Grant has oft-stated that Lincecum is determined to reach free agency, and on that part we agree. However, I don't think it's a mere formality that he's a goner in two years. Below, I'll try to explain why.
Based on conversations I've had with people who know him, here are the keys to signing Lincecum, in order:
1) Get better hitters. I know, duh. But the reality is that guy is competitive as hell. It's his single biggest weapon, even more than his change-up or his movement on the two-seamer, his absolute will to win. He wants it more than the other guy does. It absolutely drives him batty when he loses games 1-0 or 2-1, even if he's careful to not show it in the dugout or with the press.
You want him to stick around, you've got two options: 1) Show that this line-up is good enough and make another deep postseason run. 2) Use the savings from Huff, Rowand and Affeldt's deals coming off the books to sign a couple of free agent bats in 2013. None of this rainy day fund for Lincecum nonsense. Zito coming off the books in 2014 will pay for the next Lincecum deal and Tim won't be getting THAT much of a raise from 20.5M anyway. It's not like he'll be going from 2M a season to 26M. Also, Bochy has to be less reliant on the veterans if they're not hitting and be more willing to give someone else a shot. You can't have anybody getting 400-500 PAs if they're dragging sub-700s at 1B or the OF spots.
2. Do everything in their power to let Timmy smoke. I'm dead serious. My source told me that Lincecum is actually quite prone to depression and that's why the Giants (who were perfectly aware of his habit before the arrest) didn't mind the marijuana use, since it's the only thing that ever leveled him out. Now, he's paranoid about smoking it because he doesn't want to ruin his public image and his market value, even though San Francisco is pretty tolerant about this kind of thing. The Giants need to find a way to grease some palms with the league office so that they're going to be tipped off well in advance when Lincecum is going to be tested or that they'll be able to petition -- privately -- that he can smoke for medicinal purposes. Either way they need to find a loophole to let him smoke weed because it's in their and their player's best interest.
3. Stop trying to promote him all the time. Lincecum isn't on the Zach Grienke level or anything about big markets, but far less of a socialite than the common perception. The last thing that would ever appeal to him would be to sign a gigantic deal in LA, Boston, New York or Philly and to be in scrutinized in the tabloids every day and have a fishbowl existence. He's a guy who really values his privacy. That's why so many people who speculate about him going to another team believe it'll be his hometown Mariners who sign him, because Lincecum can live in relative anonymity at Seattle. However, I think there are two reasons Seattle isn't the best fit for him. 1) He's got a Aaron Rodgers-esque chip on his shoulder his hometown team didn't draft him. 2) Their offense stinks too. Been there, done that. If Lincecum goes anywhere, it wouldn't surprise me if it's a team like the Padres or Rockies to be honest, somewhere where it's not too humid, like the midwest or south east, and there's not a big media crush. I can see Detroit, or maybe the Cubs as a darkhorse, too.
4. It's not about the money. Sure, it matters. He has pride and he wants to be properly compensated. But I don't think he'd want an offer that'll blow Cain's away. Maybe two or three million more a year. I think far more important to Lincecum will be the commitment by the Giants to put a quality team around him that can contend year after year and that the Giants show him they really are the organization that truly "gets" him by understanding points 2 and 3.
5. Kindly suggest to Andy and Hank to quit asking him about his velocity. It ticks him off. Couldn't hurt, right?
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