As the defending World Champions, ( Wow! What a beautiful phrase.. ) the San Francisco Giants understandably have relatively few unanswered questions heading into the 2013 season. Sure, there's always a spot or two in the bullpen to squabble about, but I'll leave that to smarter authors. For me, once again my baseball universe seems to revolve around the fortunes of Timothy Leroy Lincecum. Big surprise, huh? But seriously, let's face it, the once rock solid, "franchise player" that was Timmeh is a thing of the past. He's a frigging "riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma".
So, let's get to some of those questions. Off the top of my head I can think of 4 or 5...
WHAT WENT WRONG?
Ok, this is not very forward thinking, but sometimes a problem can be identified and fixed. Right? Well, Tim makes this hard. I sure haven't heard him or Righetti or Bochy or anybody really pinpoint a distinct flaw. I guess there was some mention by Tim about his follow through, but it didn't sound very major. Could it explain his terrible fastball control last year? And did he fix it for his post season relief resurgence? We may have to let this question go; however it sure would feel good to place some blame for such a disastrous season (ERA+ of 67 for god's sake!).
DOES THE HAIR CUT REALLY MATTER?
The short answer is, of course, no. But perhaps it is an indication of a new focus or commitment to excellence... nah, the long answer is "no" too.
WHICH TIM SHOWS UP IN 2013? AND DOES IT MATTER THAT MUCH?
Now we are getting to the tough ones. My answer: I can't believe he can be that bad again (he led the league in ER!) so I'm looking for a substantial rebound. I've been burned too bad to really think that Tim will re-climb to the heights of dominance that he once so easily ascended. I'm hoping for about an ERA+ of 120 ( his career average now ) which would probably make him the best #3 starter in the league. Will he matter much? Hell, yea! We proved that we can win the division without him last year ( more like, in spite of him ) but how far do we go in the post season without Tim's contribution last year? Like it or not, Lincecum is a key figure in the NL West race.
And, finally, the BIG question, the elephant in the room type question...
IS 2013 THE END OF TIM"S GIANTS CAREER?
I have said for years that the Giants won't keep three big time starting pitcher contracts, nobody can. Two, sure, but not three. Now I realize that kind of baseball dogma may no longer be true. The Giants have clearly helped establish a new formula for team structure and payroll. Swap that slugger outfielder for a cheaper fast guy and use the money for more pitching. In fact, it could be argued that Tim Lincecum was a big reason for this new thinking; that he was truly a transformative agent. Isn't that worth something? I think so. Which means my answer is NO, this better not be Tim's last season as a Giant. Timmeh has a lot more history to write. Good or bad, he remains one of the most engaging Giants of all time. Matt, MadBum and The Freak all deserve to stay together for a long time to come. And we deserve to see it.
Besides, I hate to mention the obvious ( and disgusting ) destination if Tim does decide to go the free agent route. The filthy rich doggers could pick him up at top dollar rates just to piss us off. That is a future I don't wish to contemplate. Sorry I brought it up.
So, have any questions of your own? Or better yet, answers. It is spring, the time of renewal, so get those brain cells fired up again! The off season is OVER! ( In fact, the first spring training game starts in about a half hour.)
CONGRATULATIONS! You have officially survived another off season. Now write a damn comment!