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Timmy does Giants a huge favor

Feb 12, 2010, 6:14 PM EDT

The talk earlier this winter was that Tim Lincecum might try to set a very expensive precedent. Few players have ever gone to arbitration with anything resembling his kind of track record, and none of them have had just two-plus years of service time. The closest comparable was Ryan Howard, who won an MVP award in his first full season in 2006 and then finished fifth in 2007. Eligible for arbitration for the first time as a super-two player, he asked for $10 million for the 2008 season and won his case.
Howard, though, even with his very impressive collection of hardware, wasn’t the NL’s best first baseman at the time. That was Albert Pujols, and Prince Fielder also had a superior season in 2007. Lance Berkman wasn’t far behind.
Lincecum, on the other hand, is the NL’s best pitcher. He was the obvious choice for Cy Young honors in 2008, and while it wasn’t so cut and dry last season, he won again in 2009. I can’t imagine even the strongest supporters of Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright would consider either a better bet than Lincecum for 2010.
So, it was pretty disappointing Friday to see Lincecum take a two-year, $23 million deal just prior to an arbitration hearing. Lincecum had asked for $13 million in his first of four years of arbitration eligibility, while the Giants submitted an $8 million figure.
Lincecum will receive $9 million this year and $14 million in 2011. Incredibly, he’s taking less than the $25 million that Howard received between his super-two year and the first season of a three-year, $54 million contract he received a year ago. Before agreeing to that deal, Howard asked for $18 million and was offered $14 million in his second arbitration year.
It really is hard to believe Lincecum would settle for such a modest pact. Sure, he’s set for life now, but just the $8 million that he was assured in 2010 would have set him up pretty well on its own. Plus, he could have invested some of it in an extravagant insurance policy that would have protected him against a catastrophic arm injury.
But that wasn’t his choice, and the Giants should consider themselves extremely fortunate. If Lincecum is willing to give up money now, it has to buoy their hopes that he’ll eventually be amenable to a deal that will buy out some free agent seasons.
The MLBPA has to be considerably less pleased. Very few marquee players are actually stepping up and challenging the arbitration system. If Lincecum had won his argument today and received $13 million, it was perfectly conceivable to see a situation in which he could have earned $22 million-$25 million in a season before even becoming a free agent. Lincecum’s award might have been the difference between Jair Jurrjens asking for $9 million or $7 million when he’s up for arbitration for the first time next year. If could have set a precedent for when Clayton Kershaw and Rick Porcello become eligible for the first time in two years.
There won’t be any domino effect now, though. Lincecum is just the latest in a long line of big talents to play it safe.

  1. Jon M. - Feb 12, 2010 at 7:45 PM

    A guy who decides that potentially burning bridges in the organization that’s brought him up and the city that’s embraced him isn’t worth the couple mil in extra scratch he might get shouldn’t be considered “disappointing,” it should be celebrated. Everyone seems to be out to make as much money as they can, and it’s kind of nice to see a superstar who’s more concerned about his relationship with the team than the big bucks.

  2. Mark T - Feb 12, 2010 at 8:12 PM

    I’m mystified by the ‘pretty disappointing’ comment, too. What, pray tell, would have been uplifting about another athlete taking far more money than he can ever usefully spend just because he can? Maybe Timmy thinks $23 million will keep him clothed, fed and housed quite nicely, thank you, for the next couple of years. Maybe he thinks what the Giants ‘save’ can help make his team more competitive and his fans, who are digging ever deeper into their ever shrinking bank accounts to pay for ever more for pricey tickets, happier. Maybe his idea of winning is what happens on game day, not pay day. Maybe Timmy is truly The Freak.

  3. Tacklebox - Feb 12, 2010 at 8:25 PM

    Timmy is some special kind of athlete in the mold of a Willie Mays. Two full years and 2 Cy Youngs as well as the heart of The City and he is not sucking the last dollar. One just can’t do better than that and the Giants fans know his value. Timmy plays the game in a youthful exuberance style which has won the heart of SF. I remember Willie much the same style…

  4. Zelly - Feb 12, 2010 at 8:41 PM

    I for one will always be a huge fan of his. Hopefully other athletes will get a clue and play for love of the game and their fans rather than trying to break a team for every penny they can. Hopefully the Giants will do the wise thing and use the money they saved and get other quality players in and make an earnest run for the World Series.

