Dickey: Giants have two golden arms

It seems so simple. The Giants have strong starting pitching, but have problems scoring runs. Ergo, trade a starter for a slugger.

But it’s not going to happen.

For openers, there’s only one starter who could or would be traded. Nobody would take Barry Zito and his contract. Matt Morris is pitching well, but his future is limited because of age. When clubs call about Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum, Giants general manager Brian Sabean hangs up.

That leaves Noah Lowry, who has pitched well as one of the Giants’ top four starters. But no club would be likely to give up a top slugger for Lowry, who’s a No. 3 or No. 4 starter on a good staff.

That would also go against Sabean’s basic belief that you build with pitching. He has only once traded an established starter, Russ Ortiz, but that trade was apparentlydictated by economics.

Otherwise Sabean has traded marginal young pitchers. That backfired on him when he traded Joe Nathan — and Jeremy Accardo is pitching well in relief for Toronto — but most of the pitchers he has traded did not pan out elsewhere. One of those pitchers, Ryan Vogelsong, went in the July 2001 trade that netted Jason Schmidt.

Meanwhile, he has concentrated on drafting pitchers high in the annual draft; Cain (2002) and Lincecum (2006) were both the Giants’ top picks in the years they were drafted.

Cain and Lincecum, both 22 when the season started, are a unique combination in the Giants’ San Francisco history because they’re so good at such a young age. You have to go back roughly a quarter-century to get a similar combination in Juan Marichal, who was 22 when he came up in 1960, and Gaylord Perry, 23 when he made his debut two years later. Though Marichal was an accomplished pitcher from the day he arrived, Perry didn’t really get there until his third season, when Bob Shaw taught him how to throw the spitter.

Marichal and Perry are in the Hall of Fame. Will Cain and/or Lincecum get there eventually? That probably depends on whether they can stay healthy because they both have that type of ability.

Meanwhile, Giants fans have to readjust their thinking to see a team built around pitching. Historically, the San Francisco team has been built around power, from Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda, all Hall of Fame players, to Barry Bonds.

It’s amazing, in fact, how few consistently outstanding pitchers they’ve had since Marichal and Perry, who was traded disastrously for Sam McDowell before the 1972 season.

There have been some brief successes. Jack Sanford won 24 games when the Giants won the pennant in 1962. Mike McCormick won the Cy Young Award in 1967. Mike Krukow won 20 games in 1986. Rick Reuschel won 19 games in 1988, 17 the next year when the Giants won the pennant. Billy Swift won 21 games in 1993.

But there has been so little consistent success that it’s hard to pick the Giants’ top five in their San Francisco history. Marichal and Perry are obvious choices. I’d put Schmidt in as a distant third. But after them, who?

Some day, maybe we’ll be able to say Cain and Lincecum. Meanwhile, Giants fans have to learn to appreciate those 2-0 and 3-1 games. No slugger is on the way.

Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. E-mail him at glenndickey@hotmail.com.


Will Cain and Lincecum be Hall of Famers?

Share your comments below.

Glenn Dickeysports

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

After the pandemic hit, Twin Peaks Boulevard was closed to vehicle traffic, a situation lauded by open space advocates. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
New proposal to partially reopen Twin Peaks to vehicles pleases no one

Neighbors say closure brought crime into residential streets, while advocates seek more open space

Members of the Sheriff’s Department command staff wore masks at a swearing-in ceremony for Assistant Sheriff Tanzanika Carter. One attendee later tested positive. 
Courtesy SFSD
Sheriff sees increase in COVID-19 cases as 3 captains test positive

Command staff among 10 infected members in past week

Rainy weather is expected in the coming week. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Rainstorms, potential atmospheric river expected to drench Bay Area in coming week

By Eli Walsh Bay City News Foundation Multiple rainstorms, cold temperatures some… Continue reading

U.S. Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman’s powerful reading was among the highlights of Inauguration Day. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Inauguration shines light in this never-ending shade

Here’s to renewal and resolve in 2021 and beyond

Lowell High School is considered an academically elite public school. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Students denounce ‘rampant, unchecked racism’ at Lowell after slurs flood anti-racism lesson

A lesson on anti-racism at Lowell High School on Wednesday was bombarded… Continue reading

Most Read