Sunday, February 10, 2008

Tim Lincecum: Please Stay Long Time!!!

The Giants made Tim Lincecum available to the press prior to the KNBR/Giants FanFest event that was held yesterday (Saturday) at AT&T. Press views were available via the Chronicle, Mercury, and sfgiants.com. Each gave their take on what was said and heard.

The common theme was that Lincecum was not happy about possibly being traded to Toronto. He tried not to think or read about it, but friends would bring it up with him. The bottom line was that he enjoys being here, wants to be here, and is glad to be here.

sfgiants.com/Haft

The sfgiants.com version by Chris Haft added that he said, "I don't want to leave yet, I want to get my feet wet here. I've had such a great time with this organization in such a short time." It also had other news, including signing Kevin Correia to a $1.075M contract, the mid-point between the two, avoiding arbitration, plus that Sabean is not interested in anyone in free agency though a trade is still possible. Sabean noted, "We just don't see anybody out there who's going to change our fortunes dramatically in the present or future, especially the future, on the free agent market.

Haft also repeated the oft-mentioned (and oft-cringed) Crede trade rumor, but this quote and actions thus far suggest quite the opposite to me in a number of ways. One is that Crede is only a one year rental because Boras is his agent and if the Giants were only willing to give Feliz two years and no more, Crede is not getting more than that because his batting line is basically interchangeable with Feliz - and boosted by his home park - and he is worse defensively (though good defensively, Feliz is now that good).

Two is that even if Crede signs for two years - 2008 and 2009 - that hardly satisfies Sabean's statement about emphasizing the future. Some cynical fans like to make fun of Sabean but in his time as GM, he has said what he meant, meant what he said, even if he couldn't execute it during the off-season (like 2003 when he said the A.J. trade wasn't the only thing the Giants were doing - and it was - or last off-season when he said the team was getting younger but nobody young would sign with us, despite even offering more money to Carlos Lee).

Third is that Frandsen appears capable of deliverying offense (better) and defense (worse) at 3B comparable to Crede overall (not equal to but comparable), which violates the objective for "dramatic" change if a trade is to be made. Therefore, I don't see how the Giants can target Crede if they hold to their public statements of the past half year. But all the rumor mongers say that the Giants are extremely interested because of Rowand and/or Schuler, so we will see. I would be greatly disappointed if the Giants trade any good prospect for one year of Crede, even more disappointed if they then sign him to a long-term contract.

Chronicle/Schulman

Henry Schulman gave a bit more in his Chron take. It added some nice funny quotes from Matt Cain and a good discussion of Lincecum's efforts to add a fourth pitch, a "hard" slider that he was working on in the bullpen late in the 2007 season: "The changeup became a go-to pitch for me when I needed it. It wasn't great early on, but it's definitely a pitch I'm more comfortable with. I want to be able to find that with my slider. If it only takes a couple of starts or bullpen (sessions) to get that slider going, that's it. I want to throw four pitches."

Schulman also had some discussion by Sabean about giving Ortmeier and Frandsen significant opportunity to win spots while the outfielders will find little opportunity with Rowand and Winn starting and Roberts the frontrunner for LF, though a trade could change things.

Mercury/Baggarly

Andrew Baggarly, I think, had the most significant news by far of the three accounts, and he had three of them to boot. First is that he quoted Lincecum in reaction to fans had connected with him: "It is very reassuring to have in the back of your mind [the fan's support]. To hear so many fans wanted me to stay, that motivates me. When it comes to free agency or signing somewhere, something like that could make a difference." Hence my title and hopefully other fans will do likewise.

The second bit of significant info was that Lincecum said he expects to sign a one-year contract for this season, with the possibility of negotiating a multi-year deal after that. I was hoping to get him signed to a contract similar to Lowry and Cain, but I like to see his confidence of doing well and getting a better contract. Self-motivation like that is rare.

One of Lincecum's traits I like is that he is driven to improve to make more money but is fair about it, unlike most of Boras's clients who I consider money hungry opportunists - there is enough money for everyone without leveraging the huge advantage that players have in the marketplace currently. Tim had a figure he wanted and didn't sign in 2005 for less, preferring to improve himself in 2006 and earn what he felt he wanted. Even with the Giants, he didn't settle for slot, he wanted what the #10 had got the year before and the Giants eventually gave it to him. Then he went out to show he was more than worth it.

