San Francisco Giants: Next Stop on the Nostalgia Tour: Tim Lincecum?
With the announcement of Barry Bonds number being retired yesterday, there was some talk about what number might be next. Some of that talk centered around #55.
Tim Lincecum has not pitched for the San Francisco Giants since 2015 and has not pitched in the Major Leagues since 2016.
However, the two time Cy Young award winner and three time World Series champion is always on the minds of Giants fans everywhere.
Stories of his comeback attempts have been spotty at best, with some reporters unable to track him down at all, and others getting scooped by Instagram posts online like Big Foot.
The latest comeback news seems more promising, with a showcase scheduled February 15th.
Hank Schulman reported on Twitter that San Francisco will have representatives at the showcase. Some of this will simply be the Giants doing their due diligence and “kicking tires,” but this is something that should be taken seriously.
The Giants Rotation is not set
After Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, and Jeff Samardzija, there is no guarantee who the fourth and fifth starters will be. At the moment, the Giants have four pitchers vying for the two spots. Incumbents Ty Blach and Chris Stratton will be competing with minor league pitchers Tyler Beede and Andrew Suarez. Blach and Stratton have major league starts, so they will win the battle if there is no clear winner.
Lincecum, who is likely to want to start, might be more interested in a Spring Training invite with the Giants if there is a chance he could win a spot in that rotation.
The Giants Bullpen is not set either
Even if Blach and Stratton win the job, or if Beede or Suarez do, there is still a chance Lincecum could win a job in the bullpen. While the Giants seem to have a full bullpen on paper, bullpens are never a sure thing. Mark Melancon will be the closer, with Sam Dyson as the setup man. Will Smith, who spent all of 2017 rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, will be asked to be the team’s most dependable left hander. Hunter Strickland and Cory Gearrin, who both had strong seasons in 2017, will likely be the first in line to pitch in the seventh inning with Smith. Young pitchers like Derek Law and Steven Okert also have a chance to make the Opening Day roster out of camp.
With the Giants expected to start the year with a 12 man staff, there are more than enough pitchers with Major League experience in the running. However, Lincecum or other pitchers who may get Non Roster Invitations, will be given a chance to challenge for jobs.
Many pitchers, from Ryan Vogelsong to Neil Ramirez have won jobs after signing non guaranteed deals. Would Lincecum be Vogey 2.0 or would he be an afterthought like Ramirez?
Giants Fans Need This
Baseball business decisions are not always made with the fan base in mind, but if there is one constant from 2010 through 2014, is that Larry Baer and the Giants front office listen to the fans on many things.
The Giants bringing back Pablo Sandoval had a mixed reaction from the fans, but it was clear that one of the reasons he was brought back was because many fans were willing to give him a second chance. Many players too.
This off-season alone, the Giants have been on a “Nostalgia Tour,” bringing many members of the World Series teams back to San Francisco. They have added Gregor Blanco, Chris Heston and Hector Sanchez with the hopes they can challenge for spots on the Opening Day roster and provide depth in the minor leagues in they do not.
If Baer has been listening to fans at all, he knows that fans miss Timmy. “Big Time Timmy Jim” was a lighting bolt from the moment he stepped on stage at AT&T Park on May 6th, 2007. He was the headliner and the main attraction every fifth day from his very first start and he did more in three full seasons than most pitchers in the Hall of Fame accomplish.
His Cy Young in both 2008 and 2009 were his first two full seasons, and he backed that up with a dominant 2010 that led to the first championship in the history of San Francisco and the first World Series for the organization in 56 years.
His complete game shutout, 14 strikeout performance in Game 1 of the National League Divisional Series against the Atlanta Braves was as amazing as any playoff debut of any athlete in sports history.
His eight innings of one run ball with ten strikeouts in the series clinching Game 5 of the World Series cemented his legendary status forever.
Even in the years after his dominance seemed gone, he threw no hitters in 2013 and 2014. The second no hitter including the bonus of the best mustache in baseball since Rollie Fingers.
The 2018 Giants need this
The Giants were terrible in 2017. There 98 losses were a gut punch to everything the team had built since 2010 and forced every member of the team, coaching staff and front office to reassess everything.
Was their core good enough? Were they suddenly too old? Did they need to start over?
The Giants decided that their core was good enough, that they were still young enough and that they did not need to start over. However, all of those answers come with context.
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While their core is good enough, they needed a bigger core. Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt, Joe Panik, and Hunter Pence are all back, but the team has added Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen.
The team had very little production from third base or their outfield last season and Longoria and McCutchen will help fix that.
Those two moves do not fix the inconsistencies in the staff. While Bumgarner’s infamous dirt bike injury was the largest reason, there are still several question marks. Will Johnny Cueto and Mark Melancon be able to stay healthy are two of the largest ones. Adding “The Freak” to the mix could give the entire 2018 staff a boost.
In the same way adding a big musical act to a music festival can sell more tickets, it can also energize the other bands. Knowing someone you have admired, is simply incredible to watch, or is great be around will be joining the tour, can make the show that much better.
When all is said and done, Lincecum will always be a rock star in San Francisco. He will always have the ability to sell 41,000 tickets to his shows at AT&T Park and it can still happen on his latest comeback tour. He will receive standing ovations before he plays a note and he will receive even more applause if he plays any of his old hits.
Next: Giants Do Arbitration Right
We all fell in love with Timmy’s greatest hits and many fans want to hear the record play at AT&T Park once again.