Thursday, July 18, 2019

Mad Bum: To Trade Or Not To Trade?


If Thursday night was a final audition for Madison Bumgarner then rejuvenated We Believe Giants fans now really have to wonder if Farhan Zaidi actually has the audacity to trade him. Mad Bum had his first nine-inning outing since July 10, 2016 and left the field to a standing ovation.

It marked the beginning of a seven-game post All-Star Break homestand and perhaps a signal to the end of the Bumgarner Era as we know it. Mad Bum Dodgers Baiter, the pick-up truck-driving, let-the-kids-play hero of the last of three-in-five-years World Series championships in San Francisco, pitched in a Giants uniform in front of Giants fans in PacBell/AT&T/Oracle/WhateverTheyNameItNext Park with MLB trading deadline less than two weeks away.

Before the game flags were at half mast in the ballpark. There were sirens in the outfield. And then, as if on cue, the fog started to roll in, further casting a pall over the yard and clouding the future of Zaidi, the Giants President of Baseball Operations and Potential Party Pooper whose job it is to decide the fate of Bumgarner.

Does he stay or does he go?

Well, it’s complicated now because for the first time all season – the last two years, in fact – the Giants have momentum. On the morning of June 30 – the last day Bumgarner pitched in Oracle Park – the Giants were 12 games under .500 (35-47) and 8 ½ games behind both the Milwaukee Brewers and Colorado Rockies for the two wild card spots in the National League playoff race.

According to Baseball Reference the Giants’ odds of making the playoffs were less than 0.1 percent. Worse than Jim Carrey dating Lauren Holly in Dumb and Dumber.

Then, for unexplained reasons, the calendar turned and so did the Giants and their much-maligned offense.  After a magical two-run rally in the 16th inning Thursday night  the team has won  12 of its first 14  games in July, the best winning percentage in MLB. They won three out of four games in Milwaukee then swept a four-game series in Colorado before coming home with happiness and hope. They are now one game under .500 and only 2 ½ games behind the Brew Crew.

The Giants’ odds of making the playoffs have grown to 6.3 percent. Better than Jim Carrey ever holding hands with Lauren Holly.

In a 14-game span the Giants offense, which had been as anemic as an ant without a picnic, scored 115 runs. That’s the best offensive output by a S.F. Giants team in a two-week span since they were the New York Giants in 1930. In other words Willie Mays and Willie McCovey are no match for Alex Dickerson and Donovan Solano.

If the Born Again Bruce Bochy Giants continue to hit like this then why on Earth would you trade your best starting pitcher? After surrendering a lead-off double and single in the first inning Thursday night, Bumgarner retired the next 13 batters and pitched shutout baseball against the Once Upon A Time Miracle Mets, the New York team that doesn’t want to trade for him. The Yankees, now with an eight-game lead in the AL East, have been rumored to be eyeing Bumgarner and Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman, who has the second best groundball rate in MLB which is a perfect fit for fly ball home run happy Yankee Stadium.

However, Bumgarner has World Series pedigree and a Thurman Munson disposition and that’s more meaningful to Yankees fans. Seeing that Bumgarner has a 0.83 ERA with 34 strikeouts in his last 29 innings and five starts the Yankees are suddenly more intrigued.

So what’s Farhan Zaidi to do? Unless he can get a can’t-miss prospect – like the Yankees’ Clint Frazier – in return why unload Bumgarner while he and the Giants are rolling? What kind of a message does that send to Giants’ fans who are suddenly reinvested in this season? What message does that send to the team, which has battled itself back into playoff contention and saved the embarrassment of a lost season that started with Larry Baer and TMZ? And what message does this send to the manager, who will someday be in the Hall of Fame and has faithfully guided this team through a difficult transition and his own health problems? You reward him by trading his ace?!

What’s the rush? By July 31, Zaidi will have a better picture of the trade landscape and maybe more potential trading partners will join in the frenzy, though Bumgarner has a limited trade clause in the final year of his contract before becoming a free agent. Bumgarner could blow a snot rocket and block a trade. Or he could relent to one in the 11th hour like Justin Verlander did three years ago when he agreed to let the Tigers trade him to Houston.

It comes down to a head vs. heart decision.  Zaidi’s head keeps telling him trading Bumgarner is the best thing for the future of the Giants which, if the Giants keep winning in July, will break the hearts of Giants fans.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Dave DG said...

I think that covers it in a nutshell ... Sounds like you were against the move at the start ... then said it would be OK as long as they got someone like Frazier ... then concluded it's a tough decision. Is it possible THREE things can be equally true?

July 19, 2019 at 4:23 PM  

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