Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Mad about Madison Bumgarner

It was announced today that Madison Bumgarner is getting called up, according to Henry Schulman's blog, The Splash. I've checked other usual sources and seen no other mention of this move (not that I don't believe it but rather no other bits of information to provide).

It has been announced that Lincecum has some sort of back injury that flared up and thus Bumgarner will be starting today. I also searched Twitter and someone speculated that this move was made because Affledt is hurting and Hinshaw ineffective, leaving only Runzler as the only LHP available. Bumgarner would add another lefty arm once Lincecum is OK. According to Schulman, Bochy did not indicate any long-term problem with Lincecum and noted that Lincecum would be better in a couple of days.

The question, again, is who gets pushed off the island (40-man roster) this time? I would have to go with my first choice last time, Brian Bocock. Anyone else would be someone who has or had some promise or prior performance, while Bocock hasn't hit anywhere he has played yet.

Giants Thoughts

Some people are upset and some are confused. I don't see what the problem is.

One, Bumgarner gets experience up in the majors. People discount this but Earl Weaver thought it was important enough that he brought starters up slowly, letting him relieve first then eventually start, as he acclimates to major league life. And the additional time on his service clock won't affect his arbitration status at all, as it is so little (same with Posey). I think this will be good for his development plus he might pick up some tips that he can work on over the off-season and prepare for the 2010 season. Who knows, this could also give the team a look at Bumgarner and see whether he can possibly be a starter for us to start next season.

Two, so what if Sabean "changed his mind". Life changes, circumstances changes. If the rumors are true that either Affeldt or Lincecum is hurting, then I can see bringing up Bumgarner to fill out their role. As much as Sabean likes to have vets, when there are no better alternatives, he at least goes with top young prospects instead of trading for one or bringing in an available vet.

People have been upset over Posey not being used, because they want his bat in the lineup, but Molina and Whiteside have been effective in their roles, so I understand why the Giants might choose to stay the course and not play Posey up to now. That could change given how poorly Molina has been hitting lately.

For Bumgarner, this is a different situation. We need a starter today and can use a reliever later. Martinez is not yet available to start, leaving us with no viable replacement starter. There are no effective alternatives to Bumgarner. Sometimes you just have to put the young guy in and see what happens.

However, that is not the same with Posey. As much as people denigrate Whiteside's offense, the team's ERA with him catching is 0.5 runs below Molina, and 0.69 runs below the runs allowed when Molina starts. Obviously, small samples involved, but if Whiteside just matched Molina ERA and RA for the enough games to match Molina, he would still be 14 earned runs ahead, and 19 runs allowed ahead, of Molina.

That is roughly 1.5 and 2 wins difference due to his handling of the pitchers, assuming the lower ERA was due to his defense and pitching handling and assuming he just does as well as Molina to compile enough games to match him. With 27 starts, there should be a good mix of starters with him, so this should not be because of a lot of starts with, say, Lincecum or Cain, which would skew the results. Obviously, Sanchez's no-hitter helps, but not by a lot, reduced by 0.1 to 0.15 runs, it would still be about 1 win and 1.5 win difference. And, again, this is assuming he just matches Molina in another 80 game started; if he does better, he adds to that total. I think it can be argued that Whiteside's defense makes up for his lack of offense relative to Posey or Molina.

Three, clearly the Giants are trying their hardest to get into the playoffs. They made two trades that were fraught with risk (and hasn't paid off yet, though that might change now that Sanchez is back), brought up Posey and Runzler, and now Bumgarner. Such moves energizes the team as well as the fanbase, as the team makes a push to reach the playoffs. They are trying to maximize their chances of reaching the off-season.

Personally, I'm glad both are up, but while I would put them in to see how they handle things, I understand if the Giants are focused on trying to get into the playoffs. I think they have been pretty consistent with how they have presented both call ups. Both were necessitated by injury or ineffectiveness on the major league roster. In Posey's case, he was only really needed if Molina went down for a long while, which didn't happen, plus now that he's here, they can substitute more freely. In Bumgarner's case, he is needed now, so he will get used now, whether as starter or reliever.

