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Tim Lincecum's arbitration will not set some dangerous precedent

Feb 12, 2010, 9:50 AM EDT

lincecum wave.JPGBuster Olney quotes some baseball official worrying about Tim Lincecum’s arbitration. Specifically, he worries about the “precedent” a $13 million award could set.  That word he keeps using; I do not think it means what he thinks it means:

There is a lot of sentiment within other organizations for the
Giants to settle the case, because of what could happen if San
Francisco loses the decision, and creates precedent for a player with
three years of service time to make $13 million.

“You can make a
strong case based on precedent and still easily lose this,” said one
official. “[Lincecum's] record is flawless, and he will be asking for
special consideration — and he could get it. They need to settle this.”

Given that Tim Lincecum is an unprecedented talent at his age and service time, what, exactly, is the problem with him winning an unprecedented award in arbitration? If the system is working like it should, that’s exactly what he should receive.

Put differently: baseball officials should only worry about Tim Lincecum’s
award setting a precedent of $13 million to third year players if
those players are otherworldly talents with multiple major awards like
Tim Lincecum. Last I checked there aren’t a ton of dudes like that.

Unless, of course, all the baseball official is worried about is paying a lot of money to great players in an absolute sense, in which case he’s just a management hack.

  1. Phil - Feb 12, 2010 at 10:01 AM

    I can’t help but noticing how much Timmy resembles the late Ray Bolger. So I think he should show up for his hearing dressed as the scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz. When MLB starts all their hand wringing he should jump up, break into a rousing version of “We’re Off to See the Wizard”, fire up a joint and dance right out of the room. I’d like to see what Bud and his boys do with that.

  2. Maury Brown - Feb 12, 2010 at 10:13 AM

    Good stuff, Craig. One small thing… When exceptional players come into the process, service time can be removed from the equation.
    From the CBA:
    This shall not limit the ability of a Player or his representative, because of special accomplishment, to argue the equal relevance of salaries of Players without regard to service, and the arbitration panel shall give whatever weight to such argument as is deemed appropriate.

  3. Kendall - Feb 12, 2010 at 10:13 AM

    I think when he comes into the arbitration hearing, he should just bring the two Cy Young awards that he has in the back seat of his car and place them on the table. Then he should ask the arbitration panel if they have ever held a hearing involving another player that had two awards like this one, and when they say “No,” he should reply with something like “And that’s why you haven’t given out a $13 million arbitration award until today.”

  4. Simon DelMonte - Feb 12, 2010 at 10:30 AM

    In other words, the only team that needs to worry is KC. Assuming they don’t trade Zack first.

  5. Old Gator - Feb 12, 2010 at 10:30 AM

    My idea of a “dangerous precedent” was when Dr. Serizawa sliced his air hose after placing the oxygen destroyer. Okay, so he figured out that his girlfriend was banging some merchant marine officer and he had just thrown his entire life’s work into the fireplace. So? Do you kill yourself over a couple of bumps in life’s road? Did Hideki Matsui commit seppuku just because he didn’t get a decent offer from the Borg?
    .
    I can only say to these quivering ambassadors from the court of Bud Light, and to the terrified Brian Sabean, what Ogata said to Serizawa but which the poor Doc failed to take into account: you have your fear, which might become reality, and you have Godzilla, which is reality. I grant you that that was a horrible mistranslation of the actual Japanese over which it was dubbed, but hey, it’s all the philosophy I’ve ever needed. And if you watch Sabean when he’s finished talking, you’ll notice that his lips are still moving.
    .
    Morning in Albuquerque. Great green chile stew last night at Garcia’s Cafe in Old Town. Lots of the real stuff, and I lived to tell about it – but I do wish I were going home a day early, not because I’m having a bad time out here, far from it. It’ll be too late to get even with my dog for farting in my face the other morning while I was trying to blog. Back up to Mannie’s, speaking of Manny, but this time it’ll be the breakfast I’ve been training for all week: the breakfast burrito. Yee-haaa!

  6. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Feb 12, 2010 at 10:39 AM

    According to COT’s, Greinke’s signed through 2012 using up all his arb-eligible years.
    http://mlbcontracts.blogspot.com/2004/12/kansas-city-royals_28.html
    and +1 to Kendall

  7. Motherscratcher - Feb 12, 2010 at 10:40 AM

    “..if those players are otherworldly talents with multiple major awards like Tim Lincecum.”
    A major award? What, you mean like a bowling alley?

  8. Dan - Feb 12, 2010 at 10:49 AM

    Craig, you really can write anything if it includes a Princess Bride reference.

  9. Jacob - Feb 12, 2010 at 10:56 AM

    Or a leg lamp.

  10. Jacob - Feb 12, 2010 at 10:57 AM

    That would be the best arbitration hearing ever.

  11. RobRob - Feb 12, 2010 at 11:13 AM

    It’s Italian!
    The irony here is that MLB is pushing to avoid setting some precedent with an unprecedented talent, clearly on behalf of the owners, while off in southeastern Michigan, the Tigers are prepared to shell out a contract for twice the years and nearly twice the salary of the next best offer on the table.
    Which one of these actions is going to have a greater effect on player salaries?

  12. Jason Rosenberg - Feb 12, 2010 at 11:13 AM

    So, here’s an interesting question – is Lincecum the best arbitration candidate ever? Or, to be a it more precise, is he the most accomplished? I mean, I’d be willing to be (though I don’t know for sure) that no one’s ever come to the table with 2 Cy Youngs before. But, has anyone ever been even close? Or, is Timmy, literally, an unprecedented arbitration case?

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