Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Your 2014 Giants: Lincecum Resigned to 2 years, $35M contract

This two year, $35M deal has been reported by Baggarly, Schulman and Pavlovic.  A no-trade clause was mentioned, but no other details have come out yet.

ogc thoughts

Wow, that is a lot more money than I thought it would be.  Even with the QO, that's $21M over that.  I thought - wrongly, clearly - that the negotiations would revolve around the QO.

Based on his actual performance, his BB-Ref WAR numbers were negative in 2012-13, but based sabermetically, his Fangraph WAR numbers were middling, 1.6 WAR last season, almost average.  What the sabermetics can't capture is what Giants fans saw the past couple of seasons, when Lincecum would get blown up with runners on, giving up a key hit here, there, seemingly almost everywhere.  That basically has put Lincecum around replacement level the past two seasons.

If WAR is valued at $6M per for the two seasons, that works out to roughly 6 WAR, or 3 WAR per season he needs to earn.  You have to use Fangraph's WAR numbers to even have a chance of earning back that contract.  Their Steamer estimate forecasts 2.1 WAR for 2014, but that's always based on what happened in the past and most probably includes his 2011 season, which appears to be in the distant past right now, based on what he has done in 2012-13. 

Clearly, the Giants think that Lincecum is on the cusp of a big breakthrough in terms of what he can produce.  And maybe he is.  He would have to pitch as well as he did in 2010 for the Giants to get extra value from his contract, which was a 3.43 ERA (3.7 WAR per BB-Ref), which is not far from his 4.37 ERA in 2013 (well, at least imaginable, as I'll get into next). 

He had a 3.82 ERA in his last 12 starts, ignoring that blow-up in his first start after his no-hitter, where either the 148 pitches thrown in that no-hitter or the 9 days of rest or both are possible causes of the blow up.  And excluding that one really bad start, he had a 3.56 ERA over his last 20 starts, covering every start from June to Sept (except for that one blow-up).  And that was his worse start of the season with extenuating circumstances, so dropping it as an outlier can be justified.  That basically puts us at this contract in terms of value produced.

And he did stellar in terms of PQS in those 12 starts, 8 DOM starts, only 1 DIS start, for a 67% DOM and 8% DIS, both very good, though still only 3.82 ERA. And for the 20 starts, that's 12 DOM, 2 DIS for 60% DOM and 10% DIS, both still great, for a 3.56 ERA over that period.  Again, that makes the contract look at least in the ballpark of what he can produce.  Basically, the Giants are betting that his slow start in 2012 and 2013 can be eliminated and that he can pitch at a relatively high level for all of 2014 and 2015.  And if he can do that, he's a great #3 starter for us, and a #2 or even #1 for other teams.

Now this makes things more clearer in terms of what the Giants might be thinking. 

Furthermore, his salary also is in the ballpark if we consider him a great reliever (which is not a long stretch given how well he pitched in 2012's playoffs as a reliever).  Rafael Soriano is the highest paid reliever at $14M per season, signed in early 2013.  At 10% inflation that's roughly $15.5M in 2014 and $17M in 2015, and Lincecum is being paid, on average, $17.5M the next two seasons.  And Mariano Rivera was being paid $15M per season in previous seasons, so top relievers in the majors will get roughly what Lincecum is getting in 2014-15, on an inflation adjusted basis. 

And he does not have to close to earn that, if he took on the super-reliever role that I had outlined before, he could easily earn that much WAR.  Romo earned 2.0 WAR with his great pitching in 2012.  By utilizing Lincecum in long relief by taking out starters before things get out of hand, like what happened in the 2012 playoffs, plus dropping him into set-up situations where he pitches 2+ innings, he could pitch that well and close out the game, and all those extra innings at great ERA would easily earn 3.0 WAR.

