It doesn't take much observation or baseball know-how to determine that Tim Lincecum hasn't been the same pitcher in 2010 that he was in his Cy Young seasons of '08 and '09. That was evident early on this season. Increased walks, decreased velocity, and too many home runs allowed have told the tale so far.
As for Sunday's 8-2 debacle against San Diego in which Lincecum allowed 6 runs (5 earned), all I could think was, "I told you so."
And I may have advocated several days ago that this start against San Diego should've been skipped, and I was right. But the fact remains that everyone from Andy Baggarly and Mychael Urban to 22Gigantes and myself have advocated for Lincecum intervention... for weeks, if not a couple months.
Has it happened? No. Nothing.
Dave Righetti and Mark Gardner have next to no influence and power over Lincecum. Ditto for Bruce Bochy. They let Lincecum's quirky delivery and off-center habits run their course, because they were having a TON of success. Who were they to intervene? If it ain't broke, don't fix it. That's what I say... and that's what they said too.
Well, now it's broke and no one has any idea how to fix it...
...except for Tim's father Chris.
Everyone who knows anything about Lincecum knows the story. The over-extension, the picking the dollar bills up off the dirt on his follow through. Dave Righetti and Mark Gardner don't know squat about Lincecum's problems, and that's not neccessarily any surprise or total fault of their own. No one's seen anything like it before. All they have is a front row seat to the Freak Show, relying on past film and a steady diet of observations.
Much of the adversity faced by the Giants this season has stemmed from inactivity, complacency, and a slow-as-molasses-in-wintertime approach to making changes. This was the case with the Rowand-Torres mess early on as well as the mistake to call up Buster Posey about a month too late.
With the season and the playoffs on the line, it is now too late to skip one of Lincecum's starts. This was the time to do it, and they carted him out there anyway. The guy is changing his windup and mechanics on his own-- on a game to game basis! That right there should sound like tires screeching to Bruce Bochy and company. It's like, "HELLO! RED FLAG STARING YOU IN THE FACE!"
Chris Lincecum should've been called in as a paid consultant weeks ago, if not months. If both Timmy and Giants management are too proud to bring his broken down ass into Chris's repair shop of miracles, at bare minimum, Timmy should've had a start skipped while he tinkered with his motion so radically in the middle of the season.
The same argument could be made for Pablo Sandoval's struggles and how coaching this year seemed not to make a difference with the stubborn and hyper young Panda. There was no time off to work on problems-- no diciplinary or motivational tactics to get him into gear.
Sandoval, like Lincecum, is an extrodinarily unorthodox and unique player. He does very few things by the book and has a personality to match. Like Lincecum's mechanics, Pablo's personality is an obstacle that was not dealt with properly. Luckily for the Giants coaching staff, Pablo is perhaps exiting the filthy quagmire he called his 2010 sophomore campaign on his own.
The bottom line is that Tim needs to suck up his pride, which has to be quickly evaporating, the Giants coaching staff needs to intervene forcefully and immediately, and both sides need to admit that they have no clue how to fix our broken down superstar.
August 15th, in the midst of a tight playoff race is no time for foolish pride, or a general cluelessness as to how to fix our best player. If the status quo regarding Lincecum continues, you can count on watching 4 teams not from San Francisco representing the NL in the 2010 playoffs.