Tim Lincecum’s awful spring, in which he gave up 18 runs in 15 1/3 innings, only added to the Giants’ doubts about what they’d get from their two-time Cy Young winner this season. They’re probably no closer to figuring it out after Lincecum walked seven yet still defeated the Dodgers on Wednesday.
Lincecum surrendered just two runs in five innings, and both were unearned. The first came on a passed ball from Hector Sanchez. The second came on a sac fly following an error from Buster Posey at first base. Meanwhile, the Giants offense came through with five runs off Josh Beckett in the 5-3 victory.
The Lincecum-Sanchez pairing was a constant in the second half of last year, and while that wasn’t supposed to carry over in 2013, it was a convenient option tonight with normal first baseman Brandon Belt ailing. If the Giants decide that Lincecum and Sanchez need to stick together, then Belt could see time in left field to make room for Posey at first base.
Lincecum’s performance tonight made him the first pitcher since old Giants teammate Jonathan Sanchez to walk seven and allow no earned runs in a start. Sanchez did it against the Naitonals on April 30, 2011 when he allowed just one hit in five innings. Prior to that, Edwin Jackson walked eight in his no-hitter for the Diamondbacks on June 25, 2010.
Lincecum matched his career high for walks, which he established against the same Dodgers team just last September (again in a victory). His walk rate increased for the third straight year last season (90 BB in 186 IP).
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.