latin surname and he changed it to his mother's maiden name when he was traded).

One that was relatively minor but that stuck in my craw was trading Fred Breining, Max Venable, and then throwing in Andy McGaffigan (I loved Andy!) for Al Oliver, who we didn't even keep for a whole season before trading him off. Another one that bothered me was trading Dan Gladden for basically nothing.

There was basically a big lull during the Al Rosen/Bob Quinn/Brian Sabean era as far as I can remember. But I have a feeling the Joe Nathan trade will turn out to be a big lopper with A.J. 86'ed out of SF for a doughnut hole. And with the way Livan has suddenly seen the light (perhaps that old man he took a swing at with a golf club corrected his pitching arm?), it looks like that will be a big loser despite Brower's great stats with us.

But we got some good lopsided ones sometimes too. Jeffrey Leonard for Mike Ivie (plus we got Dave Bergman, who I liked and followed his career after the Giants). Don Robinson for Mackey Sasser. Big Daddy Rick Rueschel for two so-so major leaguers. Kevin Mitchell, Dave Dravecky, AND Craig Lefferts for Chris Brown, Keith Comstock, Mark Davis and Mark Grant. And then we came ahead even more by trading Mitchell with Remlinger for Bill Swift, Mike Jackson, and Dave Burba. (Never noticed until now that we traded away two big disappointing pitching prospects in Mark Grant and Mike Remlinger in Kevin Mitchell trades)

Then there was Rod Beck for a prospect (stealing him from the A's made it doubly sweet!). Shawn Estes for Solomon Torres. Robb Nen for 3 prospects. Jeff Kent (and others who have done OK in the majors) for Matt Williams. And of course our biggest lopsider, Jason Schmidt (plus John Valder Wal) for Ryan Vogelsong and Armando Rios. Even the Livan trade to use worked for us, giving up only prospects who haven't done much still while Livan pitched OK for us.

So there goes the difference between the Giants and the Mets, the Giants have gotten some big trades in their favor over the past 20 years or so. We could use another this season, especially with the push to win it all this season.


Anonymous Bruce Landesman said...

martin, i know you think highly of Bobby Bonds. Surprised the trade of Bonds for Murcer wasn't mentioned. To this day, I hate Murcer. He was the biggest crybabby and complainer the Giants ever got stuck with. I think his attitude wore off on Clark and some other impressionable young players. Mercer was a complete liability.

Wed Feb 16, 01:42:00 PM PST  
Blogger obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

Thanks for the comment, I appreciate it.

I agree with you about Bobby Murcer: big crybaby, big complainer, poor producer, lousy "leader", big negative influence, and I think you are right about passing along attitude to the young Giants.

Jack Clark, though, from what I heard from Clark in an interview, he knew and appreciated and revered the long line of celebrated players in the history of the Giants and he was a fan like us, which led to him complaining. And as a fan of the Giants circa Jack Clark, you probably can greatly appreciate that there was a lot to complain about during those years. However, I can never forgive him for taking a job with the Dodgers as hitting coach. I mean, come on, there must have been another job somewhere in baseball he could have taken instead!

I thought about including that trade but, while the trade by itself was a big loser, it ended up being not so lopsided because of the chain of trades that started with Bobby Bonds being traded. So I wasn't sure if I should include it as I was afraid someone would bring that up. But I'm glad that you mentioned it so that I can expound on it.

I had thought about the trade chain on my own for many years but then saw a great article on the chain by one of the regulars on the Giants Newsgroup. Here is the url, I don't know how to make it work as a link so you will need to cut it out and paste it in: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=157

He also put together a graphic tree of the trade, but it does not show up well in an Explorer window, you might have to use some sort of picture or paint program to see it better: http://eeeeeegp.com/pix/Chain.gif

To sum it up, Murcer (and so on) were traded for a number of good players who provided a lot of value over the years. The trade chain that begun in 1974 finally ended sometime around 1998 and encompassed bringing many good players to the Giants: Bill Madlock, Fred Breining, Al Holland, Ed Whitson, Duane Kuiper, Mike Krukow, Mark Davis, Al Oliver, Kelly Downs, Bill Laskey, Dave Dravecky, Craig Lefferts, Kevin Mitchell, Bill Swift, Mike Jackson, Dave Burba, Deion Sanders. Of course, it was not a simple 1 for 1 trade always as a number of prospects and veterans were included into trades to get many of these players and keep the chain going, but they can all be linked back to that horrible, horrible day when Bobby Bonds, my favorite player was traded for that bum...

