Tim Lincecum hasn’t been right all season. Something is obviously wrong. The Giants continue to tell us that it’s a mechanical issue, not an injury.
My first thought when I hear that the issue was mechanical was that the team should call in the guy that taught him that unusual throwing motion: Tim’s dad, Chris.
But almost instantly, my second thought reminded me why my first thought would never work.
If the Giants, or any team for that matter, ever brought in an outside influence to help one of their players, they would be undermining the coaches who are being paid to try to get the best of the players.
Last week, leading up to his first start in his home state, CSN Bay Area’s Andrew Baggarly talked to Lincecum about his relationship with his father and if he’d seek on-field guidance while at home. Lincecum told Baggarly that’s not the type of relationship they have anymore:
“I think our relationship has become about life. Back in the day he was my coach and teacher and get me prepared for this life. Now I’m on my own and he’s had to let go the last couple years.”
And as USA Today’s Bob Nightengale wrote Thursday night, Lincecum broke down and called his dad on Tuesday night. They talked for nearly 90 minutes. The younger Lincecum just needed to let everything out.
Nightengale spoke with Chris Lincecum and brought up the possible outcomes for Tim, which set off the elder Lincecum into a long-winded rant aimed at the media. Chris Lincecum took aim at those who suggested the two-time Cy Young winner might be sent down to the minor leagues:
“Here’s a two-time Cy Young winner, a four-time All-Star, a World Series champion, and send him to the minors? You do that, and what you’re basically telling the player is, ‘We don’t need you or respect you.’ And this is the kid who helped bring a championship to the city of San Francisco for the first time in over 50 years?”
Chris Lincecum told Nightengale that he thinks everyone is out to “crucify” his son just because he’s struggling this season:
“It’s like the media is hoping he fails so they’ll have something to write about. If they’re trying to get him to leave that city, they’re (bleeping) on their way.”
Did Tim Lincecum’s father just allude to the pitcher’s desire to leave San Francisco? Was that something Tim mentioned during their phone conversation? Was Chris just expressing the frustration that Tim is feeling?
The quotes from Chris Lincecum read as a father defending a dispirited, beaten-down son, but this wasn’t the best way to do it.
And as I wrote last week, I don’t think sending Lincecum to the minors is the answer. Proving that he can beat Triple-A hitters isn’t going to help him.
But let me play devil’s advocate for a minute. At the end of July 2007, the Cleveland Indians sent Cliff Lee to the minors after he made 16 starts and posted a 6.38 ERA. That awful three-month stretch was following three consecutive good seasons, including an 18-5 record in 2005.
What did Lee do in 2008? Not much, except win the AL Cy Young with a 22-3 record and a 2.54 ERA.
I don’t believe what fixed Lee will fix Lincecum, but I don’t think suggesting that he go to the minor leagues to work on things is the equivalent of “crucifying” him.
We live in a “what have you done for me lately” world and everybody, including Chris Lincecum, is trying to figure out what is wrong with Tim and how to fix him.
In this time of desperation, no idea is out of bounds.