Here is a link to my column about Tim Lincecum. The full text of the column appears below.
It must have been a typographical error, actually two typographical errors. That’s what I thought.
The first typographical error: The Giants re-signed Tim Lincecum as a cornerstone of their starting rotation.
The second typographical error: The Giants paid him $35 million for two years.
That’s a lot of millions for a guy who lost his fastball years ago, who wants — begs — hitters to swing at junk in the dirt, whose home runs per nine innings went through the roof (out of the ballpark) the past two seasons, who gives up a ton of line drives (you advanced statniks can look it up), whose earned-run average is a disgrace.
For this Lincecum gets 35 big ones and a no-trade clause, too? And cynics say there’s no Santa Claus. There sure isn’t a sanity clause.
Oh, I’m aware of the pro-Timmy argument. (Isn’t he a little old to be Timmy?) He’s evolving. He used to be a power pitcher.
“Here’s my heat. I dare you to hit it.” Now, he’s a finesse pitcher in the Greg Maddux mold. (On that one, seeing is believing.) He’s gone from a pure thrower to a craftsman, to a cerebral pitcher — mind over batter and all that folderol.
You think? Take a look at his September starts from the regular season — I’ve read the Giants paid him the whopper sum based on his last handful of starts.
On Sept. 4, he gave up five runs in 5 1/3 innings to those terrors from San Diego.
That’s how a guy gets $35 million?
On Sept. 20, his next-to-last start, he gave up four runs to the Yankees in just over six innings.
This is the stuff of millions?
True, in his final start he did well against the Dodgers — two runs in seven innings. Maybe he earned his contract based on that one start. One thing we know, he gets hit hard when he’s in the strike zone and he’s basically a six-inning pitcher, if he’s lucky.
I wish the Giants were overpaying me. I could get a pied-à-terre on Park Avenue, Manhattan, and a vacation retreat on the French Riviera.
There is a difference between fact and prayer. Great American thinkers like Woody Allen and Dave Chappelle know this. It’s essential to make a fact-based decision. Like, can this guy pitch? It’s a mistake to make a prayer-based decision. Like, God I pray this guy can pitch.
The Giants are praying. They hope and pray Lincecum can be a dynamite — not solid, dynamite — third starter behind Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner. They are probably praying to the Big Guy in the sky right now, although we sure hope they don’t offer a human sacrifice. They have gone out of style.
Please make a note of this. Nothing Lincecum did the past two seasons when he lost nine games more than he won offers the slightest evidence he will be a serious starting pitcher or that he is worth a treasure chest.
That brings us to general manager Brian Sabean. He is one of the best GMs in baseball. This we know. I have immense respect for him. He gets credit for winning two World Series and getting his team to a third World Series.
Billy Beane, who admires Sabean and feels a certain awe about him — he asked me what Sabean’s office looks like — well, Beane once said he knows what most general managers are doing but he doesn’t know what Sabean is doing.
And every once in a while he (Beane) looks out to the ocean (figuratively) and sees “that dorsal fin” in the water.
Heck of a nice image, Billy.
Dorsal fin as in shark. Dorsal fin as in the man-shark will pounce. And murder you.
So, all respect to Brian Sabean.
Not this time.
Sabean has almost no flaws as a GM. He does have one. He overpays for players. The classic overpayment was for Barry Zito, and the money he paid Zito year after year restricted his ability to get good position players. Hence, the old rent-a-players who showed up all the time.
Sabean also overpaid Aubrey Huff. Why? And he may be overpaying Hunter Pence right now. Pence is good but he does not carry a team like, say, Carlos Beltran (remember him?) or Yoenis Cespedes.
And now Sabean is overpaying Lincecum. He isn’t merely overpaying the guy. He’s engorging him with dough.
“OK, smarty,” you may be saying as you read this right now, “what should Sabean have done with Lincecum?”
He could have let Lincecum test the open market, where Lincecum would have found the market wasn’t so hot. He could have offered Lincecum less money than the ridiculous money he threw at him. Lincecum might have taken it.
“Oh, yeah,” you say, “it isn’t your money they’re paying Timmy. Why do you care?”
Because the Giants need other players — a second baseman, an outfielder, maybe a third baseman if the Michelin Man gets hurt — and they may run out of money before they fill those needs. By signing Lincecum and Pence for a fortune, they merely are bringing back the crummy team that finished 16 games out of first place. They need more impact players to keep pace with the Dodgers.
“If you’re so smart, what is your final advice to Sabean?”
You better get one hell of a left fielder, Brian.