Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Sky is Falling: Lincecum Pitching After Rain Delay

There has been much consternation over the Giants usage of Tim Lincecum in yesterday's game. The media coverage has been virtually the same: Giants were careful all last year plus this spring with his groin problem, then, CRAZY MOTHER OF GOD, they re-use him again after the long rain delay. Even the evil spawn of hell, the L.A. D-gers, didn't trot out their starter again after that delay, they basically burned one of his starts.

I can understand why people are upset. It goes against the grain of what's taught today about how to handle pitchers. Lincecum is "the Franchise (tm)". The Giants are losers anyway (so their thinking goes), why risk our best pitcher.

This Orange is Not an Apple

Here's where I disagree with the herd mentality that sometimes runs roughshod over anyone who disagrees in baseball. They forget that each player is an individual and that each season is different, and generalities, while nice for judging things in general, can fail when examining an individual player. They don't know how to figure out for themselves when things don't follow the "rules".

The Giants weren't just being careful with Lincecum last season, they were studying him and how his body seems to react to things and trying to figure out exactly what they had with him. They worked with him to learn how he does things, and they shared what they thought were best practices but, from what I can tell, deferred to Lincecum and his father on other matters regarding how they do certain things. Particularly once things went south, there was not a lot of urgency to just throw him out there for just a couple more starts just for the purpose of throwing him out there.

So once they figure that they had a good bearing on what they got and reached a trust level of what Lincecum was saying about his body, why not pull him out of the last two starts? Particularly since it allowed them to evaluate other starters for 2008?

Plus, it was his first full professional season: why not give him some added rest? A lot of young pitchers get overused early on, why not shut him down early if you can? I recall Bochy talking about a study that showed that overuse of young pitchers in their first season can cause problems in the future.

But that didn't mean that the Giants will do this forever or that you can't use your pitchers. They were spending his first season learning about the wonders of Lincecum. At some point the learning ends and you take the training wheels off and see what you can do with this young buck. That is this season. People don't seem to realize that.

And guess what? This season is not like last season. He has a year under his belt now. The Giants have a better understanding of what they got and what he can do. They point out his groin problem in spring, but really, what player DOESN'T get shut down, particularly a player they are counting on greatly for the regular season, when they have a groin problem, or even a hint of a groin problem?

Different Does Not Always Mean It's Bad

So I understand how easy it is for the media and fans to criticize. The Giants are not following the "tried and true" path and in life, when you do that, you get criticized. But if they had followed that road in the first place, they would have passed on Lincecum just like the 9 teams ahead of them, and probably picked up Daniel Bard like all the experts were saying they would.

Lincecum is different from most any other pitcher. It's time for people to realize that. If you always treat him like a porcelain glass, you won't ever find out what he can do, what his full potential is. That is the danger of the trend to babying pitchers, you get more and more restrictive that you don't know whether the pitcher could do more. There are silly risks and there are calculated risks. Letting Canseco pitch was a silly risk. Letting Lincecum pitch was a calculated risk.

In addition, they didn't force him out there. They consulted with him. Ultimately, he's putting himself and his career at risk if he does something that don't feel right physically, like Foppert did when he didn't admit to his pain and continued pitching until he was left with no choice but to get TJS. If The Kid felt like he could do it, why not let him, he's been doing it for years now.

He's a Super Freak, He's Super Freaky

And that's the thing that has bothered me from the moment, almost, that the Giants selected him. He's clearly like no one before. He long throws the next day after starting a game. Nobody does that but he's been doing that apparently forever. He doesn't feel enough pain to need to ice his arm. Almost all pitchers need to ice their arms after starting - the only pitcher thus far that I have heard could get away without icing his arm is the pitcher many often compare him to, Roy Oswalt.

As he said after the game, "People have called me a freak of nature before," said Lincecum (1-0). "Now they have another reason to call me that."

So if he says that his arm feels good and that he is good to go, that he had done this before when he was in college without ill effects, why not let him go? Why not pitch him? If he is a freak of nature, we should take advantage of it, not baby him.

Sign On the Dotted Line Please

One thing that I hadn't beaten the drum much on this off-season, and for that I apologize, was the Giants signing Tim Lincecum to a long term contract that buys out his pre-free agent years, like they did with Noah Lowry and Matt Cain. And I don't think that is going to happen, which is probably why Sabean hadn't said a word about it all off-season, because he probably broached the subject with Lincecum and was re-buffed. That wouldn't surprise me.

