Madison Bumgarner’s velocity is down from where it was last season.
Madison Bumgarner was the best pitcher available for Tuesday night’s game, and represented the best chance for the Giants to win a game.
Those two statements are not mutually exclusive. The second one is debatable, but it’s a reasonable position to take. Even accounting for the drop in strikeouts in AA, Bumgarner has consistently allowed fewer runs than any other starter in the minor leagues. The Giants are in a race for a playoff spot. They wanted to go with whom they perceived to be their best option, regardless of that player’s contract status, 40-man roster status, or possible future arbitration awards. And I salute that.
I would like to give the Giants credit for wanting to win now. I would like to give the Giants credit.
It’s only fair. I spend a lot of time focusing on what the Giants are doing wrong, like batting Bengie Molina cleanup, continuing to give time to Randy Winn, ignoring the minor league performances of their best prospects, creating starting lineups on the advice of tea leaves and chicken bones, continuing to start Edgar Renteria even when Juan Uribe is probably the better option, signing veterans to contracts that are far too expensive, pitching Bob Howry in every freaking walk-off situation from now until the end of time, burying Fred Lewis, deciding that isolated hot streaks have more predictive value than a player’s career up to that point, focusing too much on what players can’t do rather than what they can do, weighing intangibles and veteran leadership far too heavily when making roster decisions, burying two of the best OBP options in the organization on a team that’s desperate for OBP, continuing to sit Buster Posey because catchers under the age of 25 are incapable of not chewing their own tongue when a pitcher shakes them off, continuing to keep Brian Bocock on the 40-man roster at the expense of every other player even though Bocock is hitting -.003 in A-ball and would pass through waivers with the greatest of ease, trading away prospects for expensive players without getting any financial considerations back even though that seems to be what every other team is capable of doing, trading prospects for players who will just rot on the bench if they have 100 plate appearances that magically mean more than the rest of their career to that point, pretending that a team without the ability to hit can just focus on speed ‘n’ defense to make everything better, and charging too much for beer.
And yet, they’ve had a winning season. So I’d like to give them credit for this isolated point. It’s the least I can do.
In isolation, calling up Buster Posey and Bumgarner makes a ton of sense. When cobbling together a collection of the best durn 25 to 40 players the Giants have under their control, it’s hard to imagine those two not making the list. Not calling them up because you’re worried about an arbitration award they might receive if they turn out to be great players that meet the requirements for super-two status is silly. Nate Silver calculated that making the playoffs earns a team about $30M in extra revenue on average, so while there is a financial risk, there is also the possibility of a financial reward for calling up Posey and Bumgarner. If they contribute, and the Giants make the playoffs by a single game, the risk will have paid off handsomely.
Well, that’s in isolation. In practice, Bochy has no idea what to do with Posey, so the benefits of calling him up are completely wasted. And there is still some question as to Bumgarner’s ability to handle major league hitters with his reduced velocity and inconsistent breaking pitches, so it’s possible that another organizational option would have given the Giants a better chance to win on Tuesday night.
Also, this all makes a difference when the team isn’t soiling themselves against inferior competition. Kevin Correia and Wade LeBlanc joined together to form a pitching Voltron of doom, when they should really only form a unibrow on a socially awkward pitching Voltron of occasionally moderate discomfort.
But in isolation, it’s a good thing to ignore arbitration clocks in a playoff race. I approve.
Now put Buster Posey in a game before I stab the next drifter I see.