Thursday, July 23, 2009

Madison Bumgarner: An "Untouchable" prospect as the Trade Deadline approaches

19-year-old pitching prospect Madison Bumgarner has been a stud at Single-A Augusta and Double-A Connecticut this season.

Madison Bumgarner is kicking butt and taking names in Double-A Connecticut. With a 7-1 record, a 1.56 ERA and 0.981 WHIP in 12 outings at the Double-A level, Bumgarner is living up to the hype that earned him No. 6 in's Top 50 Prospect list.

Furthermore, if you live in Sacramento and have the Sacramento Bee, Bumgarner is the lead story on the Sports page. It's a pretty good article, and really explores the Giants' plan in terms of how they are developing the young, left-handed ace. So far, it seems as if the Giants are doing the right things with him. They don't need him to contribute right away (Simply because they have Lincecum and Cain rocking the ship as of this moment), and thus they are allowing him to pay his dues, while at the same time helping him gain the kind of confidence that will help him be successful when he makes the transition to the majors.

Even though you never know, Bumgarner is probably going nowhere with the trade deadline only eight days away (unlike other hyped guys like Clay Bucholz with the Red Sox). I know we can probably get something big in return should we deal him. It's not crazy to think with him as the main piece in a deal we could probably acquire a Matt Holliday from Oakland or even Adrian Gonzalez from San Diego. However, considering this is a franchise that traded away Francisco Liriano, Boof Bonser and Joe Nathan away for A.J. Pierzynski, I'm kind of sick of trading away good players. I think Bumgarner can be something special, and I don't want to miss out on that for a guy that may only stay with us for less than half-a-season.

Therefore, judging by the hype surrounding this guy, and the promise he is showing in the minors, it is safe to say Bumgarner is "Mr. Untouchable" when it comes down to his status at the trade deadline. If you haven't seen him, google him right now. The kid is pretty darn good so far. Granted, I'm a little worried because he seems to have a lot of Andrew Miller in him in terms of pitching style (that's not good in my opinion by the way). That being said, he does have livelier stuff than Miller, and I think he's entering a situation that is less pressure-packed than what Miller went through in Florida (where he went from spot starter status on a contending Detroit team to third starter status on a rebuilding Marlins team, a very heavy burden to carry for a guy less than two years out of college).

All I can hope is Bumgarner continues to dominate at the Double-A level. I think he is due for a Fresno call up real soon, and if we are still in contention for a playoff spot, I believe that is where he should stay as well. A lot of people will point to David Price being called up with the Rays during their run to the postseason run in 2008, but Price was also a lot older than Bumgarner at this point in his career, so it was understandable why the Rays brought him up so quickly. 19-year-old kids don't fare well when the pressure is packed in September, and I don't want to scar this kid for life like Elijah Wood was scarred for life after having to let McCauley Caulkin fall off a cliff at the end of The Good Son (If I spoiled the ending for you, tough cookie. The movie has been out for about 20 years for chrissakes!)

I'm still debating on whether to trade Tim Alderson (who was actually rated higher than Bumgarner out of high school) and Angel Villalona at the deadline. They won't get as much value back as Bumgarner, and they are also very good prospects, but at the same time, this Giants team needs to upgrade. With Lincecum, Cain and possibly Sanchez (if he isn't traded by the deadline) anchoring the rotation for the next couple of years in my opinion, I don't think you need both Bumgarner and Alderson. Then again, this isn't a great trade market right now, and I don't want to trade Alderson and/or Villalona for a Nick Johnson.

Whatever we do, all I know is Bumgarner is staying in the Black and Orange. If he can continue to progress, and has a good Spring Training next year, I think a lot of Giants fans can look forward to a "Mr. Blonde-level" in terms of bad-assedness rotation of Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez (I'm assuming he won't be dealt), Zito, and Bumgarner.

I know Zito sucks (and yes he does suck, even though his crappiness is amplified by his seven-year, $126 million contract), but four out of five good starters isn't bad. Just think of Zito as Budd in "Kill Bill" (e.g. the out-of-place, out-of-shape dude with a mullet in an assassin group of bad ass, hot chicks). solve that hitting problem.

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