Giants' Bumgarner Move is Right One

March 23, 2010, 5:55 pm
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March 23, 2010GIANTS PAGE
GIANTS VIDEO SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. They said it was his job to lose, and he lost it.Madison Bumgarner, who a month before camp opened was the clear favorite -- a virtual lock -- to claim the Giants fifth-starter job, will instead start the season as an ace. At Triple-A Fresno.Some might view it as a demotion; technically it is, of course. A better viewpoint is that the Giants are smarter than some fans want to give them credit for.Take a peek at the teams early season schedule. Awful lot of days off in there, including four consecutive Thursdays in April. Thats going to give manager Bruce Bochy and pitching coach Dave Righetti the luxuryflexibility to skip the No. 5 spot a few times, keeping the big boys at the front of the rotation on turn.Now, if Bumgarner had carved all spring and proved that even at 20 years old hes ready for regular run in The Show, maybe the Giants hang onto him and simply give the big boys at the front some extra early rest.That, I say, would have been a bad idea.Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Barry Zito and Jonathan Sanchez are working every five days down here. Their arms and bodies are acclimated to it. To change that in the seasons first month, when theyre still working to build arm strength and stamina, would be counter-productive.Also counter-productive would be having Bumgarner on the big league roster but not getting regular work. Dude needs to throw every fifth day, too. Hes no less a creature of habit and routine than the big boys, and sending him to minor league camp Tuesday showed that the Giants have the big and small pictures in mind.So now that race for the No. 5 spot is between Todd Wellemeyer, the very definition of journeyman but having a fantastic spring, and Kevin Pucetas, a 25-year-old prospect with a brilliant minor league record whos been every bit as effective as Wellemeyer.Pucetas is a stud. Wellemeyer is not. Wellemeyer should get the job.Confused? Dont blame you. But check it out:Pucetas, like Bumgarner, is going to be one of the rocks of the big-league rotation at some point, probably soon. Serious trade-bait at worst. And hes a starter -- no question about it -- and thats why he soon needs to be sent to minor league camp as well.Wellemeyer is never going to be a rock of any rotation, but there is value in having a true swingman who can easily and willingly slide from spot starter to long man in the bullpen, and thats exactly what the Giants No. 5 guy will be early on.The real race for the No. 5 spot should take place in Fresno, between Bumgarner and Pucetas. Let them pitch on turn for the first month-and-a-half, and if Wellemeyer is killing it in San Francisco, great. Delay the arb clocks of the kids.If Wellemeyer comes back to earth -- he will eventually, trust me -- then by mid-May well see one of the youngsters and Wellemeyer will become the full-time long man, take his 1 million and like it.You should like all of this, too, Giants fans. Your team is doing it right.-- Mychael UrbanWhat's on your mind? Email Mychael and let him know. He may use it in his weekly Mailbag.