OK, the contract makes a lot more sense now that I've looked at the actual marketplace and performance boundaries that he might perform.   He basically performed at the necessary level to earn his contract if he can just avoid the slow start.  And one could blame both poor conditioning for his bad start in 2012 and the short off-season for his bad start in 2013, though we won't know until we get into the season.  And if necessary, he could be our super-reliever, used in a wide variety of situations, akin to how the best relievers were used in the 1970's, piling up more innings than regular relievers and being used in key situations more often, or even closer if the team needs him to move into role if something should happen to Romo and nobody steps up.

But still, it is a huge overpay for what he has done in the past two season, more than could have been reasonably expected on the marketplace had he actually tried free agency.  And it relies on him returning to a good semblance of what he was before, at least his 2010-11 version of himself. 

Still, a part of me believes that he can do it again, I guess that is the homer part of me.  Though most of me question it greatly, based on what he has done the past two years.  This is where the Giants scouts need to earn their money and properly assess where Lincecum is, both physically and mentally, and whether he is ready to make that leap to the next phase of his career, where velocity is not the plus it was before.   Plus, I think there is a good chance that he returns to some semblance of stardom, and I would rather bet on him, than, say, Halladay, who is among the free agents.  And I'm happy to have him back rather than seeing him in a, say, Dodger Blue uni. 

Plus, two years is not that much, both Zito and Rowand are off the books now, and if we are going to overpay someone and get subpar performance, I would rather do it with Lincecum than, say, one of the underwhelming free agents available.   Particularly since we could conceivably get that value back in 2015 by having him be a super-reliever.  I don't see any of the free agents capable of shifting over to relieving great for us.

And that is another reason to overbid for Lincecum rather than dip the toes into the free agent market for a player in the same salary range.  There is no compelling free agent out there, each one has their particular wart or three, just like Lincecum. So why not pay a little more for Lincecum, he at least has the reliever option and he does appear to be close to doing well over a full season, particularly since he's now studying batters with Posey before games, which he seems to have started doing mid-season at some point.  All that mitigates the risk of signing him to such a large contract, though it does not obviate it.   It is clearly a big risk, a big bet.  Only time will tell if Sabean (and the owners) made the right decision or not.

And this is a typical Sabean move, overpay a bit (I thought that two years at $14M per was the max, at the moment, plus bonuses to push the second year to the $20-22M range if he started well in 2014, which would bring him to the $35M range too, I guess) in order to have your birds in the hand, so that you can bid for other players without being leveraged in the negotiations by the other side.  Had he not signed Pence and Lincecum, the team would have been in a more desperate position, particularly if they had lost Pence, and the agents for the free agents will negotiate harder against Sabean, as he would have been viewed as needing to get replacements.  Now they can work on getting Lopez signed (probably 2 years, $6M per), and then focus on their main off-season purchase, a middle rotation starter to help fill out the starting rotation, leaving Vogelsong, Gaudin, Petit, and others to fight for the last starting spot. 

And I'm still not sure what is happening with Vogelsong.  There was no open commitment to bringing him back for use, only a commit to not screw with him by DFAing him and then renegotiating a deal.  Either they think he's worth that option, or they just get rid of him (though perhaps with minor league invite as a loophole on that).

So a big overpay, but I'm happy he's still a Giant, and here's where the Giants scouts and coaches need to earn their pay.


  1. Latest news has it at $17M in 2014 and $18M in 2015. I would think there are some bonuses related to Cy Young and what not.

    Schulman noted that 13 inherited runners scored of 20 by relievers, or 65%, vs. 28% average for the league, and Baggarly calculated that to drop his ERA to 4.00 or about 40 points. Applying that to the numbers I calculated for how well he pitched at the end of the season drops the ERA there to the low 3's to mid 3's, which is where he would return the value relative to his cost.

    Deal is looking better with these notes, but still, it's like the Bonds deal, Lincecum is going to have to deliver big to generate the value to match what he's being paid. Still, not so huge an overpay - much like Pence - to be too mad over it, and given the market for RF and SP, who knows if the bidding might not get heated and boil over anyway.

    Plus, Lincecum wanted to return, for the fans, for the familiarity, so there's that too.

