Giants

SF's profound love for Lincecum won't die with Angels signing

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SF's profound love for Lincecum won't die with Angels signing

Tim Lincecum has been very nearly resuscitated after a long time in the garage, and of course this has led to a number of loving analyses of his place in San Francisco baseball history -- to the point, remarkably, that he has been emotionally separated from the San Francisco Giants and treated as his own historical entity.

Example: There is almost no grumbling among his still-strong army of acolytes that the Giants didn’t do more than the Los Angeles Angels to find a place for him in their 2016 plans.

[NEWS: Reports: Lincecum finalizing deal with Angels, Giants out]

Not that there wasn’t need, mind you. The Peavy-Cain end of the starting rotation remains problematic despite promising recent results, and the Giants have always been suckers for the alumni wing. It’s why Lincecum was re-upped in San Francisco, and why the team’s history over the past decade-plus has been to err on the side of “you took care of us, now we’ll take care of you.”

But when Lincecum signs with the Los Angeles Angels (and please, let’s have no “but the Angels beat the Giants in the World Series” nonsense on this -- it was almost 15 years ago), the general mood will not be “the Giants screwed up,” but “Hurray for Timmy in his endless search for the echoes of yesteryear.”

And that is what we are speaking of here -- not a magically healed hip that will loose the stallions one more time, but another red carpet tour for a player the fan base loved well past his own apparent sell-by date.

In that way, Lincecum is no longer a Giant (obviously), or even an ex-Giant (clearly), but his own entity. And it does no good to argue against the notion, because a fan’s heart wants what a fan’s heart wants.

It is true, however, that Giants fans have come to be more attached to their past than most teams, at a time when many fan bases look more longingly toward their farm systems. Barry Bonds was a default position for disgruntled customers at times when the Giants wanted for offense, years past his 2007 non-retirement and even past his actual retirement.

And Lincecum’s newfound employment with the Angels seems to please the old fan base more than the new one. The Angels have already used eight starters (only Cincinnati and San Diego have used more) and rank in the bottom six in most meaningful metrics. There is a need for some live arm, any live arm, and in the modern pitching environment, an inexpensive Lincecum beats rushing a younger and more prized pitcher’s development.

That’s baseball stuff, though, and this is Lincecum-iana. He is a museum piece in this town, a statue without the bronze coating. He is loved with a passion that is perfectly Giant, and perfectly illogical.

The Giants somehow do this with players and their fan base -- and Lincecum may not be the egregious example of this phenomenon as long as Bonds is considered to be wronged by The Man. Either through marketing, word of mouth or the belief that anyone who has served is a member forever, Giant fans cling to their old heroes with a devotion that belies the fact that baseball in general has developed a fetish for the new, unseen and fresh-faced.

Put another way, it is hard to imagine any other franchise having a more visceral relationship with a player who was an elite performer for only four seasons. Most people will say that was unique to Lincecum, but I would suggest in rebuttal that while it was stronger with Lincecum because of his uberquirky charms, it is in the nature of the way the Giants market their players as icons from the planet Cutetron.

Or do we have to remind you how many people still refer to Pablo Sandoval as Panda, years since the nickname was bestowed and more than a year since he decided San Francisco was too mean to him?

So, back to Lincecum. If he signs (and we cannot imagine what the hell is keeping him unless Arte Moreno is trying to make him work on commission) and, even less probably, lasts in Anaheim until 2018 and gets a start at the old ballyard at Third y King, he will be worshiped as a god because he meets all the criteria listed above.

Because in these parts, with this team, once an icon, always an icon ... from the House Of Icons.

Giants' Evan Longoria expresses displeasure with slow MLB free agency

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USATSI

Giants' Evan Longoria expresses displeasure with slow MLB free agency

Despite playing 11 years of Major League Baseball, Giants third baseman Evan Longoria has never gone through free agency. He signed a six-year contract with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008, and then a 10-year extension with the club in 2012.

But with what he's witnessing this offseason, it's safe to say he isn't looking forward to the day he has to partake in the process.

Longoria took to Instagram to share his displeasure, writing the following: 

We are less then a month from the start of spring and once again some of our games biggest starts remain unsigned. Such a shame. It’s seems every day now someone is making up a new analytical tool to devalue players, especially free agents. As fans, why should “value” for your team even be a consideration? It’s not your money, it’s money that players have worked their whole lives to get to that level and be deserving of. Bottom line, fans should want the best players and product on the field for their team. And as players we need to stand strong for what we believe we are worth and continue to fight for the rights we have fought for time and time again.

What Longoria is arguing is a lot of common sense that baseball fans need to understand.

Let's look at the following point: "As fans, why should “value” for your team even be a consideration? It’s not your money, it’s money that players have worked their whole lives to get to that level and be deserving of. Bottom line, fans should want the best players and product on the field for their team." 

He's not wrong. 

The money either goes to players, making them millionaires, or owners, making them billionaires. Who are we watching on the field? It's quite simple. 

Sure, it might be fun to play armchair GM, but fans should want the best and most entertaining product on the field. We can understand why teams rebuild, but that doesn't mean we have to get to this point as fans. Every team can afford a Bryce Harper or a Manny Machado.

The best game is the most competitive game, and that's what players want. Fans should be nodding their head in agreement. 

What's most interesting from Longoria is the fact that he's calling out the system and calling for players to fight back. The MLB collective bargaining agreement ends at the end of the 2021 season. If anger increases from players, negotiations could get quite awkward. 

Joey Bart named Giants' best defensive prospect by MLB Pipeline

Joey Bart named Giants' best defensive prospect by MLB Pipeline

Giants top prospect Joey Bart is known for his bat. The No. 2 pick in the 2018 MLB Draft hit 13 home runs in his first 51 minor league games, which is only three behind Evan Longoria's team lead on the big-league club. 

Don't forget about his defense though. Bart, the top catching prospect in baseball, has also been named the Giants' top defensive prospect by MLB Pipeline of MLB.com.

He has improved markedly since high school, when scouts wondered if he could stay at catcher, enhancing his agility and receiving and improving the accuracy of his strong arm.

The fact that scouts once questioned Bart's future at the position and now his defense is being praised, as it pertains to the Giants' farm system, says a lot. On the 20/80 scouting scale, MLB Pipeline rates Bart's defense as a 55 and his arm as a 60. 

At Georgia Tech, Bart was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2018. He also called pitches, a task that manager Danny Hall didn't even let two-time Gold Glove winner Matt Wieters do when he was a Yellow Jacket. 

In his final college season, Bart had a .992 fielding percentage and threw out 12 of 21 stolen base attempts. After joining the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (Short-Season Class A), Bart's fielding percentage dropped to .983 after allowing six passed balls and five errors. He did, however, gun down 15 of the 21 runners trying to swipe a bag on him.

Bart's bat will most likely always be ahead of his glove. The fact that he's seen as such a well-rounded prospect, though, is an added bonus to the player the Giants hope can lead them back to the top in the near future.