Here’s what we know: Tim Lincecum is going to throw for scouts on February 15, and the Giants will be there. That’s in the headline, but I thought I would repeat myself, just to be sure. We know he’s going to throw for scouts because Kyle Boddy of Driveline Mechanics tweeted it, and that’s who’s been helping with Lincecum’s training. We know the Giants will be represented at the showcase because Henry Schulman confirmed it.
Here’s what we don’t know: If this 33-year-old pitcher can throw harder than 87 mph these days.
Color me optimistic, though, if only because of Driveline’s history and because they’re actually having a showcase in the middle of February. They wouldn’t watch him throw 85-mph fastball after 85-mph fastball and say, eh, guess we have no choice but to have a showcase. There’s strategy with this timing, and it has me very, very intrigued.
Should the Giants get him if he’s throwing well? OF COURSE THEY SHOULD. If you’re telling me the choice is between Ty Blach and TIM DAMNED LINCECUM THROWING 93 MPH, well, friend, that’s no choice at all. The Giants are looking for competence from their fifth starter. I would reckon that a harder-throwing Lincecum would give them a similar chance as, say, Andrew Suarez when it comes to finding that competence.
Or maybe I’m just a mark, a sucker, some fella who keeps believing fairy tales and myths that make him feel better. Go on and laugh, kid, I’m used to it, just a guy who wears his heart on his sleeve, that’s all. Maybe the world is better with a bleeding heart like me than the hardscrabble life you’re dragging around like a ball and chain, I don’t know, pal, but believe me, I want to believe, and I’m not gonna let you stand in my way when all it costs to dream is a nickel and a few seconds.
Whew, sorry, blacked out for a second, but, yeah, this makes sense for the Giants to check out. The last time we looked at a Lincecum tryout, we ran into the Lincecum Paradox:
It’s the Tim Lincecum paradox. If he pitches well enough for the Giants to consider altering their plans substantially, there will be other teams who can offer more money or more guarantees about playing time. If he pitches about as well as we’re used to, the Giants wouldn’t have an obvious roster spot for him anyway. There’s a spot between those truisms, but it’s the size of a womprat.
If Lincecum blows the doors off this coming showcase, the Giants won’t have the money to outbid other teams. If he’s kinda sorta okay, the Giants might not bother.
Except, this is a different scenario from the last showcase. The Giants are actively looking for a fifth starter. They’re cool with going into the spring with Tyler Beede, Andrew Suarez, and Ty Blach fighting over one broken pool cue, but they’re also not opposed to a low-cost signing. They have a spot open, and they’re also open-minded.
And while this showcase is going on, there will also be several good starting pitchers still available. Yu Darvish would be a pretty good fifth starter! So would Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn. Teams with an open spot will still be checking in with these pitchers, being vultures and hoping their prices drop. There aren’t a lot of teams with a fifth-starter-and-only-fifth-starter hole to fill.
It’s in this market that the Giants could potentially engage a former Cy Young winner throwing well in a showcase. Other teams might have money, but they’re also going to have one eye on the real free agent market. The Giants will have a clear path to a job, even if they don’t have a lot of money to spend if they want to stay under the luxury tax threshold.
That the former Cy Young winner throwing well in this scenario happens to be someone who deserves a statue and a street named after him, well, that makes a tiny difference. Not that much of a difference, but it has to be considered.
Still, the Giants are an ideal destination for a starting pitcher looking to reclaim past glories. They have the ballpark. They have a better defense than most teams in the National League, according to PECOTA. I’m not going to claim that the Lincecum/Giants connection is something that would help, considering that moving to a place without the history might be more beneficial for Lincecum, but it’s at least a part of the calculus.
Listen, I’m willing to talk about Drew Hutchison. You can be damned sure that I’m willing to talk about Tim Lincecum. It all has to do with his showcase, though. If he’s throwing in the low-90s, I’m in. If he’s not, nobody will be in.
It’s definitely a story to watch. I’m just not sure if there’s ever been a pitcher who’s come back from the depths of hell at the age of 33 and resurrected his career.
So we’ll see if Lincecum is the first. We’re all rooting for him, though. We’re all rooting for him.