  2. Very nice summary. Looks like the Giants acted decisively to retain their guy after looking at the FA market, the possible cost of the draft pick to get somebody good (with warts) and looking at what Timmy is uniquely worth to them in marketing dollars.

    You have to break him gently off of the 22MM, you can't just offer the QO or tell him to go pound sand. He'll bounce out and check things out. And as we sussed out... Agent Ned is in the weeds!

    It will depend on him, continuing to evolve as a pitcher instead of a thrower. There are signs that can happen. Its a big risk, but it should be fun to see!

    And the Giants improved their negotiating position significantly to continue to look for pitching. I hope they go big of course! But that is a crapshoot, even if they bid large on Tanaka he might choose another team if they do switch the process to the top 3 teams bids, which they are heavily rumored to be doing.

    1. Thanks for the comment, good points.

      One of the complaints I read about the contract is that the Giants don't know what was out there in the free agent market awaiting Tim, and I would disagree. To your point, Agent Ned is out there, and we Giants fans recall when he jumped all over Jason Schmidt and gave up basically the same contract (more if I remember right), I think it was a two year, $18M+ per contract. And with endless money, a love for all ex-Giants, particularly ones who the Giants are still hoping to re-sign, the Bridegrooms, given that Schmidt history, is the wild card that most probably will be played.

      Sure, I would have preferred a lower contract, but per your good point, there was some pride involved for Lincecum, at which point, that's quibbling over a few millions over the QO. Given how well he had played for us before and extra value we got out of him when he was pre-arb, if I'm going to take that chance, may as well take it with him and not one of the free agents, as you wrote, makes a lot of sense, good point.

    2. Yes, Sabean has done it again, settle down his ToDo list down to Lopez and the Middle Rotation guy he said he's looking for. With three open spots in the rotation, the agents will be salivating and leveraging that on Sabean, and if there is anything Sabean hates is being leveraged, by anyone. But now that Timmy is signed, plus a number of viable candidates internally for the 5th spot, starting with Vogelsong and Petit, the Giants are looking strongly for just that one spot (though in this process, they will probably kick the tires on lesser free agents who might be willing to compete for that last spot on a good team). Some leverage, but not as much as if there were more open spots needed to fill.

      I think Tanaka would be a great addition and would love it if they could pull it off. Thanks for convincing me of his value to our team.

      I don't think changing the process to top 3 teams will necessarily harm their chances, because I think under the old system, I could see the Dodgers just blow everyone out of the waters with a huge fee bid. With the three team format proposed, the Giants at least can get into the conversation, they should be competitive in terms of dollars because LA has some big money commmitted already plus their own set of free agents to sign, starting with Nolasco, and there are positives they can extol - 2 championships, strong Japanese population in Bay Area, couple of Japantowns, strong commit to winning, harmonious clubhouse full of winners and leaders - while contrasting with the Dodgers, where the manager is in limbo right now, their new star player is consistered immature, many big money contracts going for questionable value (Kemp-injuries; Ethier-platoon; A-Gon- Gone; Hanley-2010-2012), plus they have a boat load of starting pitchers, they could conceivably push him out of the rotation at some point and into the bullpen. That isn't happening with the Giants unless he really doesn't deliver after a couple of years. I hope they truly are in the hunt for an Orange and Black October and get a pitcher like Tanaka.

    3. Great points about Sabean hating to be leveraged as well as the solid character clubhouse the Giants run. That should have weight with a Japanese born and trained player. We'll see if they offer, and what happens. But the Sabean leveraged comment is fleshing out what I was calling "impatience" and its really true, from studying years of how things go down. Bird in the hand is a great strategy in this day of slim pickin's with FAs.

  3. Hmmm--obsessive compulsives are given to monomania, but this post is a model of fragmentation: a "huge overpay" which is overpaying a bit, but maybe not if hypothesized bonus clauses in a $14M/year contract were triggered, or if TL keeps up the performance that he already demonstrated in most of 2013: "He basically performed at the necessary level to earn his contract if he can just avoid the slow start."

