By: Jeff Riger
On Saturday night I watched Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum throw his first career no hitter. On Sunday I read a rumor the Tigers wanted to make a trade for him and I love it.
I’m not going to lie — Lincecum is not the pitcher that he used to be, if he was, the Giants would never think about trading him and even as I type this, I’m not sure I believe that they actually would. But I read the rumor so it must be true. Despite throwing the no-no Lincecum is mired in a 5 and 9 campaign with a very mediocre 4.26 ERA. If you think that’s bad, look at his stats last season. I’ll save you the time and trouble. In 2012 “Timmy” was 10-15 with a 5.18 ERA.
I told you it was bad.
Lincecum seems very far from who he used to be when he won back-to-back Cy Young awards and consistently hit 95MPH on the radar gun. Now his velocity and strike outs are down while his WHIP is up.
But yes I still think it’s a great idea to go get him.
You see the Tigers have no desire to use “The Freak” as a starter, they have five good ones, instead they want to add him as a valuable, trusted arm to a bullpen that desperately needs him. It wasn’t too long ago I believed that Detroit’s pen was getting better and that manager Jim Leyland finally had things sorted out. I was wrong, very wrong. Sure Leyland has done a fine job with his relievers but he needs better arms, it’s that simple.
Despite taking 2 of 3 from a very good Rangers team over the weekend, it was in those wins that Leyland begged for help. Friday and Sunday Detroit led Texas by 5 runs and yet they were forced to use their set-up man Drew Smyly and closer Joaquin Benoit to finish the games. Good pens don’t have to do that! Good pens have other arms that they can trust with a lead that big while saving their late inning guys for more important future outings.
Detroit doesn’t and if you don’t believe me check out the numbers of relievers not named Smyly and Benoit. Let me save you the time and trouble again; they are brutal.
Lincecum on the other hand has very good bullpen numbers.
Last season, in a relief role, Lincecum pitched in 6 games in the playoffs out of the pen. In those games he compiled a 2.55 ERA in 13.1 innings. The opposition hit just .150 against him in that span. Those are numbers for his entire playoff stint. For the World Series alone against the Tigers, Lincecum pitched 4.2 innings where he didn’t give up a single run or hit. Timmy was spectacular!
While I make my pitch for Lincecum I also feel the need to talk about his “Big Game” factor. He pitches great in them. The big stage, the spotlight, whatever you want to call it doesn’t affect this guy. Lincecum has pitched in every big game possible and he has won most of them. He isn’t fazed by any pressure situation when they matter the most. Lincecum’s entire playoff numbers as a starter and reliever are impressive. He has pitched 54.2 innings where he has given up just 15 earned runs while the opposition hits .176 against him. He has won both World Series that he has played in.
Despite recent struggles, “The Freak” continues to be a winner when it matters the most.
But will Detroit be able to get him?
The Giants are currently 6 and a half games out of first place in the NL West and I would assume that standing would have to worsen a bit before the July 31st trade deadline. Lincecum makes $22million this season and will become a free agent next year. Rumor has it that the Giants will not re-sign him which would bode well for Detroit. If he turns out to be good the Tigers could extend him, if not then he would be a rental player that will leave town after the season.
Why would San Francisco want to lose Lincecum and get nothing for him when they can trade him and get a building piece for the future? There are also not a ton of quality relievers that will be dealt, so the Giants could command a hefty price for their once cherished treasure.
Of course there is always the chance that the Giants get back into contention and keep him or decide not to deal him because he is a fan favorite in the Bay Area and selling tickets is always important. Hell, I’m not even sure Lincecum would want to pitch out of the pen but overall I think this is a doable deal.
As for what the Tigers would have to give up? I have no clue although I assume all deals would start with prospect Nick Castellanos’s name and I’m alright with that.
Detroit needs to win a World Series this season, anything less is a complete, embarrassing failure. Lincecum can help with that goal as another trusted right handed arm in the pen that Leyland can call upon when needed. Make the move! Go get “The Freak”!
What do you think?