San Francisco Giants Trade News: Grading GM Brian Sabean's 10 Biggest Trades

Barrett HansenAnalyst IIJuly 27, 2011

San Francisco Giants Trade News: Grading GM Brian Sabean's 10 Biggest Trades

0 of 11

    San Francisco Giants general manager Brian Sabean has never been afraid to make a deal.

    The shrewd baseball exec is the longest tenured GM in the game, and for good reason—he doesn't balk when it's time to pull the trigger.

    Time and time again Sabean has made moves that boggle the mind of a typical fan. Some have been brilliant. Others have been downright awful.

    Here the grades for each of Brian Sabean's 10 biggest trades.

Honorable Mention 2004: Felix Rodriguez to Philly for Ricky Ledee, Alfredo Simon

1 of 11

    Grade: B+

    My grade for this deal does not really come down to how each of the players panned out.

    In reality, it was an awful trade. Ricky Ledee hit .113 in 53 at-bats, and was released immediately after the season.

    Alfredo Simon was just as bad, bouncing between High-A and AAA, never with an ERA under five at any level. He also was released to free agency. 

    But the Giants finally got rid of Felix Rodriguez, the one and only worst set-up man in team history. He is most famous for giving up a three-run shot to Scott Spezio in the bottom of the seventh inning in Game 6 of the 2002 World Series, the game that should have been the championship clincher.

    Funnily enough, the Giants faced the Phillies on August 14th, 2004, just two weeks after trading their reliever. In the eighth inning of a 6-6 game, Yorvit Torrealba took his old teammate yard for the go-ahead and eventual winning run. 

    Rodriguez got the loss, and Giants fans enjoyed a bit of bittersweet revenge, wishing that the trade had happened before the 2002 World Series.

1996: Matt Williams to Cleveland for Jeff Kent, Julian Tavarez, Jose Vizcaino

2 of 11

    Grade: A-

    Brian Sabean set the tempo very early on in his career. 

    Weeks after being promoted to the GM post, Sabean traded Matt Williams, arguably the team's best player and a fan-favorite, for three relative unknowns.

    One of those unknowns however happened to be second baseman Jeff Kent.

    Williams went on to have several more good years in Cleveland and Arizona. He finished third in MVP voting in 1999.

    But Kent was even better, claiming the NL MVP award with his .334/.424/.596 effort in 2000.

    Jose Vizcaino and Julian Tavarez weren't too shabby either. Neither stuck around very long in San Francisco, but both helped the Giants transform from a fourth place team in 1996 to a first place one in 1997.

    Jeff Kent though was definitely the gem of the class. The moustached infielder became a fixture in the middle of the Giants' order, combining with Barry Bonds to present one of the more formidable offensive duos around the league. 

1996: SP Fausto Macey, SP Allen Watson to Anaheim for 1B J.T. Snow

3 of 11

    Grade: A

    Less than two weeks after pulling off the Matt Williams blockbuster deal, Sabean was on the move again, this time dealing for the next fan favorite, J.T. Snow.

    For nearly a decade, Snow was an integral part of the Giants' core, playing gold glove defense and hitting toward the bottom of the order.

    Neither Fausto Macey nor Allen Watson panned out—Macey never made the majors, and Watson had a 5.03 ERA in eight seasons as a starter.

    For a couple of scrubs, J.T. Snow was a pretty solid pickup.

2001: Armando Rios, Ryan Vogelsong to Pirates for Jason Schmidt, Jon Van Der Wal

4 of 11

    Grade: A+

    The Giants really got the best possible deal here.

    Jason Schmidt came in and became a legitimate ace for half a decade, leading the Giants to the playoffs in 2002 and 2003. He anchored San Francisco's rotation until his departure in 2006.

    In the immediate aftermath of the trade, the Giants looked incredibly fortunate. 

    On August 2nd, three days after the deal was executed, Armando Rios tore his ACL and missed the rest of the year. He never fully recovered.

    Two weeks later, Ryan Vogelsong blew out his arm and needed Tommy John surgery. He was out until the end of the 2003 season, but—as wel all know—wasn't much better when healthy.

    As fate would have it, Vogelsong returned to the Giants in 2011, becoming an All Star and becoming the pitcher that Pittsburgh imagined he would be.

    It's rare to find a situation when the player you trade for and the player you traded away both end up being incredibly productive for you. But it just so happened with this deal.

2002: RP Ryan Meaux, P Felix Diaz to Chicago for CF Kenny Lofton

5 of 11

    Grade: B+

    Kenny Lofton homered on the first pitch he swung at in a Giants uniform, which set the tone for a great three months.

    The speedy outfielder hit just .267 down the stretch, but when he managed to get on base, his speed was a game-changer for an incredibly slow Giants squad.

    Lofton was much better in the postseason though, when he hit .292 with five stolen bases.

    The trade was a great value—for a three month rental, the Giants just had to give up two guys who combined for one mediocre big league season between them.

2003: SP Francisco Liriano, RP Joe Nathan to Minnesota for C A.J. Pierzynski

6 of 11

    Grade: F

    To think that the Giants had one of the most dominant closers of this decade on their roster, but then traded him away is incredibly frustrating.

    To then realize that the team gave him, plus a decent starter in Francisco Liriano, up for A.J. Pierzynski, a clubhouse nightmare that the team didn't even re-sign after the 2004 season is almost too much to handle.