    In fact, unless one happens to be the team's hired accountant, we have no idea whether it's an "overpayment" or not, do we? That depends on ex post facto information about how well TL pitches in the next two years, on the way the market develops during the offseason, on the leverage lost by FAs because the Giants have reduced the potential level of desperation to staff the team well, and most important, because we do not know whether the Giants FO has simply expanded its budget by a few million dollars over two years or, pulling a face of helpless, penurious woe, will refuse to spend what they need to spend so as to field a championship team. It's the total level of spending that is relevant, isn't it? and not the calculation of good values and poor values, which is a form of pseudo-insider pedantry when divorced from the knowledge of the team's financial freedom and flexibility.

    1. Rude is as rude does....

      I'll try to make it very simple for those who didn't understand.

      $14.1M QO is an overpay. $17.5M per season is a huge overpay.

      $17.5M is also a slight overpay over the $14.1M QO that Sabean had already said that the Giants were going to pay by offering the QO, so they had already committed to spending $14.1M in 2014 on Lincecum, and paid slightly above that.

      OK, side thought, I had thought maybe a contract in the range but with bonuses if reach milestones. That I could have left out, but I wanted to get the post out. However, my scenario would only pay if he produced, this contract pays no matter what, and so is different. Again, my bad, I should have left it out, this post was very much a stream of thought. But regular readers should know this, I'm very much a stream of thought person.

      Overpay relates to what he has done over the past two years. You do not need an accountant for that, it is separate from the team's situation. It IS a HUGE overpay for that. Even in the best case, using Fangraph's numbers, the Giants are paying for double of his production in 2013 for the 2014-15 seasons. No matter what he does in the next two years, nothing changes that.

      However, if he can perform as well as he did in the last four months of 2013 (and really, last 3 months of 2012 until the starts he got blasted in), he can earn that contract with his performance in the next two years. This is a separate issue.

    2. How the market develops don't really change anything regarding Lincecum's contract. If it follows the same form, then those are overpays too, or maybe his is just an outlier. This is besides the fact that Timmy is way overpaid for what he did in the last season, what he did in the last two seasons.

      The deal is paying for the potential that he can duplicate his later season performance over a full season, by skipping the poor start. The deal does not factor in any of the risk that he might have a third or even fourth season where he has a poor start to the season. That is also a sign of overpay.

      No, total level of spending is not what is ONLY relevant, calculation of good value and poor values relates to how well the level of spending is. Our team is not so wealthy that we can just ignore stupid or reckless spending. It is a big money team, but not a bottomless money team, as the Yankees appear to be, and the Dodgers and Red Sox appear to be joining them. It is fair to point out when the Giants are overpaying.

      The key question with this move is how does it limit their choices going forward. If the budget is flexible enough that they can get another middle rotation starter, which will cost in the $10M range, then the overpay is OK, which is a separate issue. This overpay is acceptable, in my eyes, because of what Lincecum represents to the franchise and the fans, as long as the Giants can still acquire the middle rotation starter that Sabean said that the Giants are pursuing no matter what happens with Lincecum.

      But to your point, yes, we don't know the budget implications. Still, it is legitimate to analyze what the deal looks like relative to what he should have gotten based on his recent performances. Based on his last two years, he was massively overpaid. The $14.1M QO would have been a big overpay by itself, but by paying a bit more, $17.5M (just realized that it is roughly over by the same amount Pence was too), this was clearly a massive overpay. Despite that, I'm OK with it, assuming it does not mean that we can't get another middle rotation starter during the off-season.

      Blah, blah, blah, "psuedo-insider pedantry"? I've never said that I'm an insider. Until I win one of those massive lottery pots and can buy my way in, I am way, way, way outside. I don't know anybody who has a connection with the Giants, the best I can do is a cousin who has season tickets and who bought a brick there, but nothing inside. I've never represented myself as anything but myself, my opinions, based on what is in the news and my analysis of public data.