While Lincecum is not super-greedy - else he would have had Scott Boras as his agent - he does want good money because he thinks he is worth it - and there's nothing wrong with that, none of us can argue with that. That's why he held out to get the same bonus money as the #10 got the year before - if he held to slot, he would have gotten about $200,000 less. The Kid wants to be paid what he thinks he is worth.

And Lincecum revels in showing up people by outdoing expectations. He's been doing that much of his life now, judging from the chip on his shoulder that shows up in interviews when they ask about his size. I think any of us would be the same, having others publicly doubt you and your abilities. Like in the movies when two people are talking about a third person and then the third person yells at the two of them, "HELLO! I'm still in the room!" It must feel like that to get burned in public by the media.

But he's not dumb either, he's actually very smart and hard-working. He knows what he wants and he works hard to get it. He did that all through college, figuring out how to improve on the main complaint about him, which mainly dealt with him walking too many. He wanted a certain dollar figure (I believe it was $1M) in the amateur draft before we picked him (I think it was Cleveland) and they wouldn't give it to him, so he just came back and won the Golden Spike award for the best college player in the national.

And I see him doing it in the majors too. The latest example being him adding another pitch to his repertoire this spring when he pitched well enough last season to be a top pitcher in the league. Adding another effect pitch could push him from "only" being a top pitcher to being one of the elite in the majors. How many other pitchers would rest on their laurels and be content with just being very good. He aspires for greatness, much like Cain does too, that's why I think it's stupid for anyone to talk about trading either one.

So I can see him having a dollar figure in his head and the Giants probably were pushing a contract similar to Cain and Lowry's plus some inflation, and I would bet that the chasm between those numbers were great enough that Lincecum said, "hey, I believe in myself and that's too low. I'm going to add another pitch and show you that I'm worth every freaking dollar that I am asking for."

Of course, it could be that the Giants don't totally buy the freak act either, at least at the GM level - the rumors were strong this off-season that some in Giants management think that it would be better to switch Lincecum to being a closer like Papebon - and so they don't want to offer such a big contract to a player whose arm and/or shoulder could blow out just like that. Perhaps it is they who want another year of "kicking the tires" to see how Lincecum's body holds up to two years of major league baseball before they commit to a long term contract.

In any case, I think that there will be no contract, because if he becomes as good as he appears to be capable of, he will probably get the highest contract ever given any second year player, whatever that is. It will be "shades of Barry Zito" but I think it will be worth every penny and more. He not only thinks differently, but he is different, and should not be treated like he is like anyone else ever in history: he isn't, he is as unique as they come.

Body Whisperer

The key thing to me is that he listens to his body. He has, with his father's immeasurable help, crafted a pitching motion that puts relatively less stress on his body than other pitchers. So less that he is able to long throw the next day if he felt like it. If his body breaks down, it will not be because of him being small, it will be because that's just the limits of his body.

Just like it is just the limits of his body when any pitcher 6' 5" or taller has his body break down. Being big doesn't mean that he gets a pass on physical problems: being bigger just means he can take more punishment, he is built more like a horse and thus can get away with more stress on his body, given that most pitchers today don't pitch like they did 40-50 years ago. Lincecum's body clearly takes very little punishment compared to others, else he would not be able to throw the next day, else he would have to ice his arm immediately after a start. Why can't everybody see this?

15 comments:

  1. No matter how different, freaky, gifted, or out-of-the-ordinary Lincecum is, it was a stupid and poor decision to bring him back after a delay.

    No one is questioning his physical gifts.

    The Giants took a very short-sighted view with Lincecum in that game. One in which they valued the short term win over potential long term ramifications.

    It's a stupid and unforgivable move. I also don't trust a player to be completely honest about their health most of the time. How many players play hurt, or try to tough it out and in the process, make things worse?

    Will Carroll from BP pegged it well in his injury updates.

    Tim Lincecum (0 DXL)
    So Bruce Bochy and Joe Torre both held out their starting pitchers because of impending storms. I'll buy into that line of thinking, so as not to lose a turn from one of his top pitchers. The problem comes later. When Bochy (and Torre) both thought the storm had past and it was still a close game, both put in the starting pitchers—Lincecum and Chad Billingsley—only to see the storm generate an extended delay. Billingsley was pulled after only a third of an inning despite a short bullpen, with Torre not wanting to risk his pitcher's arm after the delay. Lincecum, on the other hand, was sent back out, getting in a couple more innings after the 1:14 delay, and in sloppy conditions. Lincecum's a freak, yes, but Bochy took a very short-term view with one of the two good things he has at his disposal this season, wanting to win the opening series with the Dodgers. We'll see if it was worth it.


