The Lincecum deal -- what it means

The Lincecum deal -- what it means
January 26, 2012, 8:55 pm

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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.

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