It gave a nice breakdown of Tim's repertoire on the mound. As he noted, "Mind you I'm very prejudiced when it comes to my children," but still, he explained things in a very clinical and detailed way. I found it very exciting to read his thoughts on his son, his theories on pitching, and how he compares to pitchers of old.
And that got me thinking about how some people say that players way back when seemed to have longer careers, particularly Satchel Paige, who was still pitching effectively into his late 40's (of course, he probably attributed part of his longevity to his theories on health, like how he avoided fried foods, because they "rile" the blood). Plus, Leo Mazzone learned his theories on pitching from a player from the older days, Johnny Sain, if I recall correctly. And obviously, they appear to work, even Chris was throwing in the mid-to-high 80's when he was in his early 50's.
Our New Roving Pitching Instructor
So then I thought, "Chris Lincecum should be our new roving pitching instructor!" He has his theories and they make sense to me, though I must admit that the really technical parts were over my head, I don't know the theory of pitching that well. But I do understand how you want to pitch to a batter in and out and mainly away, and it is the art of deception where you become a pitcher and not a thrower. And obviously, his son is a great example of his theories at work. As the rover, he would travel around and instruct our farm system in how to throw better and more efficiently.
Of course, it could be all genetics, perhaps the Lincecums come from a long line of rubber armed men. Plus, his father did not throw professionally for a long time, where the wear and tear would build up. But when he noted Marichial, it clicked for me, because when I saw the videos of Lincecum throwing on MLB.com, because all the experts noted his unique pitching motion, I was shocked at how his motion was unusual, not as the "herky-jerky" motion some noted, but by how smooth and graceful it looked. And I thought he looked like someone else throwing but I couldn't figure it out until the Marichial mention. Obviously, Marichial has his high kick that is unique, but the smoothness with which he threw is where I see the similarities to Lincecum.
Tim has a very smooth and economical motion. As he has noted in an interview, he uses his whole body to throw the ball. I didn't know how literal that was until I read the interview with his dad in the link above, where he describes Tim's mechanics:
The mechanics he uses along with maintaining core muscle strength (and most important the small muscle strength) is why he can throw for so long, while still maintaining his velocity late in his games (even after throwing 125+ pitches). The small muscles are the wrists, elbow, shoulder, lower-back, groin, and around the knee and ankles....That's getting down to the nitty gritty!
He's the Whole Package
And that's according to Tim's coach at San Jose, not his dad. Again, very interesting notes on Tim's demeanor: "He doesn't let things on the field get to him. He just learns, adjusts and moves on. Maybe his best trait is [that] he's always been a team player since he was little." That is a great philosophy, and it sounds very much like how Matt Cain operates, in terms of learning and adjusting.
Chris also noted, "Personally, I believe he could do all. And like the old timers he could start one game and relieve others. Wouldn’t affect his game or performance...Tim's mentality between the lines is as a pitcher (a gun-slinger if you will).He can handle all roles (starter, mid-relief, set-up or closer). His mentality is old school just like his mechanics." I like pitchers who think that way, old school. Krukow was one, he wanted the ball and wanted to win, and Lincecum clearly looks like he is made from a similar mode, except that he has more skills, and Krukow had pretty good skills himself.
Where his Dad Sees Tim in 2007
With a father's pride, he noted that he thought that Tim was better than anyone on the Giants staff right now and could start if asked. He confirms what I've been reporting, that Sabean sees Tim as a starter. Very interestingly, apparently the Giants told Tim to be on call in 2006, as they would call him up as necessary. Unfortunately, that long losing streak probably put a kibosh on that thought - if they were still in contention, with Sanchez struggling so much starting, they clearly would have brought up Lincecum, a la Cain in 2005, to start a few games. His dad thought that if he was called up, it could have given the team a lift.
For the record, Tim's father thinks that Tim will be in a Giants uniform in 2007, perhaps early. How early, he didn't clarify, but clearly, by reading between the lines, if he thinks his son is better than anyone currently in the rotation, he probably thinks Tim should be in the starting rotation in 2007. Since the Giants are letting him compete in spring training, clearly the Giants would be willing to let him come north with the team if he pitches well.
Someone who e-mailed the author questioned Sabean's veracity about why Lincecum was not brought up, since it appears that the pitch count for Lincecum was no where nears where what Matt Cain and they are similar in age and Sabean noted that Lincecum pitched the equivalent of 35 starts. Chris noted that Sabean was perhaps merely embellishing.
I would have noted that the conventional saber-thought on Lincecum, as propounded by Baseball Prospectus and their Pitcher Abuse Points, the point is not merely how many pitches you throw, but also how many pitches you throw during a game. The more you throw, the exponentially worse - or so their theory goes - it is for your arm. So they take the number of pitches over 100 that a pitcher has thrown, they have a multiple to multiply this number by, which increases with the number of pitches above, and sum it for the season. Based on what I saw calculated on one website, Tim had one of the worse by far, with the PAP being in the hundreds of thousands, where most were much lower, in the tens of thousands or less.
