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Did the Giants Make a $10 Million Mistake With Tim Lincecum?

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May 6th, 2007

This is the date the Giants purchased the contract of pitcher Tim Lincecum from Triple-A Fresno.

Looking back the Giants might want to do this all over again.

Can you imagine what Lincecum would earn as a first-year arbitration player coming off consecutive Cy Young seasons? I'm pretty sure no precedent exists for that. I'm also pretty sure $10 million would be the negotiating floor.

However it gets done, Lincecum will earn a big payday in 2010 when the Giants could have gotten another year of relatively cheap labor out of him. Teams never admit to holding out prospects until June or later to avoid "super two" status, but it's obvious that it happens all the time. Or did you think it was a coincidence that Matt Wieters, Andrew McCutchen, Tommy Hanson and Fernando Martinez all debuted within a few days of each other?

Given the state of the economy this story certainly has much more relevance.

However, if I was a fan of the Giants I would find this situation somewhat encouraging. It's nice to see a team making a decision not solely based on economics. Sure, if the Giants held back Linceum for another month or so they would have saved a boat load of money, but teams owe it to their fans to put the best product on the field at all times. On May 6th, 2007, Tim Lincecum was part of that best product, and deserved to be in the major leagues. He was so dominant at Triple-A Fresno (0.29 ERA in five starts). It was very obvious he didn't belong.

Now I know most people will say I'm wrong, they'll say that the Giants should have waited another month and saved the money. They'll say who cares, the Giants were a non-contender anyway so what's the point. Believe me I get it.

I guess I just have a "bit" more "sympathy" for baseball players. They aren't all afforded the same luxuries as kids in other pro sports. They don't all go from the dorm room to the penthouse like they do in the NBA and NFL. Many spend years fighting through the minor leagues traveling the country in glorified school buses, staying in cheap motels, and eating fast food. Now, I understand high level picks in MLB receive big bonus checks to, and this doesn't always apply to them; however, here's the big difference. In the NBA, NFL etc... if you're deemed capable of performing at a professional level regardless of your draft position or contract, you are granted the opportunity; whereas, in professional baseball you can, and most certainly will, be held back at the expense of future financial ramifications.

In the end their probably is no right answer. In fact maybe the Giants don't even care about paying Lincecum. Either way it was nice to see the Giants not hold a player back in order to delay paying him another year.