    Here's a list of goals for this season.

    1. Keep Cain and Lincecum Healthy
    2. See Point 1.

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  2. I appreciate a good counter-argument and I think OGC has the most intriguing one. The Link is a freak, but he is also VERY YOUNG and has little major league experience. After 50 or 100 starts we'll find out a lot more about him. I think you start your boy or you don't start him, you don't give him the yo-yo treatment. Tim, to his credit, toughed it out with less than his best stuff, and we got a win. But there is no reason to mess with any of the youngsters. I feel especially bad for Bocock, the kid is way out of his league--literally--and should not be on the ML roster. He needs minor league ABs in big bunches. I'm not sure his 'promotion' helps him and is clearly an act of organizational desperation. I hope are young arms aren't subject to other 'desparate measures.' I want to see planning and development, not Boch thinking "well, shoot, the kid's got a rubber arm, let's just throw him out there."

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  3. Well, Chris' knee jerk reaction is easiest to respond to, it is just regurgitating what has been said before. For all the platitudes, how are any of them compromised by having Lincecum pitch?
    The usual situation (and I am nor saying there are no exceptions, just that it is the usual situation) is that a starter warms up then pitches 3 or 4, maybe 5 innings, then comes the rain delay. That pitcher has already been up and down multiple times. It seems to me that it is possible that when a guy has pitched just one inning, particularly early in the year, that his situation is unlike the guy who has been up and down for multiple innings.
    AS for Martin and MCO, I agree a simple knee jerk reaction is not only completely without guarantee of correctness, it also is very unhelpful as it sets up the knee jerk reactor as know-it-all and pretty much precludes further discussion.
    One of the real difficulties is we, as fans, simply don't know what the managers knew and when they knew it. So, on many things, which all are predicated on that prior knowledge, I think the managers have to get a pass. I will say, it appears Bochy was confused, but maybe not. I can accept the decision not to start Lincecum. The decision to bring him in to start the 4th seems wacky - but maybe they were told, unequivocally, the storm had past . The decision to let him pitch the 4th seems to carry some risk inasmuch as it was raining pretty hard. On the other hand, all pitchers pitch in the rain on occasion. So, while I acknowledge there is some risk of pitching on a wet mound, when Lincecum went out there to start the inning it wasn't raining. Other than bloggers and ESPN tpye generic idiots, I don't heat much criticism - particularly from 'real' baseball people, players, other managers...
    So, I think it is kind of a sliding scale: one set of considerations for a pitcher with a history of arm or shoulder trouble, maybe for an older pitcher. I don't think it is necessary to shove a 23 yo, with no history of arm trouble into the same box. I have a hard time seeing how a guy, fanatic as he may be, following the game on game channel, is in a position to say this former catcher and experienced MLB mgr, with a good reputation for handling pitchers, plus a very experienced pitching coach, who were on the scene, have watched this kid all last ST, last year, and now this ST, and personally observed and supervised his 2nd warm up are wrong. Other than hundreds, maybe thousands, of other knee jerks from similarly situated, similarly first-hand-knowledge-deprived fans, where is the evidence or expertise, or body of experience that says this particular incident was wrongly executed by Bochy et al?

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  4. Frank,

    If you honestly think that what the Giants did was acceptable, then I can't help you. Big league managers don't do what Bochy did in Lincecums game. They just don't.

    You constantly spout your opinions on what is a "platitude" and what isn't. Who put you in charge?

    I think you, OGC, and a good portion of other people think that because Lincecum is such a freak, he can take whatever punishment is handed his way. Heck, why not let him pitch every day?

    Bochy may have had a good reputation for handling pitchers at one point but he put near significant wear on Cain last year, in my opinion, and the data backs it up. Cain was 8th in PAP (Pitcher Abuse Points) and had two separate month long stretches in the season where he was throwing, consecutively, 100+ pitches in each start. One of those stretches he threw 110+ pitches for a month stretch. Many of those starts Cain was obviously laboring by the end. Those laboring innings, induced by high stress, are what kills pitchers.

