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Projecting Tim Hudson's 2014 season

It should be good, unless it isn't.

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

My biggest worry when Tim Hudson signed was that his ERA was going to go up a half-run because he wasn't facing the Giants anymore. There's an archetype in my head of the pitchers who seem to do well against the Giants: cagey, veteran strike-throwers, mostly. Which is to say, Hudson.

But he wasn't that great against the Giants, with an 8-5 mark and 3.51 ERA in 18 starts. The Giants walked fewer times against him than almost any other opponent -- no, it's true -- but he wasn't a Giant-killer. My initial concern was without merit. His ERA isn't automatically going to jump up because he has to face the Braves instead of the Giants this year.

It could jump up because he's old, though. Yeah, that's a concern. He's turning 39 in July. In the 50-plus seasons the Giants have been in San Francisco, here's a list of starters who made more than 20 starts at the age of 38 or older:

Rick Reuschel (twice)
Mark Gardner
Orel Hershiser
Danny Darwin

Gardner lost his job the following year. Hershiser was fairly lousy by then, as was Danny Darwin. This is not the most encouraging list.

Ah, but that first name. There you go, that's the one. Here's what Reuschel did for the Giants:

1988 39 SFG 36 .633 245.0 42 92 3.12 105 11
1989 40 SFG 32 .680 208.1 54 111 2.94 115 18

He also helped them win a pennant, he did. The ERAs are a little deceptive because of the league-wide scoring rates, just like they are now. Reuschel was also built like the old Pablo Sandoval sitting on the shoulders of the new Pablo Sandoval, yet he still gave the Giants two outstanding years. This isn't just an age-related comparison, as Reuschel was a sinker-lobber who thrived on hitters pounding the ball into the dirt, just like Hudson.

Hershiser was a sinker-thrower, too, of course.

I'd be so annoyed if Hudson turned out to be Hershiser.

Man, I can't stand Orel Hershiser. He ruins everything.

Think positive thoughts, think Reuschel. Here's what Hudson looks like when he's successful:

Bonus coverage of Angel Hernandez being awful at the end.

The sinker moves and darts, occasionally madduxing left-handed hitters who gave up on the pitch. The slider and change are plus pitches, too. When he's right, he's fun to watch. All that needs to happen is that he needs to stay healthy and productive for the next two years.

Which ... dunno. Seems optimistic. Of all the high-risk, high-reward, short-term pitchers on the market this year, I think Hudson was the most palatable option, so don't take this as garden-variety, Giants-are-silly cynicism. I would rather the Giants pay for two years of Tim Hudson than seven or eight of Masahiro Tanaka, and Hudson wins a matchup like that against almost every other pitcher who was on the free-agent market this past winter. No, this is simply baseball-is-a-jerk cynicism. Baseball treats every player like a contestant on The Running Man. There's some bedazzled freak hunting Hudson down right now.

Give me one year of Reuschel and one of Hershiser, then. The Reuschel will come this year, and it will be quite nice:

Tim Hudson
IP: 193
ERA: 3.31
BB: 49
K: 148
HR: 11

He's going to love Brandon Crawford at short, though I'm not sure how he'll feel about Joe Panik and Joaquin Arias at second all year. The Giants replaced Barry Zito with Tim Hudson. How can you not smell the spring optimism after reading that sentence? Nnnrnnnnkkk, man, that's good spring optimism.

Barry Zito is not pitching for the Giants every fifth day. Tim Hudson is.

Say it yourself a couple times, it feels good. Barry Zito is not pitching for the Giants every fifth day. Tim Hudson is.