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A Day Without Tim Lincecum

Taking a break from the wildly popular "Community Projection"-series might not be a bright idea; there’s always a chance that I’ll forget about the Eugenio Velez projection before the season starts. But a couple of things happened on Sunday that made me want to write about Tim Lincecum:

  1. Barry Zito left a bad taste in my mouth after his awful start, and
  2. Luke Hochevar started for the Royals.

And when I write that Zito "left a bad taste in my mouth," what I really meant is that watching Zito get slapped around left a taste in my mouth so awful, it was if I were chewing on a sock that had covered Dom DeLuise’s privates as he made love to the anthropomorphic trash heap from Fraggle Rock. I hate using clichés to prove my point, but I’m not sure how else to explain it. Only a dose of Lincecum can get rid of the funk.

Hochevar was the #1 overall pick in the 2006 draft, and eight other teams passed on Lincecum. How would things be different if another team picked Lincecum? Bullet point style:

  • The Giants might have picked a prospect who is still gracing top-100 lists, like Travis Snider or Kyle Drabek, or the butterfly effect of Linecum going earlier might have allowed Clayton Kershaw or Brandon Morrow to drop. The odds, though, say the Giants would have picked a dud. And we never would have known. We would have treated Lincecum like we do with Justin Upton or Matt Wieters – promising, talented young player, but we never had a shot, so why should we complain?
  • The Giants might have cracked 100 losses last year. It’s almost impossible for one pitcher to be worth 10 wins in a season, so this might be a stretch. But Lincecum energized the fans, who sent their energy back to the field in the form of a chakra beam transfer. Or something.
  • The Giants surely would have replaced the phantom roster spot with a free agent. Kenny Rogers? David Wells? Jason Marquis? Jeff Weaver? The parade of possible goofs is endless. Maybe the Giants would have jumped on the C.C. Sabathia caboose because they figured they were an ace away from returning to contention.
  • The rebuilding process after the above plan failed would be a total, salt-the-earth affair. No Edgar Renteria, maybe no Aaron Rowand, and players like Bengie Molina and Randy Winn would have been traded, even if the Giants had to eat salary.
  • Oh, that last bullet point is assuming that Sabean never gets a contract extension in 2007. Any hope of contending in the near-term relies on Lincecum providing ace results on a scrub salary. Without that faint hope of a young and cheap, top-of-the-rotation duo leading the Giants’ rebuilding hopes, the reins are given to someone else. This hypothetical is probably the biggest stretch of the list, but it isn’t too crazy. When Sabean received his extension, the Giants had the best pitching prospect in baseball as a part of the rebuilding plan. Without that prospect, the rebuilding plan Sabean put forth might not have been as compelling.
  • We’d be less excited for 2009 than any season in, oh, 20 years.

Lots of stretches up there. Maybe a couple of those are unrealistic. But the rippling of a non-Lincecum pick in 2006 would have left a totally different organization in its wake. Also, maybe you left work five minutes earlier one day just to watch Lincecum pitch, and there was a horrific accident on the freeway during your normal commute THAT WOULD HAVE KILLED YOU. Lincecum: Winning games for the Giants and saving your life since 2007.

The obvious comment starter: How would the franchise be different if Lincecum were drafted by another team? Silly and serious answers accepted, of course.