For the San Francisco Giants, last year was one to forget. A slow death all season, 2011 was in fact the antithesis of 2010’s magic and perseverance. The clock struck twelve for Cinderella as we bid farewell to unlikely heroes Andres Torres and Cody Ross.
The World Series hangover has passed. The injuries have drifted away. Buster and Freddy should be ready to bounce back. And the Giants actually have a lot to prove this year. San Francisco is transforming from a mid-market team into a large market franchise. The Giants have enjoyed many seasons of watching their young studs spin gems for pennies on the dollar. That time has come and gone.
And so, General Manager Brian Sabean has made it very clear that the Giants’ main objective this offseason is to extend starting pitchers Tim Lincecum (1A) and Matt Cain (1B). The Freak is eligible to become a free agent after the 2013 season while Cain is eligible to test the market after the 2012 season. Can you imagine the Giants without their two horses? It’s a scary thought to envision them in pinstripes.Here’s where we stand.
Timmy’s arbitration case is likely to set an MLB record. After making $14 million in arbitration last year, Lincecum is probably going to see a figure in the neighborhood of $19 million for 2012 and perhaps $25 million in 2013. Cain draws $15 million in 2012 but again, will become a free agent after that. And it’s all quiet on the Western Front.
Here’s the problem.
- 33 year-old Cliff Lee is on his 2nd year of his massive 5-year $120 million contract from the Phillies.
- CJ Wilson got 5 years $77.5 million from the Angels (which was actually a hometown discount).
- Mark Buehrle just signed a 4-year $58 million deal and he’ll be 33 by Opening Day!
- CC Sabathia? Back in October he signed a $25 million vesting option adding onto his original 7-year $161 million contract from George Steinbrenner in 2008.
Every time a big name starting pitcher gets a big-ticket contract, the market value of Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain continue to increase. They’re both 27 years of age and on the precipice of their prime. More importantly, both are proven big game pitchers and remarkably durable.
It’s pitchers like Lincecum and Cain that teams love to vulture on. Outside of Seattle’s Felix Hernandez, I can’t think of two better bargain-priced aces. There is simply too much money out there for the Giants not to take signing these two very seriously.
Here’s the solution.
The Giants absolutely must open up the checkbook for these two guys, this much we know. But the way to go about this is to let Timmy file for arbitration this year and in turn, focus all efforts on extending Matt Cain long-term. If Cain walks, then Timmy is more likely to follow suit.
So I say to the Giants brass, sign him up! Matt Cain for 6 years, $100ish million. Averaging nearly 212 innings pitched every year since 2006, he’s earned it. That way, you have your ace as insurance even if Lincecum leaves after 2013. No payroll flexibility? Aaron Rowand’s contract expires after this season, as does Aubrey Huff’s. That’s $23 million off the books right there. And how are you going to justify paying Barry Zito $19 million in 2012, $20 million in 2013 and a $7 million buyout on an $18 million club option in 2014. Answer: you can’t. Pay Cain.
Once Cain’s finances are taken care of, the Giants’ front office can turn their attention towards their long-haired sensation. Act 2 of this complicated contract crisis is even more important/delicate. I shouldn’t even have to explain how imperative it is for the Giants to resign Tim Lincecum. He transcends baseball. He is a San Francisco icon.
Still clamoring for that impact bat? Well, we tried. And now all we have to show for is a bunch of Carlos Beltran jerseys selling for 50% off. Let’s just hope Zack Wheeler doesn’t turn into Joe Nathan. But beat writer Andrew Baggarley is right: “If [Lincecum] loses three more 1-0 decisions to Clayton Kershaw, that frustration could influence whether he wants to stay. When you bang your head against a wall enough times, you get a headache. That’s just how the world works.” If you can’t supply any run support, then pay them their due. Victim’s of some of the worst run support ever seen, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain have kept their chins up and their mouths shut for too long for the Giants front office not to offer them big contracts.
What do you all think?