Giants

Madison Bumgarner beats back at trade rumors after Giants walk-off win

Madison Bumgarner beats back at trade rumors after Giants walk-off win

SAN FRANCISCO -- A few minutes after the Giants overcame a deficit in the 16th inning and walked off the New York Mets in a thrilling 3-2 win, Madison Bumgarner tracked down his manager. He still couldn't believe it. He had to talk to Bruce Bochy. 

It wasn't the comeback that Bumgarner was incredulous about. He expects great things from this team. It was the fact that Bochy had pulled Bumgarner after 94 pitches and nine innings. 

Three years ago, Bochy planned to let Bumgarner pitch the 10th inning of the NL Wild Card Game against the Mets at Citi Field before Conor Gillaspie's heroics made it a moot point. On this night, he wouldn't let Bumgarner go past nine. 

"He lobbied, trust me," Bochy said, smiling. "He did. He came in after the game and he was still mad at me for not letting him go out there for the 10th."

Bumgarner's lobbying wasn't limited to the manager's office. After the win, he held as forceful a press conference as you will get with a pitcher who has spent years saving his best stuff for more casual settings. The message was clear. He doesn't want to be anywhere else on August 1. 

Asked specifically about continued trade rumors as the Giants have won 13 of 15, Bumgarner gave a quick answer. 

"I don't give a s--t," he said. "I'm here to win games for this team, and that's what we're doing."

Asked about the possibility of his time at Oracle Park winding down, Bumgarner again shook his head.

"I'm trying to win games for the Giants and we're trying to get into the postseason and we're making a push," he said. "We're coming."

Bumgarner repeatedly mentioned lofty goals, finishing up by noting that this win -- a comeback on a night when a tired lineup struggled to get going -- is the type you see from championship clubs.

"If we manage to keep this going and sneak in (the postseason), I don't think anyone will want to match up with us," he said. 

The Giants won't win the division, but they're back near the top of the Wild Card chase and back to one game under .500. If they keep this going, they very well could be in the winner-take-all game for a third time this decade, and there still might be nobody you would rather have on your side that night than Bumgarner. 

Three years after he went the distance to send Noah Syndergaard and the Mets home for the winter, Bumgarner again got the better of the flame-throwing right-hander. He struck out six and cruised through the ninth. Bochy, knowing he couldn't use Mark Melancon and Sam Dyson because of recent overuse, still opted for his bullpen.

The Giants bent repeatedly, but did not break. Williams Jerez, called up earlier in the day, finally faltered in the top of the 16th when Pete Alonso took him deep to left. But the dugout wasn't at all concerned. Alex Dickerson and Brandon Crawford led off the bottom of the inning with doubles to tie the game. Three batters later, Donovan Solano walked it off. 

That made a big league winner of Jerez for the first time, and made that late-game push-and-pull a bit more lighthearted. Bumgarner really did want a shot at the 10th inning, saying later, "How many times do you get a chance to go out for the 10th?"

Bochy wouldn't allow it. He has been particularly protective of his ace this season, and while early on it might have seemed that would only benefit another club down the stretch, the situation has changed. The Giants firmly are in the postseason race, and Bumgarner clearly wants a part in it. 

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At the very least, he would like two more months with Bochy. Perhaps he'll finally convince his longtime manager to let him pitch into extra innings. 

"I didn't try to make it much of a conversation, but he wasn't having it," Bumgarner said, smiling. "Usually, if I really want, I can get my way with him. But he wasn't having it today."

Why Giants' improving farm system continues to rise in Keith Law's eyes

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Ali Thanawalla

Why Giants' improving farm system continues to rise in Keith Law's eyes

When The Athletic's Keith Law was asked late last month which team is building the next elite farm system, all he needed was one word: Giants. 

Law further explained his reasoning Friday with KNBR's Mark Willard. While the prospect evaluator isn't head over heels about one player in general, he believes San Francisco is building its system where the sum is greater than its parts. And it all goes back to teenagers like shortstop Marco Luciano. 

Prospects like Joey Bart and Hunter Bishop, who already are 23 and 21 years old respectively aren't who make Law so intrigued. It's the players like Luciano (18), Alexander Canario (19), Luis Toribio (19) and Luis Matos (18) that excite Law.

"The No. 1 reason is because they have this really intriguing group of very young prospects, mostly guys from that large Latin American prospect class they signed a couple of years ago," Law said when asked why he's so high on the Giants' farm system "... Now, Marco Luciano looks like he might be a really elite prospect. Alexander Canario, Luis Toribio, Luis Matos, these guys have at least performed well enough in the early going at young ages to increase my confidence levels that at least some of them will turn into really elite prospects.

"When you add that to some of the guys who are already in the system like the Joey Barts and the Hunter Bishops, I am much more optimistic about what we're gonna think about this system in say a year from now." 

That's just the first reason for Law, too. While a handful of the Giants' top prospects and recent players to make their big league debuts come from the Bobby Evans era, Law is a big believer in president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi. 

He believes Zaidi will only take the Giants to the next level.

