I still say that Adam Wainwright had a better 2009 than Tim Lincecum. But, even if I didn't, I still wouldn't trade Wainwright for the Giants' ace.
According to reports out of San Francisco, Lincecum's representatives have been emboldened by the star pitcher's back-to-back Cy Young Awards and are considering asking for $23 million in salary arbitration this off-season. For one year of service.
It sounds insane. But Lincecum's people believe the back-to-back Cy Youngs are the evidence that proves that he is the best pitcher in baseball. As such, they say he deserves to be paid at least as much as the game's highest-paid pitcher, C.C. Sabathia, who will make that amount from the Yankees per season from 2010-2015.
Won't it be odd for the Giants brass to have to sit across the table from Lincecum and argue all the same things Cardinals fans have been saying about him since the season ended: "Best pitcher in baseball? Come on! The guy only won 15 games!!!"
Fortunately for the Cardinals, they don't have to worry about such things. In the best move the team has made in the John Mozeliak era, the Birds inked Wainwright to a long term contract in March of 2008. He got $2.6 million last season and will make $4.6 million in 2010 and $6.5 million in 2011. The Cardinals also hold options for 2012 and 2013 for $9 million and $12 million respectively. Those options vest if Wainwright wins the Cy Young in either of the next two seasons.
Lincecum earned a modest $650,000 last season, so it will be an interesting situation for the Giants if the pitcher's people go through with their threat. Since the arbitrator decides between one proposal or the other and not something in the middle, the club risks making a huge mistake if it makes a lowball offer and loses the case. And it has no idea what an arbitrator will think is a lowball offer. Is a 600 percent raise to $6.5 million a lowball offer? Talk is that the Giants might try to avoid the whole mess and try to sign Lincecum to a three-year, $54-million contract.
Either way, Lincecum will be able to afford to buy a lot of pot.