Chris Speier in the All-Time Franchise All-Stars

November 2, 2010

When a team breaks through and wins a championship after decades of trying and failing, the decades of trying and failing are transformed into one long season, a championship season that just took a little longer than most. The roster of the 2010 World Series Champions already seemed unusually voluminous throughout the playoffs, a product of the team’s reliance on all its parts, and now, with last night’s title-clinching win over the Rangers, it includes every last Giant ever to pass through San Francisco.

So with congratulations to the Giants and all their fans, and a special nod to Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, who has entertained me for years as a screaming-himself-hoarse loose cannon sports radio host (and who is a rabid Giants fan and Chris Speier idolizer from childhood), I thought I’d try to name some of the bygone guys coming along for the ride when the 2010 Giants parade through their city as champs. Here’s my stab at coming up with an all-time franchise all-star team for the San Francisco Giants, off the top of my head (it’s more fun that way), and with some notes and one prefatory remark in celebration of this year’s amazing collection of odds and ends: not a single player from the team that finally won it all could make the franchise’s all-time all-star starting nine.

C: Dick Dietz. The current Giants catcher, Buster Posey, is a spectacular talent, but it doesn’t seem fair to me to place him on the all-time franchise all-stars after just one season. Dietz had a relatively short career but packed it full of productive offensive seasons. He drew a ton of walks and had decent power.

1B: Willie McCovey. An easy call, though it bumps another all-time Giant great, Will Clark, to the bench.

2B: Jeff Kent

SS: Chris Speier. The back of the card at the top of this page testifies to Speier’s one-time and long forgotten status as an elite player in the game: “Chris has been on the past 3 N.L. All-Star Squads.” Speier was a good fielder and, at that time (possibly the low point in baseball history in terms of the hitting abilities of shortstops), among the best offensive threats at his position. He would never make another all-star squad, but he’d go on to have enough good seasons for his next team, the Expos, that a certain blogger would argue for his inclusion on the Expos’ all-time franchise all-star team, too.

3B: Matt Williams

LF: Barry Bonds

CF: Willie Mays

RF: Bobby Bonds

SP: Juan Marichal

RP: Rod Beck

Human victory cigar: Johnnie LeMaster. This category in the All-Time Franchise All-Stars feature was formerly known as the “wild card”; I’ve renamed it in honor of the Giants’ triumph, in that this slot is really reserved for the guy not named above whom you’d most like to see riding in the victory parade. How can you not want to see the player once known as Johnny Disaster bathed in the light of redemption?


  1. Not a big talk radio fan, but I always liked the idea that Russo was a SF Giant fan while hosting a talk radio show in NY.

    Also, those 1960’s Giants teams were loaded with talent. Mays, McCovey, Marichal, Cepeda, Perry. Five straight years they finished 2nd to STL or the Dodgers.

  2. Josh,

    I would quibble with only one of your selections: Dick Dietz. If my memory serves me, and it doesn’t always, he only had one big year at the plate and, as you say, he had a short career. But the other factor was his lack of defense. I don’t think he was a very good defensive catcher.

    But who would I replace him with? Probably Tom Haller, a three-time AS, a fair hitter for catchers of his time, and one of the best defensive catchers in the game. He was also with the Giants much longer than Dietz.

    Two other possibilities would be Benito Santiago who had some of his best years in SF and Bengie Molina, whose short stay with the Giants was very productive and at least as long as that of Dietz.

  3. Good call on a different catcher. I took a peek, and Dietz’ lack of playing time with the Giants really hurts his case. He only had two seasons with more than 338 at bats with them, and only two other seasons with over 300 at bats.

    He’d still be my choice at catcher if we were picking a Strat-O-Matic team from all the SF Giants. His career on-base percentage is a stellar .390, which I’d guess is better than most if not all catchers in the hall of fame.

  4. Most Giants fans will take Nen over Beck, especially because Nen gave up his career to try to carry the team through the 2002 playoffs.

    Nen: 5 years, 2.43 ERA, 206 saves
    BecK: 7 years, 2.97 ERA, 199 saves

  5. Not a lot to choose from at catcher. I think I would have to go with Haller

  6. The very first person I thought of when the Giants finally won was Mad Dog Russo!

    I would only wish that we would have had the chance to hear him and Mike Franscesca today on WFAN celebrating- he was always good at taming Mike’s rabid Yankee passions- today with those two would have been a treat.