    Add in that the injury nexus for young pitching is somewhere around 24 years old (Google that if you haven't read some of the literature) I think it was extremely short sighted to do what the Giants have done early in this season with BOTH Cain and Lincecum.

    You can judge this a a "knee jerk reaction" like you usually do, and ignore it, but the what the Giants have done so far is not-very-smart. There is no knee jerk here, just concern.

    The Giants aren't infallible. And I've never criticized them unduly.

    It drives me up the wall the way that you in particular respond to everyone when it comes to talking about this stuff. Your view of "if you aren't on the inside, you can't really judge whats going on" is small, narrow, and short sighted. You can analyze, study, and examine the game of baseball and not actually be in the clubhouse or front office.

    You assume that because that the Giants are making the decisions, they are the proper ones because they are in the MLB. Look around your workplace, people get hired all the time that turn out to be bad employees, or unable to do their jobs.

    None of this is meant as an attack on your or OGC, but I have a hard time understanding you both at times. But I always look forward to hearing you responses.

    Just don't chalk it up to "knee jerk" reactions because that's very, very short sighted.

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  5. Well, Chris, I wrote a long and detailed responswe, but this site lost it. I will try again, but it will be shorter and not as good or as detailed.
    First, how can you make such a blanket statement that big league mgrs don't do that? You are ignoring every nuance. Are you saying that ANY rain delay means the starter is pulled? 5 min? 10 min? 15? Where is the line drawn? Boichy/Righetti said if they get to 90 minutes they wouldn't have let Tim warm up again. Also, when most "big league mgrs" confront this situation, the starter has gone 3,4, 5 innings. Lincecum went just one. Doesn't that effect the decision? Maybe there have been comments and I just haven't heard them ,but I haven't heard any big league mgrs commenting on how stupid the decision was.
    I don't think "Lincecum" is the issue. I don't agree with Martin that, since he may be a freak, you ignore what has been learned over the past 40/50 years. I do think his young age, being early in the year, and his medical history are relevant facts. And I would note, Valdez both started and pitched 2 innings - and he is coming off surgery.
    I probably agree on Cain, so that issue has no bearing on this one. I would probably be in favor of limiting Cain and Lincecum to 100 pitches, 90 if they were very stressful. But look at the criticism Bochy would come in for for burning up his bull pen if he did that. And I think this is a relevant point - every decision has ramifications on other decisions, on other players.
    I think it is uncontravertible that we fans, on the outside, are in no position to know what went into the decision making. And I think, generally, taking a strong, unshakable stand, not knowing the facts is n ot very smart, nor very productive. And what I see on the blogs so often is somwe guy has taken a stand and now feels he must defend it, so discounts (or worse, makes up facts, reasons, motivations) and new facts or information that comes to light. What I try to do is slow down the stampede before the lemmings go over the cliff. I do think Sabean is likely competent..I have certainly become a whole lot less patient and a whole lot more critcal. But I still think it is a defensible position to give him the benefit of the doubt and try to determine why he did or did not do any particular thing. And I will feel that a post is a whole lot more helpful if a person kind of dispassionately points out mistakes in logic, etc, than just blanket caslling the guy - whether Sabean, Bochy, or Righetti - an idiot. Bochy was not my first choice for manager. That does not make him an idiot.
    Well, this is much shorter, much less informative ansd much less detailed than the post that was lost. Maybe I will add more later.

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  6. Hello Martin...I really enjoy OGC and am a regular reader. However, I must throw my opinion in with the "knee jerks." I am surprised that you are so open to that managerial strategy considering you (and all of us) have NEVER SEEN IN USED EVER BEFORE! Doesn't it say something that NO MANAGER in my 40 years of watching has ever put ANY pitcher (let alone a special one) in that spot. I'm OK with doing new things in new situations, but it MUST be obvious that this action is a BIG departure from "conventional wisdom." It should also be obvious, that such departures are a RISK. What was the reward?? How on earth can we afford ANY RISK, no matter how small??

    Another perspective comes from my own pitching experience, albeit quite limited. There is very few things harder on an arm than "stop and go" warm ups, particularly in cold weather. Both mentally and physically it is exhausting. I would never have wanted to go through that, BUT if my manager had asked me I sure would have said OK ( just like Tim did).

