Tim Lincecum vs. the Giants: Let the Battle Begin

Victor Valladares JrContributor IJanuary 20, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO - AUGUST 28: Tim Lincecum #55 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Colorado Rockies during a Major League Baseball game at AT&T Park on August 28, 2009 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

We knew it was coming.

It crept in the corner of our minds.  Moreso in the minds of the Giants front office.  Even when they spent about $20 million on free agents this offseason, it stayed on the back burner.

Tim Lincecum is in for a pay raise.  A big raise.

The Giants knew no matter how much or how little they spent on free agents this offseason, they knew Lincecum's arbitration case would "crunch" their payroll by the time everything was said and done.

And now the impending showdown by the bay has begun.

The Giants and Tim Lincecum have officially exchanged arbitration figures.  Intense overhype generally agreed Lincecum would ask anywhere from $15-20 million while the Giants would counter with much less.  However, the actual figures were somewhat surprising.

Lincecum asked for $13 million and the Giants countered with $8 million.  Both figures were less than expected and suddenly the case has a new dilemma that may give insight to the character of each side.

The Giants should consider themselves lucky Lincecum only asked for $13 million.  With back-to-back Cy Young Awards, Lincecum could have easily asked for north of $16 million.  Others speculated Lincecum could make a case to be the highest paid pitcher in baseball.

With the numbers Lincecum has posted over his two-and-a-half-year career, who could blame him?

Lincecum has to know the Giants were at his mercy.  So then why did Lincecum go soft and only ask for $13 million?

Perhaps Timmy understands the Giants could get him some more run support if they have more payroll flexibility.  The additions of Mark DeRosa, Aubrey Huff, and the resigning of Bengie Molina cost about $20 million and have definitely improved a lacking offense.  The Giants would have been really squeezed for payroll if Lincecum asked for more. 

But since the Giants refuse to increase payroll for some God-only-knows-why reason, Lincecum was gracious enough to show some mercy hence his $13 million asking price.  The Giants on the other hand, have greatly undervalued Timmy.

A two-time Cy Young Award winner does not get paid single-digit millions.  Period.

I was most surprised to see the Giants offer a meager $8 million to their star ace, $10 million less than what their No. 3 starter, Barry Zito, gets paid.  Frankly, I find it insulting.

The Giants at the very least could have offered Lincecum $11 million, perhaps even more for his outstanding services.  Without Timmy, the Giants would be a lost soul.  Lincecum is the team's heart and anchor of the rotation.  He has consistently gone above and beyond his duties during his short career and should be rewarded as such.

Instead, the Giants have until February-ish to settle a $5 million gap between them and Lincecum.  It would be best to avoid an arbitration hearing unless the Giants really want to leave lasting feelings with Lincecum, something he might remember when he becomes a free agent.

Despite the lower-than-anticipated figures, this should be the most interesting case in the history of arbitration.

Will the Giants swallow their "pride" and give Lincecum the $13 million he deserves?  Or will Lincecum show the Giants even more mercy and come down to their insulting level of rewarding superstars.

Giants fans, hold on for the ride.  It might get a little bumpy.