Three articles in the SF Chronic today about Tim Lincecum. I suppose, much like myself, they want to avoid writing (or thinking) about last night's game. Ann Killion is on the front page, "Hip Surgery might mean the end of the Lincecum era." Also in the news section next to the continuation of Ann Killion's article, from Hamed Aleaziz, "Lincecum news crushing blow for Giants fans." Finally, John Shea's is the lead story in the sports section, "Lincecum's S.F. future in doubt." (note: articles in sfgate.com are written earlier, so are slightly different and titled differently).
Just in case anyone missed the blaring subtext from the articles, they hit the reader over the head:
Killion: "While team executives say the door is still open for a Lincecum return, the subtext is that, with his contract expiring at the end of the season, he may have pitched his last game in a Giants uniform."
Aleaziz: "Known around AT&T Park as 'The Freak' Lincecum could be finished as a Giant."
Shea: "But suiting up for another team next season is a distinct possibility in the wake of Thursday's season-ending hip surgery."
Tim had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left hip and shave some of the bone that was impinging on the labrum. From Shea, quoting trainer Dave Groeschner, "The doctor's pretty confident this is going to help him out and get back to major-league pitching for next season." I don't know if Tim Lincecum will be able to pitch by the beginning of next season, before I read the description of the operation, I might have speculated that it would involve more intrusive surgery and possibly a year's recovery and rehabilitation time, meaning he wouldn't pitch much before 2017. But if he can recover his form, good for him.
Every one of the articles states that Tim Lincecum's contract expires at the end of the season. So, as is true for any Giant whose contract is expiring, they may have (as the season ends) played their last game as a Giant. Ryan Vogelsong (at the end of the season) may have pitched his last game as a Giant. Nori Aoki (at the end of the season) may have played his last outfield as a Giant. But these articles simply can't help but emphasize that fundamental tenet of contracts as though it were something special about Tim Lincecum. Remember two years back, when there were already many, many questions about Tim's ability to be effective on the mound? He was signed to a new (and very lucrative) contract. So why the emphasis?
I think it is because the contract was so rich. $35 million for the overall production the Giants received (although, 1 no-hitter and 1 more World Series championship) is not a good value. But baseball contracts are never about what a player will do, they are about what a player has done. Marco Scutaro was signed to a 2 year contract because of his tremendous 2012 stretch drive and the iconic picture of him in the rain as the Giants won the National League, not because a rational person would have expected two years of production out of him. Tim Lincecum was paid for his two Cy Young awards, his dominant 2010 playoff and series performances, his bullpen work in 2012 and his 2 no hitters. The Giants executives (Larry Baer and Bobby Evans) are quoted as saying that the door is open. No Tim Tribute nights are planned, because they would be premature. Yet these articles emphasize the obvious, that a player at contract expiration might sign with a different team.
I wouldn't expect the Giants to offer Tim Lincecum (should he, hopefully, recover and look like an awesome pitcher again) a $35 million dollar contract. But maybe one loaded with incentives. And who else would offer as much? No other team's fans have the personal connection with the Timmeh that Giants fans do. No other team is selling Lincecum jerseys in the team stores and "Let Timmy Smoke" shirts on the street corners. I don't know if Tim Lincecum will be able to pitch at an awesome major league level next year. But if he can, I would bet that the Giants are more likely to work a deal for him than any other club.