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A brief history of the Giants and established free agent starters

There aren't a lot, and most of them weren't good.

Christian Petersen

Tim Hudson is about to make his Giants debut, which is a sentence that would have been really, really exciting in 2005, but it still kinda neat in 2014. I'm hoping for good things, if only because for the first time in seven years, the veteran mercenary on the staff is going to throw harder than 83.

It's also a good time to take a look at all of the established starting pitchers the Giants have acquired through free agency. There's no great way to define "established," other than with a know-it-when-you-see-it approach. More than 50 career wins? An All-Star appearance? I'm setting the line at Scott Sanderson, who doesn't make the list.

Ready? I'm not.

Bud Black

Black was 34 when he signed with the Giants, and he was coming off two really solid seasons. But, really, the Giants signed him for only one reason:


It was worth it. The pitching ... not so much. Black led the league in losses, and dealt with injuries for the rest of his contract. After entering the Giants' secret school of espionage and sabotage, Black was never seen again.

Verdict: Not a good deal.

Mark Portugal


This is a classic, a deal that still gets mentioned today as shorthand for "player the Giants signed just because he killed the Giants." Portugal went 18-4 with a 2.77 ERA (139 ERA+) in his last year with the Astros, finishing sixth in the Cy Young. He would have signed a five year, $90 million deal if he were a free agent today, so it could have been worse.

Portugal was middling for two seasons, then he was traded for a package that included Deion Sanders.

Verdict: Not a good deal.

Steve Carlton

Carlton was a husk of a Hall of Famer when the Giants signed him on Fourth of July, a holiday that Carlton probably equates with Freemasons. Or Roger Mason.

This doesn't really count, considering he was signed midseason, probably for something close to the minimum, though it's still neato that the Giants get to tack another name on the list of Hall of Famers in franchise history.

Verdict: Not a good deal

Orel Hershiser

Dammit, again.

Leaving a trail of slime wherever he went, Hershiser was gross. He pitched poorly and was irritating and chirpy, and he was probably the sole reason the Giants didn't make the playoffs and win the World Series in 1998.

He was really talented off the field, though:

Verdict: Not a good deal

Matt Morris

If you don't remember, Morris used to be a helluva pitcher. When the Giants beat the Cardinals in the 2002 NLCS, he was one of those pitchers who seemed unbeatable -- not quite Kershaw, but maybe Scherzer or something. By the time he got to the Giants, he was an innings-munching specialist. The Giants should have expected what they got (two years of just-below-average pitching), but somehow I think they expected more.

At least he gave us Rajai Davis anecdotes, in a roundabout way. Now I need some Rajai Davis anecdotes to make that feel like it was worth it.

Verdict: Not a good deal

Randy Johnson

I was so, so geeked for this deal. He was the perfect, low-cost, high-upside pitcher for the Giants at the time. Turns out he was 45 years old. He's still one of the greatest tools-to-legend stories in baseball, as he was almost 30 before he had his first excellent season. Then he pitched for 15 more seasons.

Here's a GIF of Randy Johnson taking a picture of Megadeth:

Alas, Johnson didn't have one more year in him. He wasn't all that good, and after an injury, he retired as a Giant.

Verdict: Not a good deal.

Barry Zito

/taps pen against pursed lips

You know ...

/furrows brow

The thing about Barry Zito is that ...

/coughs nervously

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Yeah, I'm okay with it.

Verdict: One of baseball's greatest free agent signings

There you have it. First, the Giants don't sign pitchers you've heard of, and when they do, it doesn't work out. Except for Barry Zito. Sweet, dependable (using a loose definition of the word) Barry Zito.

Oh, and except for Tim Hudson. He's probably cool. Please.