Thursday, December 03, 2009
-I've been pondering Tim Lincecum's looming arbitration case some more in my spare time (yes, I think about these things a lot as I go about my day, sadly). A lot of fans are speculating that Lincecum might invoke an extremely rare clause in the arbitration process that allows for a player to cite a "special accomplishment" (i.e. winning the Cy Young Award) in order to compare his market value to other free agents, as opposed to other first year arb eligibles. The thinking goes that Lincecum will use this to request a $23 million figure (stacking himself up with C.C. Sabathia's record contract for a pitcher), and since the Giants have no case against his performance on the field, he'll win easily and the team will be forced to pay two pitchers around $20 million in 2010. A terrifying thought, indeed.
There are two problems I see here, though. First, the "special accomplishment" provision is a little nebulous here. It doesn't specifically state winning the Cy Young, and you can expect the Giants to nitpick this to death trying to get out of paying Lincecum an exorbitant sum. The team could theoretically argue that the provision pertains to winning a World Series MVP or the NL MVP or something regarded as more team-related, not an "individual" award like the CY. Yes, a convoluted stretch, but it gives the Giants a better argument than they have going purely against his numbers.
Second, there's just no precedent for this, at all. I think the only way Lincecum loses an arbitration case is if he submits an insanely high number, because the Giants can simply argue that no one has been awarded anywhere near this type of money in arbitration, special provision or no, in the history of the game. I'd guess that Lincecum's agent realizes this, and I really doubt that we'll see any outrageous monetary demands out of the Lincecum camp.
If I had to guess, I'd say the Giants offer Timmy $9 million (citing that it breaks Jon Papelbon's record for first-year eligible pitchers), Lincecum comes in with a request of $15 million, and the two settle at $11.5-$12 million, still comfortably shattering Ryan Howard's record for first year eligible players. Make no mistake, Lincecum is going to make a crapload of money, but it's probably not going to be the cataclysmic amount some are predicting, and I doubt this goes before an arbitration panel.
-When you follow Tim Dierkes's peerless MLB Trade Rumors site on Twitter, you stay in tune with all of the latest rumor-mongering going on around baseball. That part's awesome, but you also get exposed to terrifying reports like this, that the Giants are interested in free agent Brad Ausmus, aka every sabermetrician's idea of a bad joke. The Giants are in the market for a Crash Davis to Buster Posey's Nuke LaLoosh, so why not a guy highly regarded for his veteran savvy and genius behind the plate?
Sigh. Let's not mince words here. Ausmus is fucking terrible. He's inexplicably carved out a long career despite having no discernible talent for playing the game of baseball. Other than a total fluke last year, he's been a nothing with the bat for ten years and even his catching game has deteriorated to the point where he just isn't a major league-caliber player anymore. Unfortunately, he has a reputation that outweighs his actual on-field performance and that's been like crack to Brian Sabean in the past (think Mike Matheny or Aaron Rowand).
There were rumors that the Giants were also interested in bringing back Yorvit Torrealba, who would have some value as a backup, because at least he can still play. I'd rather the Giants throw some money at him and play him part-time with Posey than have to waste precious moments of my life watching Ausmus 60 games a year.
-Speaking of arbitration eligibles, what about Ryan Garko? Looking solely at his catastrophic half-season with the Giants, he'd seem like a prime non-tender candidate. Unfortunately, the Giants gave up a decent pitching prospect to get him, and they're probably loathe to let Garko leave after getting just two months of zero production for a quality arm.
Make no mistake, Garko was miserable with the Giants last season. He looked off balance just swinging at fastballs down the middle, and he certainly looked like a nightmare fielding his position at first base. He's not this bad, though, and since the Giants need power and patience any way they can get it, it's probably worth offering arbitration and bringing him back. He's not likely to get a substantial raise, and a Garko/Travis Ishikawa platoon scenario isn't the worst thing in the world, with Garko getting the bulk of the playing time against lefties and being spelled by the Ish late in games for defense. I can think of worse options.
-TGIAF Video before I go. This is my reaction when the news breaks that the Giants have signed Henry Blanco to be their starting catcher and will have Buster Posey start 2010 in AAA.