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San Francisco Giants: 2003 MLB trade deadline review

DENVER - AUGUST 27: Starting pitcher Sidney Ponson #43 of the San Francisco Giants delivers a pitch against the Colorado Rockies in the first inning during the game at Coors Field on August 27, 2003 in Denver, Colorado. The Giants won 6-4. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
DENVER - AUGUST 27: Starting pitcher Sidney Ponson #43 of the San Francisco Giants delivers a pitch against the Colorado Rockies in the first inning during the game at Coors Field on August 27, 2003 in Denver, Colorado. The Giants won 6-4. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
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In the days leading up to this year’s MLB trade deadline, we’ll take a look back at San Francisco Giants deadlines past. Next up, the 2003 trade deadline.

The San Francisco Giants had a 49-32 record entering the month of July during the 2003 season, which left them with a 3.5-game lead in the NL West standings.

That sparked a busy month leading up to the trade deadline, with multiple moves made to upgrade the MLB roster. By the end of the month, they were 68-40 and their division lead had swelled to 12 games.

Here’s a look at their July activity:

July 11, 2003: Signed RHP Dustin Hermanson as a free agent

The Giants jumped at the chance to add a veteran arm to a young pitching staff when Dustin Hermanson was released by the St. Louis Cardinals on June 26.

The 30-year-old had been used exclusively out of the bullpen by the Cardinals in 2003, posting a 5.46 ERA in 23 appearances.

The Giants deployed him in a swingman role, and he posted a 3.00 ERA and 1.15 WHIP over 39 innings spanning six starts and three relief appearances. He ended up making the postseason roster and worked a scoreless inning in his lone appearance. Not bad for a scrapheap signing.

July 24, 2003: RHP Matt Herges acquired from San Diego Padres for RHP Clay Hensley, cash

A late-bloomer who did not make his MLB debut until his age-29 season, Matt Herges was in the midst of the best season of his career when the Giants acquired him from the San Diego Padres.

The 33-year-old had a 2.86 ERA with three saves and four holds in 40 appearances at the time of the trade, and it was more of the same in San Francisco where he posted a 2.31 ERA with five holds in 27 games.

He actually ended up taking over the closer’s role in 2004, saving 23 games in 31 chances.

Clay Hensley had one solid season in the San Diego rotation, going 11-12 with a 3.71 ERA and 1.34 WHIP over 187 innings in 2006. He eventually made his way back to San Francisco, appearing in 60 games out of the bullpen during the 2012 season.

July 31, 2003: RHP Sidney Ponson acquired from Baltimore Orioles for RHP Kurt Ainsworth, LHP Damian Moss, LHP Ryan Hannaman

Sidney Ponson was one of the best rental arms on the market in 2003 and the Giants paid a steep price to add him to the rotation for the playoff push.

Kurt Ainsworth was the No. 2 prospect in the Giants system and the No. 64 prospect in baseball heading into the 2003 season, according to Baseball America. The 24-year-old had a solid 3.82 ERA in 11 starts with the MLB prior to the trade.

Left-hander Damian Moss had been acquired from the Atlanta Braves during the offseason in the Russ Ortiz trade, and the 26-year-old had also seen time in the MLB rotation, going 9-7 with a 4.70 ERA in 20 starts.

It was an all-in move to add a proven veteran arm to the starting staff.

Ponson went 3-6 with a 3.71 ERA and 1.21 ERA in 10 starts following the trade, and he allowed seven hits and four earned runs over five innings for a no-decision in his lone postseason start. He wound up re-signing with the Baltimore Orioles in free agency during the offseason.

Summary

The San Francisco Giants won 100 games to claim the NL West title by a staggering 15.5 games, but they were ousted in the NLDS by the wild-card Florida Marlins who went on to win the World Series.

Ainsworth fizzled out in Baltimore, so at least going all-in to acquire Ponson didn’t burn them in the long run.

Next. 2002 MLB trade deadline review

Check back here in the days and weeks to come for more San Francisco Giants trade deadline reviews, all culminating in what promises to be a busy 2019 deadline.

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