Aaron Rowand

Matt Cain is underpaid

I hate getting pulled into the trap of saying one game a week is the “most important game of the season” for the San Francisco Giants. And while I didn’t shout this from the rooftops, as I walked up to my apartment at 7 pm, with thoughts of Giants/Dodgers taking over my braincells (as Hank Schulman would say, shaddup!), I thought to myself:

“Self, tonight’s game is the most important game of the year.”

Think of what would’ve happened if Matt Cain doesn’t throw 7 shutout innings. If the Giants didn’t grind out 2 runs. If Sergio Romo didn’t throw a perfect 8th (6 pitches — 6 strikes). If Brian Wilson didn’t slam the door after giving up that seriously impressive home run to Andre Ethier. (Perspective alert: people went crazy over losing Joe Nathan and Francisco Liriano … could you imagine if two outfielders like Ethier and Carlos Gonzalez were tearing it up for the Angels and Mariners, what people would be saying about Brian Sabean? Billy Beane has the best job in baseball.)

I almost wrote a post where I celebrated the fact that Brian Wilson’s mental approach is so strong because he realizes that giving up a solo homer with a 2-run lead is far superior than walking someone with the same lead, but that would be unfair to Wilson. His year isn’t about giving up insurance runs and keeping us on the edge of our seats. He’s a dominant closer now, and deserves to be treated as such.

No, I’m going to write something that to any rational person would sound like the cries of a sycophant: Cain is underpaid.

The relevance of salaries is only in respect to the salaries your peers are collecting, and in that respect Cain should be making more than $10 million in 2010. With flakes like Zito and Sanchez, and the high-drama of every Tim Lincecum start, Cain starts are when Bruce Bochy and the Giants exhale. No other pitcher would be saddled with the Eugenio Velez lineup, that’s for sure. Not now, anyway.

If the Giants lost, they’d be (Joe Namath voice) struggling tomorrow to stave off a sweep. A sweep that, if it happened, would cause at least 72% of the fanbase to write the team off entirely, especially after seeing the Tulowitzki highlights that day. And with the Giants hitting the way they are, to say Kershaw/Billingsley is the 2010 version of Koufax/Drysdale, at least when it comes to degree of difficulty for the lineup wearing black, orange and a whole lot of french vanilla, isn’t that far off.

Matt Cain has pitched 200 or more innings in each of the last four seasons. In those seasons, based on his WAR (Wins Above Replacement) he’d average over $16M per year if he was allowed to take his talents to the open market. In other words, if salaries were fluid and only based on performance and not contractual obligations, Rowand’s paychecks would be going into Cain’s bank account.

Final notes before my computer’s battery dies

— Blaming Bochy for the Giants only having one legitimate leadoff hitter is ridiculous. If Brian Sabean somehow lures Carl Crawford, Jose Reyes or Jimmy Rollins, maybe Andres Torres wouldn’t have to play 155 games. Still, Juan Uribe, only one of the team’s five best players over the last two years, hits eighth all the time. How does Velez in the leadoff spot make sense when he hasn’t played a full Major League game in months?

— Aubrey Huff will feel the pain of scoring that run tonight for at least a week. His shin slammed so hard into Rod Barajas’ shin guard, and he got up without a facial expression change. Hard to imagine him going anywhere next year. He’s Jeff Kent and J.T. Snow rolled into one.

— While I don’t blame Bruce Bochy for messing around today against a pitcher with absolute ownage, the lineup should be Sanchez/Ross/Posey/Huff/Burrell/Sandoval/Ishikawa/Uribe against right-handers and Sanchez/Ross/Posey/Huff/Burrell/Guillen/Renteria/Uribe against lefties until Torres is healthy again.

— When did it become OK to make fun of Joe Montana? All over Twitter, haters were hatin’. Sure, he pitches shoes for Skechers, but how is this surprising? He was the face of L.A. Gear for two years. He even told us to wear street hikers. It doesn’t matter. It’s Joe Montana, the biggest star in Bay Area sports history. GET OFF MY LAWN!!!

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