    The deal was orchestrated three weeks after the team released catcher Benito Santiago, who had been linked to performance enhancing drugs.

    The incident left the Giants without a starting catcher, which, in all fairness, probably forced Sabean's hand.

    If not for the emergence of Brian Wilson, Giants fans would still be bemoaning what is sure to go down as one of the worst deals in Giants' history.

2003: SP Kurt Ainsworth, SP Damian Moss to Baltimore for SP Sidney Ponson

7 of 11

    Grade: C

    Kurt Ainsworth and Damian Moss haven't amounted to anything in the major leagues.

    But with a contract expiring at the end of the season, Sidney Ponson was acquired as a rental, and rightfully came cheaply.

    Regardless, he was an enormous disappointment, and really hurt the team by underachieving. 

    After going 14-6 in the first half for the Baltimore Orioles, Ponson arrived in San Francisco admist much fanfare. He was advertised as a second ace, a guy who could be as good as (if not better than) Jason Schmidt.

    But he went 3-6 over the final two months of the season. He was awful in the playoffs, giving up four runs in just five innings in Game 2 of the NLDS against he Marlins, a series the Giants went on to lose.

    The Giants relied on Ponson to be a difference-maker. But he was a huge bust.

    Sure enough, Ponson did not have a good major league season following departure from San Francisco. His 2003 first half has proven to be anomalously strong.

2009: SP Scott Barnes to Cleveland for 1B Ryan Garko

8 of 11

    Grade: D

    The jury is still out on this deal, as 23-year-old Scott Barnes is currently pitching in in Triple-A Columbus, where he is 7-4 with a 3.68 ERA.

    The southpaw will could see some major league action this September, and has a shot to make the major league club out of Spring Training next March.

    But for now the deal has to be considered terrible based solely on the fact that Ryan Garko was a complete and utter disaster.

    Brought in to be a powerful right-handed hitter to help the Giants reach the postseason, Garko hit .235 and slugged just two home runs.

    Most importantly, the Giants missed the playoffs. 

    The Giants were in the thick of the wild card race well into September that year, but just couldn't keep up the pace. The onus falls on the GM to improve the team at the deadline.

    Sabean missed on this particular deal.

2009: P Tim Alderson to Pittsburgh for 2B Freddy Sanchez

9 of 11

    Grade: B+

    The Freddy Sanchez trade has worked out brilliantly so far.

    At the time, giving away first round pick Tim Alderson seemed like a huge price for a veteran second baseman a couple years removed from winning the NL batting crown.

    But Brian Sabean must have known something we didn't, because Alderson has been underachieving so far in Pittsburgh.

    2010 was an especially poor year for Alderson. He was demoted to High-A after posting a 5.62 ERA in 18 Double-A starts, but did even worse at the lower level.

    Still just 23 years old, Alderson has risen back up to Triple-A in 2011. His 2.80 ERA gives him a strong case to be considered for a September call-up. 

    Alderson could still turn out to be a fantastic starter, which is why I'm tentative to call the Giants outright winners in this deal.

    Even if Alderson becomes an ace, the Giants got a great return in Freddy Sanchez, and frankly don't have any space for him in the rotation anyway.

2010: P Daniel Turpen to Red Sox for RP Ramon Ramirez

10 of 11

    Grade: A-

    To get a major league reliever, all the Giants had to give up was a minor league one.

    Daniel Turpen isn't exactly the cream of the crop either. In 37 appearances for Double-A Richmond in 2010, Turpen was 5-5 with a 4.09 ERA. He had a 7.5 K/9 rate.

    Ramon Ramirez was absolutely lights out in the regular season, posting a 0.68 ERA in 26.2 innings pitched for the Giants in August and September. 

    The former Red Sock was seldom used in the postseason, but he already made his mark with his outstanding regular season numbers.

    Turpen is no longer even with the Red Sox, now pitching for Colorado's Double-A affiliate in Tulsa. 

2010: RF John Bowker, P Joe Martinez to Pittsburgh for RP Javier Lopez

11 of 11

    Grade: A

    One of these days Pittsburgh is going to realize that Sabean keeps stealing their best players and they'll stop doing business with San Francisco forever.

    In the first series of the year, John Bowker went three-for-nine with a homer and three RBI. 

    In the next two months, he picked up just two more home runs and five more RBI.

    Since it was quite evident the opening day right fielder was not a major-league-caliber player, Bowker was demoted to Triple-A on June 2nd.

    Joe Martinez had a 4.91 ERA in ten innings of work last year for the Giants. San Francisco had high hopes for him as a potential starter or long reliever, but there was really no space for him on the team.

    In exchange for two players who would contribute nothing to the team in the foreseeable future, Sabean acquired lefty-specialist Javier Lopez, one of the key cogs in a dominant bullpen that propelled the Giants to the World Series.

    Javy Lopez recorded a 1.42 ERA in 19 regular season innings past the trade deadline to help the Giants reach the playoffs, where he allowed one earned run in 5.2 innings.

    Lopez came up huge in the NLCS, where he shut down Philadelphia's murderer's row of Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Raul Ibañez in late-game situations.

    Sabean made a great deal to dump two guys who were only taking up space and also fill a need in the bullpen in one fell swoop.