Not that Sabean would know what PAP is, but essentially, that fear came from the same root: the high pitch counts Lincecum experienced during the season in individual games and the increased effect that would have on his body and arm. The fear is that despite the low overall pitch count, the wear and tear on his body is magnified exponentially by the high pitch counts in those games. How Sabean got 35 games, I have no idea, but it appears to me that he does a lot of things that people don't really get either.
However, PAP is not a be all or end all. A BP analyst, Will Carroll, who is their medical expert (though not a doctor but has written a book about pitching and injuries), has said that he loves Tim's mechanics and would chose Tim, if he had to pick a pitcher to start a franchise. In addition, according to Rotoauthority, BP's PECOTA prediction system is predicting an ERA of 3.18 for Tim in 2007. So it looks like the people who devised and promote PAP, apparently overlooks this metric when it comes to Tim Lincecum and his future.
Ace in the Hole
I just get more and more excited by Tim Lincecum! I know that this is biased information, because it was his dad, but it is one thing to say that your son is better than anyone else, but it is another to break down your son's pitching repertoire and how it can be used to attack batters, plus describe how pitching the wrong way can negatively affect certain parts of your body. And the multitude of pitches that Lincecum can throw totally reminds me of Juan Marichial, who had a large number of pitches he used to attack batters. I especially like the fact that his off-speed pitches have the same throwing motion as his fastball.
And "attack batters" is the right phrase to use for Lincecum. He has a killer attitude. And I believe his father when he said that if the Giants had brought him up, it would have had a positive impact on the team. I think players like that bring others on the team up a notch. I think Tim could have been our Ace in the hole last season and definitely in regards to the future of our franchise.
Lincecum is Our Next Will Clark
That's why I am now envisioning Lincecum to be our pitching equivalent to Will Clark. Clark had a cocky attitude, but it wasn't smug confidence but a firm belief in his abilities as a ballplayer, with a winning attitude. Lincecum definitely embodies that way of thinking (as does his father). And Lincecum has shown the abilities to "walk the talk", much like Will Clark did.
All of Tim's travails reminds me a little of how Tiger Woods was received when he turned pro. Many of the pros thought that he was overhyped, but ignored the fact that he was doing things that many people in his same position could not do. They disrepected all that he had accomplished as an amateur and wrote him off. But once he played with the big boys, he showed why he did all those things when he was an amateur. I believe Lincecum will do the same when given the chance.
The Future Centerpiece is NOW the Young Pitching Rotation
I've been beating this drum to death, but our post-Barry centerpiece is our young rotation and the future is looking closer than it seems, it looks like it could be now. Lincecum will be the Spahn to Cain's Sain, except that we won't need to pray for rain because we will have Zito and Sanchez in the rotation as well. People like to beat up on Morris, but I think some are forgeting that in today's hyper-offensive period, pitchers with low 4 ERAs are actually good pitchers and mid-4's are average pitchers, and Morris was in both of those ranges for the season, once he settled himself down, until he was pitching injured.
I have been talking about how having a double-ace rotation is probably the surest way towards winning in the post-season. Starters who are that reliably dominant - particularly in terms of DOM% vs. DIS% per the PQS metric I post here - greatly improves the chances of winning in a short series. I've talked about how Cain looks to be an ace in the making, but Lincecum now clearly looks to me to be the double-ace I've been hoping for a playoff winning rotation. Follow that up with Zito, Morris, and Lowry, and, man, what a rotation that would look like in 2007!
Hopefully the future is now, but, even if not, the future is looking good for the Giants, despite all the naysayers who are calling for Sabean's head. He has had a plan, and the plan has been to stock up with pitchers, pitchers, and more pitchers. He lucked out that Lincecum fell to him, but the key point is that when fate gave him the opportunity, he didn't pass like the other 9 teams ahead of him, he picked Lincecum, and that was clearly the right move.
Not only that, but he showed Lincecum some love by giving him a bonus that was representative of the bonus given in the previous year, not the discounted amounts draftees were getting in the 2006 draft - Lincecum, if he had slotted in line with the other draftees, should have gotten a couple hundred thousand dollars less. That show of respect will hopefully earn points with Lincecum when it comes time to sign him to a long term extension. And that could be coming soon, within a year or two, I would bet.
With Lincecum and Cain heading the rotation eventually in the near-term future and Zito and Sanchez manning the middle, the Giants rotation could be a playoff sweeping machine that it wouldn't matter how average the offense was, as long as the Giants will save money with a cheap and young rotation, they will have money to buy offense on the market and absorb the Alfonzo Albatrosses that come our way without suffering a down season.
And I'm serious about making his dad the roving instructor. He clearly have strong ideas about how to get pitchers to throw without hurting themselves. And it is not radical ideas, it sounds like he takes old-time mechanics and infused it with modern knowledge about fitness and exercise. And if anyone has noticed, a number of our top pitching prospects have gone under the knife in recent years - Valdez, Joaquin, Griffin, Foppert. Heck, even throw in Francisco Liriano, who, while never under the knife appears headed there evenutally. What if Chris Lincecum had straightened out his mechanics?!?