Hunter Pence

Quick thoughts on the Giants: Lincecum’s future, Pence’s impact, Bochy vs. Winters

Tim Lincecum 2014 SF Giants World Series parade

Statement from the San Francisco Giants Regarding Tim Lincecum’s Health Status

Denver, Colorado – Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum underwent successful arthroscopic surgery this morning on his left hip by Dr. Marc Philippon at the Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colorado.

Lincecum is resting comfortably and is expected to begin his rehab in the next few days in preparation for the 2016 season.

***

— Good for Lincecum. The injury is a downer, but he was smart to get the surgery now, at least if he wants to continue his professional career next season.

— Then comes the obvious next question: Will the Giants wish him well, leaving Lincecum to sign a minor league deal with another team? I agree with Alex Pavlovic on this:

— The main point, as noted by Pavlovic, is that there are no hurt feelings here.

“I love Timmy,” Bruce Bochy told reporters today. “My door would always be open for Tim Lincecum. That’s how much I think of him.”

Despite some rough patches and uncomfortable postseason roster decisions over the past few years, no one feels like they got screwed. In other words, Lincecum is not Barry Zito. Zito’s contract represented the Giants’ greatest embarrassment since the BALCO scandal, and the BALCO scandal was one of the reasons why they signed him in the first place. Lincecum may have been overpaid in 2014 and 2015 (OK, he definitely was overpaid, unless no-hitters are worth $30 million apiece), but he could’ve had a $100 million contract years earlier. For whatever reason, Lincecum decided to go year-to-year when he was still thought of as an elite starter.

— It was obvious when Lincecum signed his last two-year deal — if he’s going to figure out a way to become a good pitcher again, the Giants don’t want that to happen anywhere else. The money will certainly be a small percentage of what it once was, but there’s no reason to believe the organization has changed their minds. This is still the best place for Lincecum, with Dave Righetti, Mark Gardner, Bochy and thousands of fans who still believe there’s some magic in that right arm. That may sound insanely optimistic, but Ryan Vogelsong’s career should’ve been over five years ago. You just never know.

— The Giants have lost five in a row, and they’ve gone five games without a home run. It’s been exactly a month since Buster Posey hit one.

— Joe Panik’s back injury was a tough blow. It didn’t help matters when Mike Leake went to the disabled list right after the Giants acquired him. Brandon Crawford’s recent setbacks came at the wrong time. A healthy, productive Jeremy Affeldt would’ve helped them be better than a 16-21 team in one-run ballgames. It was a lost season for Matt Cain.

Hunter Pence’s “Champion Blood” speech— But they were toast when Hunter Pence injured his oblique. The Giants are 34-17 (.667) when Pence starts, 35-47 (.427) when he doesn’t (he came in off the bench in one of those games). Pence provides much-needed energy, power, speed, protection for Posey, and whatever intangibles he brings when he plays clearly don’t translate quite the same way when he’s on the bench. When he got hurt again, it just seemed like it wasn’t the Giants’ season.

— The easy odd-year comparison for the 2015 Giants would be the 2011 team, except that team could pitch. They had four starters who combined for over 800 innings and the staff as a whole finished second in the National League in ERA and strikeouts. Meanwhile, the 2011 Giants scored 570 runs, while the 2015 Giants will probably surpass that tonight at Coors (they’re currently at 566). But the injuries were there in 2011. Posey jumps to mind, but that squad was pretty ragged as a whole. Aubrey Huff played in 150 games (and wasn’t any good). No other position player played in more than 121.

  • Freddy Sanchez missed 102 games.
  • Pablo Sandoval was awesome when he played, but he missed 45 games.
  • Cody Ross missed 41 games (and wasn’t awesome when he played).
  • Much like this year, they traded for a rental (Carlos Beltran) who was quite good when available, but Beltran landed on the DL for two weeks in August.

— Bochy did all he could over the last month, and you could see that he was at his wit’s end during the Dodgers series. He argued balls and strikes with Mike Winters after that awful call against Alejandro De Aza. That’s an automatic ejection, and Bochy knew it. He came out onto the field the next night after Brandon Belt’s check swing was incorrectly called a strike, and he knew Winters would toss him. Bochy was probably just pissed off in general, so going out and yelling at a guy he doesn’t like and/or respect was probably an easy decision (Bochy has now been ejected from six games by Winters).

— Before the stuff with Winters, Bochy mentioned after Monday’s game how proud he was of his team for fighting so hard and ultimately coming up just short. He went out of his way to let everyone know before Tuesday’s game that he called everyone together and relayed that positive message about his team’s competitive spirit after that 14-inning loss. He was pulling out all the stops in L.A., and nothing quite worked as they lost three straight games by one run.

— Bochy is so even-keeled throughout most of the year, so when he’s demonstrative — whether with his own players, the media, or umpires — you get the sense that he knows he’s running out of time. It’s not over yet, but it kind of feels that way after the Dodgers took three in a series where the Giants knew they needed at least two wins, if not a sweep themselves.

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