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THE REALISTIC GIANTS FAN: Is this Timmy's Night to Shine?

The Old Control v. Velocity Debate

This season has defined up and down. Super emotional highs followed by very discouraging lows. This is a team that has been 41-40, looking like they would never hit and be out of the race by July 10th. They have also been as many as 17 games over .500 with a 2 game lead in the wild card. Baseball is strange, though. We come out of a tough stretch, lose 2 to the Cards and then come all the way back in an amazing game, only to lose and meanwhile the Astros are SWEEPING THE PHILLIES! Now we are, as of this morning, the 27th of August, leading the wild card by a 1/2 game. Can you believe it? Baseball is a funny, funny game and just when you think it's over the team in front of you has a minor meltdown. You think you know what's going to happen and then BAM! The Astros beat the Phillies and San Diego gets walloped by Arizona.

Speaking of the Padres, it's coming. Those who follow this blog know that I have been telling you all year that the Padres are going to melt. Well, my friends, I believe it has begun. They dropped 2 out of 3 to Milwaukee and then yesterday happened. I watched the game last night and I must say that for the 1st time all year the Padres looked gassed. Since the Padres have been the team in front of us this whole year I have watched a lot of their games via MLB.tv and they looked, at times, like they were incapable of making mistakes. If they were in a different division I would probably be a minor fan of theirs like I've become of the Reds. The Padres are very efficient and when they score they've been making it stand. They have been doing all the little things right. I mean all the little things. Every single man on the team, with the exceptions of Ludwick and Gonzalez (who aren't asked), can lay down a bunt. They don't try to do too much. If there is a runner on 2nd and nobody out they have been getting him to 3rd with no problem. If there is nobody on they take a ton of pitches. If there is a runner in scoring position they shorten up and come through on what seems like most occasions. (Impossible, but it does seem true.) All that and I still haven't even mentioned their bullpen, which is starting to look human, by the way. Last night, however, I saw a team looking tired and worn out. A washed up Giant struggle to throw strikes, followed by Tim Stauffer who didn't pitch too poorly actually, eating up valuable innings for Bud Black, but he did give up a couple. The Padres made some noise in the 8th off of Demel, but he's not exactly a reliever with a shutdown reputaion and has an ERA above 5.00.

We now have to face that same DiamondBack team and we should enter this series a little wary. Arizona just put up 11 runs on a good San Diego team at Petco. That, mixed with the fact that Arizona has nothing to lose, makes them pretty scary. There is soooo much talent on that Arizona roster that you have to feel that they aren't going to play poorly the whole year. What torrid luck that would be for them to get roastin' just in time for our "easy" series. I'm hoping it's more like us in '07 and '08. These past 2 seasons when the offense has gotten it going we have been able to expect that our offense will now be clicking for at least the next few days. In the 2 aforementioned years when the Giants would explode it was more of abbhoration. You could expect the offense to go right back to sleep the next day. We can all hope that's what happens.

Now let's get to what we will all be watching. Timmy seemed to be harnessing his stuff a little better in his St. Louis start and it has encouraged many of us. Maybe this little resurgence will carry more weight in the cooler climes of San Francisco. If it is cooler. It was unseasonably hot in the Bay the past few days. Cryptically, the locals refer to it as earthquake weather. Let us all hope this does not hold true. Timmy needs to right the ship. Without him our chances at postseason glory are next to nil. The Giants, mind you, may still make the playoffs, but if we want to make a deep run Timmy on his A game is a must. One bright spot may be that if this warm weather/cold weather theory on Lincecum is to be believed, some solace can be taken in the fact that since they start in October, few postseason games are played in warm weather, if any at all.

Way too much emphasis has been put on his lack of velocity. Yesterday Tim's father (who I have about as much love for as Bengie Molina) said that Timmy's loss of velocity is because the pros have been pushing Tim to develop his offspeed pitches more than keeping his fastball sharp. This was doubly confusing when he then later said that he trusted Righetti completely. Followed immediately by the Giants were wrong to stop Timmy from long tossing. Then that he understood why they would. It was obvious to me that he just likes hearing himself speak and is totally enjoying the fame that has come along with his prodigy son. He even got mad at Greg Papa for telling him to wrap it up as if he was the only guest on Chronicle Live that night. Look, you better start developing your offspeed stuff when you get to the big leagues. The hitters in the majors couldn't give a smaller hoot about velocity. What's killing Timmy is location. He is missing his spots and many times even when throwing strikes he is off the target location. Timmy never had a fastball with a lot of movement, rather he had more of what I would call enough movement. He used to open at-bats with his two-seam and often hitters couldn't react the first at-bat, then he got to work with the curveball in '07 and the change-up the last two years. However, he was throwing the curveball and the change-up periodically for strikes. Now they are not going to get over and the whole league knows it. All they have to do is wait him out and eventually he will have to throw a fastball.

I don't want to get too much into glory days type stories here and if you ever met me you would probably laugh at the thought, but there was a point in my life where I was a pretty good pitcher. Travel leagues, Pony, High School. All good times for me. By the time I blew out my shoulder my sophomore year I had wracked up some pretty good memories. Don't feel too bad for me, as I am 5'8", so I wasn't going anywhere. On top of that I was throwing at about 68 MPH and that was when I really reared back and put both cheeks into it. I cruised more at about 62. There is a 12 year old on tv right now who is throwing 64...and 66. That being said, I had way better years than some of the most gifted athletes I played with and that, I believe, was a credit to 2 things.

1) I could locate, with any pitch, at any time. I had my off-days, but for the most part my control was impeccable, if I do say so myself.

2) I mixed speeds. After getting buckled by two benders, even a 65 MPH piece of cottage cheese can look fast.

The loss of velocity is a natural occurrence for many and I agree with Lowell Cohn when he says its not coming back. Timmy is just going to have to re-invent himself. Also, in the winter perhaps he should look into having his blister problem taken care of. He says it's no big deal, but have you ever pitched with a blister? Those of you who have know what I'm talking about. It's no day at the beach. The laces feel like pressing on a steak knife blade. Often times you'll cheat off the laces and thus change your grip, which leads at times to control problems. Not to mention the arm problems you could develop by overcompensating with your elbow. Hint, hint.

Let's hope after the next few starts that this is all conjecture and we can laugh at ourselves. As of late Pablo has pulled himself out from under and I had seriously written him off, so ships can be righted, no matter how deep into the schedule you are. Now let's get to work on treating the DiamondBacks like the 5th place team that they are.

(Feel free to comment or email me directly at realisticgiantsfan @yahoo.com. This column appears every Monday and Friday...for the most part)


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