While Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner were locked in during their first outings of the 2013 regular season, the same can not be said for Tim Lincecum. The Giants managed to escape Chavez Ravine with a win on Wednesday night in spite of, not because of, Timmy's lackluster performance.
(SF 5, LAD 3) He walked seven batters in only five innings, with more than half of his pitches out of the strike-zone. He wasn't pitching, he was hurling.
Lincecum said, "I felt like I could have pitched a lot better. Obviously, the walks will tell you."
Indeed, Timmy. The faithful have begun to panic, and with good reason. He looked shakier out there than Michael J. Fox during an earthquake.
So what happens when a talented athlete just stops being special? He's already relinquished his ace-status. He's third in the rotation, and honestly he should be fifth. If the Giants had any real depth in starting pitching he'd be in the bullpen. And at this stage in the storied Lincecum career that's probably where he fits best.
And Andy Baggarly had the stones to ask him if he regretted not signing the five year, $100 million dollar deal back in 2011. Really Baggs? How would you feel if you left $60 million on the table? To his credit, Lincecum seems non-plussed. He has enough money to live out the rest of his life in style and maybe his freedom and his time truly are that important. He doesn't like to plan so far ahead.
The question really should have gone to Bobby Evans and Brian Sabean who must feel like they dodged an expensive bullet back there. They almost got Zitoed again. But the good ol' Front Office has made all the right moves lately. If you're going to build an empire it's pretty smart to start out with Cain, Bumgarner and Posey. All home-grown Giants.
But what about Timmy? The Freak has gone from winning back-to-back Cy Youngs in 2008 and 2009 to having the highest ERA (5.18) of all NL starters in 2012. That's a long way to fall. His ERA in Arizona was a whopping 10.57, but okay, he had a blister, and oh yeah, he's working on some things. Okay.
Lincecum came into camp in top shape. New haircut, more muscle, great attitude. He still has all the commitment, the passion and the competitive spirit he had when he was awesome...the only thing he lacks is the stuff.
So, who knows? Maybe he pulls it together and learns to finesse it the way Barry Zito reinvented himself last year. It might happen. There's no one better to help him navigate these waters than Dave Righetti. Maybe Rags will perform another miracle.
One thing is certain, Crick, Heston and Panik aren't ready to make the jump just yet. No one is coming to the show to take the spot. Timmy will be getting his starts, and Bochy will be pacing that dugout. Here's the moment where we can mention the biggest bonehead move that Sabean has made in the last few years...auctioning off Zack Wheeler in 2011. Don't mortgage the future for a slim chance in the present. It's short-sighted. It would be like trading Gary Brown this season for some new starter...oops, don't want to give them any bright ideas.
If Lincecum gets lit up at home against the Rockies next week in his second start...well, at least KNBR will have something to talk about.
(photo by Marko Realmonte)