      I don't think a potential $17.5M sinkhole in the budget is "excessive concern with minor details". Maybe it is where you come from, but I don't find that minor.

      And maybe I do focus on minor details per your characterization. I would describe that more as focus on every side of the issue, as I try to take the view from different angles, and take on the voice of both sides of the argument. Again, that is what I do, any long-time readers know that and either appreciate it, tolerate it, or leave and stop reading, but they rarely rudely bring it up (some have nicely brought it up though, and that is appreciated).

    3. I apologize for any rudeness. As you perhaps know, I have been a strong supporter of your work, and have defended it and you against what I perceived as dismissiveness and rudeness from others, most recently in the matter of juiced baseballs. I continue to be very positive about it, in general.

      I do not know where you got the line about "excessive concern with minor details," which I don't see in anything I wrote, though your response suggests that you are taking this accusation from me. I did not and do not accuse you of that, here or in any of your work that I have read. What I did write, clumsily so, is that discussing overpay without regard to the team's financial freedom and flexibility is "pseudo-insider pedantry." I regret that I did not qualify that statement, but like you, I sometimes write what's in my head at the time, not what I would necessarily have planned to say had I written a draft, revised, reconsidered, edited, etc. Let me clarify what I meant: I think that the notion of "overpay" is at best misleading. It is, as you agree it is here, a retrospective statement about a contract where retrospection is important only insofar as the past predicts the future. It removes a financial decision from its necessary context, a total budget and budgetary allocations. I'd guess that it is precisely your real-world business experience and awareness of alternatives that leads to what I perceived as the mixed evaluations regarding "overpay" in your original post. I'm also guessing that you use the term, while revealing (through those mixed evaluations) its inadequacies, because it is such common coinage among beat writers, bloggers, et al. And I believe that *they* fall back on it because it gives the illusion of expertise, hard-headedness, or, as I put it in annoyance, "pseudo-insider" status, which entitles them to a form of pedantry, focused on decontextualized details.

      I am sorry that I should have offended you or sweepingly included you in my general irritation at a practice--focusing on "overpay"-- that I see as owing its popularity to a pretentiousness of which you are certainly not, in my opinion, guilty. I do think it is a term best avoided, for the reasons I have given, and I wish you had used it differently. But then again, I wish that I had used my rhetoric differently; and once more apologize for not having done so.

    4. I'm sorry, I probably over reacted. I've been sensitive lately due to what I feel has been unwarranted attacks. I know that you have been supportive and should have given you a chance to clarify, as you have here.

      You also pushed on a red button for me, someone ripped me a hole into an alternative universe once, using that term, "pseudo".

      And pedantry, I didn't know what exactly that meant, so I pulled up the definition, and that is the definition that came up, excessive concern over small details. I need to beef up my vocab.

      Thank you for stating your exact position in your comment, and I apologize for not asking you first to clarify your statement. I do know that you defended me, and recently, and that was what shocked me that you would write this about me soon afterward.

  4. That...hurt my head. Uh, Go Giants!
    I like your point about the "ex post facto" assessment of the new Timmah deal. Time will surely tell.


  5. Interesting article in Hardball Talk: http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2013/10/23/let-us-not-freak-out-about-free-agent-salaries-ok/?ocid=Yahoo&partner=ya5nbcs

    Talks about how we should not 'freak out' about the salaries because with a lot of money rolling in (from ESPN, I would also note from MLBAM too) and nowhere to spend it, since amateur spending is now capped, the money is going to go to the players and inflate salaries everywhere, from the big stars to middle ground players. Thus the thinking on salaries for today is unlike that for even the past few years, is the writer's point.

    While I see the point, all we really got to go by is the past right now, so I think it is valid to say that the deal is overpriced based on recent salary trends. That is very true.

    Not that I'm freaking out either, I think I've been mostly middle ground in terms of any outrage or happiness about the deal. I'm happy we kept Timmy, feel that we overpaid, but between overpaid ($14M) and huge overpay ($17.5M), I can live with it, move on.

