Tim Lincecum's Problems Aren't Caused by Buster Posey
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The notion that Tim Lincecum's woeful performance in August was prompted by rookie catcher Buster Posey tipping pitches is utterly ridiculous.
Of course, the desperate search to explain how poorly Lincecum has pitched lately leads fans to suggest he cut his hair and has manager Bruce Bochy saying the two-time Cy Young Award winner needs to work harder to get in better condition during the offseason.
Lincecum's not been above looking for answer in odd places. Before he dropped Friday night's game to Arizona, 6-0, he opted to change the look of his uniform and wear black stockings with orange stirrups. There's more chance that Lincecum just needs to tweak his uniform or trim his hair than there is that he hit the skids because he and Posey don't work together, as well as the right-hander worked with veteran catcher Bengie Molina.
If Posey is guilty of tipping pitches to the point that he gets Lincecum hit all over the park, why isn't Matt Cain getting jacked around by opposing hitters? Why haven't opposing hitters been hammering closer Brian Wilson's fastball in every outing? Posey's catching those guys, too.
Posey might make rookie mistakes like touching the ground with his glove when he wants the pitcher to keep the ball particularly low. However, the only way that type of thing is the cause for Lincecum's problems would be if Posey coincidentally worked an entire game without making such mistakes in Lincecum's few solid outings in recent months.
When Molina was initially traded to the Texas Rangers, simply to make room for Posey behind the plate, media types and the Giants were gleefully reporting that Posey had immediately meshed with the starting pitchers, including with Lincecum.
Lincecum had some good outings with Posey behind the plate, in between his two prolonged slumps this season. So, Posey didn't start tipping pitches or making rookie mistakes until after he'd put down fingers for Lincecum in a couple of victories?
Posey's not to blame for Lincecum's struggles. Lincecum would be struggling even if Molina were still catching his starts. Remember, things have gone so poorly for Lincecum that he has altered his wind-up and delivery, at one point in the middle of the game.
It's doubtful something as simple as changing catchers is the problem if a Cy Young Award winner feels the need to mess with a pitching motion that enabled him to take baseball by storm in 2008 and 2009.
Bochy might be onto something, though. Bochy's a baseball guy, through and through. If he says Lincecum's just tired, and that he's tired because he didn't work hard enough in the offseason, the manager is most likely right. Bochy never calls out his players, let alone a veteran and one of the game's brightest young stars. For the veteran skipper to flatly state that Lincecum's tired and lacking cardiovascular and lower body strength, it must be the gospel truth.
Lincecum won't bounce back this season. He'll win some games down the stretch, but long gone is the time that the Giants could imagine one of his starts being an automatic victory.
Barry Zito got his fastball back, so Lincecum can get two, three, or four mph back, as well. He just won't do it this year. And, while the kid continues to struggle, it won't be Posey's fault.
Ted Sillanpaa is a Northern California sports writer and columnist. Reach Ted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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