Lastly, Baggarly had additional quote on the slider that was significant: "I plan to be a four-pitch starter. I'd love for it to be a pitch I can throw for strikes, but its looking like a strikeout pitch. The more I throw it, the more comfortable it feels." The top pitchers have at least four pitches they can throw for strikes. And it is even better when it is so good that it is a strikeout pitch.

These were all info Giants fans would want to know, news none of the other accounts included. That is why I wish the Giants would provide video or audio of all of these news conferences so that the fans can hear for themselves what is being said, instead of having it filtered by the writers. Sometimes interesting information is left out by one or another or, for all I know, all of them.

Baggarly had other news. One was that several clubs plan to scout Noah Lowry to see if his elbow is sound. At the moment, Lowry is expected to report healthy. I have to assume that with top arms like Santana, Haren, and Bedard on the market, that probably killed trade interest in second tier pitchers like Lowry until they were all traded. Now the losers in those trades might turn their attention to this second tier, like Lowry and Blanton, pitchers who are good but not great. That's interesting info too!

He also noted that Zito might not be the opening day starter. Bochy said that Zito is not the automatic choice. I think that its only logical to do that, to give Cain and Lincecum something to shoot for, but I have to assume that, barring a total meltdown on Zito's part in spring training (which I don't expect), Zito will be the opening day starter. One, why put additional pressure on your young aces-to-be, when Zito is being paid so well? Two, putting our young guns against lesser pitchers should result in more wins for them overall. Three, being back of the rotation means at least one less start - maybe two if the rotation is shifted after the ASG - for starters 3 to 5, who are probably Lowry, Lincecum, and Correia/Sanchez. All three could use less starts in 2008.

Good News and Bad News

On a side note, the good news is that I've just gotten a job offer. It is exactly as my friends' cliche went when they learned of my job loss: you'll find a better job, better company, better pay. However, the bad news is that I like to devote myself 24/7 to my new job so that the learning curve is as short as possible and I contribute to the team as soon as possible, so I might be a bit slow for a while to react to Giants news and such. Once I get into the routine of things, then my posts here should return to normal.

4 comments:

  1. Congratulations on the job Martin. Hope it doesn't interfere too much with the Giants!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Mike! I don't think the Giants will be bothered too much by me having a job. :^) Seriously though, I don't expect a lot of interference with my posts, but I wanted to bring it up just in case it's tougher than I expected.

    In addition, forgot to also mention something else in the Baggarly article that caught my eye.

    He noted that Sabean said that the most dramatic development this winter is that "we pretty much stuck to the plan we didn't trade any pitching. We have depth as a result."

    He also noted that the Giants are EXPECTED to monitor Crede (caps my emphasis), and that's one thing I like about Baggarly, he's a stickler for what is the exact situation (in an interview he did with El Lefty Malo, he made the distinction - that I make - that most writers miss or mis-interpret, Barry Bonds never once admitted to PED use, he only admitted using something that the Feds SUSPECT is the clear and the cream), so if he puts that the Giants are "expected" to monitor Crede, then it confirmed my feeling all along that all the Crede to the Giants rumors are just the creation of writers (and fans) who are trying to connect the dots (Giants need 3B, ChiSox shopping Crede, ergo the Giants MUST be talking with the ChiSox about Crede) and jumping to a conclusion.

    Again, given all that Sabean has said this off-season, it would violate their plans to trade anyone worth anything to get Crede. So that leaves open the possibility of trading for Crede with a non-prospect.

    Then it would violate their plans to only acquire players who are a significant upgrade over the current incumbents, namely Ortmeier at 1B and Frandsen/Aurilia at 3B. Crede is not a significant upgrade over Frandsen/Aurilia at 3B, though he would be an upgrade defensively. Offensively, even with the boost he gets from playing in Chicago, his stats are pretty bad, they are Feliz-bad and Feliz's numbers suffer from being in SF versus benefiting like Crede did.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Congratulations on the new job, Martin. I'm very happy for you.
    However, you have to march into the bosses office and tell them you have an obligation to guys like me, some 350 miles from SF - or more - to keep us informed of what is going on with our favorite team. Yes, yes, it may be difficult and inconvenient for you, but, your fans (and Giant fans) need you.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Congrats Martin!

    Employment is always a good thing ;)

    ReplyDelete

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