  5. Zelly - Feb 12, 2010 at 8:43 PM

    Lincecum is a true role model.

  6. Jeff S - Feb 12, 2010 at 9:13 PM

    Very well said Mark T and Tacklebox! I have been a devoted Giants fan since 1958 when my father took me to see Mays at the old Seals Stadium. The Giants fraternity of retired players is loyal and deep. The fans adore this kid and he seems to understand that. Ownership knows that they have the best pitcher in baseball. Sounds to me like the right ingredients for a long and successful marriage. THANK YOU TIMMY, WE LOVE YOU.

  7. coho92 - Feb 12, 2010 at 9:39 PM

    Way to go Tim. Thanks for doing what’s best for yourself, the Giants and baseball and not the mlbpa. Fans need to see something like this during the age of stimulus.

  8. Old Gator - Feb 12, 2010 at 10:51 PM

    No doubt this will start a wonderful trend, with a Tennis Court Oath style mass renunciation of absurd contracts and crippling pay scales; with players rushing to be the next one to look content with the preposterous amount of money they already make playing a kid’s game for a living, with a sense of proportion setting in, so that payrolls spiral ever lower and lower and resemble the trajectory of pay scales in the rest of society a little more closely. Before you know it, they’ll be trading in their Bentleys for Toyota Priuses, or maybe some cheap car that doesn’t take off from under them. Pretty soon, they’ll be taking side jobs as waiters and Burger King drive-thru cashiers like Kevin Spacey in American Beauty so they can continue to spend their days gamboling in the sun instead of doing productive work (not that this country produces anything anymore anyway), or maybe even so they can afford to pay the owners to let them play. And Scott Boras will be found with a self-inflicted shotgun wound in the nates outside his barn in the country and Jon Heyman’s body will be found sprayed around the yard near the woodchipper.
    .
    Surely some revelation is at hand.
    Surely the second coming is at hand.
    The second coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of spiritus mundi troubles my sight….

  9. Jonny5 - Feb 13, 2010 at 12:29 AM

    You guys are giving him too much credit. He was stoned and said “EFFIT, I want to go home to my water bong and hydroponically grown herbage. dudes! Does anyone know how much of this stuff I can get with 23 million? I’m outta here! Where do I sign?” Well I’m sure he was thinking it……Anyway.
    I agree there seems to be a slight trend of some players playing where they want for less money than they could have worked a team over for. Ahem, are you listening Damon and borass? Halladay did it. He took the Horse meat and velveeta, instead of the lips and a-holes with a side of extra millions. Why? Because he doesn’t want to go to “the dark side” and become a storm trooper for Stien-Vadar. Maybe Jayson Werth will take a pay cut to stay after 2011. I know, fat chance……..:>( He already got his WS ring just like his grandpa Ducky Schofield did with the Pirates…
    BTW hats off to Timmy for settling for less than he could have got.He gets to play with more money from the greedy owners they don’t need without bending them over the barrel in Arbitration. Watch them trade his ass now….Wouldn’t that be some sh…….????

  10. sloleak - Feb 13, 2010 at 1:14 AM

    Right on!

  11. Ryan - Feb 13, 2010 at 3:12 AM

    I’m always amazed when I hear people disparage “greedy” ballplayers. I want the players to take as much as they can get. The billionaire owners who have swindled billions of dollars from the public in the form of taxpayer subsidized stadiums don’t deserve your sympathy. I really wish Timmy would have made the owner’s knees buckle just a little bit.

  12. Steve S - Feb 13, 2010 at 6:38 AM

    You hit the nail on the head. It’s nice to see there are some athletes that think more about winning with a team than sticking it to the man.

  13. Steve S - Feb 13, 2010 at 6:41 AM

    Please look up the word “greedy” in the dictionary. It’s not a flattering description.

  14. JoeRunner - Feb 13, 2010 at 7:39 AM

    I admire Tim Lincecum now more than ever; and less so now more than ever those who fault him for not getting all he possibly could.

