Giants should demote Lincecum
Published: Monday, July 9, 2012 at 5:17 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, July 9, 2012 at 5:17 p.m.
The Giants need to send Tim Lincecum to the minor leagues.
That is an almost impossible thought to get your mind around. But there it is.
There are certain conditions. After the All-Star break, manager Bruce Bochy should give Lincecum two starts on the big-league squad. If Lincecum dazzles, then OK, he stays in the majors.
But if he gets murdered, something he has specialized in this season, the Giants should demote him. He pitched well against the Dodgers on June 27, giving the illusion he is back to being Timmy as we knew him. That was a mirage. His next two starts were wretched in the extreme — the sight of him sweating and struggling in Washington was heart-wrenching.
And Sunday against the Pirates, he gave up six runs in 3« innings and looked like what he is — the worst starting pitcher in the major leagues. He really is the worst according to the statistics. Of the 101 major-league starters with enough innings to qualify for consideration, he has the highest earned run average — a grotesque, bloated, elephantine 6.42.
Along with his three wins, he has 10 losses at the break — a number that shrieks pure horror. In his two Cy Young seasons, 2008 and 2009, he had a total of 12 losses. The Giants have lost 14 of his 18 starts — an inexcusable and, frankly, insupportable number. His fall to the status of playground patsy, the little kid the big guys terrorize, is epic in proportion.
So, sure, the Giants should give him two starts after the break, call them diagnostic starts. If he comes up with a bad diagnosis, send him down. It doesn’t matter that he’s a two-time Cy Young guy. That’s in the past. It doesn’t matter that he used to be the staff ace, or that he’s “Timmy,” an endearing nickname for an apparently endearing guy.
Send him down.
He is killing the Giants. If he still were Timmy, or even a partial Timmy, the Giants already would have run away from the flimsy National League West. He is holding them back. He is their anchor and their albatross and their national embarrassment. He needs to go.
The Giants no longer can let him figure out his mechanics — or is it his weight or his emotions? — in real games that count in the real season. That silliness must end if he can’t hold up his end. And it must end fast.
Just send him down.
Not forever, of course. Keep him in the farm system as long as it takes. Keep him down there with no pressure and no press and few expectations. And let him work things out — whatever those things are. Let him work them out on his own schedule and let him do it without hurting the Giants every fifth day, and afterward standing by his locker engaging in on-the-spot psychotherapy, explaining his emotions with the saddest face you ever saw.
Barry Zito went to the minors last season. Maybe you scoff. Maybe you say, “That was Barry Zito, a big disappointment. But this is Tim Lincecum we’re talking about."
Zito won a Cy Young. Don’t forget that. And Zito is a better pitcher right now than Lincecum. There is no question about that.
Zito never complained about going to the minors — about going to Single-A, for heaven’s sake. Sure, he was recovering from an injury, but the Giants sent him to Single-A, which is pretty much all the way down and has quite the humiliation factor. Zito pitched two games in Single-A and then two in Triple-A before returning to the Giants. You never heard a peep out of him.
If Lincecum can’t pitch in the majors right now, let him pitch in Single-A, just like Zito. Let him find his inner Timmy away from the crowds. And let him say all the right things. This is important. Let him say, “I need to figure some things out in the minors. This is best for me and best for the team. I’ll see you soon.”
And then let him do whatever is required to work his way back — if he can work his way back.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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