Friday, December 19, 2008

Reading the Tea Leaves: Bumgarner in AA?

I've been speculating that Bumgarner might end up in AA and be paired up with Alderson there.

Of course, there is no guarantee that Alderson will end up in AA, I just read some speculation that Alderson might stay in San Jose, but when you have one of the best (top for any starter with over 16 starts, 3rd for 14 or more starts) ERAs in the league when you are 2-3 years younger than everyone else in the league, I don't think there is that much more to learn there, so I am concluding here that this speculation was not very informed, and that Alderson will be promoted to AA for 2009.

Bumgarner, on the other hand, while totally dominating in 2008, was in A-ball Augusta and the normal path is to promote him to San Jose.  But I think that when you were as dominating as Bumgarner is, you jump him a level to AA.  I think they kept him where he was in Augusta because they wanted him to both bond with the guys there, in case they play together in the future, and because it was his first full year as a professional and they didn't want to move him around and let him get acclimated to being a professional.  Also, I think he grew up in the South, in that area, so he would feel more like he's at home than far away from home if they moved him to San Jose mid-season.

Another possible clue to him moving to AA Connecticut is this little factoid that came up in the news:  Ross Grimsley, who was Augusta's pitching coach in 2008, has been promoted to AA Connecticutt.  Seeing as he was Bumgarner's coach, one would think they would move him to the level Bumgarner will be at.  In addition, Bumgarner's manager, Andy Skeels, at Augusta has been promoted to Advanced A San Jose for the 2009 season, so it would seem obvious to move Grimsley up to San Jose too, since they were a good coaching team at Augusta in 2008 and particularly if Bumgarner was being assigned to Advanced A San Jose for 2009.  Instead, they moved him to AA.

Giants Minors Coaching Staff Announced

sfgiants.com announced their minor league coaching staffs.  I discussed Grimsley above.  
  • Alderson's old coach, Pat Rice, is moving up to AAA but I don't think he's going to join his coach there.  
  • Ol' Steve Kline will join us as San Jose's pitching coach.  
  • I've been saying Posey would go to AA where Decker, an old catcher would be, but Andy Skeels is also a former catcher, so there goes that theory.  
  • Salem-Keizer will be joined by a familar name, Brian Cooper, a nice organizational player who we were lucky to have.  
  • Mike Caldwell is the pitching coach for the Arizona Giants of the AZL, and we once had a pitcher of that name, though it could be another guy with the same name.  
  • Former Giants prospect, Carlos Valderrama will be the hitting coach for the Dominican Summer League Giants.
  • Looks like Jim Davenport's son, Gary Davenport, will be the hitting coach for San Jose.

7 comments:

  1. Hello Martin -
    what you say about Bumgarner is perfectly logical. I think another logical way to treat him, given his very young age and the fact he is still developing his secondary pitches, would be to start him out in Hi A, San Jose, the Cal league, pretty much a hitters league. If he does anywhere near as well as he did in '08, then move him to the older players league (AA) mid season. At his unbelievable hyoung age, there is absolujtley nothing wrong with the Giants giving him a full year in hi A, AA, and AAA, with him reaching the MLB in '12, when he will be 22. If he continues to dominate, that could shorten to where he reaches MLB in '11 or even mid season of '10. Any opf these are logical - it all depends how MadBum does at each level.

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  2. Not a bad assessment. I think it's very possible that he starts in AA. Undoubtedly he will be there at some point this season so why not see what he can do from the get go.-Nuschlers News

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  3. hmmm... not sure these are particularly difficult "tea leaves" to read, Martin. But if you're looking for clues, why not start with Andy Baggarly's blog from Sept. 19th which includes this tidbit: "[Dick] Tidrow is thinking that Madison Bumgarner and Tim Alderson will be together next season at Double-A."

    http://blogs.mercurynews.com/extrabaggs/2008/09/15/playing-poker-molina-wants-to-re-sign-rowands-struggles-madbum-and-alderson-together-forever/

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  4. Thanks Roger, did not catch that (or remember that if I had caught it).

    But I would note that your quote says "is thinking" which means that it is not set in stone. The Giants were thinking of putting Ishikawa at Fresno after his first "bad" season at AA (where he mashed the bat on the road but was terrible at home) but then ended up putting him back there for an even worse season there, pushing him back down to San Jose later in the season.

    Plenty of time between now and the start of the season for them to change their mind.

    Hopefully they don't.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Allfrank, that's the typical logical progression of prospects, particularly young prospects, up the minors, I totally agree.

    However, that don't really apply to top tier prospects like a Bumgarner, and particularly to pitchers. Pitchers either got it or they don't. That's a major observation of the TINSTAAPP concept, that there is not pitching prospect, there is no in-between, either you know how to get major league hitters out or you don't.

    There is no prospecting in pitching because while hitters can develop with enough ABs, more pitching don't necessarily yield a developed pitcher, he needs to figure out a pitch (or repertoire) that gets hitters out, and throwing a new pitch should happen pretty quickly (Lincecum picked up the changeup really quickly, for example, that pushed him from good to great).

    Bumgarner was totally dominating in A-ball, and most pitchers don't do that at any level. Thus pitching him in San Jose would just waste his time there, I believe, as there is no way his pitching translated to Advanced A Cal League could be any worse than a 3.00 ERA (in fact, the MLE for his 2008 season is 3.27 FIP), in which case, he should be in AA. He needs to jump to AA to see how he matches up with the more advanced hitters there, and to work on his secondary pitches against the better hitters. Pitching against lesser hitters will not improve him, he needs to be challenged.

    Given that FIP, he could probably go to AAA, but he doesn't need to be rushed that much given that he's still under 20, plus could team up with Alderson, as they probably will for us in the future. In addition, Posey should be there as well, and the three of them should be playing a lot of ball together for the Giants in the near future.

    And top tier prospects don't move up a level per season, they (if they are that good) should be able to jump a level at some point in their career, like Justin Upton or Tim Lincecum did, among others.

    ReplyDelete
  6. One thing about using Justin Upton as a comp -- it seems to me that Arizona retarded his development by moving him so fast in '07. He's got too much talent not to put it together eventually. But I don't know that they did him any favors by forcing him to learn so much at the major league level. Letting him accumulate some minor league ABs certainly wouldn't have hurt him and might well have helped him (particularly given that his full season in the Midwest League was a little tough on him to begin with).

    ReplyDelete
  7. Sabean does it again! Just read on ESPN.com that The Giants have agreed to a 1yr/$8mil deal with Randy Johnson. He can earn another $5mil in performance bonuses.

    I think the Giants should seriously contend for the NL West title. Even if we deal off a starter for some Offense we'd still have the best pitching in the West.

    Plus The Big Unit's quest for 300 wins will put more butts in the seats and add a little extra national attention to the Giants. Hopefully the O or bullpen doesn't crap the bed and cost Johnson some victories. We don't need negative attention.

    ReplyDelete

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