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Tim Lincecum throws showcase for 20-plus teams

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He was throwing in the 90s, but he wasn’t throwing in the mid-90s. Let’s talk about what that means.

San Francisco Giants v San Diego Padres Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

Tim Lincecum threw a showcase for 20-plus teams outside of Seattle today, and the early reports were mostly positive. According to a scout who talked to the Seattle Times, Lincecum was throwing between 90 and 92 mph. Jon Heyman pushed that up to 93. But his fastball certainly wasn’t a time machine that took scouts back to 2009.

If you’re a fan of the Giants signing Lincecum to compete for a spot in the rotation, that’s a good thing.

If Lincecum were throwing 95 mph, there would almost certainly not be a way for the Giants to sign him. At least one other team would have offered him guaranteed money — Jaime Garcia or Andrew Cashner money — and that would have been the end of it. As is, he’s likely to sign a minor-league deal that pays a fair amount of money if he makes the major league team. The Giants can compete with that.

From that Seattle Times article:

He threw all four of his pitches and kept them around the strike zone with “a better shape and bite to his curveball than in past years.”

“The split changeup remains the better weapon for me, but there’s not a real out pitch there,” the scout said. “He looks to be in great shape and has added muscle in his traps and shoulders. I would be surprised if he’s not signed soon.”

Good enough to get a spot in a major league camp. Good enough to get nerds like me excited. Not good enough for the scout to make homina-homina-homina noises as he ran in circles with smoke coming out of his ears. This is something of a best-case scenario for Lincecum fanatics.

Still, strip the name and nostalgia away. What we have here is a pitcher who hasn’t been good since 2011. He’ll be 34, and he’s been away from the game for an entire year. When he was right, he was one of the best pitchers in the game, if not the best pitcher in the game. His velocity, while better than when he left the game, is still below the average major league starter at this point.

Would you be in favor of the Giants signing a pitcher like that to a minor-league deal, even if he had no association to the franchise?

Yeah.

I’m fine with that.

The Giants’ current fifth starter is Ty Blach, you know.

That’s not a slam on Blach! Or Tyler Beede, Derek Holland, or Andrew Suarez. It’s just a note that things aren’t settled, and more raffle tickets aren’t a bad thing for this team. This one comes with something of a circus atmosphere, comparatively speaking, but Lincecum is going to compete for a job with a team. The Giants have one of those jobs open. Why not the Giants?

[lights incense in front of Ryan Vogelsong statue]

It’s our destiny.

But if we could take a big-picture view and step back from the talk about if he’s right for the GIants, and just appreciate that this showcase suggests we have a great chance of seeing Tim Lincecum play baseball again. I remember when the Giants brought Vogelsong back for his retirement ceremonies, there were a lot of people hoping that Lincecum was next.

Him pitching in the major leagues is even better. Like, a million times better. The way he was kicked off the baseball planet was unceremonious and awful. It’s even worse when you realize that there’s at least a chance that he was unlucky (his FIP was just 4.08 from 2012 through 2015, which wasn’t great, but it sure isn’t career-ending).

Tim Lincecum will probably pitch again. That makes me happy.

I’m still skeptical the Giants will sign him, considering that they already have a bunch of split contracts out to different Blancos and Derek Holland. But if they were interested, a showcase that was promising without being stunning was probably the best possible news.