    Last point: What would have been your reaction if Tim had failed miserably after the rain delay?? Or worse still, if he came up with an injury? I think you folks that are tolerant of Bochy's decision are basically saying "it worked out great this time, so it must be OK." End results alone should not be used to judge baseball decisions (or talent, as you often point out with your wonderful analysis of Dodd Field).

    If you get a chance, MC O'Connor and I would love some of your detailed comments to our blog, Raising Matt Cain. Keep up the great posts!

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  7. I don't think the indignity is JUST because of the "unconventional" decision to skip the start.

    I think it's bizarre to hear what the other manager is doing, and then go to the phenom 10 minutes before his first start of the year, in Dodger Stadium, and tell him he's going to be held out because it might rain and that's what the other manager is doing. When he did come in in the 4th, he was very wild. Maybe just first-game jitters, but maybe because he was thrown out of his rhythm.

    That seems to have been poorly handled- it wasn't a secret that it was going to rain, so you'd think that could have been discussed the prior day if it was such a big deal. But, it was a good idea to Torre too and I don't have that much criticism of it.

    What I DO think was terrible: the other pitching decisions made.

    Valdez takes the ball, and throws 25 pitches, 17 strikes, two perfect innings. And then... shut down. Yes, maybe he was hurt or there were some secret plans we will never know. But what I do know is all Valdez had to do the next day was... whatever one does in Milwaukee, sit on a plane, etc. So, shutting him down for an inning of Taschner seems dumb. If you're going to put in Lincecum because the weather seems to clear, okay, but to yank Merkin and go to Taschner seems odd when Taschner had pitched on Tuesday. For all we know, Merkin could have pitched a perfect game.

    So, in with Lincecum. However they decided to put him in, fine. But then, after the rain delay, you put him back out? If there was a danger to him in the first place, where did it go? Don't you look stupid after having kept the phenom from making his first start? And had Yabu, who supposedly was to be the mop-up guy, not pitched one inning in the first two games he would have been available as well.

    And through all this, you have Hennessey sitting on the bench. He did not pitch well in the opener, and was horrible yesterday, but he was certainly rested as of Wednesday (and again had an off day the next day). Lincecum had to score the winning run, so it's a good thing he stayed in, but that's a weak reason to have run him out for another inning when there was a very well-rested guy sitting there.

    The big thing to my mind about bringing Lincecum back after the rain delay is doing it after you already decided to not have him do it. If there's such a terrible risk to an arm from a rain delay, it seems to have never occurred to any other managers. If there is such a risk, and you bother to tell your team's future about it, it seems silly to then have him run that "exact" risk anyway.

    But it's much less about whether or not there actually was a risk to Lincecum's arm than the drunken-sailor management of the pitching staff that seemed to go on that night. This team has too many problems to compound them with burning up the pitchers in April.

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  8. Man, people need a huge chill pill or something.

    I will LIFO it today.

    NAT: You apparently read something different about the game than I did. The whole point of not starting them was because if the game is called, you just used him and didn't any results for it. Nothing. Wasted efforts.

    Once the game got close enough that there was a good chance that the game would become official, then they brought in the pitchers as their results would then count, good or bad.

    To be honest, I've been following baseball for over 35 years now and I don't ever recall any manager pulling their starting pitcher because the rain might rain out the game before it becomes official. So if that's really what happened, that Bochy found out about it just before the game and copied Torre, I have no problem with it, it made a lot of sense to me to do that.

    And while I was at first stunned to hear that the starters were put back in when the game was almost official, that also makes sense, put your best guy out there and try to win when it counts.

    About Merkin, now he's one that I would handle with more kid gloves. He just got over Tommy John surgery, hadn't started in a long time, probably never pitched a full game ever (he was always wild and both walked and struck out a lot so his pitch counts probably were high), and you want to pitch him 9 innings? Now THAT is ridiculous.

    He's been a reliever for a long while now. Just because his first two were so good, don't mean he's ready to pitch 3 innings yet. So I have no problem at all with going two innings. You go with Taschner because the game was still 0-0 and you want to win so you put your better guy out there, he's been around but could still use the experience of pitching in tight games. If the Giants were losing by a lot or even winning by a lot, I could see Bochy throwing Yabu out there.

    Hennessey, as Baggarly reported in the Merc today, has not been able to throw as well as before, he wasn't a flamethrower but he's lost 4 MPH this season and is struggling. You don't throw him out there when you are close, you throw him out there to eat innings and hopefully pitch his way out of his funk when it don't matter.

