Big Cat heads to San Francisco

By Jim Callis

July 24, 2001

Trying to spark their sagging offense and wild-card hopes, the Giants acquired veteran first baseman Andres Galarraga from the Rangers on Tuesday for three minor leaguers, outfielder Chris Magruder, righthander Todd Ozias and lefthander Erasmo Ramirez. None of the three is considered a blue-chip prospect.

Galarraga, 39, was one of the most heartwarming stories of 2000. After missing the entire 1999 season while battling cancer, he started for the National League in the All-Star Game. Galarraga did fade in the second half, however, and batted just .235-10-34 in 72 games in 2001 after signing with Texas as a free agent. The Big Cat is still formidable against lefthanders, hitting .273-6-12 in 66 at-bats against them this year, and that’s why San Francisco acquired him. Incumbent first baseman J.T. Snow is batting .220 with no extra-base hits in 41 at-bats against southpaws in 2001, and is a career .221 hitter versus lefties.

Magruder, 24, is the only one of the three minor leaguers who made the Giants Top 30 Prospects list in Baseball America’s 2001 Prospect Handbook. A 1998 second-round pick out of the University of Washington, he lacks an outstanding tool but is competent in several areas. He batted .270-12-41 in 94 games between Double-A Shreveport and Triple-A Fresno in 2001.

Ozias, 24, was an eighth-round pick out of the University of Miami in 1998. Coming off consecutive 20-save seasons in the high Class A California League, he was made a setup man at Shreveport this year. He went 3-3, 2.73 in 33 games for the Swamp Dragons, sporting a 32-22 strikeout-walk ratio in 56 innings.

Ramirez, 25, also was drafted in 1998, as an 11th-rounder from Cal State Fullerton. He was rocked for a 6.44 ERA with the Swamp Dragons in 2000, but rebounded to go 5-2, 2.77 with 72 strikeouts and just 10 walks in 65 innings between high Class A San Jose and Shreveport this year.

From the Rangers’ standpoint, this trade was a salary dump. They’ll pick up another $1 million of Galarraga’s contract but still will save $1.5 million. For the Giants, they got stronger against lefthanders at the expense of three lower-tier prospects. Magruder was assigned to Triple-A Oklahoma, while the relievers were sent to Double-A Tulsa.