by Matthew Taylor
For O’s fans, Tuesday’s All-Star Game is a story of what is (George Sherrill), what was (Miguel Tejada), and what could’ve been (Ervin Santana, Tim Lincecum). Naturally, the latter category is the most intriguing.
While the memory of Ervin Santana’s proposed trip to Birdland is still fresh in many fans’ minds, Lincecum’s story – as it relates to the Birds – is less-often told.
In early June I wrote about Billy Rowell, the player the O’s selected ahead of Lincecum with the ninth pick in the 2006 draft. However, I was unable to find any information on why the team passed on Lincecum, a move that’s drawn quite a bit of commentary on Inside the Warehouse, among other places. Last week, a July 7 Sports Illustrated cover story on Lincecum helped fill in the blanks on the Birds’ thinking.
“It frightens the chaw out of the cheeks of traditional baseball people that someone so lithe can throw 98 mph. The skittish Baltimore Orioles, picking ninth in the ’06 draft, basically took him off their board – though by then Lincecum, a junior at Washington, was a two-time Pac-10 pitcher of the year who had struck out more batters than any other pitcher in conference history, including Tom Seaver, Randy Johnson and Mark Prior. ‘We took a high school hitter,’ recalls then-Baltimore general manager Jim Duquette, referring to Bill Rowell, a third baseman who is hitting .225 in high A ball. ‘There was a feeling that [Lincecum] was short, not a real physical kid, and mechanically he was going to break down, that there was enough stress on his arm, elbow and shoulder. Our scouting department kind of pushed him down because of the medical aspect.'”