    In any case, they didn't want to waste Lincecum's efforts, but once the game was close enough, it was safe to throw him back out there.

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  9. Hey JC, nice site, I put yer linky on the side plus commented there about Ron's comparison with '69 Mets.

    Not to steal allfranks schtick, but we don't know who said what. Maybe they were ready to take him out, told him so and he asked them to keep him in because he's done it before, no problem.

    Failed miserably afterward, I would have had no problem (other than I usually have about losing) with the decision, I would have admired their gutsiness just the same. I don't even think I even talked about how well or unwell Lincecum did in my post, to be frank, I missed the game after Taschner came in, had other things to do.

    Despite all the pooh-poohing, I think if he's done it before and was fine afterward, the risk was very minimal, not much different than throwing him out to pitch for his regular start.

    Not to denigrate you, but do you think you match up with Lincecum both mentally and physically? Sure it is exhausting. But the greats, like Tiger Woods, are up to that challenge and do well in spite of it. Lincecum as I tried to outline, as been a mental as well as physical specimen. He is determined to be great and I don't get that he would put himself in physical risk in order to get a game in. Again, not that he's money hungry, but he's got long-term goals that is evident in the way he carries himself and how he handles himself. A lot of people, let along pitchers, don't have the self confidence to tell the manager that he's wrong, to just do it because the manager asked, but Timmy has followed a different path for a long time now, so I have no doubt that if he thought it was risky long-term to do it, he would have told Bochy he was done.

    If you don't even want to take even the smallest risk, then lets put him in a bubble and not even pitch him, we'll leave him on a pedestal.

    It is one thing to go against conventional wisdom without any reason. He's done it before and felt comfortable doing it now. There's some risk in that but not one where I thought his arm was going to fall off.

    Again, why treat players like they are made of glass?

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  10. Chris, did I say any cockamamie idea like pitching him everyday? That's hyperbole you are throwing out, not me.

    No, I said that this is not a totally out there idea given that HE HAS DONE IT BEFORE. You are the one suggesting that one particular situation means that everything goes out the door. But HE HAS DONE IT BEFORE.

    And perhaps you can read up on Bill James very blunt and public rebuttal of the PAP theory (I think it was in The Hardball Times Annual 2007, I highly recommend it for those who miss Bill James' style of essays) - and that's all it really is right now, a THEORY, with some bits of evidence that someone well respected in Sabermetric circles, if not revered (at least in this corner) happen to think it doesn't fly with him. So please spare me the sermon until BP has some hard data that Bill James can accept.

    But I get that you fell for BP's rhetoric, they write like they are modern day doctors, but at best they are the generation after Gallileo and Copernicus (where Bill James and others of his time are those), we haven't reached the 20th Century yet in the evolution of baseball analysis.

    You react like there's this magical line in the sand that says "99 pitches, you're fine, OH NO, 100 PITCHES, YOUR ARM's FALLING OFF!!!" There is nothing proven yet, about 100, about 110, the only really accepted standard that I've seen is that 120 is considered bad (see Bill James Handbook for his stats on manager's usage of their pitching staff, he has stats on long outings, which he counts as those over 120 pitches).

    And again, I think people are too in love with the stats. We are human, we are all different. And Lincecum is really different.

    How often do a pitcher NOT need to ice his arm after a game? How often do you see a pitcher long toss - from foul pole to foul pole even! - the day AFTER starting? If he says that he has done it before without feeling any physical problems, I think the risk is very minimal, no worse than throwing them out there with 3 days rest instead of the usual 4 or 5.

    What's short-sighted to me is that Lincecum has demonstrated that he is physically different. To let any talent go to waste is short-sighted to me. As Righetti said, you don't really know how long any player's career is going to last, it could be short, it could be long. You could treat him with kid gloves and he could go down on you after a year, or you can throw him out there for 150 pitches a game and he lasts 20 years. Perhaps this is existential, but all you are really guaranteed is the now, today.

    And if he has demonstrated the ability to do it before and said that he was fine afterward - and who knows his body and how it works better than Tim Lincecum? - then why not go for it and let him pitch?

    Another point that I think has been missed is that the rain delay was just slightly over one hour. I don't recall specific instances, but I seem to recall that pitchers have come back after one hour rain delays and pitched, so one hour 14-minute is not that much different.