  15. Charles Gates - Feb 13, 2010 at 8:28 AM

    Lincecum owes nothing to the Giants or the city of San Fran. It is his moral duty to negotaite the best deal possible as judged by his own rational self interest. If he was willing to take less money to stay in San Francisco for some unstated reason, then fine. If he bought some bogus argument about being more concerned about his relationship with the team than the big bucks, then this is a tradegdy of great proportion.

  16. CHA CHA - Feb 13, 2010 at 8:38 AM

    THX NOT 2 BORAS IT’S OVER N A DONE DEAL 4 2 YEARS…THX GOD BORAS WASNT HIS AGENT OR IT WOULDA BEEN A “FIASCO IN FRISCO” 4 EVERYONE…OWNERS, PLAYER, FANS, ALL EXCEPT BORAS!!!
    FYI FOLKS/POSTERS, WILLE MAYS IS/WAS “NO SAINT” ESP NOW (END OF CAREER/RETIREMENT)”MR BIG EGO/SOUR GRAPES “SAY HEY NOTA KID ANYMORE” CARRIES THIS “LOW-BALL, SHORT-CHANGED EGOTISTICAL ATTITUDE” W/RE TO LOW PLAYER SALARY, CONTRACT(S) ISSUES $$$ ETC, HE STILL CARRYING A HUGE CHIP ON HIS SHOULDER IN RETIREMENT, AS MAYS DEMONSTRATED TO SEVERAL INCLUDING MY 9 YR OLD SON @ A PUBLIC BALL-SIGNING CHARITY IN BAY AREA AS HE WAITED IN-LINE 4 NEARLY 2 HRS N THEN “CUT-HIM OFF/TURNED HIM AWAY” @ 3PM SAYING “SORRY KID TOO LATE/IT’S OVER” N HAD HIM WALKING AWAY IN TEARS, NOT 2 MENTION AS A “GODFATHER TO BARRY BONDS” MAYS HELPED “TUTORED/COACHED & BABIED BARRY “CRY BABY” BIG/PIG HEADED BONDS INTO ONE OF THE BIGGEST BASEBALL PLAYER “PR DISASTERS” FOR BARRY, SF GIANTS, MLB/PLAYERS ETC(ASIDE FROM HIS HEROIC TALENTS (W/ OR W/O JUICE)BARRY BONDS WAS A BIGGER “EGOTISTICAL NEGATIVE” DUFUS/CHIP ON HIS SHOULDER THAN MAYS EVER WAS/IS)…BELIEVE ME, THERE’S OTHER “CLOSET MAYS STORIES” THAT FEW FANS KNOW ABOUT THAT WILL TOP TIMMY L FOREVER, W/ DUE RESPECT, PLEASE DONT COMPARE TIM L TO MAYS EVEN THO BOTH ARE/WERE SF GIANTS “TOP FRANCHISE PLAYERS”!!! GO FOR BROKE N GOODLUCK TIM IN 2010!!!

  17. Gelardia - Feb 13, 2010 at 9:06 AM

    Wish I could be “disappointed” by only getting $9 million.

  18. jtw - Feb 13, 2010 at 10:55 AM

    You ‘…can’t imagine even the strongest supporters of Carpenter and Wainwright would consider either a better bet than TL for 2010.’ Then, you not only aren’t much of a student of the game, you also don’t have much of an imagination. Personally, I thought BOTH of them had a better year than TL did. Wainwright even got the MOST first place votes from the professionals that follow the game. Is TL good? Hell yes. Is he going to be good for a long time. Probably so…unless his arm goes south and he has to show grit on making a complete comeback (like Carpenter). Most austute observers of the game think that Carp and Wainwright are the most potent one-two in baseball right now. So do I. Next time, use a litle imagination! :)

  19. Charles Gates - Feb 13, 2010 at 11:26 AM

    Personally, I thought BOTH of them had a better year than TL did.
    Using what metrics?

  20. Mark T - Feb 13, 2010 at 12:03 PM

    Thanks for adding the Ayn Rand ubermensch selfishness-is-good, screw-your-fellow man perspective. The world is so sorely lacking people obsessed with self interest.

