From a general manager’s point of view, April and May are pitfalls.
Everything gets magnified at the beginning of the season. You have to be extremely careful because it’s much easier to make mistakes in evaluations in April and May than at any other time of year. Early-season performances are overrated for both players and teams.
For instance, when a great team like the Los Angeles Angels struggles, people immediately jump off the bandwagon. Or when a team like the New York Mets starts off strong, people actually believe this is the year. In the end, we all know where both those teams are headed.
With a player, there could be a myriad of reasons he is struggling. Anything from an injury to mechanics, the weather, age, playing in a new league, off-field/family issues or a long layoff can contribute to a slow start.
However, by the end of May, GMs should be able to make solid player evaluations in order to prepare trade options and targeting ways to improve the team by the July 31 trade deadline. The key is to discern the real red flags from the red herrings early in the season, and several players clearly have legitimate issues. Their GMs have every right to be nervous about their slow starts. Here are five players whose recent performances are great cause for concern:
Tim Lincecum, RHP
Lincecum said he was going to scrap his slider this year because of the wear and tear it puts on his arm. I don’t know if that means the slider bothers his elbow, shoulder, biceps or forearm. But what that does tell me is that he has some pain. So when he says he’s healthy, but his velocity is down and command is off, it’s time to make sure he really is healthy.