Bumgarner Gone: If The Giants Are Gonna Stink, They Better Lower Ticket Prices
After 10 years with the San Francisco Giants, starting pitcher, World Series champ, and one of the faces of the franchise Madison Bumgarner is done. Long thought untouchable by trade or accountants, the lefty is now… an Arizona Diamondback. And after years of “value pricing” or “screwing the fans of any good teams they want to see play” it looks like SF might consider a return to $5 Wednesday bleacher seats. Because there doesn’t seem to be too many guys left who can (a) throw the ball or (b) hit it over the fence.
The writing has been on the wall for a couple of years, I guess. First, there was the motorbike accident that put Bumgarner on the disabled list. The following year he got hit in the hand with a pitch and missed more time.
But to Giants fans, it didn’t really matter. Bumgarner was the boss who did everything but serve as bullpen catcher during the team’s third title in five seasons in 2014. As the saying goes, he very well may never have to pay for another drink in the Bay Area ever again.
But that was 2014. The talented if uneven nucleus of the club, catcher Buster Posey, first baseman Brandon Belt and shortstop Brandon Crawford have dealt with injuries, struggles to return from injuries, and in the case of the Brandons, some pretty horrific slumps. Bumgarner came back and pitched well. Not great. But well enough to be offered a contract. But the Giants are no longer interested in resurrecting the past. A lot of it had left or retired. Now the biggest piece pitching-wise is as well.
Farhan Zaidi is the new president of baseball operations. And by new, we mean, has been there slightly more than a year. He inherited the above-named and a lot of parts that didn’t produce. He traded for Kevin Pillar, last year, who goes by the nickname “Super Man” for flying all over the field. He also went on to win the Willie Mac award, which is named for Willie McCovey and is given to the most inspirational Giant. Pillar generally lead the team in everything offensively, too.
He won’t be returning either.
Also gone: the Giants’ All-Star, reliever Will Smith,
So, what’s the plan in San Fran? With the Sacramento River Cats’ success winning the AAA championship Zaidi has to figure that the farm system is ready to produce at the major-league level. But what does he have? Mike Yastrzemski made it to the show and stuck. Mac Williamson wasn’t able to put it together and is now in Seattle. Behind them were names like Joey Rickard, Jaylin Davis, Austin Slater, Steven Duggar and Chris Shaw.
No guarantees… and no telling who might be around come mid-February when pitchers and catchers report. Zaidi will be crucified if he gets rid of catcher Buster Posey. Posey still hits for average but a bad hip, surgery and recovery have left him without the pop he once had. He does bring the ability to mentor the kids as they mature. Or he may stay silent as it becomes obvious mentoring would be wasted on the untalented.
It’s ironic that the guy who helped make Bumgarner expendable in the clubhouse was the guy who caught him for the last decade. Sure, the Giants could have picked up the $17 million tag, but they are already paying $18 million a year for Jeff Samardzija and didn’t see the point of paying for two number-three starters.
Posey stays in San Francisco if he wants it seems. He is the untradable piece, perhaps. But the Brandons? Not so sure. Brandon Belt is as streaky a hitter as they come, has never hit 20 home runs, but is a very athletic first baseman. Brandon Crawford has three Gold Gloves on the wall, but only the 14th best career fielding percentage among active shortstops. The Brandons’ contracts expires after the 2021 season. Together, they make $32 million and hit 32 home runs each year.
And then there’s the pitching. Derek Rodriguez got a bobble head night and a trip to the minors to figure out whatever was ailing him. I’ve seen some River Cats games. To say they are thin in the pitching department is like saying the United States Congress is slightly divided over the impeachment of the president.
The Giants’ commander in chief, Gabe Kapler was greeted by fans with a “What the hell?” But if you’re the general manager and you want your new manager to follow your numbers-based, Billy Ball program, then it makes sense. Why would you hire a manager with tons of experience who might argue with you when a guy just like Kapler, who has relatively little Major League managing experience and not a lot of success at that, can be told what lineups to put on the field.
This seems to be the very definition of a “rebuild.” It already looks ugly. It could get worse. Fans can only hope they don’t have to pay the previous exorbitant price for a winner… now that the team is not.