Something odd has been going on in San Francisco. The Giants win the World Series in even years (at least in 2010 and 2012), and flame out in the odd ones. The calendar has flipped since last year's season-long struggle, and, after inconsistent performances throughout this summer, the Giants' play has, well, evened out down the stretch.
San Francisco now rests safely in the top wild card spot (3.5 games up on the second wild card). But let's save the praise for the turns of the Gregorian calendar, and give some credit to GM Brian Sabean, whose odd-numbered (three!), simplistic moves have shored up an average roster, and given the Giants a shot at another even-year title.
Signing Tim Hudson
Hudson's accomplished run in Atlanta came to an end last summer, when he suffered a gruesome ankle injury while covering first. Many, perhaps justifiably, figured the then-38 year-old righty was on the decline: his ERA was rising (3.97 in his last Atlanta year), and he'd just endured a horrific injury to his plant foot (right).
But GM Brian Sabean thought he saw something, signing the veteran to a two-year, $23 million deal. And whatever he thought he glimpsed in Hudson's future has certainly come to pass.
Hudson made the All-Star team, has his lowest ERA in five years (3.12), and has claimed the highest strikeout-to-walk ratio of his career (3.61). Although Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum had shown cracks in their game, Sabean couldn't have known just how prudent and necessary the Hudson signing would be (Cain is out for the year, Lincecum moved to the pen).
Bringing in Michael Morse
After two so-so, injury-plagued seasons in Washington, Seattle, and Baltimore, Sabean signed Morse on the cheap (one year, $6 million). Although Morse's injury bug has returned to pester him late in the season, his early production (reminiscent of his 31-homer season for the 2011 Nationals) kept the middling Giants afloat in the early summer (.280/.338/.477, with 16 home runs and 61 RBis on the year).
When Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, and Hunter Pence are all hitting, the presence of a healthy Morse presents a menacing middle of the order for the 2014 Giants.
Trading for Jake Peavy
Before Matt Cain announced he would have season-ending elbow surgery, the Giants acquired Jake Peavy from the Red Sox, just in case. While San Francisco gave up just two young relievers (Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree), the team gained a 13-year veteran to solidify the rotation. In an admittedly-small sample of eight starts (53 innings) by the bay, Peavy has reversed course from his recent Boston days, tossing 3.25 strikeouts per walk (2.17 earlier this year in Boston), amassing a 2.36 ERA (4.72 for the Sox), and earning a 2.99 FIP (4.79 for Boston). And this all after struggling in his first few Californian starts. Peavy hasn't given up more than two runs in a start in a month, earning five straight quality starts, and -- possibly -- earning the Giants more even-year'd hardware.