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The Lincecum arbitration is MLB's fight, not the Giants'

Feb 11, 2010, 1:20 PM EDT

Thumbnail image for lincecum_090913.jpgBuster Olney tweeted something really interesting a few minutes ago:

Heard this: The
Giants might wind up sending as few as one member of their front office
to the Lincecum hearing. The heavy lifting on management’s side of the case will be done by MLB, and not the Giants.

This follows up on the news that union head Michael Weiner will be at the arbitration as well.

In light of all that this proceeding seems less like a dispute about the value of Tim Lincecum’s services to the Giants and more like a proxy war with the union and MLB playing the role of the Soviets and the U.S. — take your pick as to who’s who — and Lincecum and the Giants playing the role of some rightest regime and leftist insurgency.  It’s more about politics than it is about the conditions on the ground.

Which is understandable, I suppose. Major League Baseball obviously wants to do everything it can to keep
a high-salary precedent from being set and the union obviously wants a new
high-salary bogey benchmark.  In light of that I assume that all of five minutes will be spent on Lincecum’s stats with the rest of it being spent in intellectual debate as to what, in an ideal world, the best arbitration-eligible player should make.

Which may be fun — livin’ on an abstract plain can be fun — but I can’t help but think that the arbitration process was designed to avoid these sorts of political disputes and, rather, to provide a streamlined mechanism for Player A and Team B to agree on a salary without all the drama.

  1. Jacob - Feb 11, 2010 at 1:27 PM

    I still can’t imagine how the Giants/MLB are going to argue against Lincecum. I’d love to hear their position.

  2. Matt M - Feb 11, 2010 at 1:36 PM

    “Well, there was that one year he didn’t win the Cy Young.”

  3. Shaun P. - Feb 11, 2010 at 1:40 PM

    I imagine the arguments will start with, “He only won 15 games last year!” and pass through “He’s never won 20 games!” before getting to whatever absurd result the Giants/MLB will eventually reach.
    I also see that he led the league in wild pitches in 2008; I’m sure that will be used against him too.
    A bit more seriously, I wonder if MLB would argue that, even though he’s won two Cy Youngs, that award is (of course) not given out by MLB, but by the BBWAA and so is relatively meaningless in terms of what salary Lincecum could make. “Our own panel of 32 experts on pitching all believed that Chris Carpenter was the best pitcher because he had the lowest ERA and that he would have won the “MLB’s Best NL Pitcher” Award for 2009.”

  4. larry - Feb 11, 2010 at 1:46 PM

    We now know what their argument will be.
    “Timmy is a great pitcher, arguably the best of the last two years, and all things being equal he should get paid market value. But, our system can not handle a second year player making 13 million a year. So for the good of baseball please find in favor of us (the giants), Also, did you see that Timmy got busted for smoking weed?
    Thats there argument.

  5. YX - Feb 11, 2010 at 1:51 PM

    They could do that, though it would have the same effect as sending a case of dead rats to BBWAA HQ (or wherever they scheme things like keep Alomar out of HOF).

  6. SamyD12 - Feb 11, 2010 at 1:59 PM

    This will be Lincecum’s 4th year of service.

  7. Ron - Feb 11, 2010 at 2:14 PM

    I think a better analogy would be the negotiations between Robert Redford and Woody Harrelson over Demi Moore in ‘Indecent Proposal’.

  8. larry - Feb 11, 2010 at 2:27 PM

    Thanks for the correction, but I still think MLB and the Giants will try and make the argument that paying Timmy 13 million is bad for the system They will try to make this argument to an arbitrator. They will do this because it allows them to not attack Timmy directly.
    But the question is, can the Giants bring things before the arbitrator that’s not related to Timmy? If they can, this is exactly what they will do. If they cant, they are gonna try any way and lose..

  9. moreflagsmorefun - Feb 11, 2010 at 2:45 PM

    MLB will play the drug addict card,,,,,,,,,, it is the
    only shot they probably have.

  10. Gold Star for Robot Boy - Feb 11, 2010 at 2:53 PM

    I’d have to think this is, for Tim, another black mark against extending long-term with the Giants.

  11. carlos - Feb 11, 2010 at 2:58 PM

    If they bring up the weed bust, it’s kind of a low blow, and could lead to some hurt feelings further down the road. The Giants are skating on thin ice, with this one.

  12. Wells - Feb 11, 2010 at 3:19 PM

    All of this is shaping up awesomely for the Giants to piss Lincecum off so much that he signs with his hometown Mariners YES INDEEDY.
    Felix / Lincecum / Lee.
    Awww yeah.

  13. Patrick - Feb 11, 2010 at 3:35 PM

    Personally, I see Lincecum as more likely a Red Sock than a Mariner, really.
    Sorry Giants fans. I hope your team doesn’t drive Timmy off, he’s a great thing for San Fran. And I have a San Fran baseball cap I brought back from vacation there, so I’m almost a surrogate fan!

  14. Stone - Feb 11, 2010 at 3:39 PM

    Why isn’t it Player A and Team A?

  15. jt - Feb 11, 2010 at 3:48 PM

    “I still can’t imagine how the Giants/MLB are going to argue against Lincecum. I’d love to hear their position.”
    Most fans just don’t get it. Arbitration is not free agency. Nobody will argue against what Lincecum has accomplished. This hearing is not just about Lincecum. That’s why MLB and players’ union representives will be there.

  16. Joe L. - Feb 11, 2010 at 5:30 PM

    Craig – is a MLB arb like a normal commercial or employment arb? In other words, are the rules set by each arbitrator, or are there special rules or norms that apply? Because, otherwise, I can’t see what the f%$# MLB has to say in a salary arb about an individual player, and so why would an arbitrator give them much, if any, time (other than the fact they are the gorilla in the room). But, for example, I can’t see an arbitrator in a contract case allowing two professors to spend the entire allotted time discussing the theory of contracts. Was there a breach and for how much are the only questions, just like, in a MLB salary arb, the only question is how much is a guy like Player X going to make this year. That’s it.

  17. Joe L. - Feb 11, 2010 at 5:35 PM

    Sorry, I obviously didn’t mean “rules” set by the arbitrator – I meant “in-hearing conduct and procedure.”

  18. Craig Calcaterra - Feb 11, 2010 at 5:35 PM

    Not 100% sure, Joe, but I think they have their own rules. The overarching evidentiary rule, such as it is, which governs these things is that salary comps (i.e. what other guys with similar service time and performance make) rule all. My guess is that, to the extent there is any dispute about MLB’s role here, it’s resolved by its labor people having the best information as to comparables, etc.
    But my suspicion is that there isn’t a dispute, and since MLB and the owners are generally assumed to have a unity of interest when it comes to this stuff, everyone’s allowed in the room.

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