A Thoroughbred, Soon To Be Pricey

August 29

               When the Giants are home, Tim Lincecum returns to his pad each night to pet his dog Cy.  He might have another trophy named Cy if he continues to pitch the way he did Friday night against the Rockies.  More than 39-thousand fans at A-T and T Park witnessed true brilliance, once again.

                I don’t know what the future holds for Lincecum, but no one, including Lincecum, is thinking about that right now.  This is a time to appreciate the present.  Friday night, A-T & T Park was the loudest I have heard since Barry Bonds hit #756.

                 Lincecum had lost to this same Rockies team, and the same pitcher, Ubaldo Jiminez Sunday at Coors Field, 4-2.  On Friday night, in arguably the Giants’ biggest home game in five years, Lincecum was everything you want an ace to be.  He got revenge for Sunday and in the process, the memory of the brutal and potentially crushing Monday night loss at Coors faded a bit more.

                  Lincecum had slightly better stuff and command than he did at Coors Sunday, but he was in his home ballpark this time.  No hanging sliders in the mile-high air that get launched into the right field bleachers.  He had more pop on his fastball, although you couldn’t tell because the stadium radar gun readings were not posted on the scoreboard.  Against a tough lineup that likes to grind, Lincecum looked just as good in the 8th as in the 1st inning. 

                   It was a 127 pitch masterpiece.  If there was any wear and tear it wasn’t evident.  He might need to do it again a couple of more times before the season’s done.

                   It is legitimate to worry about his workload.  The effects might not become evident right away, but are certainly something to monitor.  It seems if any pitcher could beat the odds it is Lincecum.  It won’t be discussed in the middle of a pennant race, but the issue might force itself onto the front burner eventually.

                   The Giants might have to consider his future in the offseason.  Some feel the smart move might be to lock him up to a long-term, big-money deal, especially considering players such as Randy Winn and Dave Roberts are coming off the books.  One thing is for certain: arbitration will gobble up a great deal of those savings, at least 10-million in all likelihood.  On top of that the Giants need to get more offensive help, and they have Matt Cain to consider as well.

                   For Lincecum, it might not be in his best interests to sign a long-term deal now.  He might win record amounts in arbitration.  He is classified as a Super Two player because he was called up in May of his rookie year in 2007, and he can go to arbitration four times instead of three.  

                   However, he is a pitcher, and even someone as unique in Lincecum might want to take the money now and run.  It is hard to project that any pitcher will maintain his level of excellence, or stay healthy, over a five-year period of time.  Even Lincecum. 

                    To my knowledge, the Giants haven’t broached the subject of a long-term deal with Lincecum, although his agent Rick Thurman is reportedly open to a multi-year contract ( Andrew Baggarly, San Jose Mercury News, June 29, 2009. ) .  If I’m the Giants, it might be worth it to try, but addressing their needs on offense might be a higher priority, plus they know Lincecum is essentially under their control for four years.

                    Lincecum is a very inexpensive gem right now, and in the past two seasons his combined salary of a little over a million dollars is one of the great bargains of all time.  He has made Barry Zito’s contract a little easier to digest.   That will change, one way or the other, in the offseason.

                     Hopefully the economy rebounds in 2010, for many reasons more important than a baseball team.  But if that happens the Giants should plan on expanding their payroll if they intend to make a serious run in 2010.  Are you willing to pay higher ticket prices to make that happen?

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One Response to “A Thoroughbred, Soon To Be Pricey”

  1. Marty Says:

    Ray

    Great article. Good point! He is an important piece of the Giants future.

    We all love Tim Lincecum. He is a fan favorite who brings in added revenue for the Giants. There are very few players who are at his status in MLB. He is the Giants best draw since the great Barry Bonds.

    The Giants have consistently over paid average players to contracts (Dave Roberts, Randy Winn, Aaron Rowand, Edgar Renteria, Barry Zito) and this might hamper their ability to pay Tim Lincecum what he has already earned.

    If they offered him $75 million for 5 years, he would be foolish not to sign. All pitchers are just one throw from a career ending injury (Noah Lowry, Mark Prior…). His unique pitching style and diminutive frame is the reason he “slipped” to #10 in the draft after winning the Golden Spikes award at the University of Washington. Although, he does not appear to be fragile at all. Apparently, the guy has a “rubber arm.”

    Would they then need to offer Matt Cain the same deal? Currently, the Giants have only four players that need to be locked up for the future (Lincecum, Cain, Wilson, Sandoval). Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner are going to want their money also if they prove themselves at the big league level (There is no reason to think they won’t). Perhaps that is why the Giants don’t want to bring them up to the big club?

    I just hope Tim doesn’t hire Eugene Parker as his agent, like another #10 draft pick in San Francisco…

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