The Lincecum deal -- what it means

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The Lincecum deal -- what it means

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Oh no! Doesnt Timmy like us?

Seriously, that seems to be the prevailing sentiment about the news that the Giants and Tim Lincecum have agreed on a two-year 40.5 million contract that buys out his final two years of arbitration and makes everyones favorite Giant a free agent in 2013.

Why doesnt Timmy want a long-term relationship with San Francisco? Is he flirting with other cities? Is he just dating the Giants, not ready to commit forever?

Grab a paper bag, people. Breath deep. Stop hyperventilating.

In truth, the deal works just fine. For all parties: Lincecum, the Giants and even for the oxygen-deprived fans.

From all accounts, two years was the spot for mutual agreement. They got a deal done. But it doesnt preclude a longer-term deal being done before the contract expires in 2013 and the Yankees and Red Sox come courting.

Lincecum, 27, just became the highest-paid Giant in history. Good for him. He deserves it.

Hes the one taking all the risk. In a two-year contract theres no room for a down season. No time for a let up. He has to stay -- as he has for the first five years of his career -- at the top of his game. If he does, he reaps the benefits in 2013. If he doesnt, then he may have to take a pay cut.

But Lincecum, to his credit, doesnt seem to care about long-term security. Thats interesting for a guy whos been told his whole career that his body wont hold up, that hes too little. But hes already proved all the doubters wrong, a thousand times over.

Hes of a generation that has compressed time into microseconds -- two years might as well be two centuries. And I take his own words at face value. A few months ago, he told Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle I just dont know how Im going to feel five years from now, or three years. Thats why Id kind of like to take things step by step.

Lincecum may very well want to be a Giant for life. But I dont blame him at all for taking a wait-and-see approach. The Giants have new leadership -- after the ouster of Bill Neukom -- and no one knows what that means. Are they going to be pinching pennies? Are they going to break up the rotation? Are they going to get some offense or continue to put the burden of winning on the back of Lincecum? All the talk this winter about maxing out on the payroll has to be a red flag.

Lincecum has also had a front-row seat to the horrors of the long-term pitching contract with Barry Zito. Why would he want to put himself in that position?

For the Giants, the deal works because theres no concern about getting into a long-term Zito situation. They showed their good faith to Lincecum by making him the highest-paid Giant ever and they bought time to work on a contract extension.

Yes, theres risk involved. The face of the franchise could walk in 2013. But there would also be risk in a long-term contract, if for some reason Lincecum doesnt perform at the Cy Young level hes been at most of his career.

And, despite the hyperventilating, the deal also works for fans. Lincecum is still a Giant. And now the pressure is on the Giants to make sure he stays: which means not ignoring the offense or the payroll. The Giants need to be competitive and remain the most attractive option to Lincecum, more than the Mariners or any other team.

If they do that, theyll be happy, Lincecum will be happy, the fans will be happy. And if they dont do that itll be pre-Lincecum 2005 all over again. And everyone will be miserable.

Freelance writer Ann Killion is a regular contributor to CSNBayArea.com and Chronicle Live.

Giants lineup: Belt in left field, Kelby at second base

Giants lineup: Belt in left field, Kelby at second base

Programming note: Dodgers-Giants coverage starts today at 11:30am with Giants Pregame Live on NBC Sports Bay Area, and streaming live right here.

Dave Roberts and Bruce Bochy issued their lineups for today's series finale at AT&T Park:

Dodgers (10-12)
1. Enrique Hernandez (R) CF
2. Corey Seager (L) SS
3. Justin Turner (R) 3B
4. Yasiel Puig (R) RF
5. Chris Taylor (R) 2B
6. Austin Barnes (R) C
7. Scott Van Slyke (R) 1B
8. Cody Bellinger (L) LF
9. Julio Urias (L) P

Giants (8-14) 
1. Hunter Pence (R) RF
2. Brandon Belt (L) LF
3. Eduardo Nunez (R) SS
4. Buster Posey (R) 1B
5. Christian Arroyo (R) 3B
6. Nick Hundley (R) C
7. Kelby Tomlinson (R) 2B
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) CF
9. Matt Moore (L) P (1-3, 5.87 ERA)

Morse, Arroyo stun Dodgers, lift Giants to thrilling comeback win

Morse, Arroyo stun Dodgers, lift Giants to thrilling comeback win

SAN FRANCISCO — This spring, Hunter Pence briefly tried to cut back on his coffee intake. The experiment did not last long for a player who is pure caffeine on and off the field, but even Pence is occasionally in need of more than a large cold brew. 

Pence tried to stay upbeat throughout a sluggish start to the season, but around him was a clubhouse in need of energy. Christian Arroyo walked through the door on Monday. Two days later, Michael Morse arrived.

“That’s quite an energy jolt,” Pence said of Arroyo. “Morse, it’s been an energy jolt as well.”

