Decision: MadBum, or Why they couldn’t pay me enough to be a general manager.
If your buddy tells you they knew in March that there would be this many questions swirling around the future of the San Francisco Giants as we enter the last week of July, you should immediately take them for a cognitive evaluation by a medical professional. It’s called being a good friend.
Okay, in all seriousness, this is not sustainable, right? I don’t mean to demean my team, but even I thought this was a .500 squad at best. Lo and behold, they are, at least for one more day. But which team are they — the one that played 43–57 over the first three months of the season, or the team that’s surged to an 18–4 record in July?
Is this a sign that first-year General Manager Farhan Zaidi’s relentless wheeling and dealing has coalesced into a potential world-beater primed for another unlikely postseason run? Or is it just “one of those months” when everything clicks, which have a tendency to fade quickly into “one of those months” when nothing clicks? (The 2016 Giants were dominant into June, and we know what happened there. The 2014 team was the worst in baseball over July and August, and we know what happened there.)
What if Johnny Cueto comes back and recaptures his mojo? What if Evan Longoria returns as hot as he was at the plate before landing on the IL? What if Alex Dickerson really is the answer in left field? What if the team is truly inspired to give Bruce Bochy a winning cap on his Hall of Fame career?
Like the saying goes, you can’t predict ball, and you shouldn’t even try.
As the Giants brain trust sits down to assess the market for dealing Madison Bumgarner, Will Smith, and other pieces of the Giants roster, it’s in their best interests to divorce the decision from the prospects of the 2019 season and focus on prospects who could make this team a winner for years to come.
Don’t Panik! I’m not saying Farhan should trade Bumgarner, or anybody else for that matter. In fact, I’m more inclined to believe with each passing day that a “blockbuster” deal is not going to materialize. But baseball is still a business, and if the right deal is there, they absolutely have to take it. So what’s the right deal?
Brian Sabean’s Giants spent years building teams around aging veterans like Barry Bonds. When they finally invested in their farm system — Posey, Bumgarner, Lincecum, Cain, Belt, Panik, Crawford, and Sandoval were all homegrown — it produced three championships, and many of those guys now form the veteran core of the 2019 team.
Madison Bumgarner is still an ace. He is still the most experienced and successful postseason pitcher in the game. He could still anchor this rotation for years to come, as the Giants seek to develop their next crop of young arms. And he’s only thrown two shutouts in Wild Card Games. On the road. If you want to win, you want MadBum on the bump.
The Giants should have a bottom line of three Top-100 prospects in exchange for a two-month rental of this generational talent — including a starting pitcher and a corner power bat. If that’s not there, they should get what they can for their glut of bullpen talent, let Bochy pick up the pieces, and see what happens the rest of the year.
Once we hit the hot stove, the team could make Bumgarner a qualifying offer just to retain draft picks. But why not offer a “hometown” contract to keep the cornerstone of your rotation intact? Back of the napkin, I’m thinking 5 years for $100M. That would take him to his age 35 year. From what I can see, his mechanics lend themselves to longevity — as long as he stays off the dirt bikes. And you have to think he’d take less to stay in a supreme pitcher’s park, in a city and a situation where he’s comfortable.
Now, it ain’t my money, and I’m not a pitching coach. But if you think it’s a reckless proposition, then riddle me this: Do they really have a Number One starter next year without Bumgarner? How much would they have to pay to get one? (Hint: Probably more than $100M.) And can you guarantee that pitcher will perform appreciably better over the life of their contract (think Cueto, Samardzija, Zito, etc.)?
I’ll help you out. The answer to all of those questions is “No.” And that should be Farhan’s response if Brian Cashman comes calling with anything less than a silver platter before the deadline.
While we wait to see what happens, I’m gonna try to enjoy some competitive Giants baseball in the summertime. With everything going on out there, it’s the best therapy I know.