MLB

Tepid market for Timmy: Giants still in on Lincecum, who may come relatively cheap

As it turns out, the Tim Lincecum showcase from last week was a lot more exciting for all of us than major league scouts.

“Each day that goes by, it underscores the idea that maybe there was a lot more hype and conversation about this in the media than there actually was among teams. I spoke with one official who was involved in this and (he said) there’s a lot more interest through the media than there actually is in Lincecum and the type of pitcher that he is right now,” ESPN’s Buster Olney said today on Flight 957.

“The Giants continue to have interest in him, and they know him better than anybody. But their interest in him is as a long reliever. I think there are probably some lingering questions about whether Lincecum can maintain his stuff. The Giants saw him twice in the period of four days and the fact that they didn’t jump up with their starting pitching problems and make a big deal to get him tells you those questions continue. The San Diego Padres might be a decent fit for him. We know the Angels have been desperate for starting pitching. They traded for a Braves minor league pitcher yesterday. Those are the best places maybe for Lincecum to go for a starting rotation spot.”

We can cross one team off Olney’s list of prospective buyers.

That’s somewhat unfortunate for Lincecum, who would probably do better in a bigger ballpark, preferably in the National League.

The Angels play in a big park located on the West Coast and have been crushed by injuries, which creates a potential opening for Lincecum. The White Sox released John Danks, and Mat Latos has come back to earth after a fantastic beginning to his season, allowing 13 earned runs over 15 1/3 innings in his last three starts. The need is there, but does Lincecum really want to play — and perspire — in the South side of Chicago? Lincecum is a world-class sweater, almost in the same class as Patrick Ewing and Shaquille O’Neal. Spending his summer in the midwest probably isn’t what he had in mind.

And much like Olney’s comment about the Giants, wouldn’t he have signed with one of these two teams already if they blew him away with a huge offer to join their rotation?

Meanwhile, the Giants are still poking around, perhaps feeling a little better about their situation after Jake Peavy and Matt Cain pitched far better against the Blue Jays than anyone expected (Cain in particular). If Lincecum could knock in some runners in scoring position, they might have already signed him. I’m kidding (sort of), but what’s their budget for a long reliever when they wouldn’t even bring back Yusmeiro Petit? (Petit has a 1.93 in 18 2/3 innings for the Nationals, in case you were wondering.)

One has to wonder at this point if the Giants really want Lincecum at all, or whether they’re throwing a bone to fans by creating the illusion they’re interested, knowing they’ll probably finish as the “runner-up” to a more desperate team. While Lincecum was hovering around 89-91 mph with his fastball during his showcase and his breaking pitches looked like they had some good snap, he wasn’t exactly Greg Maddux out there from a location standpoint. While the Giants could use another arm, they might not feel Lincecum would be an upgrade over Peavy, Cain, Chris Heston, Clayton Blackburn, Albert Suarez, or someone like Joan Gregorio. And the PR boost that would come with a Lincecum signing wouldn’t last long if he walked the bases loaded and wild-pitched a run in during his debut appearance.

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