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Extending Lincecum and Cain

He has the athletic talent of Michael Jordan combined with the powers of Hal Jordan.
He has the athletic talent of Michael Jordan combined with the powers of Hal Jordan.

I’ll admit it: I’m more than a little jealous about how the A’s have locked up Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill. Before a certain point, it’s a good deal for a young pitcher to give up a year or two of free agency if it means that their salary is guaranteed through their arbitration years. The Giants are way, way past that point with Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. There might not have ever been a perfect time to lock Lincecum up -- he moved from top prospect to Cy Young winner so danged quickly. And he is locked up, really, as he isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2013 season.

The Giants also locked Cain up, signing him to a three-year deal before last season. He isn’t going to be a free agent until after 2012. So the urgency is just a little manufactured. But I want them to be locked up for five or six years, just like Anderson and Cahill. This is the heart talking, of course. Really, the Giants are in a pretty sweet spot with Lincecum. The Giants have him for three years at a little below market value, with the freedom of what amounts to an out clause in the event of catastrophe. Pitchers are such volatile things that anything more than a three-year deal -- even for a faucet of awesome like Lincecum -- is a little dicey. Dice-kayey. Something like that.

What I’m feeling, then, is a nostalgia for the time when both Lincecum and Cain were going to be Giants forever and ever and ever because they were just so wee and young. Six years is a long, long time in baseball. Buster Posey will always be a Giant, for example. Forever and ever and ever. Brandon Belt just got here -- there’s no way he’ll leave us!

The unavoidable analogy for this is that the feeling is akin to raising a child. One minute you’re making sure they don’t roll out of a bed, and the next minute they’re taking your car keys to go to some sort of demonic "Kiss" concert. Right now Lincecum and Cain are in between those stages -- they’ve stopped laughing at our jokes, and they’re already taking some cocaine from that little jar you keep next to your bed. All we want is to bring back the innocence, the feeling that the family unit will remain intact for eternity.

Occasionally, a player like Tony Gwynn will hang out in the basement and tell his mom that he’s been working on his resume, but for the most part, it’s unrealistic to think that every one of your favorite players is going to stick around indefinitely. I’m still not in favor of a six- or seven-year deal for any pitcher, and the logic lobe of my brain is telling me that a wait-and-see approach is still the best approach for Lincecum and Cain.

Doesn’t mean that I can’t be jealous of the A’s making sure that their fan favorites will stick around for a few years. Well, then I think of Eric Chavez, a fan favorite who sure did stick around for a few years, and the feeling fades a bit, but the point still stands. The Cahill extension made me ponder a future without one of the young Giants pitchers, and I don’t like it.