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Evaluating the Giants' Playoff Odds After the Trade Deadline

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Evaluating the Giants' Playoff Odds After the Trade Deadline
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
General manager Brian Sabean's Giants are in last place in the NL West.

The non-waiver trade deadline has come and gone, and the San Francisco Giants have chosen to stay the course.

Much to the surprise of Giants fans, general manager Brian Sabean was unable to put together a deal before the clock expired Wednesday afternoon.

In previous years, midsummer moves had been vital to the Giants’ hopes of making the postseason. In 2012, Sabean added NLCS MVP Marco Scutaro and Hunter Pence in July, both of whom proved crucial down the stretch.

Earlier in July, the Giants were positioning themselves as buyers. Rumors circulated that San Francisco would seek to trade for starting pitching for the first time since 2003, via CBS Sports' Danny Knobler.

As the deadline approached, it seemed increasingly unlikely that the Giants would achieve this goal. ESPN's Jayson Stark reported that despite the Giants’ interest in Astros starter Bud Norris, the right-hander would not be headed to San Francisco.

Instead, with Norris and other starters off the table, the Giants quickly became potential sellers. Three soon-to-be free agents appeared to be in trade consideration—Pence, starter Tim Lincecum and lefty specialist Javier Lopez.

But Sabean chose to stand pat, leaving Giants fans guessing what the front office expects from the rest of the season.

Trade deadline moves are generally a good indicator of the management’s vision. Buyers are hoping to contend, and sellers are hoping to rebuild. But the Giants did neither and emerged with no new star and no new prospects.

Few blockbuster deals were made across the league, and Sabean said he wasn’t the only GM “frustrated” with the quality of players and prospects on the market, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Without a shot in the arm from a big deadline move, 2013 is edging ever closer to being a lost year. The Giants are in last place in the National League West, 9.5 games back from the Los Angeles Dodgers. They went an abysmal 8-17 in July while winning only two series. The San Francisco offense appeared to regress, ranking last in the National League in home runs and RBI.

At this point, the outlook isn’t brilliant for the Giants. 

With the Dodgers playing as they are, the Giants’ chances of taking the West are slim to none. The Giants are even further back in the wild-card race, 11 games out of the second slot. 

Though a team full of talent, the Giants have underperformed this season, and there’s no reason to expect a miraculous turnaround. Plagued by an inconsistent offense that cannot do enough to spell its rocky starting pitching, the Giants lack the foundation to make a run at the playoffs. 

The Giants’ inability to win on the road—exemplified by Barry Zito’s 9.97 road ERA—will make a difficult August and September schedule even tougher. They will face their NL West opponents 13 times down the stretch, including a four-game series in Los Angeles. 

Without dominating starting pitching and an offense that can consistently put runs on the board, the Giants’ trade deadline inaction did nothing to alter the course of the season.

The only thing that remains to be seen is whether Sabean missed out on an opportunity to restock the Giants farm system.

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