San Francisco Giants: Low Balling Tim Lincecum Is a Low BlowTo Fan Base

Andy Bensch@@AndyBenschSenior Writer IFebruary 5, 2010

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 23:  Tim Lincecum #55 of the San Francisco Giants pumps his fist against the Oakland Athletics during a Major League Baseball game on June 23, 2009 at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

The San Francisco Giants are known for their young pitching and an old, overpaid, and underachieving position players.

With the current ownership group, general manager, and field manager being the way they are, Giants fans have lowered their expectations in recent seasons to merely hoping that the young position players will get a legitimate chance at everyday playing time.

Managing General Partner Bill Neukom, GM Brian Sabean, and manager Bruce Bochy all seem to share an odd preference for veteran position players past their primes.

But the one bright side of recent seasons is that the Giants have always correctly handled their excess of young pitching talent which is headlined by two-time Cy Young award winner Tim Lincecum.

Unfortunately, the Giants are starting to screw up the best thing that has happened to them since their 2002 World Series run. San Francisco is currently attempting to low ball their most important asset.

"The Franchise" or "The Freak" as some fans call him is without a doubt the most dominant pitcher in baseball and has proved to be paid as such despite going into just his third full year in 2010.

Yet when Lincecum's camp and the Giants exchanged arbitration numbers earlier in the offseason, the Giants were hoping on paying him just $8 million this season.

Hold the phone for a moment, the Giants thought they could get away with paying the best pitcher in baseball just $8 million in 2010?

Other notable top pitchers are all making at least close to double that figure and a couple are making nearly three times as much.

Both CC Sabathia and Johan Santana make $23 million annually, Roy Halladay is making $20 million, Carlos Zambrano $18 million, Jake Peavy $17.3 million, Justin Verlander $16 million, and Felix Hernandez is making $15.6 million.

Lincecum's camp is asking for just $13 million? Talk about an absolute bargain. In terms of value, that is like finding a brand new 64" HD TV at a yard sale that is being sold for just $300 while the store price is over $800.

And yet the Giants are trying to counter that amount by offering even lower? Does this sound absurd to anyone else?

Nobody in their right minds declines a deal of a lifetime by trying to negotiate a smaller contract.

Of course, in the salary arbitration scenario, the Giants had no idea of knowing how much Lincecum's camp would as for, but at this stage in the game a deal should have been reached with a back-loaded long-term contract.

Lincecum wants just $13 million this season, so the Giants could just use that as a starting point to sign him to a six-year deal. San Francisco ought to offer a deal similar to the following:

$10-13 million for 2010

$14-16 million for 2011

$14-16 million for 2012

$18-20 million for 2013 (when Barry Zito's contract comes off the books)

$18-20 million for 2014

$18-20 million for 2015

Best case scenario the Giants sign Lincecum to a six year deal worth $92 million which would be just shy of Verlander's and Hernandez' annual salaries.

Worst case scenario, the Giants' sign Lincecum to a six-year deal worth $105 million dollars, an annual salary of $17.5 million, still less then a handful of aces around the league.

Are the Giants telling us they don't feel Lincecum is worth this type of money? How can the honestly expect a two time Cy Young Award winner to sign a two-year deal worth less than $8 million annually?

This is no joke. Sources tell CSN insider Mychael Urban that the Giants' two year offers to Lincecum are worth less than the $8 million annual figure they offered in arbitration.

If I were Tim Lincecum, I would be extremely insulted. What more could I have done on the field to show that I am worth top money? I mean, I'm not even asking for top money, just to be paid near the top of the highest paid at my position. I understand the team's payroll limits and because of it I'm not trying to break the bank.

But if this is what they are offering, why not just wait it out until my free agent year and hit the jackpot with either the Yankees, Mets, or Red Sox?

Now while none of us can truly know what is going on inside of Lincecum's head, these are just some of thoughts one could speculate are running through him this offseason.

If anything, these low balling contract offers are only going to motivate Lincecum to pitch even better, win another Cy Young and earn even more in arbitration next season. Year after year, Lincecum could just prove to be worth more and more money and demand more and more money.

An advantageous move for the Giants would be to bypass any of those possibilities by signing him to a long term deal now before Lincecum and his camp truly realize how much they could demand in the future.

Now, since Lincecum is still a young pup, it would be almost inconceivable for him to turn down a six-year $92-105 million contract. While he could reject a long-term deal knowing he could make more money annually by going through arbitration and then free-agency, guaranteed money is always extremely hard to ignore.

After all, money talks.

Unfortunately, the Giants are reportedly upsetting their most valued asset with these ridiculously low cost, short-term contract offers.

If these reports are true, and Lincecum is truly aggravated by the lack of contract talks, then the Giants are hitting their fan base with the biggest low blow imaginable.

Figuratively speaking, as fans, we can take plenty of upper body punches by signing veteran free agents to be stop gaps until younger position players are ready but failing to give Lincecum the money he deserves is just uncalled for.

Low balling Lincecum is truly a shot to the balls of a fan base.

Lincecum is the future of this team. If he leaves for free agency in 2014, it would be catastrophic.

So why are the Giants doing anything to risk that happening? Nobody really knows. Poor decisions regarding position players can be forgiven with top prospects not yet ready to bloom but projected for big things in the near future.

But poor decisions regarding the young and talented pitching core? That is simply unforgivable.

One way or another, Lincecum is going to be paid. "The Franchise" will make at-least 10 million in 2010 (since there is zero chance the Giants win a potential hearing) and increasing amounts year after year until free agency.

Instead of risking higher and higher demands while Lincecum is under team control and potentially losing him to free-agency in four years, it makes the most sense to sign him to a long term deal prior to this season.

By going this route, the Giants will actually be saving more money than their current route unless (knock on wood) the rubber man suffers an injury.

However, all teams risk injury to players when they sign them to expensive long term contracts. What should make Lincecum any different?

If the Giants don't sign Lincecum to a long term deal prior to the season, it will only cement the fact their management team doesn't belong in baseball.


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