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Tim Lincecum starts and Buster Posey sits

Apr 9, 2013, 7:49 PM EDT

Tim Lincecum, Buster Posey Getty Images

Here we go again: the Tim Lincecum-Buster Posey pairing the Giants did their best to avoid throughout the second half of last season was supposed to be back on this year. Manager Bruce Bochy was very clear on that both over the winter and this spring. And, yet, Hector Sanchez will catch Lincecum for the second straight start Tuesday.

The Giants had a good excuse for not using Posey in Lincecum’s first start: Brandon Belt was sick and the team had the hole at first base anyway. This time, it’s being played as just a routine day off for Posey. But it’s obvious that the Giants are actively trying to stay away from the pairing.

Often working with Posey, Lincecum had a dreadful spring, giving up 18 earned runs in 15 1/3 innings. However, in his season debut last week with Sanchez behind the plate, he held the Dodgers to a pair of unearned runs over five innings in a win, though he did walk seven batters. As Grant Brisbee points out over at McCovey Chronicles, some of those walks could be blamed on Sanchez.

Some have suggested there’s real animosity between Lincecum and Posey, but both have denied that. Obviously, it’d be in Lincecum’s best interests to be on the same page with Posey; taking his bat or Brandon Belt’s out of the lineup cuts back on run support. Besides, Posey is a better defensive catcher than Sanchez. But if Lincecum is that much more comfortable with Sanchez, it’s probably not worth it for Bochy to force the issue right now.

Last year, Lincecum had a 5.46 ERA in 15 outings with Posey behind the plate, compared to a 4.87 ERA in 16 outings with Sanchez. He didn’t seem to have any difficulties with Posey before that. In 2011, Lincecum had a 1.55 ERA in nine games with Posey before Posey got hurt. In 2010, he was better with Bengie Molina behind the plate (3.23 ERA to 3.76 ERA).

  1. nineroutsider - Apr 9, 2013 at 8:15 PM

    Obviously something is going on behind the scenes. Supposedly, this is coming from Bochy who feels that Lincecum doesn’t respond well to Posey’s “tough love” approach to his struggles. Sanchez sucked behind the dish for his last outing though; Lincecum needs Posey for his calls and his ability to frame pitches more than ever. Honestly though, Lincecum couldn’t hit the g-spot on 50′ woman right now so this might be best for Posey – let Sanchez take the abuse.

    Lincecum was loving Buster in the postseason though so I wouldn’t read too much into this.

    “Hi I’m Barry Zito and I used to believe that the backup catcher was the only one who could help me maintain a 4.50 ERA to compliment my 8 wins. Then I tried Buster Posey and my mind was blown! I generated far more wins, started to hit my spots, and I even made the postseason roster and was huge. Thanks Buster – I’m a lifelong customer! That’s right Timmy…try Buster Posey today and cut your walks in half.”

    I just caught a rerun of an old Billy Mays infomercial and I thought it was applicable…

  2. illegalblues - Apr 9, 2013 at 8:30 PM

    Sanchez is totally gonna fix Lincecum’s complete lack of fastball command. Genius

  3. afirst916 - Apr 9, 2013 at 8:31 PM

    My theory is that part of this is the league is just catching up with Lincecum. He used to be able to get batters to chase his pitches out of the zone for swinging strike 3s, now batters aren’t biting on those pitches and we’re seeing the results.

    • nineroutsider - Apr 9, 2013 at 8:45 PM

      I think you need to go back and watch some of his starts; it appears that you haven’t seen one before. He used to locate with his fastball and now he can’t locate it at all. Its has something to do with his mechanics; his breaking stuff is still very nasty. He is small and has a unique delivery. He needs to find a way to tweak to get his fastball right.

      When he is locating the fastball you are right, the hitters are easily crossed up. That’s called pitching – you mix up your pitches, velocity, and location so that hitters can’t easily see the ball or guess right. When he isn’t locating hit they can wait for a nice hanger and take it yard or they can take a walk. Eventually he walks 2 guys with no outs and then a few grounders are hit and he gives up a few unearned runs…if he is lucky. When he isn’t lucky he walks a few guys and Goldschmidt takes a hanger yard for a few cheap runs. Your theory belongs in the trashcan though…you have to actually watch a guy before concocting a legitimate theory.

      • hittfamily - Apr 9, 2013 at 8:53 PM

        “a few walks and afew grounders”.

        Those are earned runs.

      • nineroutsider - Apr 9, 2013 at 8:58 PM

        I meant ground-outs there chief, but good catch I guess if you couldn’t deduce it from the context.

