Was Lincecum's new deal a baseball or marketing decision?

Evans: 'The priority is to solidify our starting pitching'

Was Lincecum's new deal a baseball or marketing decision?
October 22, 2013, 5:30 pm
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The Giants are what we have believed them to be for awhile – a team with money and choices on how to spend it.
Ray Ratto

Tim Lincecum has provided for us the best proof yet that the Giants have lots of money. Gobs and oodles and vats of it. And you know how expectations get jacked up when lack of money is no longer a useful excuse.

Lincecum’s two-year, $35 million deal is interesting for reasons other than just the cash, but the cash has its own tale to tell. The freakish-transitioining-to-craftyesque righthander almost surely got more from the Giants than he would have gotten from anyone else, and the swiftness with which the deal was carried out is a sure indication that, for the Giants, overpaying the market was not an issue here.

Maybe this was purely a baseball decision, based on the Giants’ need to reassemble the back end of their rotation and their belief that he has finally silenced the demons in his head that still think his fastball has 95 mph in it. Or maybe this was a marketing decision, in which the Giants fall in love with one of their own.

Most likely, it was more a combination of the two, with the baseball component coming first and the marketing component used to buttress the baseball.

But the intriguing thing was how swiftly it occurred. Like the Hunter Pence deal, the Giants leaped at it as though it were free meat, wanting to get ahead of a market that may or may not have been there.

The Giants wanted Tim Lincecum, and they wanted him in a hurry, to the point where they were willing to overpay with money to get closer to the number of years they wanted from him. Time, radio show callers, and insane commenters will tell us soon enough whether that was a good idea, but this much is clear: Once something has been identified as desirable, it will be purchased.

This changes the way the Giants approach their public approach. They cannot turn their pockets inside out and say they’re poor (well, they can, but they are at least two bad years away from that being a semi-legitimate alibi). Their judgment is not hedged by income, or at least if it is, they have some serious selling to make people believe that.

Maybe this is just reacting to the Dodgers’ way to problem-solving – pay boatloads of money, irritate the manager, and then fire him and his staff after he gets shirty at the postseason press conference. Maybe this is the acknowledgement that those two World Series titles removed the false front of “We’re just a mid-revenue team with a bothersome competitor six miles across the water.”

The Giants are what we have believed them to be for awhile – a team with money and choices on how to spend it. Whatever does or doesn’t happen with Lincecum, we at least know that much today.

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