  21. ak2az09 - Feb 13, 2010 at 12:15 PM

    Everyone calm down. First of all “stoner-boy” Lincecum is not a role model. And secondly, don’t use Lincecum’s name and the legendary Willie Mays in the same sentence. “What is ya ignorant”.

  22. Howard Ilbcinla - Feb 13, 2010 at 12:49 PM

    I have never come across people with a ‘low money consciousness’, as those I’ve come across on this Giants website. Better not ever let go of your day job as most all of you will be in the poorhouse in no time. Baseball is A BUSINESS, not merely ‘a game’, although of course, it is ‘a game’ in that sense of the word. It is NOT about money, it is about FAIR VALUE. Therefore, what is ‘Fair Value’ for Lincecum? Everyone seems to belittle Boras. Why would anyone ever do that? He does not hold a gun to the heads of owners. Owners are business men who have free choice when making a deal with Boras. What this means is….. the owner can freely agree or disagree with Boras. If the owner agrees, does that make Boras the ‘bad guy’. Most of the comments I read herein about Lincecum being the ‘good guy’ are appalling. There’s no good guy here, nor is there a bad guy. It’s business, business, business, business ……. PERIOD!!!!!!!! And so …., the question is ……., “WHAT IS LINCECUM’S VALUE”, (based on PAST performance)? That, then is the ONLY question to be answered, rather than ‘how much he got’ or ‘how much he didn’t get’. Most all of you are ‘lame business people’, and ….. ‘constant complainers’. Wake up and uplift your money consciousness by not demeaning a anyone who makes a better living than you do. If someone gave a baseball player a lot of money, is it then the fault of the baseball player that he received that kind of money?
    According to you guys, it is the baseball players fault for taking the money. What kind of BS is that? Keep in mind that when a club gives a player a bunch of money, the amount of money is based on ‘past performance’, without any guarantee of future performance. That is what is called ……. “an unforeseeable business risk”. PERIOD!!!!!!!!
    In business, everyone takes risks at one time or another. Some work out. Some don’t.
    That’s business. PERIOD!!!!!!!!! There are NO GUARANTEES IN BUSINESS. PERIOD!!!!!!!!!!
    Wake up people. Baseball is a business.

  23. ochocinco - Feb 13, 2010 at 2:47 PM

    In addition, Lincecum can earn
    $200,000 for pitching 225 innings,
    $500,000 for each Cy Young Award,
    $250,000 for second,
    $100,000 for third,
    $75,000 for fourth
    $50,000 for fifth,
    $100,000 each time he’s an All-Star,
    $100,000 for NL MVP,
    $75,000 for World Series MVP
    $50,000 for NLCS MVP.
    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/02/12/SPN41C0VSB.DTL#ixzz0fSBmXeoO
    These all seem pretty legit, but $100,000 for getting the NL MVP? I understand that it would almost certainly be in addition to the NL Cy Young $500,000, but wouldn’t a team be glad to pay another $500,000, or possibly more, to have a pitcher do well enough persuade 500 geriatrics, most who don’t even consider pitchers eligible for MVP, that he deserves the award? It would have to be a something like 25+ wins, 250k, and ERA

  24. Tacklebox - Feb 13, 2010 at 9:57 PM

    I have been a Giants fan since 1951 and whether your ignorance sees it or not, Timmy has the same love of the game as Willie. For the stoner statement, where were you in your younger days? In your Mom’s basement? Yeah, it is against the law for now, but so is driving over the speed limit…

  25. Mark C. O'Connor - Feb 13, 2010 at 10:43 PM

    I don’t see how you can argue with the basic premise of this article–that Tim played it safe, and in doing so, did the Giants a big favor. Speculating on his motives, and ascribing some kind of virtue to his actions seems silly. There’s really nothing wrong with anyone in any industry trying to get the highest compensation they can for their efforts. That’s perfectly reasonable behavior in a market economy. And there’s really nothing wrong with being cautious, and planning for the future, either. I’m a Giants fan, and I hope Tim did what Tim wanted to do, rather than what someone else thought he should do, whether it “helped” the team or not.

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