The two recent River Cats sent a pair of jolts through a stadium that was sold out for the 499th consecutive time. Arroyo hit a two-run homer in the seventh, his first in the big leagues. Morse went deep in the eighth for his first big league hit in two years and first homer as a Giant since the 2014 NLCS. 

Pence is close friends with Morse and an admirer of Arroyo, the 21-year-old who has taken a locker a few feet away. He made sure neither jolt went to waste, hitting a walk-off sacrifice fly in the 10th to give the Giants a thrilling 4-3 win they hope they can build on.

“That was a shot in the arm,” Morse said.

The big slugger was just that earlier Wednesday. Morse agreed to terms on a minor league deal at Pence’s wedding last winter and he was on track for Opening Day before a hamstring injury. He was so excited by Wednesday’s call back to San Francisco that he beat Bruce Bochy to the park. The manager tried to lower expectations before the game, telling reporters that Morse would not be a regular starter, especially in left, where the Giants have watched a black hole open. 

Morse was here for the late innings, for the moment when Bochy looks at him and says simply, “Get ready, Mo.” For most of Wednesday’s game, it looked like that big moment wouldn’t come. Alex Wood took a no-hitter into the sixth but he was pulled in the seventh by a Dodgers staff trying to protect his arm. Sergio Romo entered and soon faced a kid who was 19 the first time he walked into Romo’s clubhouse. 

“He’s been doing the same thing in the big leagues with good results for a long time,” Arroyo said. 

Arroyo got the slider that’s always coming, low and away, and he drilled it deep to left-center. He hit only three homers last year but Giants management felt the 36 doubles at Richmond showed a developing power bat. The strength has come quickly, and the ball carried into the first row of seats. 

“I looked up and saw the ump waving and I was like, ‘I’ve got to slow down,’” Arroyo said, smiling. “I tried to slow down and take it all in.”

As Arroyo crossed the plate and looked to the sky, his family shared hugs — without spilling a nacho — in a section overlooking the home dugout. The ballpark roared. A 3-0 deficit had been nearly erased. 

“Now it’s a one-run game,” Bochy said. “Anything can happen.”

Even by that standard, Morse’s blast was improbable. This is a player who didn’t have a hit last season before being sent home by the Pittsburgh Pirates. A player who, at 35, was having a poor spring before he announced to a reporter one day that he was going to hit a homer -- and then promptly did. On a rehab assignment over the past week, Morse had a .250 average and no homers, but he insisted to general manager Bobby Evans that his swing was ready. 

Evans believed, and Morse rewarded him with a moment that had everyone in the park throwing it back to 2014. Just as in the deciding game of the NLCS against the Cardinals, Morse was sent up as a pinch-hitter in the eighth. Sidewinding Pat Neshek was replaced by fire-balling Pedro Baez, but the approach was the same. 

“Swing hard,” Morse said. “Just in case you hit it.”

Baez kept pumping fastballs and Morse turned on one at 97 mph. He raised his arm the same way he did three years ago, an inning before Travis Ishikawa’s heroics. 

“I’m not going to lie,” Bochy said. “I was thinking about that game against St. Louis.”

All the Giants were. 

“You kind of just sit there and shake your head a little bit because it was very similar to his last homer here,” Posey said. “Even his excitement out of the box was similar.”

Morse said he didn’t intend to strike the same pose. 

“I was like, ‘I hope I didn’t strike out and I’m just running around the bases,’” he said, laughing. “It was cool, man. Not only for me, but for the team.”

For four innings, the surging bullpen made sure the homers would not be a fun footnote to another loss. Gorkys Hernandez kicked off the winning rally in the 10th with a single. He was pushed along by a stolen base, walk and bunt. Pence stepped in with no outs and engaged in one of the strangest battles of a career full of them. 

Ross Stripling, a starter with a deep repertoire, kept pumping 94 mph fastballs up near Pence’s eyes. Pence swung through one, fouled off five, and took three more for balls. Only one of the pitches he saw was in the strike zone. In the dugout, Posey shook his head in amusement. 

“It was kind of hard not to laugh,” Posey said. “He’s probably the only guy who can do that.”

Some Giants couldn’t hold the laughter in, even in a tense spot.

“He had that ‘Thou shall not walk’ going in that at-bat,” Bochy said. “He probably expanded as much as I’ve ever seen. If he would have walked it would have gone down as one of the more amazing walks with all the balls he swung at.”

On a night full of so much energy, a walk would have been an anticlimactic ending. Pence, who had been expecting a curveball the whole at-bat, lofted a 10th fastball deep enough to left to score Hernandez and send the Giants streaming out of the dugout. 

Arroyo, the youngest of them all, went sprinting across the infield. Morse followed, and soon he had Pence wrapped in a hug. Hours earlier, he had promised that at the very least, he would bring energy to the clubhouse. He delivered more than anyone could have imagined.

“To do that is one of those special moments that can change a season,” Pence said. “It was electric ... Morsey being Morsey.”