Inbox: Will Giants make Crick a starter?

Beat reporter Chris Haft fields Giants' fans questions

September 8th, 2017

Is being considered for starting if he proves out as a reliever, short or long?

-- Bill V., Indianapolis

Right now, no. That could change if injuries or ineffectiveness gutted the Giants' contingent of starters. Since the early 1990s, when Curt Schilling moved from the Astros to the Phillies, switched from relieving to starting and thus ascended from journeyman to potential Hall of Famer, teams have been careful about discarding a talented-looking pitcher until they've exhausted every possibility of channeling his gifts in the proper direction. In Crick's case, he has embraced the relief role after years of starting. Moreover, though the Giants' rotation has room for upgrading, they have more pressing needs than bolstering the starting five. Converting Crick a second time would be an intriguing idea if the Giants desperately needed a starter and he gained a little more consistency. That combination has not yet materialized.

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Despite the Major Leagues' emphasis on hitting, the key to the Giants' World Series wins was pitching -- great starters and possibly a better relief corps. But our recent crop on the farm has been disappointing -- , Josh Osich, , Tyler Beede, etc. Is there anyone that may be a steady, stable piece for the team?

-- John T., Dallas

I'm going to name a guy who has pitched for the Giants for more than a year. I just sense that if everything clicks for him, he can provide stability and competence in the back end of the rotation or as a long man out of the bullpen. That's right: , a 27-year-old right-hander. I'll mention someone else with the same last name who's not related but apparently has a bright future: Andrew Suarez, a left-hander and the club's No. 11 prospect per A second-round selection in the 2015 MLB Draft, the 24-year-old Suarez gained valuable experience at Triple-A Sacramento this year. As is the case with many young pitchers, his most significant shortcoming is lack of consistency. Manager Bruce Bochy loves Suarez's ability. His endorsement is good enough for me.

Looking ahead to the 2018 season, do you expect the Giants to be active in the free-agent market? If so, who are likely targets?

-- Gerald L., Columbus, Ind.

One name already whispered under the Giants' collective breath is of the Kansas City Royals. By occupying center field, he would deepen the Giants' outfield depth chart simply by forcing to move to left field and causing a chain reaction through which certain players who don't deserve to start no longer will be considered as everyday candidates.

However, Cain lacks a power bat. The Giants seem to be hoping that power-hitting prospect Chris Shaw, who will spend most of his offseason working out in left field, can gain enough competence and realize enough of his hitting potential to establish himself as an instant presence.

Obviously, this is very premature, but do you think has any shot at the Hall of Fame? I believe only one other pitcher has won multiple Cy Young Awards, multiple World Series championships, multiple strikeout-leading titles and multiple All-Star Game selections: Sandy Koufax. And unless I'm mistaken again, he's in the Hall of Fame.

-- Mike P., Las Vegas

Covering Tim Lincecum throughout his Major League career was a privilege, not an assignment. I would have gladly reversed the usual charges and paid to write stories about him when he pitched. He rekindled whatever little-boy love I have left for the game. If you don't believe me, check the archives. I wrote on more than one occasion that he was the best show in baseball and, before the Giants began winning World Series, that he made them the best team in the Major Leagues when he pitched.

That said, Lincecum has no chance of gaining induction to the Hall. On a very practical level, he did not accumulate 10 years of Major League service time. Without that, he won't qualify for even the Hall of Fame ballot, never mind the Hall itself. And that leads to why Lincecum will get shut out of Cooperstown. He wasn't good enough for long enough. However, if the Giants ever decide to assemble a franchise Hall of Fame, as a few organizations have done, Lincecum's a first-ballot selection. Sin duda.