Tim Lincecum has been nothing but rock solid on the bump in his career as a Giant, but unfortunately things aren't smooth sailing this season for Lincecum.
Lincecum's struggles are making many fans and people around baseball jump to the conclusion that the San Francisco Giants must trade Lincecum. Hold your horses for now, people.
The Giants should not trade Lincecum right now, but must trade him before his contract expires after the 2013 season.
Yes, Lincecum is being freakishly bad right now. The two-time Cy Young award winner is 3-9 with a 6.08 ERA. Nobody predicted that to happen. As of right now, Lincecum is San Francisco's worst starting pitcher in 2012.
However, Lincecum has still shown flashes of brilliance. Even in limited innings due to rough performances, Lincecum still has 101 strikeouts and 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings. That's not bad at all, considering Lincecum's other ugly numbers.
What is bad, is Lincecum's tendency to have one terrible inning and his location. It seems every time Lincecum has a rough outing, he has one inning that kills him. Pitchers cannot have this happen, and an ace like Lincecum must be more consistent throughout the game.
If it wasn't for one bad inning, Lincecum could be an All-Star once again instead of a complete dud in the season's first half.
Also, Lincecum's location has been a big problem. Fans have seen batters continuously look foolish with Lincecum's dirty split-change and curveball, but that had a lot to do with the location of the pitches. These pitches looked like strikes and broke late, making batters look like little leaguers.
Unfortunately, hitters went from shaking their heads to rounding the bases. Lincecum is hanging pitches and in bad locations. Major league hitters are just too good to miss these freebies.
So, with all these red flags, should the Giants trade Lincecum? No, not yet.
Let's remember that Lincecum is still a two-time Cy Young award winner and dominated in the playoffs when the Giants won the World Series in 2010. The righty has been struggling, but he still has the talent to be an ace in the second half.
If Lincecum can turn it around before he becomes a free agent, the Giants will also get a much better package in a trade. If Lincecum turns it around or not, he's still set to make a lot of money when he becomes a free agent.
Soon the Giants will be in the same position the Philadelphia Phillies currently are with Cole Hamels. To trade the ace, or not to trade the ace. In the Giants case, they must trade the ace.
The Giants will already have Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain locked-up to anchor their staff when Lincecum is a free agent. The Giants will also have solid pitchers from the minors ready to come up, and pitching will not be their biggest need.
The team's biggest need will be offense and signing Buster Posey to a long-term deal. Posey may be the best all-around catcher in the game right now and the Giants need to lock him up.
Posey, who just broke the NL record for All-Star game fan votes, is off to a great star a year after season-ending ankle surgery. The young star is hitting .295 with 10 home runs and 43 RBI in 74 games played this season.
For those that are worried about Posey long-term due to his gruesome injury, relax. Posey has been perfectly healthy this season and with Hector Sanchez as his back-up, the Giants can utilize Posey's athleticism at first base or the outfield as well.
The Giants still need Lincecum because he still has the ability to make hitters miss and can always turn it around, giving him more value in a trade. The team also needs his playoff experience if they want to make another serious run in the playoffs this season.
By trading Lincecum before he hits free agency, the Giants can lock-up Posey in San Francisco and bring a big bat to the team through the trade, filling the teams biggest needs.