SF Giants: Happy 51st Birthday to Mark Sweeney
By Jeff Young
Former SF Giants first baseman and pinch-hitter extraordinaire Mark Sweeney is celebrating his 51st birthday on Monday.
The left-handed bat played with the SF Giants in 2006 and 2007 before being traded in August of 2007.
With the Orange and Black, Sweeney registered a .252/.340/.390 line (87 OPS+) with seven home runs and 47 RBI across 398 plate appearances.
Sweeney worked primarily as a pinch-hitter throughout his career, which is a very difficult skill to excel in. On top of this, he was no stranger to the NL West as he played with the Giants, San Diego Padres, Colorado Rockies, and Los Angeles Dodgers as well as several other teams
In 14 seasons, he produced a .254/.347/.387 line (92 OPS+) while stringing together gritty at-bats and being a tough out.
As the Giants entered a rebuilding phase in the mid-2000’s, Sweeney saw perhaps his most extensive playing time with San Francisco.
In the midst of one of his better seasons in 2007 where he posted a .779 OPS in 107 plate appearances, Sweeney was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in August to give them a much-needed, experienced bat down the stretch.
That’s right. You read that correctly. The Giants and Dodgers completed a trade.
During the Brian Sabean era, The Giants hardly ever traded with division rivals, but this was one rare exception.
Sweeney posted a .273 batting average in 34 plate appearances while the Dodgers finished the year with an 82-80 record, which was good enough for fourth place in the NL West.
In exchange for Sweeney, the Giants received second base prospect Travis Denker as the player to be named later.
Denker would debut with the Giants a year later and strung together a nice showing at the plate, albeit in a small sample. In 42 plate appearances, he slashed a .243/.333/.486 line with one home run and three RBI.
That would be his only opportunity in the majors. A good reminder that baseball careers can be fleeting, and often, very short.
Denker continued playing professional baseball until 2017 where he finished the year with the Arizona Diamondbacks AA-affiliate.
So, why is this important anyway?
The trade between the Giants and Dodgers was the first transaction between these two teams in 22 years. Not surprisingly, the Giants have not swung a deal with the division rivals since then.
Happy Birthday, Mark Sweeney.