Right Field

Reveille 3/25/13

Good morning.

Here are several links from the past week that will make the final Monday before the start of the regular season a bit more bearable:

Whither the Freak?

Tim Lincecum has now logged five full major league seasons, and dazzling though his overall performance has been, a disturbing sequence is emerging.

In 2008 and 2009, Lincecum was completely spectacular, racking up 7.5 and 8.0 WAR and sweeping twin Cy Young Awards. In 2010 and 2011, he was very good, but less than spectacular, his WAR totals at 4.7 and 4.1. And in 2012, at age 28, Lincecum labored through a dismal campaign, his walk rate and home run rate both bloated, and he squeaked out just 1.5 WAR over 33 starts. Giants’ fans really don’t like where this movie seems to be heading.

There are rays of hope to be found. One is that Lincecum, demoted to long-reliever status in five outings during last fall’s post-season, performed like the Freak of yore, and how: 13 innings, three hits, one run, two walks, 17 strikeouts. Another is that Lincecum reported to this year’s spring training sporting a good 10 pounds of newly-added muscle—as he had done in 2011, and, pointedly, not in 2012.

For whatever it’s worth, Lincecum is also now sporting a neatly-trimmed coiffure, which is probably trivial but might symbolize a newfound maturity, the sort which tends to discover motivation in the looming presence of a massive contract year.

The Giants won the 2012 division title despite a terrible season from Tim Lincecum. That’s a formulation highly unlikely to be repeated. In 2013, an outcome far more liable to play out is simply this: as goes the Freak, so will go the Giants.

  • Having failed to convince the Orioles to move up the starting time of their home game against the White Sox on the evening of Thursday, September 5, the Super Bowl–champion Ravens will instead kick off the 2013 NFL season that night in Pittsburgh.

  • When Andy McCollough of the Newark Star-Ledger asked Brian Cashman about the Yankees’ newfound thriftiness, the general manager responded, “Look at Vietnam. The biggest payroll didn’t win there, either.” (Come to think of it, the Yankees didn’t win during the Vietnam years, either.) Cashman subsequently acquired contract albatross Vernon Wells from the Angels but will need to pick up only $10–13 million of the $42 million that remains on the outfielder’s deal.

  • Meanwhile, Red Sox principal owner John Henry gave an interview to the Boston Herald’s Steve Buckley. Here’s what Henry had to say about the future of Fenway Park:

The architects and engineers tell us Fenway Park will be viable and usable in its present form for at least 30 to 40 more years, with regular maintenance and care, of course. Our recent 10-year renovation plan was more than cosmetic; it was also highly structural, containing elements such as massive waterproofing.

  • Twenty-five-year-old Sami Samir Hassoun, a native of Beirut, apologized to a U.S. district-court judge for dropping what he believed to be a bomb in a trash receptacle on a crowded street next to Wrigley Field in 2010. Federal prosecutors are seeking a 30-year sentence for Hassoun, who last year pleaded guilty to weapons charges.

  • Here’s a must-read: Grantland’s Jonah Keri sits down with Coco Crisp, 33, and gets the center fielder, who has posted a highly impressive 88.2 percent success rate for attempted steals over the past three years, to reveal trade secrets.

That’s it. Have a walk-off week!

Jason Epstein is the president of Southfive Strategies, LLC. He was a public-relations consultant for the Turkish embassy in Washington from 2002 to 2007.


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