As we go back to analyze a World Series-winning season for the San Francisco Giants in The House That Steroids Built, we also present a new moniker for the organization’s … ahem … interesting ability to resurrect multiple players’ moribund careers, this one just coined, courtesy of ESPN: “Giants Play-Doh Extruder of Pitching Excellence.”
To interpret, this basically is ESPN calling out the S.F. organization in the same way Baseball Prospectus did a few years ago when it coined the phrase “Giants devil magic” for its miracle drug with hitters: The verb “extrude” basically means “to form,” and the Play-Doh reference is to something that has no shape or definition, obviously.
So? The Giants take nothing and make it into something: the established pattern of turning other teams’ discarded trash into something of value, despite not having any objectively stellar managers. One team’s trash is another team’s treasure? Always in The House That Steroids Built, as the 2014 season shows us.
Exhibit A: Mike Morse
Who? Exactly. Morse was an age-32 left fielder when he joined the Giants for the season after posting a .651 OPS with the Washington Nationals in 2013, in the season that typically ends a player’s “career prime” years. But he had a miraculous recovery with San Francisco, of course, boosting his OPS by 164 points—and his batting average by 64 points, too.
Considering his OPS had plummeted 259 points since the 2011 season, this was nothing short of ridiculous. Morse was one of those late-blooming players, too, who never made any noise in MLB until his age-28 season, so it fit perfectly for him to have a very short prime—until he came to The House That Steroids Built. The Giants didn’t resign him for 2015, and his OPS dropped back to .649 that year as he played out his career elsewhere.
Exhibit B: Jake Peavy
We see this story often, too, where the S.F. organization makes a midseason trade for a terrible player, and he suddenly discovers the Fountain of Youth in the City by the Bay. At age 33, Peavy was scuffling for the Boston Red Sox with a 1-9 record and a 4.72 ERA, but then the Giants acquired him, and he finished the season with a 2.17 ERA over 78 2/3 innings for San Francisco. How does that happen?
See above quote about Play-Doh. Peavy had won the NL Cy Young in 2006 while pitching for the San Diego Padres with Bruce Bochy as his manager. More mythology making there, of course, in the sense everyone spun it as a reunion of great minds. Keep in mind, the Red Sox won the World Series in 2013 despite Peavy’s 4.04 ERA with them. They knew how to coach, too, we suspect. Ahem.
Exhibit C: Jean Machi
This is a funny one. Fourteen (!) seasons in the minors, and this guy posted a 3.81 ERA. He made his MLB debut with the Giants at age 30, and in his age-32 season, he was never better. Machi won seven games in relief with a 2.58 ERA while earning two saves, too. His career ERA with other teams (Boston and Seattle) was 4.11, and he was out of the majors entirely in 2016 and for good after 2017.
After winning the World Series with this guy in the bullpen, the S.F. organization was able to pawn him off in 2015 to Boston during a non-contending season. His 5.12 ERA combined with both these cheating teams in that age-33 season seems about right, in truth, and in line with his actual talent level. Remember, late bloomers, minimal prime, but this is an extreme example of something else altogether.
Exhibit D: Yusmeiro Petit
Another player who was out of the majors entirely after sucking with other teams (Arizona and Florida), Petit came to the Giants in 2012 at age 27 after not being in the majors since 2009. His 5.57 ERA over almost 230 innings from 2006-2009 gave the S.F. organization no reason to go after him, but hey! Play-Doh, right? Right.
At age 29 in 2014, he posted a career-high 10.9 K/9 rate over a career-best 117 innings. His 1.017 WHIP also was a career-low mark at the time, and his 3.69 ERA was clearly a huge improvement over his prior MLB service time with the other teams listed above. The argument can be made that he just finally learned how to pitch, and we’d usually buy that if it wasn’t for all the other patterns of deceit here.
Conclusion: This doesn’t even include MadBum’s postseason violations
This literally was probably one of the worst teams to ever “win” the World Series. The Giants had been called out publicly for their ghost sellout streak in 2013, when the team finished under .500 for the first time since 2008, and clearly the organization felt it had to get back to its “winning” ways in order to stay profitable. All they had to do was get to the postseason and unleash MadBum, right?
Sadly, it worked, and it was another nail in the coffin for MLB’s ethical and moral reputation. Funny how those things do not matter in America when there is money to be made off suckers. But hey, we know the S.F. fan base was so desperate for a winner that it was willing to overlook the biggest cheater in MLB history, so the organization knew exactly what it had to do to please the Giants mob.