With the worst record in baseball, a minus 62 run differential, and ERA staff pushing 5, the Diamondbacks are a mess and nothing at all Madison Bumgarner had introduced himself when he signed with Arizona before last season.
Buried in last place in the National League West with little hope of denting the division, the Diamondbacks could be a popular target as the July 30 deadline approaches for competitors looking to step up.
Management will be eager to discharge and there are several attractive players including infielder Eduardo Escobar, who will be free agent after the season with 14 homers, and David Peralta, a defensive-minded corner field player with pop against right-handed.
Then there are Bumgarner. A few weeks ago he finished a six-game stretch where he went 4-1 with a 1.32 ERA while hitting 39 and going six and enjoying a speed bump like he was in his prime with the Giants.
Bumgarner’s heroic post-season résumé would have been appealing to teams looking to bolster their October rotation.
Then it fell apart. During his next three starts, he gave up 16 earned runs and 21 hits in 12 innings, with his ERA balloon rising to 5.73. Now he’s on the injured list with a shoulder infection and said he’d felt it for the past two or three weeks without telling the team and thought it was going to go away.
Had Bumgarner continued to pitch well, the humble Diamondbacks would have had a chance to move him to the deadline and lose some of what was left of his $ 85 million contract. That seems impossible now.
Based on Bumgarner’s contract, he can block deals for five teams, but it seems he’ll be left in the desert for the time being, not an encouraging prospect considering the Diamondbacks are going in the wrong direction, losing 16 games in a row.
Your last road win? Bumgarner’s seven-inning no-hitter on April 25th.
All about the majors
• Let’s acknowledge Mike Norris‘Fabulous 1980 season with the A’s, 22 wins, 284 ⅓ innings, 2.53 ERA and 1.048 WHIP. We are reminded of Norris because the Mets Jacob deGrom opened that season with eight starts of at least five innings and no more than one earned run, and only three other pitchers had done so since 1901. One was Norris, who never had a problem getting five innings. He usually did this before breakfast. That year he threw 24 complete games.
• The MVP awards will be renamed this year after Kenesaw Mountain Landis‘Name was removed in October. The commissioner, who served from 1920-1944, helped keep black players out of the major leagues, and a perfect name to put on plaques grew up in Oakland Frank Robinson, the only player to have won an MVP in both the national and American leagues. But an even better name would be Josh Gibson, the legendary catcher and thug of the Negro Leagues, who died of a brain tumor in 1947 at the age of 35 just before the color barrier was broken Jackie Robinson. It would be a wonderfully fitting homage – “poetic justice,” said great-grandchildren Sean Gibson – to a man who was expelled from the majors because of Landis’ bigotry and his group of white owners.
• We were led to believe in 1975 that Bob Watson scored the millionth run in major league history and it did not because the total only included the national and American leagues, despite the fact that baseball recognized the Federal League, Union Association, and other leagues as major leagues in 1969. Run # 1 million would have been scored much earlier. Last week, Atlantas Josh Donaldson is said to have made the two millionth run, the total including the leagues recognized in 1969. Well, that’s probably wrong too, because record keeping wasn’t an exact science in the early days and the totals vary depending on who is in charge, the one, Elias Sports Bureau, or baseball reference. As an MLB historian John Thorn suggested, counting runs is like counting stars.
• Watson’s so-called millionth run was held at Candlestick Park, and it was much more hyped than Donaldson’s. Mr. 1M should get a million Tootsie Rolls and a watch and when Mild May haunted John Montefusco, Watson started jogging home but started sprinting when Astros Reliever in the bullpen off the third baseline knew 999,999 runs were on the books and told him to run hard. Watson met at 12:32 p.m. seconds earlier Davey Concepción did his homerun sprint in Cincinnati.
• Little things: The man to whom the 999,999. Run is attributed to: Claudell Washington the A’s in Chicago six minutes before Watson crossed the candlestick plate.
• A computer estimate at the time predicted the 2 millionth run would be made in 2045. Obviously, the computer wasn’t handling future expansion, designated bats, smaller ballpark, juiced baseballs, steroids, launch angles, exit speeds, hard hit rates, and bigger guys.
• What a cool dream is coming true Matt McDonald, a clever sidewinder on the Salem-Keizer volcanoes, the former Giants farm team and now a member of the independent Mavericks League, which emerged after the restructuring of the minor league. McDonald, from Dublin High School, is the son of Bay Area sports writers Michelle Smith and Jerry McDonald and not only carries No. 6 (Tim Lincecums old number with the Volcanoes, his first professional team), but he uses Timmy the Kid’s old locker at the Volcanoes Stadium.
John Shea is the national baseball writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @JohnSheaHey