    But he makes the very good point that this could be the new market and we have to accept and embrace that.

    Still, relative to what Lincecum has done in the past two seasons, even if this is the new market and new money environment, he was a huge overpay, there is no way to justify the contract based solely on what he did in 2012 and 2013.

  6. Larry Baer on KNBR this morning. Asked if there was still more money to spend after all this spending on Pence and Lincecum, Baer said, more money yes, but making the right move is more important. And acquiring another starting pitcher is that move.

    And he ran down the options. He noted all the pitching that is coming along soon, and he named Crick and noted 5-6 guys in total (which most probably are Crick, Blackburn, Escobar, Mejia, Blach, and I would throw in Johnson, Gregorio, Stratton, and Agosta as well, also Ysla, Tuig, Kurrasch; DrB and Shankbone have covered all these guys well on their sites).

    More importantly, he noted that he didn't want to trade them, which to me makes the trade market not really an option, at least in terms of our best pitching prospects.

    He also noted that there is not a lot of options available in the free agent market either.

    Then he ended by adding that the Giants made a lot of significant major moves in-season in 2010 and 2012.

    1. So he appears to be readying the fan base for no major moves being made by the Giants this off-season (he was not asked if the middle rotation guy Sabean said he was getting no matter what is considered a major move or not), by stating that there are no great options to obtain talent right now and that major moves were made in-season previously.

      He did at least say that there are few options in FA, so I assume that means that they will pursue some for that starting rotation spot, but only time will tell if any chose to sign with the Giants, which is really all they can promise anyway.

    2. I heard Baer this morning too, and that is what I took from his comments as well. Essentially, they've got the money, but don't expect them to use it to buy anything drastic. They're not touching the arms in the low minors. I feel like this team has a few too many holes for it to be that quiet of an offseason though. LF, another SP. I sure hope they don't fill those spots with more dumpster dives.

      I too was a bit surprised by the terms of the contract, and after taking some criticism on Twitter, have put things in perspective a little better.

    3. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Well, they clearly want to make some noise in the SP department, Sabean stated it, Baer said it, plus Bobby Evans stated it in his interview on CSNBA. They are looking for a middle rotation guy, per Sabean, but you need two to tango and sometimes a player just don't want to come here for whatever reasons.

      I still think that Belt is the answer to LF, at least for 2014, and in any case, even with Blanco playing LF, the team was an above average offense in April and September when they had the whole lineup healthy and performing, instead of having less than half during much of the summer. So it would be nice if they can add a good bat, but a good bat would probably cost us our first round draft pick, and I would rather hold onto that unless we are signing a top line starting pitcher. That is what we need to ensure we get another chance at a World Championship.

    4. Two names: Phil Hughes and Justin Ruggiano. Off-season shopping done!

    5. I've liked the Phil Hughes idea. Seems like he'll probably get around something what Vogelsong's option is, in the $6-7M range. I like his peripherals, K/9, K/BB, so maybe being in AT&T plus with Rags, he can get his other parts of his game down so that he's a good pitcher.

      Ruggiano kills LHP, looks good for platoon with Blanco in LF, depends on what he wants in money, though, and our offense is hurt in two spots again if Pagan goes down.

  7. http://www.csnbayarea.com/giants/was-lincecums-new-deal-baseball-or-marketing-decision

    Nice interview with Bobby Evans. Says this was part of priority of solidifying the pitching rotation. Lincecum is expected to continue to improve and adjust, like he did in 2012 to 2013. They believe his stuff still works, though poorer velocity, but that he is a work in progress with stuff that works.

    Also, while his expected contributions now is much different from what it was a few years ago, they do still expect him to be a significant contributor. And that he is a significant solution towards solidifying the starting rotation, though there is still more work to do.

