The Dark Years: 2005-2008
Seeing Todd Linden’s story in the Chron made me think about unhappier times in our history. After the Giants won 91 games in 2004 the team nosedived for the next 4 seasons. Not surprisingly, 2004 was also the last great year for Barry Bonds. He would retire after the 2007 season. Every team goes through lulls in their franchise history (except the St Louis Cardinals, for some reason) but the Giants slide into 4 years of less than average was easy to see after it happened. Sabean had spent the better part of his GM career placing secondary vet pieces around Barry, largely ignoring developing talent at the minor league level. When Barry stopped slathering flaxseed oil all over his body, the Giants had no answers………
Obviously, he fixed the flaws in his GM game and he is now one of the underrated yet brilliant GM’s in the game.
Let’s look at some of the prospects and non-prospects from the Dark Years who somehow made it into a regular season SF Giants jersey:
1) Lance Niekro. The Giants took him in the 2nd round of the 2002 amateur draft and he made his first appearance with the club in 2003. In 2005 he played in 113 games for SF and banged out 12 bombs. After JT retired he was the opening day first baseman in 2006. That day was probably the last highlight of his career. He last played in the big leagues in 2007 and reportedly had tried to turn himself into a knuckle ball pitcher in 2009. It did not go well.
2) Dan Ortmeier: at baseball almanac it says he doesn’t have a nickname but we know that to be untrue. He is the great “Ort-Rod” who played in SF over the course of 4 seasons. He hit all six of his career home runs in 2007. He signed iwth Colorado and played for their PCL team in 2009. No info on him since then.
3) Brian Bocock: he was drafted in the 6th round of the 2006 amateur draft. Average glove/no hit, he was actually in the opening day starting line up that was quite possibly the worst opening day starting line up in the history of the SF Giants. I challenge any of you to find a worse opening day starting line up than this: Molina, Aurilia, Durham, Castillo, Bigcock, Roberts, Rowand, Winn and Zito. Not surprisingly, we lost to the Dodgers 5-0. Bigcock’s big moment in baseball was that day, he scored 93 underwhelming at bats that season hitting .143. He hooked up with Philly somehow and had 5 at bats in 2010 for them. No hits. 2 runs. Bye Bye Bigcock. I think he’s in Japan now.
4) Todd Linden: a 2001 1st round pick, he played in parts of 5 seasons for the Giants, ;ast appearing in the majors with Florida in 2007. he’s been to Japan and elsewhere and now he’s back in the Giants org providing adequate minor league depth for Fresno.
5) Brian Dallimore. He wasn’t drafted by SF, he signed as a free agent in 2002. Somehow, he was called up in 2004 and hit his one career home run that year. I forget the circumstances, but I recall it being a very big hit that won the game for us that day. I’m sure others will remember it in more detail. He had 7 plate appearances for the Giants in 2005 and never played at the mlb level again. I’m assuming he found a way to feed his family with the Stanford degree he had to fall back on.
There were others, Brian Horwitz, Kevin Frandsen, John Bowker, Coner Gillespe, Ryan Rohlinger……it’s a long, sad list. And this thread is starting to make me sad so I’ll stop now………
All of these guys wish they could have had half the career that Travis Ishikawa had (and is still having) and that says about all you need to know about The Dark Years…….