      • hittfamily - Apr 9, 2013 at 9:34 PM

        No. I couldn’t deduce it? Was you point that a few walks and a few groundouts resulting in a few earned runs is a good outing?

      • hittfamily - Apr 9, 2013 at 9:34 PM

        Chief!

  4. hittfamily - Apr 9, 2013 at 8:43 PM

    Posey is better than Lincecum. He is more liked than Lincecum. The Giants missed the post season when Posey was hurt. The Giants won the World Series when Lincecum was statistically one of the worst starters in baseball. Guster just signed a 200 million dollar contract extension. Timmy has 1 year left on his deal. Timmy picked a fight with the wrong guy. Timmy won’t be a Giant much longer.

    • illegalblues - Apr 9, 2013 at 8:53 PM

      man, how quickly we forget. dude was a pretty good pitcher for awhile, ya just might want to try rooting for him. baseball’s pretty fun when you root for success.

      • hittfamily - Apr 9, 2013 at 9:00 PM

        What is to root for? A drug addict who didn’t want to sign a long term extension because he wanted to use leverage from other teams to squeeze every penny out of his boss? Well that bit him on the ass. Now he sucks, his fastball is Greg Maddux’s speed without the movement or location, and he blames it on his MVP catcher who can do no wrong in San Fran, or most of the country for that matter. Posey is the highest selling jersey in all of baseball. More than Pujols, Jeter, or Hamilton. You don’t pick a fight with any of those guys if you want to remain on the fanbase’s and management’s good side. His days in a San Fran uni are numbered. He will be closing for the Yankees next year.

      • nineroutsider - Apr 9, 2013 at 9:10 PM

        Thanks for posting that; its painfully obvious how worthless your opinion is now. This is a post I’d expect to read in PFT, but I am disappointed to see it here. You sound like someone that owns the Rush Limbaugh’s Greatest Hits box collection. Your post lacks any sort of insight or depth and instead contains cliches and fallacies.

      • hittfamily - Apr 9, 2013 at 9:29 PM

        I bought a few Limbaugh tapes. They made great kindling. What kind of insight are you looking for on a comment section of a blog? My press pass is only good for 22 MLB locker rooms, and San Fran isn’t 1of them. I have no “insight” on this situation, seeing as how I have never been in the locker room, or interviewed any of the parties involved. My “insight” is limited to my baseball knowledge. Feuding superstars sharing a locker room is tough for management. An overpaid has been feuding with the MVP makes decision making a little easier. Lincecum has been getting progressively worse for 4 years now. His ERA was over 5 last year, in a pitchers park. His ERA was over 12 in spring training, in a fairly large sample size, (i.e. not just 1 bad outing).

        Why the fuck are you even reading this? If you want insight, read Bob Woodward. If you want opinion, come here. There is no insight on hardballtalk. So you should probably get the fuck out of here and go to a book club meeting.

      • hittfamily - Apr 9, 2013 at 9:50 PM

        What is worthless about my opinion anyways? Which of the following statements is incorrect?

        A) “A drug addict who didn’t want to sign a long term extension because he wanted to use leverage from other teams to squeeze every penny out of his boss? Well that bit him on the ass.”

        He was busted for drugs. His bosses sucessfully negotiated long term contracts with 2 other superstars. Tim truned down a 100 million dollar, 5 year contract.

        B) “Now he sucks, his fastball is Greg Maddux’s speed without the movement or location, and he blames it on his MVP catcher who can do no wrong in San Fran, or most of the country for that matter.”

        He does suck. He was worth 1 win last year. That is farbelow league average. His average fastball velocity is 90.1 mph. Fangraphs doesn’t have Maddux’ mid 20’s velocity, but it isn’t far off. As Matthew said, many believe there is a rift between the 2.

        C) “Posey is the highest selling jersey in all of baseball. More than Pujols, Jeter, or Hamilton. You don’t pick a fight with any of those guys if you want to remain on the fanbase’s and management’s good side. ”

        Google it.

        D) ” His days in a San Fran uni are numbered. He will be closing for the Yankees next year.”

        Finally, the only observation that isn’t a proven fact. If he and Posey can’t work on the same page, the guy with the contract will win out over the guy without one. That should be obvious. The Yanks need a closer, and would likely be willing to take a chance on Tim.

      • nineroutsider - Apr 9, 2013 at 10:28 PM

        The Yankees would have given him a 10 year contract instead of a 2 year contract, so your lucky they never had him.

        A) That’s largely true but you framed it like a prick and it pissed me off.

