Madison Bumgarner Is Good, and Other Controversial Opinions

Madison Bumgarner is 22. He's signed for the next eight years. I'm already out of ways to describe his excellent outings. It's a good problem to have. But it's a real problem. I wrote this a few weeks ago:

Imagine this stuff for the next decade, but with a hardened, wizened approach that only in-game experience can bring. Do we even realize what it's like to watch a 22-year-old pitcher like this? Most 22-year-old pitchers are learning not to gnaw on the rosin bag. Bumgarner's carving up major-league hitters.

And that's all that's left. That's the last original thought I could muster about him.

It's unbelievable that he's only 22. It's unbelievable that he's this good. It's unbelievable that he's 22 and this good. Madison Bumgarner is literally unbelievable. Literally. I refuse to believe in him. He is Sasquatch. He is chupacabra. He is the Easter Bunny. He's a 22-year-old with the control of a 44-year-old left-handed specialist who is still around only because of his control. He's a passage from The Odyssey -- something embellished beyond all reason so a bunch of ancient Greeks who didn't have Mario Kart could enjoy themselves.

So I'm out of words. I'm going to take that passage and recycle it. Here it is in a super-fancy font:

Screen_shot_2012-06-01_at_10

Here it is translated into Esperanto, German, then Japanese, then back into English:

Think of this material, but for the next ten years, curing, the game is you can get the experience of only wrinkled approach. Do you know what it meant we also, in the 22-year-old pitcher, is it something like this? Most of the 22-year-old pitcher, you will learn not to bite rosin bag. Bumgarner has been cut a major league hitter.

The ledger shows that Bumgarner allowed two earned runs. He did not. If he were still on the mound when the two runs crossed the plate in the ninth inning, he would have followed the runners into the dugout, stared at them, and blew snot rockets until they sheepishly went back to their bases.

Remember when he wasn't getting strikeouts, and there was that two-percent part of your brain that was wondering where the strikeouts went? Needed more Cubs.

We should all wear an 8"x10" picture of Bumgarner around our necks at all times, and before we complain about Emmanuel Burriss hitting slightly worse than the typical utility infielder, we should stare at it for five minutes and see if we lose the urge.

Madison Bumgarner.

Star-divide

So Santiago Casilla looked like hot garbage tonight. It happens to the best of them. But at least he picked a game with a four-run lead. That's an important part of being a good closer: portioning out the stink appropriately. Casilla passed another test.

Luckily the Giants have Javier Lopez. I'm on record for bashing the Giants for committing many millions to two different left-handed relievers this offseason. I'm not on record for ever bashing Javier Lopez. If you're going to pay a premium for a lefty specialist, let it be this guy. He's a woobie with thumbs -- a security blanket like few others in baseball. When he threw the first pitch to David DeJesus -- an 80-m.p.h. somethingorrather on the inside corner that left DeJesus muttering -- you knew he had things under control.

Other notes about the offseason: Jeremy Affeldt is good again and Melky Cabrera is Pete Rose. Suppose we should just shut our big yappers about the offseason already.

Star-divide

In the bottom of the eight inning, Brett Pill swung at the first pitch he saw from Carlos Marmol. It was a slider. Pill missed it by 12 feet. He looked back at the dugout like, hey, this guy throws a slider?

I initially set out to see when the last time Pill saw a first-pitch fastball was. But I noticed something different. Here are the first pitches from Pill's last 17 at-bats:

Slider, strike -- lol swing (Marmol)
Curveball, strike -- no swing
Cutter, strike -- no swing
Slider, ball -- no swing
Slider, strike -- no swing
Change-up, ball -- no swing
Change-up, strike -- no swing
Curveball, strike -- no swing
Fastball, strike -- no swing
Slider, ball -- no swing
Slider, strike -- no swing
Curveball, strike -- no swing
Sinker, strike -- no swing
Curveball, ball -- no swing
Change-up, strike -- no swing
Fastball, strike -- no swing
Fastball, strike -- swinging strike

Pill hasn't been hacking at the first pitch. At all. They haven't been throwing him fastballs, and he hasn't been biting. But this approach has also been putting him behind in the count a lot.

I get the feeling that someone (or someones) have been riding him about his aggressiveness. Remember, these are the New Giants we're talking about. And Pill, cognizant of this advice, has been laying off all sorts of first pitches. At the same time, he's been in a miserable slump.

It's tough, this whole hitting business. For as much grief as Pill gets for not being the organizational golden boy, he's making an active attempt not to swing out of his shoes at the first pitch. The league made an adjustment, and now he's trying to make one back. It hasn't worked out so far. And the first time he decides, screw it, I'm a hackin', Marmol throws a slider that breaks 49 fathoms. In Pill's last plate appearance against the Diamondbacks, he worked a walk. He'll never be a good option to start, but I'm still holding out hope for that Ron Coomer career.

He's trying, man. He's trying.

Star-divide

Melky Cabrera is just a fascinating player. Why couldn't he be signed for just one more year? Just one more! This waiting game to see if he can keep this up is nerve-wracking. He's totally going to sign with the Dodgers. And now you want to give him the Rowand deal. But you're thinking about it, and now you don't. Check this out, though: He's totally going to sign with the Dodgers. And now you want to give him the Rowand deal.

But in the short term, he's on the Giants. And the dude's kind of good. More than that, he's fun. That's the part that I was expecting the least. He's fun to watch.

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