Originally written on SF Lunatic Fringe  |  Last updated 11/16/14
San-francisco-giants-texas
It was the winter of 2007.  Tim Lincecum had just finished his shortened rookie season with a 4.00 ERA, 150 strikeouts in 146.1 innings, but the Giants had finished in the basement of the NL West at 71-91.  Barry Bonds wasn’t coming back.  Alex Rios was two years away from being a free agent.  The 26-year old Toronto Blue Jays outfielder had just had a career-high 24 home runs with a .297 batting average, a 5.6 WAR, and his second All-Star season. Toronto offered him to the Giants for Lincecum, straight up.  Thus started an amazing “What if” offseason, with no one knowing the right answer. The Giants said no, and that appeared to be the right answer.  Rios had a solid 2008.  His home runs dropped to 15, but he actually had a higher WAR (5.9).  Lincecum, though, had a 7.9 WAR as he won the first of two Cy Youngs.  Rios dropped off significantly in 2009, batting just .247 (especially after batting just .199 in 41 games after being traded to the Chicago White Sox).  The Giants went on to win a World Series with Lincecum as a leader.  Pretty clear that it was a good no-trade. In 2013, would you do it now? First of all, this is an academic exercise.  If the Giants were going to trade for Rios, it’d be for a package of prospects.  Probably a fair number of prospects.  The White Sox are rebuilding, in the basement of the A.L. Central.  The Giants are damn close to the basement, but kinda close to first as well. But, let’s just think about it.  5+ years later, what’s the answer? Rios is now 32.  He’s coming off one of his best seasons since that 2007-2008 stretch, where he hit 25 homers with a career-high .304 average.  This year, he’s batting .272 but does have 11 home runs halfway through the season.  He’s still a solid baserunning threat.  He’s signed through 2014 at $12.5M, with a club option for 2015 at $13.5M. Lincecum, at 29, is no longer a Cy Young candidate.  He has marginally improved from a career-worst 2012 season where he wasn’t truly a playoff starter for the team.  He has a 4.64 ERA, a career-low 8.8 K/9IP.  He’s shown signs of getting his mechanics back down, but he’s not a dominating starter.  He’s a free agent at the end of the year, and could be a bargain for a team on a short-term deal to give him time to prove he can get back to where he was. The thing is, Rios has had spikes in his career.  Then he drops off the face of the planet.    His 2013 could go either way.  He hasn’t been convincing.  Lincecum, on the other hand, is just two years removed from a strong 2011, where he had a 4.2 WAR.  Not as strong as his Cy Young years, but pretty damn strong.  And he did it without the strikeouts, and with increased walks. Forget the placement of the teams, and whether it makes sense.  Would you do it? It’s a tough decision for me to say.  There’s something to be said for a change of scenery helping a player, and maybe in the end, that’s what Lincecum needs.  I have no doubt he could be great again…but could it be in San Francisco?  After all that’s happened? What I remember of Rios is the 2007 Home Run Derby.  He came to San Francisco, and hit home runs that rivaled the majesty of Bonds.  His swing was nice, even if it didn’t translate to games always.  And he nearly hit the coke bottle. However, he is wildly inconsistent at times.  He’s not a superstar hitter, and he’s only rarely a star anymore.  The Giants need some offensive help, but…more than their pitching right now?  And what will the Giants do when Pagan comes back, or Gary Brown or Roger Kieschnick need to come up?  Or Rios doesn’t want to shift to left? But there’s something about Lincecum.  Maybe I’m sentimental, but I’m a little attached to him.  He’s a bit uniquely San Franciscan, in that he’s a little different, a little frowned upon, and very misunderstood.  He’s got a hero’s journey to complete…probably. And the Giants need him, too.  As I’ve often mentioned, the Giants have three free agent rotation pitchers at the end of this season: Lincecum, Ryan Vogelsong and (potentially) Barry Zito.  At this point, Vogelsong is nothing but questions.  Zito would be expensive, but at least the Giants have a crazy option of keeping him. But Lincecum…his best fit might be with San Francisco.  Anywhere else, and the media will be even more focused on him, as a newcomer who really needs to perform, both for his new team and himself.  In San Francisco, Giants fans know him, and while there’ll be pressure, it won’t be the same kind.  We know not to expect too much.  And as Lincecum tries to find out if he can ever make $15M+ on a free agent market on a short deal, the Giants would be a good place for him to try, in terms of environment. So, maybe just for sentimental reasons.  Maybe a bit for baseball reasons.  But I still wouldn’t do it.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Pop misses game for medical reasons; Messina takes over

John Beilin upset with ESPN for late start time to game

Tyson Chandler felt like Knicks' scapegoat at times

Fred Jackson has 'no respect' for Donte Whitner

Devon Still responds to unpaid child support allegations

Diamondbacks sign Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Josh Gordon felt alienated by some in Browns organization

Jerry Jones: I'm a big admirer of Robert Griffin III

Raiola fined for uneccesarily striking Pats' Zach Moore

Report: Michigan keeping Jim Hackett on as athletic director

LeBron James on Ferguson: 'Violence is not the answer'

Decision on Ray Rice's appeal could come Wednesday

Todd Gurley begins rehab after surgery on knee for torn ACL

Brodeur to practice with Blues

OSU player posts Michigan player's girlfriend as his 'WCW'

Jim Harbaugh's family may not eat turkey thanks to NBC

Ole Miss' The Grove threatened by Mississippi State fan

Is it time for the Redskins to move on from Robert Griffin III?

Top 10 fantasy football turkeys for 2014

WATCH: Coyotes lose in ugly fashion, score own goal in OT

Warriors are having tons of fun on team plane

Jenn Sterger hints she'll be back in her FSU cowgirl gear for game

Game of the week: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Denver Broncos

Top storyline for each Week 13 NFL game

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

John Beilin upset with ESPN

Should Washington move on from RG3?

Dominic Raiola fined for cheap shots

Game of the week: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Denver Broncos

Rose leaves with injury again

WATCH: Pierce signs for fan during game

Report: McCoy to start over RG3

Braxton Miller headed to Oregon?

10 most one-sided college football rivalries

Pierce: C's Big Three like 'Holy Trinity'

Maclin unhappy with Cooper comments

Post-Week 13 CFB Playoff projection

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.