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As Giants pay tribute to ’97 team, franchise greats analyze how team can recover from 2017 demise

It’s been 20 years since the 1997 Giants converted the coveted “worst-to-first” turnaround to win the National League West.

After going 68-94 and finishing 1996 in last place, the Giants revamped their roster under new general manager Brian Sabean. They would go on the next season to win 90 games and edge out the Dodgers by two games for the NL West title. It was the Giants’ first appearance in the playoffs in nine years, and although they were eliminated in the division series by the Florida Marlins, the ’97 team is often credited with restoring fan interest in baseball back to San Francisco.

The Giants recognized the ’97 team with a pregame ceremony before Saturday night’s game against the Diamondbacks. Returning to AT&T were Giant favorites such as Barry Bonds, J.T. Snow, Kirk Reuter, Jose Vizcaino and Brian Johnson. With the Giants’ 2017 unraveling similar to the 1996 season, former Giants chimed in on what it will take for next years Giants to pull the same “worst-to-first” feat.

Brian Johnson:

“Like every year, I think you have to look to revamp your roster and try to get better. I think we still have a lot of good core players but I think we need to make some adjustments around, we need some guys that can make a big change for next year and have better years. Some of the guys were just bumps in the road, I think they didn’t quite perform up to their standard, which I think they’d be the first ones to admit, so I think we get regrouped here and in the offseason be ready to go for 2018.”

Kirk Reuter:

“They just got to get back to I think what the core group has done in their normal years. I think you’ll see the tide change from this year. They all know how to win, obviously. The core group’s won three World Series so I think hopefully we’ll chalk this one up to sports being sports and they had a bad year. Next year, they’ll get back. I’m sure they’ll tweak it a little, I’m sure Bobby will go out, he’ll probably tweak a few things, get some guys in here but I’m looking forward to getting to bounce back here next year.

“I’m one of those guys that’s always a positive guy. If you can build around Posey, Crawford and obviously Bumgarner being there a full year – I’ll take my chances with those guys. They got a proven track record so one year, I’ll throw that out as the bad year but I think next year you’ll see a different Giants team.”

Shawn Estes:

“It’s a lot different scenario than we had from 1996 to 1997, kind of, I mean we ended up the 96 season with a lot of the young guys kind of like this team is right now. We had some established veterans, we had Matt Williams and Barry Bonds. We had Robby Thompson, Kirt Manwaring was traded midseason that year. Mark Carreon was our first baseman to open up that season and we had a new GM.

“Give Bobby Evans a little while, and he’ll fill in, get some pieces that they do need. Some bullpen arms. Center field could possibly, you’ll probably see a platoon situation with Pence and Span next year. Maybe one of the young guys steps up this season and he ends up playing a little, but I don’t see Bobby Evans making a big splash or making as many moves as you saw Brian Sabean make in the winter of 1996.”

Jose Vizcaino:

“They have a lot of injuries this year, it’s one of the biggest points of why they’re not doing so well. You have to have everybody healthy and you don’t play the way they’ve been playing the last couple years. Winning three World Series in a span of five years is because they have everybody healthy. That was the reason they won.”

Barry Bonds:

“Win games! That’s the bottom line. You have to win games.”


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