As a diehard Giants fan, it brings me nothing but joy to see the front office extending the love to Matt Cain. Seeing as how Cain is No. 2 on the rotation behind "Big Time Timmy Jim," all Giants fans feared Cain would join another team—or even worse, the "Magic" down with the Los Angeles Dodgers and their new, extremely generous budget. Now that Cain is locked up with the largest right-handed pitching contract in Major League Baseball history, Giants fans can rest easy in preparation for opening day.
The San Francisco Giants front office hasn't exactly had the utmost success with starting pitchers and their contracts (shout-out to 2002 CY Young Award-winner Barry Zito—oh, and his $175-million deal), however locking up Cain and Lincecum were big steps forward. What Cain did for the Giants during their 2010 World Series run was truly historic. In case you forgot, Matty hurled 21.1 innings only giving up one run over his three starts (one in each series), surely deserving of a large contract extension.
How it affects other Giants:
Headed into 2012, the only major pitchers who are in need of an extension are Closer Brian Wilson and relief pitchers Sergio Romo, Guillermo Mota and Jeremy Affeldt.
Locking up Madison Bumgarner through 2013 and Ryan Vogelsong through 2014 was also a giant step because, pending everyone's health, the Giants will have one of the most prolific pitching staff's in the league.
However, this deal can negatively affect the rest of the staff because once the front office gets all Jerry Maguire and "Show me da money!"—you are expected to perform at high levels every start. Giants fans can easily think of one starter who has failed to do that for the majority of his career as a Giant: Barry Zito.
Zito was paid $18.5 million each season in 2009, 2010, and 2011, with $19 million coming in 2012 and another $20 million in 2013. The good news for Giants fans is that, come 2014, the Giants can exercise a club option for $18 million, or (most likely) cut their losses by buying out the contract for another $7.5 million.To this day, Zito has been awarded around $55.5 million for his work as a Giant.
However, it's extremely easy to tell that he has not lived up to his paychecks. He is 43-61 in 140 starts, giving up over 400 earned runs in the process.
I imagine the conversation went something like "Yeah, I'm not happy either. But look at how shiny this is!"
The best part of Zito's tenure in San Francisco was when Manager Bruce Bochy incredibly left Zito off the 2010 playoff roster, replacing him with 21-year old country boy Madison Bumgarner. "Mad Bum" rose to the occasion posing an incredible 2-0 record with a 2.18 earned-run average helping the Giants complete one of the most historic, undervalued, and underrated World Series runs in baseball history.
However, it is apparent that Bumgarner was not exactly "happy" with his new deal in 2011. Since Bumgarner was entering his second season in the big leagues, he was not eligible for salary arbitration, and his contract is mandated for him and non-negotiable.
Following the 2010 World Series and his unreal performance, Bumgarner said that the Giants' front office failed to approach him to renew his contract during spring training. On March 9th, the Giants signed Bumgarner to a one-year, $600,000 deal. Since the Giants are most likely almost at their budget, I wouldn't be surprised if they signed Bumgarner to a multi-year deal guaranteeing him more money next season, as he, Cain and Lincecum all definitely deserve it.
Cain's contract is simply another in a long list of lucrative deals this offseason—including the Albert Pujols sweepstakes ($254 million), Detroit's new Prince ($214 million), and Votto hits the Lotto ($251.5 million). The Giants making this type of move is excellent for the team, but also for the fans because it exerts a loving relationship between Cain and his stay here in San Francisco. As we all know, the fans certainly love their Giants.
Long Live No. 18 in the Bay.