    There's no magic number that says whether a pitcher can go or not. I think that there is too much formulaic CYA, tick-the-box, metrics that managers and management (and fans) use today that sometimes drive me crazy. These are human beings, some need pampering (Ainsworth, Sheets), others are rocks (Clemens, Nolan Ryan), most are in-between. How do you figure out who the rocks are if you treat them with kid gloves?

    And it is not like he is taking risks with him every start, I think that would culmulatively affect a player, but one time things like this where the player has done it before is pretty low risk to me.

    And no attack was felt (at least from my end), but thank you for stating so, I greatly appreciate it. Hope you all are having a nice weekend!

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  11. M.C., I think I pretty much covered your point previously, but like I've said with the other comments, he's done it before. Unless you can bring up something that where Tim said that he was or felt forced into it or lied about doing it before, I think this was a great low-risk gutsy move.

    Now pitching him everyday as Chris suggested, that would be messing with Lincecum, but once in a while type of moves like this is good experimentation to see if he can handle it, to see what he is (and isn't) capable of. Safe low-risk experimentation is fine with me.

    Yeah, poor Bocock, he's only hitting .308/.526/.308/.834, man, that's scuffling! Wait 'til he figures things out, then that'll be something!

    2007 was planning and development for Lincecum, 2008 is when the training wheels come off, or do you want to keep him in bubble wrap his whole Giants career?

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hey Martin,

    >> No, I said that this is not a totally out there idea given that HE HAS DONE IT BEFORE. You are the one suggesting that one particular situation means that everything goes out the door. But HE HAS DONE IT BEFORE.

    Lincecum has never done what he did in the rain delay game. Never. He said as much in the Chron.

    But even Lincecum later admitted he had not returned after a delay as long as Wednesday's.

    "That," he said, "was a first for me."


    Furthermore, Boch said he wouldn't have brought him back in the delay wasn't any longer. What does longer even mean? 5 mins? 10? 20? I suspect that Bochy himself doesn't even know besides some arbitrary number he might have rattling around in his head.

    >> So please spare me the sermon until BP has some hard data that Bill James can accept.

    Bills James isn't Baseball Jesus, so it doesn't bother me if he doesn't like PAP. He's just one source of information, not the final word.

    >> But I get that you fell for BP's rhetoric, they write like they are modern day doctors, but at best they are the generation after Gallileo and Copernicus (where Bill James and others of his time are those), we haven't reached the 20th Century yet in the evolution of baseball analysis.

    Will Carroll is greatly respected in the injury arena of sports. And I respect his opinions on all things health, you don't have to but I do. He knows more about sports injuries than me and you combined, so I take his word with some weight.

    >> OH NO, 100 PITCHES, YOUR ARM's FALLING OFF!!!"

    Who's good at the hyperbole, now ;)

    >> And it is not like he is taking risks with him every start, I think that would culmulatively affect a player, but one time things like this where the player has done it before is pretty low risk to me.

    Once again, Lincecum had never done before what he did in that rain delay game. He said as much.

    Like I say, my point is simple. Cain and Lincecum are our future and we need to protect them so that they can pitch in the next 3-4 years.

    ReplyDelete
  13. OK, I'll admit that I mis-understood what I thought I had read with the sfgiants.com account. But here are key things that was reported there that you missed too:

    And Lincecum, who said that he hadn't worked in relief since his junior year at the University of Washington, insisted that he felt fine physically.

    "If we thought that we were going to hurt him, we wouldn't have done it," Bochy said, admitting that Lincecum would have been removed had the delay gone much longer.

    "It was close," Bochy said. "We felt if it got to an hour and a half, we probably wouldn't have done it."

    Just as Bill James is not a Baseball Jesus, BP is not the gospel either. Read Bill James rebuttal of the PAP concept then perhaps you'll understand what I mean.

    And re-reading Carroll's writing, he just said it was risky, not that this will cause irreparable harm, not that it goes against medical history, not that his arm is going to fall off. Life is a risk, you can either stay in the safe lane or you can push the boundaries when conditions appear to be OK.

    So if Lincecum says his arm is fine, you need to listen to the pitcher. And if any pitcher knows his arm and will protect it, it's Lincecum.

