Transaction Analysis

Hours before the non-waiver trade deadline passed at 1 PM on July 31, the Giants finalized a deal with the Baltimore Orioles to bring starting pitcher Sidney Ponson to the Giants for the playoff run. Here's a look at who was gained, and who was lost.

WHAT WE GOT:

Sidney Ponson, RHP, Born 11/2/1976

Year Team G GS W-L CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO ERA
1998 Bal 31 20 8-9 0 0 135 157 82 79 42 85 5.27
1999 Bal 32 32 12-12 6 0 210 227 118 110 80 112 4.71
2000 Bal 32 32 9-13 6 1 222 223 125 119 83 152 4.82
2001 Bal 23 23 5-10 3 1 138.1 161 83 76 37 84 4.95
2002 Bal 28 28 7-9 3 0 176 172 84 80 63 120 4.09
2003 Bal 21 21 14-6 4 0 148 147 65 62 43 100 3.77

Sir Sidney Ponson (he has been knighted by his home country of Aruba) has spent his career losing in Baltimore since being brought up for them. This is the righthander's first year with a sub 4 ERA, so far, in his career. The numbers have shown a general improvement over the last two years after a few years of hovering just under a 5 ERA, though. He can swallow inning, as evidenced by several complete games each year.

This year, especially in his last several starts, he has been impressive. The two that stand out were against Seattle on July 10 (CG, 1 run earned) and the Yankees on July 24 (8.2 IP, 3 runs). This year's improvement has been fueled by much better control, as he is holding onto a 2/1 K/BB ratio, and his ability to get ground balls rather than give up the big flies. He can still be susceptible to the big fly, but playing in Pac Bell should particularly help that tendency. Ponson can throw in the mid-nineties, but the harder he throws, the less control he has. A key for him has been getting control of his slider, which is effective, especially after he abandoned the forkball last year.

Other than having no track record of success, Ponson's biggest knock is his history of injury. In 2001, he suffered from Elbow Tendinitis in early August, missing about a month of time from it. Last year, a torn rotator cuff cut short his season at the end of August. He appears healthy so far this year, though.

Ponson is a free agent at the end of the year, his first year of eligibility. This year, he's making $4.25 million. Resigning him may be quite expensive. Before the trade deadline, both he and the Orioles made noises about him wanting to stay in Baltimore, but he turned down a 3 year, $15 million dollar contract extension and further negotiations, obviously, went no where.

Ponson last pitched on July 30th, losing to the Twins. He should be inserted into the rotation on the 4th or 5th of August.

WHAT WE LOST:

Damian Moss, LHP, Born 11/24/76

Year Team G GS W-L CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO ERA
2001 Atl 5 1 0-0 0 0 9 3 3 3 9 8 3.00
2002 Atl 33 29 12-6 0 0 179 140 80 68 89 111 3.42
2003 SF 21 10 9-7 0 0 115 121 62 60 63 57 4.70

Damian Moss is most infamous for his part in the cost cutting move that sent Russ Ortiz to the NL rival Atlanta Braves, but a close second would be his wild pitching, which went from being effective to Nuke Laloosh-like. He started the season hot, taking a 5-0 record into May with a 2.11 ERA, but then got cold, ending up 6-4 with a 4.42 ERA exactly a month later. He had apparently turned it around after the All-Star Break, with three quality starts, including out dueling Curt Schilling, and a 7 inning, 3 run loss to the Cubs on the 29th).

Moss has thrown in the big leagues with two veteran pitchers who are very similar to him: John Smotlz in Atlanta and Kirk Rueter in San Francisco. He's learned from both. His key is his control on his fastball. If he can place it in the zone effectively, Moss can use his awesome changeup to get strikeouts. He also has a huge sweeping curve that bites right handers hard.

Moss will be arbitration eligible for four more years, and is making $1.5 million.