    Another reason the deal was done was because the Giants looked at the trade and FA market and internally, and did not find it overwhelming for SP options, making Lincecum a priority to sign. Now they got 3 of the 5 spots set up, so Sabean will be preparing next to see how the trade, FA, and internal options shape up in terms of filling the remaining two spots in the rotation, and they will know more later.

    1. Nothing really new exposed, but still interesting. He bypassed the interviewer's question about the size of the contract by talking about other stuff, but the main vibe he was giving off was that there were no better options out there for the money, per their opinion of what Lincecum can do in 2014. Clearly, they expect some improvement from him in 2014 and 2015, enough to justify the contract for the two years.

      As I noted, it needs to be in the 3 WAR range, so maybe 2.5 and 3.5, as steps of improvement, as he adjusts.

      Which he has, he improved his conditioning so that he could last the whole season in 2013 - he petered out at the end of 2012, that is what threw him into the bullpen, plus he followed Gaudin's lead, apparently from what I heard on the radio, and started working with Posey before games to study hitters and their tendencies, so that he knows which pitches avoid throwing and which could tie the hitter up. Though I would note that his K/9 fell drastically in the latter stages of the 2013 season, so he still has some work to do.

      And I would note that even when he was having his Cy Young years, he was working to add pitches to his repertoire, so he never sat on his laurels before, it was just his skills deteriorated faster than he could adjust (I think his ill-advised "fattening up" program before 2011 followed by his "rapid slim down" program before 2012 didn't help his body and mechanics either).

      I believe his stuff still works too. You don't strike out that many batters without stuff. He's just been throwing the wrong pitch at the wrong time, resulting in more runs. He's also been sabotaged by poor bullpen work in support of his starts.

      It is up to Tim to start coalescing all that he has been learning with all the adjustments he needs to do now that his velocity is down to ordinary, plus get on a good conditioning program with an expert fitness teacher who can get him into better shape for 2014. It hasn't been for lack of trying, but like Rowand before him, it was for lack of professional help in getting into baseball shape for the next season. Hopefully the fruits of his efforts start to come to fruition in 2014.

    2. Like you, I believe that the weight roller coaster had a lot to do with Timmy's decline. He was in much better shape for all of 2013 and I thought he got stronger as the season went along. I even thought his velocity was starting to tick up a bit down the stretch, although I don't know if Pitchfx agrees.

      I may well take longer than 1 season to fully rebuild strength after 2-3 years of yo-yoing on the weight. Just speculation on my part, but I think we could even see some improved velocity out of Timmy in 2014. Maybe not 96, but 93-94 would be terrific.

    3. Thanks for the comment. I got the feeling that he was in better shape too. I would add that a lot was made of the short off-season, so that probably didn't help him get into a more ideal baseball conditioning shape too, so your point about 2014 being a better indicator of his conditioning improvement makes a ton of sense to me.

      Here is the Pitchf/x chart: http://www.fangraphs.com/pitchfxo.aspx?playerid=5705&position=P&pitch=FA

      Nothing conclusive, but I think strongly supportive of your point is 3 starts, covering the last 9 starts of the season. It was like a pendulum, high velocity, roughly 92 MPH, then two middling 90 MPH, then repeat again. The key in that sequence is those three 92 MPH average games: they are the three highest velocity starts in the season, coming at the end of the season. Previous to that, I think that is 23 starts, he only had one start even 92-ish, roughly in June. That was his 16th start; his no-hitter came 3 starts later, ironically, it looks like that was his lowest velocity start to that point in the season, though it got lower later, it was basically trending lower until those last 9 starts.

      Oddly enough, that first 92 MPH start in that sequence was one of his worse starts of the season, start #24. #27 was better but not that good either. He appears to have had trouble getting strikeouts with his increased velocity.

      Still, velocity trending downward all season, then these three peak performances in terms of velocity near the end. Something got stronger.

    4. Noticed something else that validates your speculation: in that first start of the nine game sequence, his lowest velocity pitch in that game was still as high or higher than the average velocity in roughly half of his starts before. And looking at the bars, all through the season he was having issues with keeping his pitches at 90 MPH or better, but in that one start, he easily bested it with every pitch.