    >>Who's good at the hyperbole, now ;)

    Actually, I was trying for mockery but I'll accept hyperbole. :^)

    Protect them, yes; baby them, no. If he says he's fine to pitch, you pitch him.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Martin,

    On this:

    >> And Lincecum, who said that he hadn't worked in relief since his junior year at the University of Washington, insisted that he felt fine physically.

    There was a good quote recently from Jason Schmidt about pitching when hurt. He said something like "You never want to come out of the game, even when you're hurt" and that he often pitched hurt and now he wished he wouldn't have pushed himself as much. It was either in Schmidt's last season with the Giants or the one before, but I remember he went out and threw 86mph fastballs for 5 innings, came out of the game and said he never felt right, but he wanted to pitch anyways.

    Players push themselves, it's in their nature to be competitive and they'll often play hurt or tell the coach they're good to go, when they aren't. Thats why I don't always trust players to say when they can play and they can't, that's why you have a training staff, to monitor players because they aren't always truthful.

    >> Protect them, yes; baby them, no. If he says he's fine to pitch, you pitch him.

    Not letting your pitcher throw after sitting on the bench for 74 minutes in cold weather isn't babying.

    ReplyDelete
  15. So, you are claiming that because Jason Schmidt is kind of a lunk-head, that Lincecum is one too?

    Or are you claiming that all Giants pitchers are lunkheads? :^)

    Obviously, every person is different, just because they are pitchers doesn't mean that they will do the same thing, you cannot generalize that way, particularly when there is information about the player's past behavior.

    All I've been saying is that Lincecum is a different type of person, based on what I've observed about his personality - as best as one can from afar.

    Schmidt has always been a bit of a headcase, even when he was with the Braves then the Pirates, and prone to injury. I guess that is why he got injured so much, he just throws even if he doesn't feel good, until his arm or something gives out.

    As I've noted before, Lincecum is physically gifted, enough that he can long throw the day after a start, enough that he can forgo the ice that most pitchers welcome right after throwing. Injury has not been something to affect him thus far.

    And a headcase he has not been. He has been very goal oriented, he knew what he wanted and worked hard to get it. He knew he had to get better control of his pitches so he worked on reducing his walks. He knew to be a better pitcher, he had to not only develop but master breaking pitches, and he has done that.

    He also has monetary goals that he wanted to meet. He wanted $1M but while Cleveland offered him a lot of money, he turned them down, worked on his pitching, and won the Golden Spike award. He could have held out for more bonus with the Giants, much like Boras's clients, but he didn't. However, he didn't just settle for slot either, he insisted and held out until he got the money that the #10 pick got the draft before, $2M. If he got slot, he would have gotten around $1.8M. Not much difference, but for him it was the principle of the matter I guess.

    So no, I don't think you can compare someone like Schmidt, who obviously didn't care enough about his long-term future to take care of his body, with someone who has deliberately and methodically improved himself - while staying true to his father's teachings to keep his body healthy - and who has had an eye towards the future with all that he has done.

    The latest being adding a nice changeup this off-season (somehow since the Giants told him to shut down and not throw during the off-season) that looked pretty good tonight, according to the radio announcers (Kuip and Dave). He pitched pretty well tonight, too bad Wilson blew the save.

    Yes, it is babying your pitcher if he is capable of pitching some more and you don't use him.

    He said he was fine, if you want to call him a liar, that's your choice. But he's been self aware of himself for a long time, he knows when he is hurting himself and has styled his throwing so that he doesn't hurt himself. So I will take his word that he's fine over your word or anyone else's word.

    It is one thing to push your pitcher to pitch like Alou did in the 2003 playoffs when he was clearly injured and not feeling good, another when the pitcher says he is fine and can go. We are all adults and at some point need to take responsibility over what we do.

    Taking your line of reasoning, then you are saying we should hold back everyone who suddenly isn't throwing as fast as before, because Foppert was stupid enough to throw despite his pain and loss of velocity, but he denied that he was hurt until he needed TJS. Since all pitchers are stupid in that way - Foppert did it, ergo, all pitchers are like that - any sign that there is something wrong, we should shut them down and say that they are lying.

    This reminds me, I was bothered by Baggarly's dig at Bochy for using Wilson for 4 outs. He criticized him for that, but many sabermetric gurus now think that the move to one-inning closers, even when the lead is pretty big, is a waste of a good pitcher. It would be better to use the closer in close situations, even if for more than one inning. You want your best pitcher out there at those critical times.

    ReplyDelete

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