Does Tim Lincecum miss Bengie Molina?

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Is Tim Lincecum injured? Mechanically effed up?  Merely slumping? Lost at sea?  All of those things and more have been thrown around in an effort to explain his recent woes, but Andrew Baggarly mentions another possibility:

Does Lincecum miss throwing to Bengie Molina?

The
two-time Cy Young Award winner was 8-3 with a 3.12 ERA in 16 starts
with Molina before the Giants traded the veteran catcher to the Texas
Rangers on July 1. Lincecum is 1-1 with a 3.32 ERA in three pairings
with backup Eli Whiteside. In his past seven starts with rookie Buster
Posey, Lincecum is 2-3 with a 4.85 ERA.

As you’d expect, Lincecum is diplomatic, saying that Molina is great to pitch to but so is Buster Posey and that he’s had bad games and good games with each of them.

I’m not aware of any valid study of pitcher effectiveness with one catcher vs. another (“catcher ERA” is so flawed a stat that it’s not even worth honoring with a mention. Oh, crap, I mentioned it), but it’s certainly the case that pitchers are creatures of habit and some of them really like pitching to certain guys. Indeed, this dynamic paid Paul Bako, Charlie O’Brien and Eddie Perez’s mortgages for years.

Maybe that’s it with Lincecum. Maybe it’s not. All I know is that if the Giants don’t figure out what his problem is soon, they’re going to have an extra month off this fall to consider it all.

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to minor-league deal

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The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal,¬†LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune¬†reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.

Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.

Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.