  7. I’ve always liked the Giants and I the look of their new park on TV and even thought of them as my favorite NL team, but I look at this year’s world champs and see an 81 win team in the AL East. The expanded playoffs has kind of taken some of the buzz out of the World Series for me. I did like how the youthful battery of Bumgarner and Posey did so well in Game 5, though. I never buy all the ‘veteran’ mythology stuff that ex-players in particular try to sell.

  8. Mad Dog’s got his own channel on satellite now. I didn’t get a chance to hear his 1 pm “aaaaaand good afternoon everybodaayyy!” sign-on, but I have to think it was loud enough to set off car alarms three counties away.

    I can’t argue with Nen as the closer, but one thing Beck’s got over him (as Beck’s sponser on baseball-reference.com puts it) is that he’s “the original Ricky Powers.”

  9. This list just reminds me how the Catching position has been a week spot for the Giants since the moved to San Francisco. How poetic that a catcher, (Buster Posey) was such a big part of this team.

    Dietz didn’t have a very long career (2244) plate appearances and he only had 2 full seasons as a Giants catcher. He could definitely hit, career 129+ but his defense was horrible.

    I think it’s a toss-up between Tom Haller or Bob Brenly as the all time Giants catcher. Posey should be the all time Giants catcher in 5 years.

    Robby Thompson was a very good 2b for the Giants, he’s close to Kent at second.

    Gaylord Perry is a forgotten great SF pitcher for some reason.

    The Giants made some terrible trades in retrospect:

    Gaylord Perry, Bobby Bonds, George Foster, Garry Maddox, Dave Kingman, and Bill Madlock.

  10. A rookie Chris Speier hit 2 HR for the Giants at Veterans Stadium, beating the Phillies in the first baseball game I ever attended!

  11. That same year I saw him play SS for the Giants in the Cardinals home opener. The year before that I saw him play SS for the Amarillo AA team in a game in Memphis.

    Other players in that game who eventually made it to the majors (with varying degree of success) were John Milner for Memphis (Mets affiliate) and, in addition to Speier, Jim Barr, Chris Arnold, Jim Howarth, and Jim Barr for Amarillo.

  12. And oh yeah. The Amarillo first baseman was Dave Kingman.

  13. Sorry, there was only one Jim Barr.

  14. No, not Chris Speier at shortstop! Speier at shortstop was the defensive weakness on the 1978-83 Montreal Expos. With a better shortstop those Expo teams would have played in more than one (1981) post-season. Whitey Herzog says less drug (cocaine) use would have helped those Expo teams (in “Your Missing a Great Game” the White Rat states that Montreal is the drug capital of North America). I must stress that Speier was NOT one of the coke snorters. Speier best defensive years were his first few seasons with the Giants in the early 70’s.

    My pick for the best San Francisco Giants shortstop is Rich Aurilia. Jose Uribe would be his late inning defensive caddy.

    Opponents would steal you blind with Dick Dietz behind the plate! My Giants catching platoon would be Tom Haller and Buster Posey.

    Jeff Kent starts at second base. Robby Thompson would be his defensive replacement.

    Yes, Juan Marichal is the ace starter in San Francisco Giant history. Expand that to a five man starting rotation so that Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain may be added along with Gaylord Perry and Mike McCormick. Perhaps Jason Schmidt might be substituted for McCormick.

    Besides Rod Beck the Giant bullpen would include Brian Wilson, Rob Nen, Greg Minton, and Gary LaVelle.

    I am an Angels season ticket holder who could not pass up the opportunity to TWICE fly roundtrip from SNA to SFO to see the last five Giant home games of 2010. For the World Series I actually wore a Giants cap. AT&T Park hosted the best Halloween Parties I have ever been to! I would rather spend my money going to the NLCS and WS games than betting on them. I was a Nevada resident (Incline Village) for eleven years (1991-2001) and have never been on the Las Vegas Strip. Thanks gamblers for paying my taxes all of those years!

  15. Down through the years the SF Giants were pretty weak at SS and C. But 1B was a strong position: Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda, Will Clark.

    Those three could make the all-time teams of a lot of franchises.

  16. Josh: I hate to be a nitpicker, but the name is Kenny %&*#! Powers. Get the **&%# name right or don’t @#%%&*! use it at all. Actually,I appreciated the baseball-reference site and now have it on my list of favorites. And I had forgotten that Rod Beck was no longer with us (and I once went to a Halloween party as Rod-shame on me).

  17. Thanks for the correction. Good god, “Ricky”? My brain is . . . not good.

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