Liotta: This year’s Giants resemble 2002 NLCS champs

The similarities are striking between the 2010 Giants and the 2002 Giants — The City’s other National League Championship Series participant the last eight years.

Both teams were cobbled together by Brian Sabean with veteran players low on national reputations — other than Barry Bonds. Both leaned on late arrivals as key figures during their respective runs toward playing for a National League pennant.

The lineup that Bruce Bochy is running out this postseason has just one regular from a year ago — Juan Uribe, and he’s playing a different position. Two others played minor roles in Giants uniforms last season — outfielder Andres Torres, a free-agent signee in January 2009, and second baseman Freddy Sanchez, acquired in a late-July trade.

First baseman Aubrey Huff was a free-agent signee prior to this season. Buster Posey wasn’t called up until late May.

Pat Burrell was without a job after being let go by the Tampa Bay Rays in late May. Third baseman Mike Fontenot arrived in an August trade with the Cubs, and Cody Ross showed up in late August off the waiver wire.

In all, two guys have been here since the start of last season, and two others from the start of this season. To say this playoff run came together quickly is an understatement.

In 2002, things came together in much the same fashion — just over a slightly longer time frame. That year — with Bonds as his centerpiece — Sabean added four key players over the year prior to reaching the playoffs.

Third baseman David Bell was acquired in an offseason trade with Seattle, and outfielder Reggie Sanders was signed as a free agent in January.

Catcher Benito Santiago was without a job until the Giants signed him as a free agent on March 17 — that’s the middle of spring training if you don’t have a calendar handy.

Outfielder Kenny Lofton joined things in a trade-deadline deal in late July, and proved to be a key contributor to the 2002 postseason run.

All four, along with Bonds, a who signed as a free agent 10 years earlier, first baseman J.T. Snow and second baseman Jeff Kent — both acquired in trades, were in the starting lineup in the first game of the 2002 NLCS. Only the 2002 shortstop, Rich Aurilia, began his career with the Giants.

Tim Liotta is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to The Examiner. E-mail him at tliotta@sfexaminer.com.

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