The focus is on maximizing the chances of the Giants to be competitive for the rest of the season. They might improve their chances of winning more and getting in by playing Posey, but they also increases the chances of losing more and getting left behind by playing Posey, because there are two adequate alternatives available. They don't really have any other choices with Bumgarner, and thus will have to use him, there is no other starter we could put in. That is not ideal, but life is usually not ideal, circumstances changes. Just deal with it.

About this game, it means Bumgarner vs. Correia, which I would have to say is a push. He will probably fool the 'Dres but he could also do poorly. We should still have a good chance for tomorrow's game, so winning the series is still a strong possibility, but the sweep not so much. Fortunately, bringing up Bumgarner now is ideal because we are facing the 'Dres, who are not that good a team, and not against the D-Rox, which is Lincecum's next start.

The wild card now is where Lincecum will pitch next. They could push him to pitch against LA this weekend on Friday but the problem with that is that this would push Penny out of the D-ger's series. Still, that would be Penny, Zito, Lincecum against Colorado instead of Lincecum, Zito, Cain. And against the D-gers after that, it would be Cain, Sanchez, Penny instead of Sanchez, Penny, Lincecum.

They could also just skip Lincecum's start to give him more rest before his start against Colorado which is his next scheduled start. That would give him rest against a team (SD) that we should be able to play well against, whether with Lincecum or not, and more importantly rest him up for his important start against Colorado.

This also benefits the rest of the season, and for the season overall. He had a dead arm spell (relatively) for a while, physically, as his K/9 was much lower than usual until his last game, where they gave him an extra day of rest. This rest will be good for preserving him long-term. And it would keep Penny on track for two starts against the D-gers. Interesting times indeed.

Go Giants! Go Bumgarner!


  1. too exciting.

    I believe strongly in giving rookie pitchers a taste of MLB when they're approaching ready. In the spring, MadBum will certainly be in competition for starting spot, and it's better to get the bugaboo of the first start out of the way. Who knows - there's got to something in the back of one's mind that every hitter is going to be Babe Ruth.

    Hope the Pads don't hit like that tonight, though.

  2. I don't think Bochy should've pulled MadBum so early.

  3. marc, you jinxed him! :^) Two homers but just 2 runs in 5.1 IP, not too shabby.

    Matt, I was thinking that too, but then I realized a couple of things. One is that for young pitchers, you don't want to have him pitch a lot more innings than he did the year before. You want to have incremental steps, so that it can build up strength and not wear down his body parts.

    Two is that young pitchers in the minors also have a short pitch count for the game, and he was reaching 80 pitches when he was pulled. As good as he is, he's still only 20 years old, and teams have been much more conservative in the past decade with pitchers.

    Nice start, eh? Too bad the bullpen gave up those runs and the offense was not able to mount much of a threat.

    Don't know if would put him in the majors to start next year. If Penny wants to come back, at a reasonable cost, I would be open to that, at a one year deal. If not Penny, then if Randy Johnson wants to come back for one more season, then Bumgarner would pitch at AAA until Randy is on the DL.

    Most pitchers need to pitch a full year in AAA to get ready for the majors. Cain did that, though Lincecum and Sanchez didn't. Clearly, Sanchez could have used that time.

    Sad that we lost, worse that we're not 3 games back, but if we can win today, we win the series 2-1, and move on to the D-gers. There was some talk on the radio that Lincecum might come back on Sunday but Monday against Colorado is his next scheduled start, so I don't see why they don't just stick with that at that point, and let Penny pitch against the D-gers.

  4. I wrote this about Bumgarner on another site regarding his loss of velocity the past month or two, from mid-90's to high-80's/low 90's:

    From what I understand, the story is that Bumgarner had mid-90's stuff until a month or two ago, then his velocity went down. No explanation for it, but there must not be any physical problem because otherwise the Giants would have shut him down - they did that with Cain his first pro season and Lincecum his first MLB season.

    Dead arm is hopefully what that is, but he threw 145.1 IP last season, so his 128.2 IP (plus now 5.1 IP) for this season is not even more than what he threw last season.

    My worry, since the start of last season, is that this might be related to his mechanics. The Giants tried to change his mechanics at the start of 2008, but after 3 horrible starts, he went back to his original mechanics and was virtually untouchable, 0.90 ERA. I assume he has been using the same mechanics this season. Hopefully this is not the case, but we can only wait and see.



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