As a Giants fan, I am aware of the situation in San Francisco.
So far, the team is off to a good start. Matt Cain is off to the best start of his career. He is 8-2 with a 2.18 ERA, and he is coming off of the 22nd perfect game in MLB history. Madison Bumgarner and Ryan Vogelsong have both been amazing too.
Barry Zito has started the season well, although he seems to be cooling off (Zito is 5-4 with a 3.61 ERA, but he's lost his last two starts). However, the guy you wouldn't expect to be struggling is the guy struggling.
Tim Lincecum has a terrible record and ERA, and when he pitches, the Giants are 2-11 (the team is 34-17 when he doesn't pitch). He hasn't been throwing the ball as hard as he used to, and he isn't hitting his spots.
And because of that, he has a 2-7 record and a 6.00 ERA.
Lincecum has hurt the Giants every time he takes the mound, and most fans are sick of it. Lincecum could be sent to the bullpen or the minor leagues, but what the Giants should be doing is trying to trade the former ace.
San Francisco needs a shortstop and would benefit from another first baseman and starting pitcher. Brandon Belt has hit a home run in his last three games, and he seems to be heating up at first. Since he is also an above-average defensive first baseman, he'll probably stay at first.
Barry Zito seems to be going downhill after going 0-2 with a 7.36 ERA in his past two starts. After Cain shut down the Astros, Zito gave up five earned runs in 5 innings (including two home runs).
What Is Tim Lincecum's Trade Value?
The Giants do have two capable pitchers, Eric Hacker and Brad Penny, in the minors. Eric Surkamp is hurt, but Hacker has proven he can play in the MLB. In his one start this year, he gave up three runs in six innings.
Hacker could replace Zito, but Penny may not be ready to fill the void of Lincecum. Penny went 11-11 with a 5.30 ERA in 2011, and there are other pitchers on the market. Therefore, the Giants would need to trade for a pitcher.
Matt Garza could be a possible trade target, and since the Cubs also have shortstop Starlin Castro, the Giants could try to trade Lincecum and some prospects for those two. However, San Francisco doesn't have a great farm system, and Lincecum is struggling.
Lincecum is a two-time Cy Young winner who has a World Series ring under his belt. He went 4-1 with a 2.43 ERA in the 2010 postseason, and in 2011, he finished with a 2.74 ERA.
That being said, he does have some trade value, and he could bring in a reliable shortstop for the Giants (in a trade). However, it may take more than his past numbers to get a team to trade for him.
Win-now teams or teams looking to build for the future could trade for Lincecum. He has the potential to turn his season around, and he knows how to pitch in big moments. Teams poised for playoff runs could definitely trade for him.
The trade deadline isn't until late July, so Lincecum has some time to prove to the Giants and other teams that he can pitch. If the pitching schedule holds up, Lincecum's next five opponents will be the Mariners, A's, Dodgers, Nationals, and Pirates.
All five teams are average or below-average hitting teams, so Lincecum should be able to turn it around and increase his trade value before the trade deadline rolls around.
But if he doesn't, San Francisco won't be able to get anything for Lincecum, and they'll be stuck with a huge hole in the rotation.