Over the past two years, Tim Lincecum has seen one of the most devastating collapses in MLB history. After winning two Cy Young Awards in his first five years in the MLB, Lincecum has become one of the most unreliable pitchers in baseball in 2012 and 2013.
While the San Francisco Giants may not want to part with the fan favorite, their only option is to trade their former ace.
According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, Giants general manager Brian Sabean will entertain trade offers for Lincecum, Javier Lopez and Hunter Pence. This is hardly surprising, as San Francisco has gone from World Series champions in 2012 to postseason non-factors in 2013.
As it presently stands, the Giants are 12 games below .500 and 10 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL West lead.
With the postseason looking like nothing but a dream and their chances only getting worse, something needs to be done. While some may point to their 2012 World Series title as a sign that they can turn it around, one man hasn't bounced back when given the chance.
If Lincecum's struggles had begun in 2013, there would be no need to have this conversation. Unfortunately, this isn't a recent trend of Lincecum going from elite to the type of pitcher you're hesitant to put on the mound.
It's been a two-year rut.
At some point, we must not allow one's reputation to overshadow what is being done on the field. More importantly, we can't allow the term "rut" to describe a stretch of more than 50 starts.
Lincecum simply isn't the same player he once was—he's not even the player a contender would place at the end of its rotation.
Thus far, Lincecum is 5-11 in 21 starts, with a 4.61 ERA and a WHIP of 1.35. In 2012, Lincecum was 10-15 with an ERA of 5.18 and a 1.47 WHIP.
If you're happy about that improvement, you're being blinded by fandom.
There's no question that this has been a strange season for the Giants, as Lincecum, Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong have all performed in a less-than-adequate manner. While trusting your players is important, the Giants live and die by their pitching staff.
If something is broken, it's the general manager's job to fix it while he can.
Maximize the Value While They Can
If the Giants are to trade Lincecum today, they'll be auctioning off a 29-year-old with two Cy Young Awards and a dominant season in recent memory. If the Giants are to wait any longer, however, that memory will further depart from the baseball mind.
So why not trade Lincecum before it's too late?
There's a genuine chance that Lincecum's trade market is all but gone if his struggles continue this season. While a team will inevitably gamble on him at some point, the Giants clearly need a change within the organization.
Parting ways with the one player who isn't showing signs of improvement is the way to go.
Lincecum has thrown a complete game no-hitter and seven innings of two-run work with 10 strikeouts in his past three games. That makes this the perfect time to offer him up, as Lincecum may not get any better than this.
In between those starts, Lincecum threw 3.2 innings of eight-run ball.
That's been the story of Lincecum, as he's gone from great to underwhelming as rapidly as any in the MLB. With the opportunity to bolster their lineup or acquire a crop of prospects, the Giants cannot hesitate to take advantage of this chance.
Lincecum is still a fan favorite, but cheers only matter when they provide wins.