I've spent a surprising amount of time this week thinking about Barry Zito. Wondering about the kind of ovation he'd get. Speculating as to what kind of outing he'd leave us with. It didn't exactly dominate every waking moment, but it was a favorite topic of mine. To think about the Giants was to think about Barry Zito for the last seven years. It was weird to think it was all going to end.
I spent almost no time at all thinking about Tim Lincecum. It wasn't until I saw a few tweets that it sunk in. This could be the last time we see Tim Lincecum in a Giants uniform.
That's actually possible. And it didn't hit me until a couple hours ago. We had a diminutive security blanket in every offseason since 2007, regardless of whatever else was going on. At least the Giants have Lincecum, you'd think. Even when he was bad in 2012, he ended the postseason in such a positive way, it was hard not to be optimistic. There was always Tim Lincecum.
But I was thinking about Zito.
Part of it is that it's much likelier for Lincecum to come back. The Giants are going to extend a qualifying offer, which should be one year, $14 million or so. Even if another team wants to go 2/$30M, Lincecum might be more interested in the one-year deal, then hit the market after a strong season, looking for nine f…
Another, much larger, part of it is that I don't want to believe it. From draft to prospectdom to rookie promise to Cy Young to other Cy Young to World Series to other World Series to no-hitter to Thursday night against the Dodgers. Sunrise, sunset. Like sands through the hourglass. I get all that. But, oh, hell no, I didn't just watch Tim Lincecum's last game as a Giant.
I was even relieved when Carl Crawford got a triple. I didn't want a perfect game. I didn't want a shutout. I didn't want a game that made me think, "Oh, yes, now that's the way to go out!" Nope. That would have made it too real. I'm not ready for too real. As is, I'll take the no-decision in an eventual win.
Zito got a eulogy. Lincecum gets a nervous titter. So, ha ha, you're coming back, right, Tim? It makes sense for you, makes sense for the Giants … it makes sense. Right? Ha ha. Titter titter.
So I'm going to write this up like it was a normal start. Just the last start of a bad Giants season, everyone. Nothing unusual. Just Tim Lincecum pitching seven strong innings to help the Giants take a series against the Dodgers.
They were seven strong innings, you know. Lincecum struck Yasiel Puig out … lemme check … three times? Huh. Three times. Barely even noticed. The seven innings were especially impressive considering how much Lincecum labored in the first inning. After 21 pitches, the Giants were down. That was the old new Lincecum, the guy we begrudgingly got used to.
Everything after that was the new new Lincecum. The guy who makes sense on a one-year deal next year for a lot of money. Just to see. It takes time to learn to pitch with reduced velocity. He's looked like he knows what he's doing a lot more this year, especially after May. If this guy could turn into this guy, I'll give Lincecum the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it'll take a bit, but the new new Lincecum could be a mighty nice pitcher to have in the rotation.
So, you know. KIT. Have a good winter. C U next spring.
The demarcation line for the season is so easy to recognize. Before the Angel Pagan inside-the-park walk-off? The Giants were contenders. Favorites, even. They were the defending champions, and you'd mention that six times a day. After the inside-the-parker? Chaos. Rot. Everything right is wrong again.
Through no fault of his own, Pagan was an afterthought when he was out. The Giants were struggling, and they were struggling so badly that it was like, what, Pagan's going to help this team? He's a nice player. When he's right. But the Giants were so messed up.
Seeing him do his thing at full strength is mesmerizing, though. There's a reason he got the contract last offseason. There's a reason why it seemed like a solid idea, if not a necessary one considering the other options. When he's right, he does so many things well. Except break off the crack of the bat in center. But I haven't even seen him do too much of that since he's been back.
When news broke that Pagan was rushing toward a rehab assignment, my response was, "Why?" For this season? Get outta here. Rest up. But now I get it. The Giants needed to build up some encouragement chips for the offseason. Pagan's doing his part.
Buster Posey didn't block the plate in the second inning when Tim Federowicz was trying to score, but he still got the out. Feels like that should trigger some sort of contract bonus. Though it would have been so much cooler for him to throw his spine on the poker table and dare Federowicz to call. C'MON, SISSY. SEE WHAT YOU GOT.
Still no idea why home-plate collisions are still legal. Look at the elegance of this play, dang it! That's baseball. The other stuff is XMLB. Yasiel Puig could have a "He Hate Me" jersey.
Say, this could work …
The Giants were 11-8 against the Dodgers this year. They'll have a winning season against every NL West opponent if they can win just one against the Padres.
This game doesn't make sense.