Henry Schulman on some big news in San Francisco:
- Madison Bumgarner, the Giants' best pitching prospect, is being called up to the majors today.
If it was a surprise catcher Buster Posey got a September promotion, this is even more of a stunner considering Bumgarner is two years out of high school. He was the 10th overall pick in the 2007 draft.
The Giants might want to see how Bumgarner handles himself this month because he might be a candidate for a rotation spot next year.
At Double-A Connecticut, the lefty was 9-1 with a 1.93 ERA in 107 innings, striking out 69 and walking 30.
Posey is the game's best catching prospect (unless you still count Matt Wieters as a "prospect," which I do). Bumgarner is one of the better pitching prospects (though his strikeout rate with Connecticut was less than inspiring). You know what I'd really love to see? Both of them making their major league debuts in the same game, Bumgarner pitching to Posey.
If nothing else, it would get the wolves off Bruce Bochy, who to this point has shown a baffling reluctance to get Posey into a game. Tim Kawakami's been all over this ...
- Posey wasn't in the original call-ups. Then he was called up. Then Bochy said he might start him. Then Bochy said ideally he'd play Posey in a blowout. Then there's a blowout, six games into it, and Bochy STILL WON'T PLAY POSEY.
Managers are paid to make these decisions. Bochy can be stubborn, but that's OK. Stubborn managers are often good ones. Bochy loves veterans. Loves clubhouse chemistry. Wants to get a playoff berth before his contract expires. I wonder if Bochy was against Posey being called up the whole time ...
Giants management gave Posey a $6M signing bonus last summer. They are building around him and that young pitching staff. They brought Posey up for a reason beyond catching bullpen sessions, I presume.
Posey is a huge hitting talent. The Giants could use some hitting. At some point.
Bochy isn't going along with it. I think there are some issues here, definitely, to watch.
You might be able to understand Bochy wanting to stick with his veteran catchers, since the Giants are contending because of their pitchers, who probably aren't wild about throwing to some raw kid. But you can't get Posey an at-bat in a blowout. Or in a spot for a pinch-hitter in the middle innings? All Posey did this summer was dominate in Class A, then tear up Triple-A after completely skipping Double-A. I don't know that he's a better hitter than Ryan Garko yet, but I don't know that I'd bet against it.
As I write this, Bruce Bochy hasn't announced his lineup yet for tonight's game against the Padres. What we do know, though -- and this is breaking news! -- is that Bumgarner will start in Tim Lincecum's place, as Lincecum has "injured his back."
Two things about this: 1) I'll be watching, because the only thing better than watching Lincecum (or Zack Greinke) is seeing a top pitching prospect for the first time, and 2) Lincecum's Cy Young chances are really taking a hit lately. First Chris Carpenter throws a one-hitter (running his record to 16-3), and now this?
Lincecum's still the best pitcher in the National League. But he's not winning another Cy Young Award. Not this year, anyway.
Update: Molina's going to start behind the plate instead of Posey. Bochy's a big Scrooge, or a Grinch. Or something.