The Giants Worst Trades
--Orlando Cepeda for Ray Sadecki in 1966. Chub Feeney, then the Giants general manager, often lamented in later years that this was the only trade Giants fans remember. In fact, Feeney had good reasons to make this trade. The Giants needed a left-handed starter, and Sadecki seemed to be a young pitcher on the rise, having won 20 games in 1964. The Giants were overloaded with first baseman – Willie McCovey even had to play left field for a time – and Cepeda was having problems with his knee.
But Sadecki never found his groove in San Francisco, possibly because of pressure he felt as Giants fans reacted to the trade of Cepeda, probably the most popular Giant. In parts of four seasons, Sadecki was 32-47 for the Giants. Meanwhile, Cepeda was the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 1967 as the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series and is now in the Hall of Fame.
--George Foster for Frank Duffy and pitcher Vern Geishert, 1971. This one was a stinker from the start. I was in the Giants locker room the day the trade was announced and players couldn’t believe it. Some were even crying at the news. The Giants believed they could deal Foster because they had a number of young outfielders coming up – Garry Maddox, Gary Mathews, Dave Kingman, among others – and they needed a backup shortstop.
Duffy, though, was gone after one season. Geishert never even pitched for the Giants. Foster went on to become a great power hitter with The Big Red Machine in Cincinnati, with one season in which he hit 52 home runs and had 149 RBIs, both leading the league.
--Gaylord Perry for Sam McDowell in 1972. At the time, the word was that Giants manager Charlie Fox had pushed for this trade, because as a scout, Fox had recommended signing McDowell. When I talked to Fox for the Giants history book I did that was published in early 1998, he denied that, saying it was the inner circle of owner Horace Stoneham – Rosy Ryan, Tom Sheehan – who wanted the trade. I’m inclined to believe Fox’s version.
McDowell was a goofy one. I was on a road trip with the Giants in 1972 when McDowell won a game and told writers he had thrown 85 per cent fast balls, 30 per cent curves and 15 per cent changeups. The new math, I guess. He had blazing speed in his Cleveland career, twice posting more than 300 strikeouts in a season, but he had lost that fast ball by the time he came to the Giants, possibly because he did most of his training in bars. He was only 10-8 in 1972 and 2-1 before the Giants traded him the next season. His career ended in 1975.
Meanwhile, Perry won 190 games after leaving the Giants, won Cy Young Awards in both leagues and is in the Hall of Fame.
--Joe Nathan, Boof Bonser and Francisco Liriano for catcher A. J. Pierzynski, 2004.
This one is looking worse and worse, now that Bonser, a one-time No. 1 draft choice for the Giants, and Liriano are both in the Twins rotation. Nathan has been a lights-out closer for the Twins, as the Giants have struggled to find a reliable closer. Pierzynski was a disaster. The pitchers hated him, he allegedly kicked trainer Stan Conte in his most sensitive area and was terrible defensively.
Those are my choices. I listed these only chronologically, not in order of sheer terribleness. What do you think?
BONDS THEN AND NOW: The Arizona Diamondbacks pitched to Barry Bonds in the ninth inning last night and got him out. Afterwards, catcher Johnny Estrada said that a couple of years ago, they probably would have walked Bonds in that situation. “That’s how good Bonds was, when he was locked in. If you threw a strike, he would hammer it. Obviously, he’s not going that good right now and he has some health issue, so we went right after him.”
I’ve been writing, here and in The Examiner, that Bonds is not the hitter he was in 2004. Other writers haven’t, yet, but you can expect that to change in about 5-6 weeks. They’ll gather in the press box, one of them will say, “Bonds doesn’t seem to be the same hitter he was,” and the next day, there will be multiple stories saying that. Herd journalism strikes again.
WHO’S THE ONE? As soon as the news broke that Arizona reliever Jason Grimley had given an affidavit naming one player as taking steroids and/or human growth hormone and that the name was blacked out, the Diamondbacks went into a funk. Obviously, there were several players who worried about being named.
That only confirms what I’ve heard unofficially for some time, that the use of performance-enhancing drugs is rampant in baseball (and, who’s kidding, in the NFL, too.) The anti-steroids people would like to see steroids-users banned from baseball, but if that ever happens, welcome to your Double A Giants. Oh, wait a minute, the minor leaguers are taking them, too. Oh, well, there’s always college baseball. Stanford isn’t going to lose every game, 15-0.
BAD BEN: It’s good news that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is apparently going to recover from injuries suffered in the accident that occurred when he was riding a motorcycle – without a helmet – on Pittsburgh streets, but it does raise the question: When will athletes ever learn?
Well, probably never. These are confident young men who think they’re immortal. Roethlisberger had plenty of advice not to do this, including lectures from his coach, Bill Cowher, but he didn’t pay attention.
COME CRUISE WITH ME: I am organizing a sports-oriented cruise of the Panama Canal, Feb. 16 to March 3, starting in San Diego and ending in Fort Lauderdale, aboard Holland America’s Volendam. While we’re at sea, we will have sports seminars and discussions about your favorite teams. For further information and prices, please contact my travel agent, Janice Hough, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
EXAMINER COLUMN: To access my Examiner column, just go to examiner.com, type my name into the “Search” box and hit GO. A list of my columns will come up.
What do YOU think? Let me know!
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