      In the second game of high velocity in that sequence, he did dip a few times below 90 MPH, but he also reached his highest peak for the season, touching 94 MPH at times during that game.

      And in the third start of higher velocity, all his pitches were easily over 90 MPH.

      So he showed some signs of improved ability to keep his pitches in the higher range in those games, though obviously the majority of his games, he was still struggling to keep his average over 90.

      The key things I would point out is these. One is that he can strikeout a lot of guys still even with diminished velocity down to the 90 MPH range on average. It's like falling out of bed for him, probably related to his unique pitching motion. However, he's fooling less people, hence his diminished performance.

      Two, if he can improve his velocity from 90-ish to 92-93 MPH, even if he can't sustain a high velocity game over an entire game, that can still work, as long as he brings it for the hitters who he needs to hump up for.

      And, three, that comes with learning about hitters and he just started doing that this season. Once he learns about hitters, he'll know he can get XYZ out with his regular effort pitches, but for ABC he'll know he'll need to give it a bit more to get him out. That's what a pitcher does vs. a thrower, conserving your efforts against the lesser hitters, but saving your best for the key hitters.

      There are a lot of good signs that Lincecum could reach a middle ground between his Cy Young years and his Cy Old years of the past two years. Maybe not as good as 2010-2011, but if he can deliver something in the mid-3 range in the next two years as our #3 starter, he'll be worth every penny paid, for most teams, that could be their #1 starter.

      Still, tall order for what he done the past two years, so fingers crossed!

  8. ogc,

    I cannot do anything about the fact that I don't agree with all of your takes. What I can do something about is letting it get under my skin and getting too personal with my responses. I apologize.

    If it helps at all, I recommended your "Sillyball" post over on my blog and meant it. It's a well thought out post and a good read even if I don't agree with your conclusions.

    1. Disagreeing is one thing. I know not everyone will agree with me, and I know that certain stances of mine will be mostly derided and dismissed. That's OK, I've been different since I can remember, I've known that, and I'm mostly OK with that (though I'm human). And I'm generally a self-deprecating person who can laugh at myself. That got me through the 2007-2009 period when most did not agree with me that the Giants were entering a new period of competitiveness that should yield a championship if not a decade of dominance, the Decade of the Giants.

      Your apology is what helps, you don't need to post my "ridiculous" theories if you don't agree with them, just as I won't post anything of yours if I think it is out there, but I thank you for complimenting me on my prior post.

  9. I see Timmy's issue as more about movement than velocity. His FB is dead straight, and the inability to spot it has dramatically raised his HR rate.

  10. Maybe I just came late to the party, but What in the Name of Don James was Timmah thinking by NOT studying the hitters with his catcher! I knew that there was friction with Posey, but cmon Dawg! Sad to hear. Now I am glad to hear that he had grown up a bit and followed Chaudin's lead. Hat tip to ya OGC! I didn't know till I read it here. Keep up the great work.


  11. It was not friction with Posey. When you are as naturally gifted as Lincecum was, he was so good that he was able to get hitters out without knowing their weaknesses. All had to bow to Big Time Timmy Jim. So he never felt the need to lower himself to mere mortal status by, gasp, studying hitters...

    He finally accepted this season that that time has passed, and started studying hitters.

    Just think if he had Cains desire to improve himself, how dominant he would have been had he studied hitters from the beginning?

  12. Thought I had heard somewhere (KNBR podcast? MLBTV perhaps?) during last year's playoff. Appreciate you setting the record straight. At least he is starting to step up on the studying hitters piece. Completely agree on the benefits of Timmah (and others) following Cain's example.


  13. Just realized this, but the contract amount does have a logic to it. Lincecum was paid around $21-22M and was offered the QO of $14.1M, and the midway point, roughly, was $17.5M per, which has been the MO of the Sabean reign, to split the difference with the player side, as the compromise in negotiating.



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