Kurt Ainsworth, RHP, Born 9/9/1978

Year Team G GS W-L CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO ERA
2001 SF 2 0 0-0 0 0 2 3 3 3 2 3 13.50
2002 SF 6 4 1-2 0 0 25.2 22 7 6 12 15 2.10
2003 SF 11 11 5-4 0 0 66 66 31 28 26 48 3.82

Kurt Ainsworth was one of the young Triad of pitchers that was highly touted to Giants fans as being the future. For the most part, Kurt had not disappointed this year. He made his real debut last year, being one of two rookie pitchers who threw in April with Schmidt's injury, but the Giants decided to keep Ryan Jensen up instead of Ainsworth, who returned to AAA Fresno and dominated. He had a roster spot cleared for him this year with the late spring trade of Livan Hernandez to Montreal, and had done well.

Kurt is a smart pitcher, with a mid-nineties fastball and four other quality pitches. Ainsworth has repeatedly demonstrated an ability to bring different looks to the plate, and can use any of his five pitches for a first pitch strike or a strikeout. When his control is on, he's very hard to hit, and his control has not been erratic in the majors.

Kurt's problem has been injuries. The injuries were one of a few things that slowed his ascent to the majors, along with going to college and taking time to pitch at the 2000 World Series (where he won the Gold Medal). This year's injury has been the freak ‘fractured scapula,' a small break in his shoulder blade that is so rare, it has only been found in one other pro athlete in history, a hockey player in the ‘70s. He was on track for a September return.

Ryan Hannaman, LHP, Born 8/28/81

Year Team G W-L IP H R BB KO ERA
2001 Scottsdale (Rookie) 11 4-1 54 34 14 31 67 2.00
2001 SLO (Low A) 3 1-1 13 8 5 8 19 2.08
2002 HAG (Low A) 24 7-6 131.2 129 54 46 145 2.80
2002 San Jose (High A) 1 0-0 6 3 2 3 7 3.00
2003 San Jose (High A) 13 4-4 63 66 41 32 77 4.71
2003 Scottsdale (Rookie) 4 1-1 12.1 8 6 7 14 4.38

Ryan Hannaman is a power throwing lefthander who was drafted in the fourth round of the 2000 draft by the Giants. The Giants transformed him from a first baseman to a pitcher, and it's worked. His 95-97 MPH fastball matches with a good breaking ball, but he's still working on other pitches to complement them.

This year was his first real setback injury wise, suffering a strained bicep that kept him out of a lot of action. His injury rehabbing in the rookie league has been slow. However, he still has top of the rotation potential in a few years if he can get back on track.

Editor's Commentary: There's no denying that Ponson is a good pitcher, and a good argument can be made that he was the best available in the trade market this year. However, the question is, did the Giants give up too much for him?

Ponson's job is not to get the Giants to the playoffs; the Giants were pretty much a lock for the playoffs as it is. His job is to not only get us to the World Series, but to win it. For the Giants and their fans, that is the only way this trade can be considered a success. To put this kind of pressure on a guy who has rarely pitched in a meaningful game in August (much less September or October) and who has a history of injuries during the stretch run is a tough thing to do.

Moss's potential is debatable. Everyone agrees he has the stuff, but his stumbling block has always been getting his control under control. There's a good reason a lot of Giants fans look at him and see Shawn Estes. Ainsworth is the bigger loss, though. When healthy, he has been very good and has a great future ahead of him. A number of Giants fans overlooked him for shinier prospects like Williams and Foppert, but Ainsworth has been the most consistent, and should continue to be that way, if he stays healthy.

The biggest loss for the Giants is over the next few years. With Ainsworth, the Giants would have locked in their rotation, and a good one at that, through 2005. It would have been cheap, too. With the loss of Ainsworth, signing a starting pitcher for next year is thrown in with finding starting a SS and 1B to start as well as some backups, and the expected $16 million of budget isn't too much to fill all those holes.

The goal of this trade was to win the World Series this year. The final determination on whether or not this was a good trade will ultimately hinge on that result.



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