I guess it was a good indicator that Donruss was in trouble when they couldn't manage to find a photo of Kurt Ainsworth in an O's uniform. Then again, they didn't have a whole lot of opportunities.
The deadline deal that is referred to was a real howler. Sidney Ponson had finally rewarded the Birds for years of incredible patience, and had a career high 14 wins and a career-low 3.77 ERA and 1.28 WHIP. Of course, it was his walk year and the team was, as per usual, lousy. So they shopped him to the highest bidder, which was apparently the San Francisco Giants. The return on the deal?
-26-year-old Aussie pitcher Damian Moss, who had won 12 games as a rookie with the Braves the previous year, but was struggling at 9-7, 4.70 with the Giants. His performance with the Orioles made his work in San Fran look inspired: 1-5, 6.22. Baltimore let him loose at the end of the year. Since a disastrous five games in Tampa Bay in 2004, he's been wandering AAA ballparks around the country.
-Ryan Hannaman, a 21-year-old lefty pitcher who threw hard, but couldn't stay healthy. He pitched ten games in two seasons at single-A Frederick before calling it a career.
-Ainsworth, a member of the gold-medal U.S. Olympic baseball team in 2000, had shown promise during a few cups of coffee with the Giants. He had struck out more than a batter per inning in his minor league career. But in ten games with the O's (2003-2004), he allowed more than a run per inning. His list of injuries with Baltimore is staggering: broken shoulder blade (how painful does that sound?), elbow inflammation, torn labrum and rotator cuff. That's all she wrote.
After a ho-hum second half with the Giants (3-6, 3.77) and a lousy performance in the NLDS (7 H, 4 ER in 5 IP), Sidney came back to the Birds, signing a 3-year, $22.5 million contract. He spent the next two years drinking, driving, punching judges, and getting lit up by opposing hitters before the team finally terminated his contract.
Talk about a lousy trade. Not only did the Orioles get nothing out of the players they received, they were also embarrassed and hurt by the guy they traded away! Unfortunately, I think Mike Flanagan and Jim Beattie lost the receipt to that transaction. Ugh.