Panik! At the Frisco: The Tim Lincecum Contract
January 3, 2013 § 1 Comment
A nod to the San Francisco Giants’ 2011 first round pick, second baseman of the future Joseph Panik out of St. John’s.
You can imagine native San Franciscans convulsing at the thought of someone saying Frisco or San Fran, but I digress. There’s no way to really sugarcoat this but aside from his postseason revival as a relief pitcher (5 appearances, 10 innings pitched, 0.90 ERA) Tim Lincecum had a terrible 2012. If you were living in a vacuum and you were to choose between signing Tim Lincecum and Buster Posey to a long-term contract, who would you choose?
I’m going to cut you off before you make the decision because you don’t live in a vacuum. Lincecum isn’t that far behind Posey in terms of accolades and awards (before 2010, Lincecum won Cy Young awards in 2008 and 2009). He no longer throws fastballs at an average speed of 93.6 mph in 2007 and 94 mph in 2008 (courtesy of FanGraphs). In 2012, his average fastball velocity has dropped to 90.4 mph in 2012. However, he has added a two-seam fastball to his arsenal to go along with the four-seam, the change-up, curveball and slider in order to remain relevant as he enters his 7th year in the league. Tim Lincecum is still in the process of reinventing his identity as a pitcher as his fastball speed slows down. However, he made $18 million last year, regressing from the standard he set as an emerging pitcher only a few years ago.
The 2012 Stats
33 starts, 10 wins and 15 losses and no complete games. Career-highs in ERA (5.18), walks allowed (90), home runs allowed (23). Lincecum failed to get to 200 innings pitched and 200 strikeouts for the first time since his 2007 rookie season. He never really got through any month of the season unscathed, going 2-2 in April, 0-4 in May, 1-2 in June, 2-3 in July and August and 3-1 in September/October. One of the main reasons why his 2012 reasons sucked? Surrendering too many walks, which would raise his pitch count in many starts until he got fatigued, made a lot of location mistakes on his pitches, and gave up too many runs.
Lincecum’s trouble spots happened many times in the beginning of games. Lincecum’s wildness in the first inning resulted in a 7.64 ERA in the 1st inning, contributing to 22 walks and moderate success for opposing batters. If he managed to pitch until the 4th (32 starts) or 6th inning (22 starts), Timmy would often times run into trouble there, accumulating an ERA of 7.00+ in each inning. His wildness aids many opposing hitters to ignore crap pitches and wait for something better. Aside from a bad stretch in 2010 where he lost all five of his August starts, San Francisco Giants fans were not accustomed to seeing one of their heroes struggle so hard.
Why Did He Struggle?
Did the league figure Tim Lincecum out, spitting on pitches outside of the strike zone and sitting on mistakes in the zone? Does Tim Lincecum still miss Bengie Molina? Did having to throw to Hector Sanchez contribute to Lincecum’s worst season to date? What if the weight loss (20 lbs) and changed eating habits (less In-N-Out) he announced at FanFest prior to the 2012 season affected his pitching? Is there a perceived or real rift between him and star catcher Buster Posey? Has there also been a change in his extracurricular activities? Timmy will tell you he’s fine but his stats say otherwise.
A Super-2 player just like Buster Posey, Tim Lincecum had four years of arbitration. The Giants bought out all four years of arbitration by negotiating 2 two-year deals, the latter one for 40 million dollars and will pay him 22 million dollars for the upcoming 2013 season. After 2013, the Giants will be free to give him a qualifying offer, offer him a long-term contract after seeing him bounce back from a terrible 2012, or trade him to another team. Such contract offers will be close to what Timmy is looking for. He may be enticed to use San Francisco’s offer(s) as leverage for more money on the open market. Whether Tim Lincecum stays a Giant after 2013 remains to be seen.
Oh well, here’s to a new year, a new season in which Timmy makes or doesn’t make Bill James’ prediction (improvement in 2013) come true, a new haircut, and hopefully the same old status: champions.
Brian Wilson’s contract situation: Extend the Beard or shave him off?
Pitching in only two games last season before undergoing a second Tommy John surgery to fix the ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing arm, Brian Wilson is looking for a new contract. The Giants decided not to give an arbitration offer to Wilson (at least 80% of last year’s 8.5 million, which comes out to 6.8 million), making him a non-tendered free agent.
MLB Trade Rumors is pushing really hard to create an illusion of regret by saying several mystery teams want Brian Wilson bad. Until a mystery team follows through and shows Wilson the money, everyone is waiting to see how and where he will perform in 2013.