Clear A Path For Lincecum?

Tim Lincecum is doing everything he can to prove he’s ready for the Majors – he posted a 14K, zero walk effort yesterday.  His stats are off the charts after five starts.

Whether or not there’s an open spot in the Giants’ rotation, it’s clear that Lincecum is one of their 12 best pitchers.  He needs to be helping the big club right now, though I believe waiting until June to promote him could delay his free agency by a year.

The Giants’ rotation consists of Matt Cain, Barry Zito, Matt Morris, Noah Lowry, and Russ Ortiz.  All have ERAs at 4.50 or below, so it’d be tough to replace one of them with Lincecum right now.  Zito and Cain aren’t going anywhere, and Ortiz looks like a possible decent bargain as a fifth starter/innings eater. 

The two trade candidates in my eyes are Lowry and Morris.  Lowry, a 26 year-old southpaw, still hasn’t rediscovered his strikeout rate from ’05.  He’s young enough to find it, but a sub-4 ERA isn’t in the cards unless he does.  Morris, 32, has a 3.34 ERA in five starts and some say he’s returned to form.  The numbers don’t lie, though – more walks than strikeouts, plenty of hits.  He’s going to make $20MM over 2007-08.  He’s the one to sell high if at all possible.

Even with Bonds in the lineup, the Giants can’t get on base to save their lives.  Some players are just slumping, but there’s plenty of room for upgrade at first, third, and right field.  Morris or Lowry might be able to bring in a decent bat to complement Bonds.

More likely, of course: the Giants just stand pat and wait to see if one of the starters really flounders or gets hurt.  After another dominant start or two they could bring Lincecum up to get his feet wet in the pen, a la Francisco Liriano.  But whatever the route, this kid needs to be starting for the Giants by June.

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