The Other Side of Tinstaapp 

No, we're not talking about a remote islet in the Dutch Antilles.

For those of you not familiar with the acronym TINSTAAPP -- There Is No Such Thing As a Pitching Prospect -- it was coined by Baseball Prospectus writer Gary Huckabay several years ago and is frequently used to squash overenthusiasm about bright young pitchers making waves in the minor leagues.

It's used as shorthand for "Pitchers get injured far more often than hitters, so don't get too excited. One year you're Tim Lincecum, the next you're Brien Taylor."

Yesterday, Huckabay revisited the meaning of TINSTAAPP in a BP article, part of a series the site is running called "Hope and Faith" that asks what it will take for each team to win the World Series this year. Huckabay takes on the Giants. You can read his assessment of the team here, and you can read a discussion of the story here.

I won't get into his five-point plan. Instead I want to highlight Huckabay's reminder that there's a second piece to TINSTAAPP: because pitchers are more fragile, it's a good idea to use the best ones early. A 22-year-old (like Lincecum) carving his way through the minors (like Lincecum) is more likely to be as good as he's ever going to get, says Huckabay, than a 22-year-old hitter raking balls all over the double-A Eastern League. Because of the injury factor -- the inevitable wear and tear on a pitcher's body -- it's foolish to waste that phenom pitcher's talent in the minors.

In other words, There Is No Such Thing As a Pitching Prospect, because once a true prospect is indentified, he should quickly be a major leaguer and no longer a prospect.

Huckabay then applies it directly to Tim Lincecum: "...guys who are totally blowing people away in the minors like they’re so many hot dog pretenders before Kobayashi are absolutely not pitching prospects -- they’re already pitchers, and more time in the minors only means time off the living, pulsating clocks that are their labrums, rotator cuffs, and elbows. No pressure, but Tim Lincecum in 2007 = Johan Santana in 2003, if the Giants are going to go anywhere. There’s nobody that doesn’t know that without Lincecum, the Giants aren’t going to win. Some of us might not want to admit it, but c’mon."

Huckabay's premise seems to feed the short-term, win-now mentality that keeps a team like the Giants from rebuilding and maximizing future health. He basically says use it or lose it, damn the long-term consequences. If Lincecum is ready, of course bring him up. But as a general rule, I'm not convinced. Any thoughts?

* Quote of the day: Russ Ortiz told the Chronicle's Gwen Knapp he had lost weight by cutting sugar out of his diet. He said he expected to lose 5 to 6 pounds and dropped 12 to 13 instead. "That was pretty much it, so it goes to show you how much sugar I was eating," he said. "...I always used to eat whatever I wanted and work out, and it kind of evened out."

* My favorite shill has left the blogosphere. Rich Draper, who "covered" the Giants for MLB.com, is no longer providing a wealth of purple prose for our amusement. New "beat writer" Chris Haft (who used to cover the Giants for the Merc) has taken over. Let's remember Draper fondly, shall we?


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