What Bruce Bochy thinks of Madison Bumgarner leaving Giants in free agency

What Bruce Bochy thinks of Madison Bumgarner leaving Giants in free agency

Bruce Bochy thought about it for a second, and then gave an answer you might expect.

The just-retired Giants manager had been asked to decide who will have the advantage when Madison Bumgarner faces Buster Posey for the first time next year. That’s like asking a father to pick between his sons.

“I have to feel strongly on both sides on that one,” Bochy said.

Bochy believes it’ll be a somewhat normal matchup after the first at-bat, but he admitted it will be strange to watch his longtime ace, who signed with the Diamondbacks earlier this week, face his longtime catcher for the first time. All of this is strange, even to Bochy, who knows Bumgarner as well as anyone but didn’t foresee him taking his talents to the desert.

Bochy always has known that Bumgarner and his wife, Ali, like spending time in Arizona in spring training. But as the bidding neared an end last week, the Diamondbacks were not front and center.

Bochy thought Bumgarner might end up in Los Angeles, or possibly Atlanta or even Minnesota. Others were in the bidding, including the Giants, who offered around $70 million over four years. 

“When it was announced Arizona signed him, I was a little surprised, but I’m looking now and it makes sense,” Bochy said in a phone conversation Wednesday. “He said he liked their brand of play. They’re a talented team, and even though they traded [Paul] Goldschmidt, they had a good offense. They play the game well — they ran the bases, they had good athletes, they did a good job of grinding out at-bats and running the bases well. They play a nice brand of ball. They had good pitching. I see why Madison said that.”

The Giants went 9-10 against the Diamondbacks in Bochy's final season, with Bumgarner winning two of his three starts. Bochy, for years, had a front-row seat as Bumgarner took it to Arizona.

Bumgarner has pitched more than a full season's worth of games against the Diamondbacks, posting a 2.63 ERA in 36 appearances that span 229 innings. He never has been all that bothered by a ballpark that was a launching pad before a humidor was installed and remains friendly to hitters. In 20 career appearances at Chase Field, he has a 3.13 ERA.

"He'll pitch fine there. He'll do a nice job," Bochy said. "Madison has got the ability to adjust. I know he gave up a few more home runs last year than we were used to, but I can assure you that's something that he'll work on. I expect him to do well, I do.

"He's a guy -- I've said this many times -- he never stops trying to be the best that he can be. If that's tinkering a little bit with his delivery and his pitches, he does it. He's always trying to be the best that he can be ... and I know he's going to love hitting there."

Bumgarner has two homers at Chase Field, both coming on opening day in 2017. That was back when you could head into the holidays with a pretty good idea of what to expect from the Giants in their opener.

Bochy would be in the dugout, Bumgarner would be throwing to Posey, while Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt would be crouching down on the infield with every pitch. 

Two years later, Bochy is a special advisor for the organization, and he'll watch the matchups on TV, not from the dugout. He laughed and said he's sure Bumgarner already is working on ways to get the better of Posey, who had some hard-hit balls when the two battled occasionally in live batting practice sessions during spring training.

The next time the two face off, one of Bochy's longtime stars will be wearing different colors. 

[RELATED: Why Wood could be perfect fit for Giants with MadBum gone]

"It's a little sad when you look at somebody who has impacted the organization as much as he has," Bochy said. "When that caliber of player moves on, sure, at first it's different. But that's also baseball. He was a free agent, he became a free agent and he had a lot of options. This one is one that worked out for him, and I couldn't be happier for him and for Ali, because I love the man, not just for what he did for us on the field but also as a friend. 

"I admired his talent and his determination and his work ethic, and I'm happy that he's happy."

If Giants, Dodgers never moved West, MLB might look very different now

If Giants, Dodgers never moved West, MLB might look very different now

Back in the mid 1950's, Major League Baseball hadn't conquered the West Coast.

But that changed in 1957 when the Giants and Dodgers were granted permission to move from New York to San Francisco and Los Angeles, respectively.

Both teams played their inaugural season in California in 1958.

Baseball hasn't been the same since, relocating or adding teams all over the West Coast.

But how would MLB look today if the Giants and Dodgers hadn't moved West? According to the MLB Cathedrals' Twitter account, the Dodgers wanted a new stadium in Brooklyn in 1957, but were denied, leading to the two teams moving.

So MLB Cathedrals ran through the hypothetical scenario with real-world info and some fan input to see what the league would look like today if the Dodgers had been allowed to stay in Brooklyn.

First, the San Francisco Giants in their current form wouldn't exist. The New York Giants would have moved to Minnesota in 1959.

In 1961, the Washington Senators moved to Los Angeles and became the Angels.

That same year, the American League adds two expansion teams: The San Francisco Seals and a new club in Washington, D.C. According to MLB Cathedrals, the Seals would play at Seals Stadium until a new ballpark could be built for them.

In 1962, the National League expands, adding teams in Houston and Los Angeles. Because the Dodgers stayed in Brooklyn, the Mets are never created. The new team in LA is called the Stars, meaning the Giants and Dodgers names never exist.

[RELATED: Inside Giants' 2012 WS sweep]

When MLB Cathedrals conducted the experiment Saturday, they had Oakland getting an expansion team, the Oaks. On Sunday, in a new version of the experiment with more info and fan polls, Oakland never gets a team.

Here's how the AL and NL look as of 1998, according to MLB Cathedrals.

Based on these projections, Major League Baseball and baseball in the Bay Area would look very, very different.

Giants' Mauricio Dubon shares hilarious story of meeting Hunter Pence

Giants' Mauricio Dubon shares hilarious story of meeting Hunter Pence

Mauricio Dubon is living the dream of every young Giants fan right now. 

Dubon moved to Sacramento when he was 15 years old to live with a host family -- leaving his family in Honduras -- in order chase his dreams of playing baseball. He attended his first Giants game as a teenager in 2010, sitting in the center field bleachers as Tim Lincecum pitched the Giants closer to a division title. As a young shortstop he idolized Brandon Crawford, and now is his teammate and will be Crawford's double-play partner on many occasions this season. 

When Dubon first made his Giants debut in late August after being acquired in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers, he certainly could feel his fandom come alive. The same can be said for when the team brought Hunter Pence back this offseason.

"The first time I saw Hunter at FanFest, I asked for a picture, actually," Dubon said on the latest episode of The Giants Insider Podcast. "I asked him for a picture, yeah. 2014, with the whole speech and everything -- as a fan, you kind of get excited. As a player, you get even more excited." 

Dubon said he had to get away from the Giants' veteran players last year when guys like Tim Lincecum, Angel Pagan and many others came back for Bruce Bochy's final game as San Francisco's manager. The young infielder simply couldn't help but get giddy seeing his childhood heroes. Dubon even used Pagan's salute celebration in high school. 

Now with Pence in the fold and Pablo Sandoval returning to San Francisco, Dubon doesn't see why the Giants couldn't shock the world again once the season returns amid baseball's suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.

[RELATED: How Dubon is staying ready after missing first Opening Day]

"I keep telling people that when were we favorites -- I say "we" as a fan -- when were we favorites to win a World Series in '10, '12 and '14? Never," Dubon said. "So why's it gonna change right now?

"We have the same veterans. Same hunger, probably even more. We got guys that are willing to do anything to win a game. I think we have a pretty good chance of [winning] the whole thing." 

Dubon is expected to be manager Gabe Kapler's do-it-all utility man up in the middle at second base, shortstop and center field this season to keep his athleticism in the lineup. And while his fandom always will live within him, he could be a major key to the Giants brining their next World Series trophy back to San Francisco.