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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

When it Comes to Trade Deadline Sluggers, Ryan Garko Is About as Big as the Giants Go

Posted By on Wed, Jul 29, 2009 at 7:30 AM

click to enlarge Ryan Garko is not supernatural -- but, then, who is?
  • Ryan Garko is not supernatural -- but, then, who is?
Moments after the San Francisco Giants obtained first baseman Ryan Garko in exchange for a Single-A pitcher 99 percent of the team's fans had never heard of, the Internet critiques came in two flavors: No. 1 -- Ryan Garko ain't all that. No. 2 -- The Giants will rue the day they parted company with young hurler Scott Barnes.

Addressing No. 2 first, for all those who are lamenting solely because of Barnes' statistics in the low-level minor leagues this year (12-3, 2.85 ERA, 99 strikeouts in 98 innings), can you identify Scott Barnes? Is he this guy, this guy, or this guy? As for No. 1 -- no, landing Ryan Garko at the trade deadline is not akin to the Atlanta Braves picking up Fred McGriff from the Padres in '93 for Vince Moore, Donnie Elliott, and Melvin Nieves (i.e. three magic beans).

Serious Giants fans remember that trade. We have 103 reasons to do so. But what's harder to remember is how few big trades the Giants have executed in mid-season of late. I went through the team's transaction list for every year going back to 2001, visiting names I hadn't thought of in years (Jason Ellison! Todd Linden! Carlos Valderrama!). There have been a few sweet deals -- but mostly it's been mediocre veterans landed for minor leaguers known only to their families or people with the same last name who enjoyed wearing their "own" jersey. Allow me illustrate:

2007: On July 31, the Giants landed Rajai Davis from Pittsburgh for Matt Morris. Davis now plays across the Bay; Morris was released last year after his career abruptly fell apart. Mostly, this was a salary dump for San Francisco -- good job on that.

2006: On July 28, Mike Stanton is obtained from the Washington Nationals for "non-roster RHP Shairon Martis." Stanton was actually on that 1993 Atlanta Braves team that won 104 games and nipped the Giants. That says all you need to know about this trade -- which, agian, took place in 2006. Underachieving malcontent Shea Hillenbrand was picked up from Toronto along with Vinnie "The Incredible" Chulk a week earlier. That cost the team Jeremy Accardo -- a better player than anyone else in this paragraph. 

2005: Here's a relatively big one -- Randy Winn landed in San Francisco on July 30 in exchange for catcher Yorvit Torrealba (one of my favorite baseball names of all time) and Jesse Foppert (local boy gets injured, career peters out). Winn is the epitome of "good." But he's not the guy to win you the division. Still, he's starting for the team five years and counting now.

2004: On July 30, the team decides to pick up Ricky Ledee -- a player no one would know of if he hadn't been on dynastic Yankees teams and didn't possess a name seemingly created to be uttered in a Bronx accent. RHP Alfredo Simon (popular with Simons worldwide) also heads to San Francisco. Heading to Philadelphia is Felix Rodriguez, forever remembered by Giants fans as the guy who blew the J.T. Snow home run game in the 2000 NLDS and Game 6 in 2002.

2003: Garbage in, garbage out. Sidney "Fat Fuck" Ponson is picked up on July 31 from Baltimore for RHP Kurt Ainsworth (out of baseball with inuries by age 25), LHP Damian Moss (nice sideburns, mate), and a minor leaguer.

2002: Ah, the year. Kenny Lofton -- who I will always remember like this -- is stolen from the Chicago White Sox for Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern ... sorry, Felix Diaz and Ryan Meaux.

2001: This was a great year for mid-season trades. Productive lefty relief hurler Jason Christensen was obtained on July 31 from St. Louis for Kevin Joseph (who doubtlessly endured many "Hey Joe, where you going with that gun in your hand?" jokes). Jason Schmidt -- the Giants' best right-hander since Juan Marichal (until Tim Lincecum) was picked up one day earlier for Armando Rios (you were my ex-girlfriend's favorite player) and Ryan Vogelsong (that means "Birdsong" in German). One week earlier, the team picked up Andres Galarraga from Texas for two players who never panned out. A very good haul -- but this team never won anything ... and Galarraga played for San Francisco in 2001 and 2003 when they really needed him in 2002.

So, here's the point. After all that, we come back to where we started -- in this decade, this team has never pulled a Fred McGriff-type move that completely changed everything. They've obtained some good hitters at the deadline -- and a pitcher who had a couple of great years -- and have managed to give away very few future stars. Judging by Garko's history -- and the team's -- the chances are he will do just fine here in San Francisco, but will not be the answer to anyone's prayers when the team is down two late in the game with two outs and runners on.

If so, you're not praying hard enough. 

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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