Wed Feb 16, 07:59:00 PM PST  
Anonymous Timmer said...


You left out two (or one, if you want to look at it that way) of the worst in the Sabean era: Russ Ortiz for Damian Moss (plus Merkin Valdez), then Kurt Ainsworth and Moss for Sir Sidney Ponson.

While Valdez may turn out to be worth dealing Ortiz, rendering Moss as a virtual throw-in, this boils down to Ortiz and Ainsworth for nothing (or Valdez, as per disclaimer).

The Jints got at least a decent (.272/11/77, 27 K's AND 27 GIDP), if slightly tumultuous, season out of AJ for Nathan, but in the long run, this trade will reek to high heaven. For Ortiz and Ainsworth, they got most of a season of 3-ball counts and a 4.70 ERA from Moss. From Ponson, they got virtually the same numbers he had posted in Balto (K/BB of 100/43 and 34/18, ERA 3.77/3.71), where he had been the beneficiary of an offense that was averaging almost 6 runs/game when he pitched (see also Kirk Rueter for most of his SF career for this phenomenon).

Bottom line is that, over two seasons, they traded one sure starter, one potential starter, and one closer for zilch, matching any of the worst deals Spec Richardson ever made.

Wed Feb 16, 10:39:00 PM PST  
Blogger obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

Thanks for the comment Timmer. You make two very good points.

I had left them out because I actually liked both trades but you are correct that they could have been included in the list of lopsided trades for the Giants.

I guess that brings up a nuance I didn't capture clearly in my post, that of what the trade was done for.

While Ortiz was an established starter, I was OK with trading him for Moss and Valdez because it freed up money and there wasn't another vet I would have rather traded. I wasn't happy with it but I had grown tired of Ortiz's act by then anyway so I was OK with it. He's a useful pitcher but he walks too much for my tastes and disappoints at the wrong times. Plus he would disappear for half a year at a time.

Moss appeared to be an up and coming and Valdez had electrifying stats even if they were in rookie ball. Given that up to then, the Giants never gave youngsters a chance I was happy that they were taking a risk. Unfortunately, their scouting did screwed up with Moss but possibly hit the jackpot with Valdez. For now, lopsided but Valdez could make this a great trade for the Giants.

The trade for Ponson was not great but it isn't really that bad, in fact perhaps good. They were forced into that position by Rueter's injury and the, at the time, unknown arm problems of Schmidt. With Rueter out, the Giants were facing a rotation of Williams, Moss, and Foppert plus maybe Brower as our pitching rotation for the playoffs.

And really, Ponson gave us a Russ Ortiz-like performance, both regular season and playoffs (compare Ponson's playoff start with Ortiz's first start; startingly similar). So for Ortiz, we got an Ortiz-like year out of Moss and Ponson (Ortiz if you'll recall would do horrible for half a year then suddenly very good) in 2003 and we would have lost Ortiz after 2004 as a free agent ($10M/year?!?!?!?), so we only really lost Ortiz's 2004 season, whereas before in the 70's we were losing a whole player's career.

Besides, Ainsworth hasn't done anything since the trade and Hannaman is probably not even on the Orioles top prospect list (though don't quote me on that :^). Ponson was insurance that we had someone of experience in the rotation in the playoffs (remember: Williams, Moss, Foppert, Brower at that time). As it worked out, Schmidt and Rueter were able to pitch in the playoffs but neither was a sure thing at the time of the trade. Plus we really gave up nothing (thus far and looks to be in the future) for a good half season from Ponson. Lopsided in total for Ortiz but really not that bad, certainly not as bad as the worse ones I listed. If anything, we got more out of Ponson than the Orioles got out of the players we traded to them. Plus if Valdez is able to achieve what has been predicted for him, it would turn out to be totally lopsided for us.

Thu Feb 17, 01:06:00 PM PST  

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