With a cold Hot Stove beginning to simmer, East Atlantic Look thought as though now would be as good a time as any to post the first of another new series; ‘An Open Letter to…’. In this series, we’re going to deliver exactly what it says on the tin – a letter, direct to someone or something, available for all to see. So with the Hot Stove bubbling, we thought we would keep our first open letter relevant to the Major Leagues; in a free agent market dotted, but far from jam-packed, with starting pitchers, we thought we would reach out to one man we think could do a job for most, if not all, of the 30 teams in the MLB.
FAO/ The Freak,
I hope this finds you well, and on behalf of baseball fans everywhere I hope you are healthy and well-rested.
Since you last took to the mound in 2016, a lot has happened in baseball; the team you helped to two World Series titles, San Francisco Giants, finished 2017 with the joint worst record in baseball (though it was an odd year, so maybe we can let them off), Mike Trout let someone else in the league win an award, we saw one of the best Fall Series’ in history with records broken left, right and centre and the whole of baseball is at a standstill waiting for the ‘next Babe Ruth’ to pick a club and the reigning National League MVP to be less picky with his no-trade clause.
With the actual baseball under the microscope as a result of Home-run records being shattered – a rookie hit 50 homers this year, that’s just silly – good starting pitchers are a much sought-after commodity from the 2017 Free Agent class. How many CY Young Award winners are on the FA market, though? Answer? One, Jake Arrieta. Arrieta is being projected to earn $100MM/4 years by MLBTradeRumours at 31. Also 31, though not a CY Young winner nor World Series winner (he lasted a total of 3.1 innings in the Fall Classic with an ERA of 21.60), Yu Darvish is projected to earn $160MM/6 years. For what it is worth, Bartolo Colon has announced his plans to pitch again in 2018; he will be 45 in May.
Whilst career stats are affected by the 2016 year with Los Angeles Angels, you would rank top 5 in fast ball velocity amongst the starting pitchers FA class of ’17, with a career mean of 92.3mph (all stats taken from FanGraphs). A career strikeout rate of 9.29 K/9 would be good enough to rank top 3 and a career ground-ball rate of 46.4% is better than the league average of 44%. If there was any doubt that a tough year in Anaheim meant you had lost it, I would argue adamantly that you have not.
The retort to praise is often ‘but where would I play?’ – anywhere you like; of the 30 teams in the big leagues, 26 returned the questionnaire to the representatives of Shohei Ohtani about why they would like him in their clubhouse – whilst Ohtani is a two-way player, he is reported to be a better pitcher than hitter, and thus there are at least 26 teams interested in acquiring a rotation arm for next year. A career ERA of 3.74, despite an ERA of 9.16 in 2016 to inflate those stats once again suggest that you would be a top of the rotation guy for nearly anyone.
I would argue only New York Mets have a ‘complete’ rotation when healthy, New York Yankees could also fall into that bracket depending on how they replace CC Sabathia – either by bringing him back, or signing one of the FA arms. A number of teams have two or three ‘power arms’ already; Washington Nationals arguably the most notable, led by National League Cy Young winner Max Scherzer and handy number 2 Stephen Strasburg. Honourable mentions for the top of the rotations at Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland Indians, Houston Astros and LA Dodgers. This leaves more than two-thirds of ball clubs who would be looking for a proven power arm which we have established, you have. Even after a year off in 2017, and a below average 2016, there are still only two more decorated active pitchers in MLB when it comes to Cy Young recognition; Clayton Kershaw and Scherzer have three putting you in a tie for third with Corey Cluber. I have no doubts that if you were to return to the big leagues anywhere near your best, you would be a valiant addition to any rotation. Heck, with 5 pitches and heat you would make any bullpen feared.
I, and many others I am sure – especially the old faithful in San Francisco, would love a chance to enjoy another ‘Timmy Day’. Another regular Wednesday night brightened up by the mullet locks flowing like a cape as you kick off the mound. August 5th 2016 feels a heck of a long time ago – until there is an official retirement announcement, or word from the Giants that you have joined them in a coaching capacity, there is a feeling that The Freak, aptly labelled ‘The Ghost’ by Daniel Brown here, could come back. The agent has given us hope that there is still an interest to pitch again, why not make the back-pages once more and pick a club? Why not throw a 10 pitch warm-up before tossing a no-hitter? (Twice. Both against San Diego Padres).
And so, Mr. Tim Lincecum, please come back to baseball. For one year, or two years, or as many as you’d like for as much as you need; there are 30 teams needing at least 5 starting pitchers and there are 30 teams that would be happy to accommodate you in their rotation at your best. How do either Arizona or Florida in February through March sound? An invite for Big Time Timmy Jim to Spring Training, anyone?
On behalf of baseball fans, Tim, I hope to see you back soon. The big leagues want their ace back.
Hold tight, James Dawne.