        B) He doesn’t suck. He is having trouble between the ears but he puts plenty of movement on his fastball to be quite good with it. His breaking stuff is still filthy. Did you watch him out of the pen in the postseason? Some of those were 4 inning+ relieve appearances. He was located the fastball. His struggles in starts is between his ears and not his stuff. You don’t know shit about him.

        C) Stupid point, who gives a fuck? As if that is what the front office uses to base its decisions.

        D) Depends on how much the Yankees want to overpay him. He’s a west coast guy; he’d hate that humid shit-hole in the summertime. I know they like to over pay though so its possible. He’s better off staying in SF working with Dave Righetti to get his stuff right on a 1 year deal than he is to go to NY. Let’s just see how it plays out; when he gets this fixed he will be dealing.

        Regarding your other post, why a book club?

      • hittfamily - Apr 9, 2013 at 11:01 PM

        A) Sorry that stating facts pisses you off. Fox News has a remedy for that. I don’t.

        B) He does suck. He used to throw 94 (fact). He now throws 90 (fact). That isn’t mental. His arm moving 5% slower than it used to is the definition of physical regression. He was good for 1 win above replacement last year. This year he is worth -.1. He sucks. He had the 4th worst ERA in the league last year, trailing only Rickey Romero, Luke Hochevar, and Ubaldo as the shittiest pitcher in baseball. It is a good thing he is in a pitchers park, otherwise his season leads all bucket of shit seasons.

        C) The people selling Tim’s merchandise care i.e. the Giants. Also, the fans won’t back him forever if they don’t get to see Buster catch 20% of the games because that crappy starter is pitching again. It also makes it easier to sell the fans on why they let Tim walk this offseason.

        D) The Yankees don’t want to over pay. Lincecum will not sign a 5 million dollar contract with the Giants, but that is likely all they will offer. They’d be stupid to offer anything more to a guy whose ERA goes up as his MPH goes down, and it has been going down for 4 years. The Giants don’t make stupid personnel decisions. The Royals and Yankees do. Dayton Moore will be fired for bringning back Hochevar at 5 million, trading for 11 million Santana, and trading baseball’s 4th best prospect so they can finally be a .500 team. That leaves only the Yankees and Giants willing to offer him 5 million per year. Out of embarassment, he will not sign a contact so small with a team that offered him 100 million 2 years ago. So he likely wears the pinstripes next year.

        A book club because you disagree with my opinion, therefore it isn’t valid according to you. That is a really shitty thing to say to someone. A book club is the farthest thing from a sports blog I can think of, and perhaps you would get you desperately needed insight there. Bookclubs discuss plot theories in where there is no right or wrong answer, therefore, everyone’s opinions would have to be valid to you.

      • illegalblues - Apr 10, 2013 at 1:08 PM

        hahaha, man you have a gigantic stick up your bum. must suck being so mad

      • nineroutsider - Apr 10, 2013 at 2:39 PM

        Even if that wasn’t meant for me; it applies to me. 4/9 is tough for me for personal reasons, so I know I was a little out of line as I’m angry at the world on 4/9. I’m not typically this big of an a-hole. Honestly.

    • nineroutsider - Apr 9, 2013 at 8:56 PM

      This has been going on for sometime now. Zito used to insist on working with the backup as well. It’s not that big of a deal. The bigger deal for Lincecum staying with the Giants is fixing his fastball and realizing that he won’t get a big contract offer until he demonstrates over a long period that he has fixed it.

      Lincecum was an outstanding bullpen weapon in the postseason and I see him handing down there this season when things don’t improve; he can’t survive too many games like his 1st start. It’s clear that he is still lost in regards to his fastball, but something about not starting games helps him. I hope he doesn’t end up in the pen, but I see it shaking down that way.

      BTW, your comment lacks any type of insight though and is very superficial. Also, I wouldn’t say that Timmy is less liked than Posey. Timmy fits the bay area well and we haven’t forgotten all of the good years we got from him and still hope to get from him…even if it has to be in the pen (for far less money).

      • hittfamily - Apr 9, 2013 at 9:07 PM

        Superficial? There is a rift in the lockerroom between 2 battery mates making 20 million dollars a year. 1 refuses to throw to the other because Posey hurt his feelings. This is a big deal when management has to decide whether to bench the MVP or send Lincecum out there pitching to someone he clearly doesn’t have confidence in. Posey isn’t going anywhere, and management won’t like having to bench either Belt or Posey every 5th game. Timmy has signed his final contract in San Fran.

      • nineroutsider - Apr 9, 2013 at 9:14 PM

        Cool, but you have no idea about what is really going on to issue such statements. Also, I don’t know if you watch the sport or this team in particular, but Posey isn’t getting benched.

