The Giants have won a lot of games and had some great celebrations with Tim Lincecum as their starting pitcher.

They've won many, many games and won two titles with Buster Posey as their mainstay catcher.

And they've even won huge and historic games with Lincecum and Posey starting together as pitcher and catcher, though as the years have gone on Bruce Bochy has chosen to avoid that headline combination almost entirely.

Which maybe was the actual start and subtext of this, the artistic yin and disciplined yang of this very successful era of Giants history—if Posey isn't a great enough catcher to soothe Lincecum and if Lincecum is such a free spirit that he can't comfortably throw to Posey... maybe those are equal and separate signs that both have long-term issues at those particular positions.

Maybe neither was built to last in the spots we first saw them.

I think we're seeing it all play out during this season, on slightly different timetables but it is fascinating that both issues are becoming so clear at basically the same time.

Posey has caught 442 major-league games, his body has taken hits that only catchers take, his defense seems to be suffering some because of it, and Posey's offensive value now is moving in an alarmingly sinking direction.

He has been incredibly valuable as a leader and player as a catcher, but not so much when his OPS is well under .800, as it is so far this season, and he now wanders so far in front of the plate on potential plays at home that he has trouble getting back to make the actual tag.


Advertisement

Question: Is it time for the Giants to consider moving Posey, who played shortstop as a freshman at Florida State, from behind the plate to either third base (if Pablo Sandoval leaves as a free agent) or first base (if Brandon Belt is traded or cannot hold onto the job)?

Lincecum has started 244 games and thrown thousands of pitches, and his velocity is way down, he is regularly strafed when he pitches away from AT&T Park, and even counting some very dominant starts at home and in San Diego, Lincecum has been a reliably poor-to-mediocre starter in aggregate since the beginning of the 2012 season.

But the Giants gave him $35 million for this year and next, and still keep sending him out there every fifth game.

Question: Can the Giants keep sending Lincecum out there for 30+ starts a year and expect anything different? Shouldn't they strongly consider moving him to the bullpen from Day 1 of next season?

Nothing will -- or should -- happen this season with regard to Posey and Lincecum.

The Giants need to see if Posey can turn around this season as a catcher. If he can, that's where he provides more value than just about any other player in the National League. As for Lincecum, the Giants flat out don't have another starter to replace Lincecum now, especially with Matt Cain sidelined for the rest of the season.

But looking to 2015... with Andrew Susac and Hector Sanchez presumably viable as a young righty-lefty hitting platoon at catcher, and with the Sandoval contract issue looming... if Posey turns in another sub-800 OPS season, shouldn't the Giants think about Posey as their possible third base answer?

Yes, the answer is yes. Eventually, this is going to happen. I think the Giants and probably Posey knew when he signed his huge extension last year that most of the nine-year, $167-million deal probably would be served at a position friendlier to his body, and long-term production, than catcher.

Posey is 27. Houston moved Craig Biggio moved from catcher to second base when he was 26, after only three full seasons as a catcher. And Biggio went on to put up a career that probably will put him in the Hall of Fame next year (he missed by just 2 votes this year).

This is going to happen with Posey, it was always a matter of when. The way Posey is playing now and the way the nicks and pains of playing catcher seem to be accumulating on him, I think this off-season is when the Giants will start to think about moving him to an open corner infield spot as a real thing.

And third base seems to be the most logical open spot in 2015. If he can handle the position and if he wants to do it, OF COURSE.

As for Lincecum, if the Giants can add one or two starters this off-season, and if Cain is ready to go in spring training, it's hard to imagine how much longer the Giants can go with Lincecum as a permanent starter and believe they're sending out the best starting rotation possible.

Will his stuff translate to a full-time slot in the bullpen? You'd have to think Lincecum will have a better shot there; he proved in the 2012 postseason that he has the mind-set and flexibility to pitch quite well out of the bullpen, when necessary.

I just think he's now suited to throwing 30 full-force pitches an outing than he is to trying to pace himself to throw 100 or more. Or at least it's worth a look very soon because the stats as a starter since 2012 are not good.

The Giants could theoretically re-sign both Jake Peavy and Ryan Vogelsong and get Cain back, and would still have Madison Bumgarner and Tim Hudson—and there's a half-decent five-man rotation right there. Or they could sign somebody else, anybody else who would be more reliable than Lincecum has been in his 90 starts since the start of 2012.

They're due to pay Lincecum $18 million in 2015, which is a lot to pay any reliever, but at this point the Lincecum money is already basically spent; the issue is how to get the most out of him, and unless there's a sudden turnaround in the next two months, it's hard to see that happening as a starter.

This might be less inevitable than the Posey transition, since a move to the bullpen for an established starter is a huge demotion and drop-off in actual work load (unlike a catcher to another position), and almost never happens to a pitcher who has achieved so much as a starter early in his career.

Two-time Cy Young-winner moving to the bullpen full-time as a starter in his early 30s without major injury issues and without changing teams? Can't say that I know of any true precedent.

Nobody knows if Lincecum would make a successful transition. He might resist it forever, he might love it, he might work his way back into the rotation in an as-needed basis throughout his career.

But for the remaining year he has with the Giants, at $18 million for 2015, I think both sides have to view the bullpen as a very interesting option. The Giants gave him this year (and $17 million) to take one more run as a starter when maybe not many others would've done that — certainly not at $17 million.

Maybe 2015 will be the time for Lincecum to accept another role... or at least think about it.

Posey too.

For more, see Tim Kawakami's Talking Points at blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami. Contact him at tkawakami@mercurynews.com.

Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/timkawakami.