"I just really think highly of Farhan Zaidi and the group that he's put together there," Law said. "I think he's brought in some really smart people from other organizations on the scouting side and on the player development side.

"One, they have a lot of talent coming into the system. And two, they're going to continue to add to that going forward."

Giants fans will have to wait a while to see prospects like Luciano and Canario make their way to San Francisco. Bart is a different story. He dominated spring training once again, and if it weren't for the coronavirus pandemic he likely would have started the season in Triple-A Sacramento before making his big league debut. 

Law, however, doesn't exactly envision a superstar in Bart like many Giants fans do. He has Bart as No. 44 on his top 100 prospects list, much lower than a lot of other major outlets. 

"There's risk that he's maybe a backup catcher," Law says. "He's going to strikeout quite a bit, he's not going to hit for a whole lot of average." 

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Between Single-A San Jose and Double-A Richmond, Bart hit .278. He also struck out in 22.7 percent of his at-bats, which shouldn't be too concerning with the power he has. His swing is long and has some moving parts that could hurt him against higher velocity, though. 

While he doesn't love Bart, Law wants to make it clear he has him as his top Giants prospect for a reason. Law just sees a lot more floor than ceiling for Bart.

"The reason that I have him as the No. 1 prospect in the system is that he's got the highest floor of anyone in that farm system, because he's a big leaguer," Law said. "There's no chance that Joey Bart doesn't spend several years in the big leagues, unless he just has a catastrophic injury.

"He can catch and throw and he has some power. That's a backup catcher in the big leagues for 10 years or more. If he just stays healthy enough, he will play in the majors. But I do not view him as a slam-dunk everyday player."

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Law also is hot and cold on the Giants' top draft pick from last year, Hunter Bishop. The powerful outfielder might have a higher ceiling than Bart, but there are reasons for concern. Many are the same as Bart's, too. 

"It's top-end power," Law said. "Some of the best exit velocity that I've ever seen for a college-hitting prospect. He's got the bat speed and the potential to hit for average and hit for power. He also strikes out too much. And when the competition got better last spring in the Pac-12, he got worse.

"He did most of his damage in non-conference play when he was facing better pitching in the Pac-12. His numbers did begin to dip."

Looking back at the numbers, Law is correct. Bishop hit .342 overall as a junior at Arizona State, but only .264 in conference play. He hit 22 homers overall and only seven against Pac-12 teams. 

The upside, however, is huge. 

"He may develop a little more slowly because of a lack of a lengthy track record of performance and there still is some swing and miss there," Law explained. "I just think the upside is so tantalizing. As long as he makes enough contact to hit for a decent average, he'll hit for more than a decent average because he makes such high-quality contact and he'll probably hit 25 to 30 home runs." 

There are plenty of reasons to be excited for the Giants' future. As Law notes, the real talent might take a little longer to see in the big leagues.

Where Barry Bonds, Will Clark, Buster Posey rank on 'Sweetest Swings' list

Where Barry Bonds, Will Clark, Buster Posey rank on 'Sweetest Swings' list

Those who utter the term, "baseball is boring," must not have been around when legendary Giants slugger Barry Bonds would step up to the plate.

Not many were able to mimic what he could do -- both on the field, and from the comfort of your own homes. He would make you stop what you were doing and turn the channel to when it was his turn to hit. That simply doesn't happen anymore.

His ways with a bat were highlighted in Bleacher Report's "The 20 Sweetest Swings in MLB History."

Bonds landed at the No. 4 spot, but almost didn't make the list altogether from how it changed after he bulked up. BR's Zachary Rymer did, however, say aspiring hitters would study Bonds' ways. And why wouldn't they? The guy is the all-time leader in home runs and walks. Watching him launch one into McCovey Cove was a treat. 

Reds first baseman Joey Votto told NBC Sports California last season that he grew up obsessively studying the seven-time MVP's offensive ways. He wanted to be "unpitchable" to, just as Bonds was. 

Right behind Barry at No. 16 was another Giants legend, Will Clark, who had a similar feel when he approached the plate. Not only did he have a presence, but he also had a sense of "swagger" that BR highlighted. It was almost as if Clark had an eight-count worth of choreography and he was about to perform for the crowd.

The Thrill was a six-time All-Star selection, a two-time Silver Slugger award winner and a career .303 batter. Whatever he was doing, it appeared to work for him.

Giants catcher Buster Posey landed at the No. 13 space due to how stealthy and smooth his swing is. Despite the downtick in productivity in recent seasons, BR recognized the fluidity. 

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During the spring, Giants manager Gabe Kapler complimented what he saw, and what other coaches said, from Posey in the cage. He also was putting extra work in with the organization's director of hitting, Dustin Lind, and maintained an optimistic attitude about that and how his body was feeling after coming off major hip surgery.

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And the guy is known to hit a walk-off or two ... or more than that. He was the NL batting champion in 2012, and holds many accomplishments to his résumé.

The Giants trio joins the historic names of Ken Griffey Jr., Jim Edmonds, Albert Pujols and Ted Williams on the list.

Talk about great company.