      • hittfamily - Apr 9, 2013 at 9:30 PM

        Really? What position is he playing today? What position did Belt play last week?

        BENCH!

      • nineroutsider - Apr 9, 2013 at 10:04 PM

        Belt will always get benched if Sanchez catches unless Boch thinks Posey needs to sit a day, which I think is the case today. Posey doesn’t sit for Belt or Lincecum, but he is slumping so Boch is giving him a day rather than playing him at first.

        Last year, Sanchez’s bat was better than Belt’s so its not a huge dropoff, but of course its not ideal. It does need to stop; I hate seeing it as a fan. Boch could kill it at any time – it’s not a huge rift like you think with the management torn. They are just trying to prop Tim up. Lincecum tore it up in the postseason with Posey behind the dish and they will work together again. Also, if cheap enough, I wouldn’t count out another contract with the Giants. Lincecum will not get the offers he thought he’d be receiving a few years ago when he signed this 2 year deal. Great job by the Giants on that one; avoiding the huge long term deal.

      • hittfamily - Apr 9, 2013 at 10:28 PM

        “Also, I don’t know if you watch the sport or this team in particular, but Posey isn’t getting benched.”

        “Sanchez’s bat was better than Belt’s so its not a huge dropoff”

        Ha! You think Sanchez > Belt offensively? I’ll pose the same question back to you.

        Last year, in Lincecum’s 31 starts, either Posey or Belt was not in the lineup 15 times, because Lincecum wanted to throw to Sanchez. This is not ideal. Your 1st and 3rd best hitters cannot be benched because your 6th best starter with a 5+ ERA is more comfortable throwing to a replacement player.

    • Hunter Pence's Eyes - Apr 10, 2013 at 9:55 AM

      Internet wars. INTENSE!!!

  5. kardshark1 - Apr 9, 2013 at 9:57 PM

    Sam Miller at Baseball Prospectus wrote a great article breaking down Hacktor Sanchez’s pitch framing. Needless to say, it’s pretty horrific according to the statistics. Lincecum’s start against the Dodgers last week seemed pretty awful because of his 7 walks allowed. But according to pitch track, 11 of the pitches called balls during that start were within the strike zone and most likely not called a strike due to Sanchez’s pitch framing. And this isn’t accounting for the pitches 2 or 3 inches off the plate rightfully called balls that a great pitch framer like Jonathan Lucroy may have persuaded to become strikes. Sanchez is a far below average hitter and maybe a worse defender. With Bochy being a former catcher, you’d think he’d realize Lincecum needs a great pitch framer to help with his control issues, not one of the worst in baseball.

    Pitch framing is such a vastly underrated talent, maybe the non-strike call in the Rays v Rangers’ game will help emphasis its importance. The umpired admitted that the poor pitch framing made him think it was a strike. Obviously, umpires are influenced greatly by it.

    • nineroutsider - Apr 9, 2013 at 10:11 PM

      Great post I couldn’t agree more in watching that game. Even with Posey behind the dish Timmy would have been all over the place with the fastball and that impacts close calls by the ump; he got very few close calls. However, Sanchez cost Timmy huge in that game. He sucks at framing pitches, but that was his worst game – he is better than that performance. It doesn’t help having to catch wild thang. His bat is solid though at least. He missed a lot of the spring, but no doubt that Posey is the man and Timmy needs to pitch to him every game. I trust Boch’s call though.

    • hittfamily - Apr 9, 2013 at 10:32 PM

      The Zobrist call only exacerbated the ridiculousness that is MLB umpiring. That call was inexcuseable. Even a great pitch framer like Molina and Lucroy can’t make a pitch 9” off an 18” plate look good.

  6. 13arod - Apr 9, 2013 at 10:11 PM

    he always trows the cruve ball out of the strike zone hitters now they don’t chase balls in the dirt anymore they are more patient now he is going to keep on strugging untill he learns how to throw his other pitches more effiecent

  7. bobdog93 - Apr 9, 2013 at 10:12 PM

    Well it was said for years that his delivery was not easily repeated. It could be the funky delivery is messing up his release and causing him to miss his spots. Just an idea, I watch almost exclusively American league so I have only seen him pitch a handful of times.

  8. Francisco (FC) - Apr 9, 2013 at 10:29 PM

    >In 2010, he was better with Bengie Molina behind the plate
    EVERY pitcher is better with a Molina behind the plate.

  9. bayafan - Apr 10, 2013 at 8:22 AM

    Tim just needs to start smoking again.

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