In a cold, clinical accounting of Tim Lincecum's true baseball value, his new two-year deal with the Giants for $35 million doesn't just seem high, it seems partially insane.
For two seasons, he has been a below-average starter in an extremely pitcher-friendly ballpark. There's no getting around that unless you just want to imagine otherwise.
Lincecum isn't a front-of-the-rotation guy, he hasn't pitched at a Cy Young level since 2009, and he is trending toward a possible switch to the bullpen by 2015.
So, what's the market value for a 29-year-old with declining velocity who recorded earned-run averages of 5.18 and 4.37 in 2012 and 2013?
Not $17.5 million a year. Probably about half that, and that's being liberal.
But the Giants were using a different kind of economics in this deal, which isn't tied to actual recent performance or clear-eyed appraisals.
The Giants love to pay their stars. Their stars draw fans, their fans fill AT&T Park -- even when the Giants aren't putting together logical rosters -- and that's how the Giants have the cash to overpay their stars.
Call it TooMuchMoneyBall.
And practically -- if we can use that word involving such a large overpayment -- the Giants probably could have stomached paying Lincecum just about anything as long as it came in a short-term span.
In that perspective, this deal makes some sense.
The Giants are rich, but they have committed themselves to heavy long-term deals with Buster Posey, Matt Cain and Hunter Pence.
The Giants are talented, but their vaunted rotation has thinned, and their next big wave of pitching talent isn't due for a couple of years.
If they didn't have Lincecum -- even below-league-average Lincecum -- they would have had to replace him some way.
And it is guaranteed that way wouldn't have electrified the home crowd the way No. 55 does every time he steps on the mound, even during the disappointing 2013 season.
So, cue Lincecum: If he wanted to stay for a few more years, and he did, the Giants were willing to meet a semi-insane price to do it.
I'm sure the Giants brass did some wishful thinking here, and that always costs extra come contract time.
They told themselves that starting with his July no-hitter, Lincecum really did have a second-half uptick, even though that is not statistically true.
It is similar to the wishful thoughts they had when they gave Pence $90 million last month, based on a few impressive weeks.
Lincecum and Pence are known, comfortable commodities to the Giants and their fan base, and the Giants paid a double premium for that.
And I would guess management also told itself that keeping one of its most iconic stars in house and happy for another few years is never a bad thing.
That is all part of the TooMuchMoneyBall mentality; and if you have that much money, it is a fair way to play it.
It is understandable, as long as Giants ownership never again complains that it can't compete financially with the Los Angeles Dodgers or the New York Yankees or anybody.
This deal shows that the Giants have that kind of money and will spend it when the personalities are right. They also have won two titles in the past four years, so they have earned some benefit of the doubt.
More to the point, the Giants have been a top-10 payroll team for a couple of seasons; in 2013, the total was around $136 million, and I would have to guess that's going up again.
Even with Barry Zito's contract finally gone (except for the $7 million buyout for 2014), the Giants are committed to paying $108 million to 11 players in 2014. Make it $115 million if you count the Zito buyout.
That is before they find a left fielder, before they try to re-sign Javier Lopez, before they figure out what to do with Ryan Vogelsong's option and before they fill out their rotation.
That is a sticking point: What the Giants can't do now, despite giving Lincecum all that money, is bet everything on him as a solid No. 3 starter.
If the Giants don't go after somebody else who could solidify the rotation behind Cain and Madison Bumgarner, then they're just thinking (and paying) wishfully.
They are doing a lot of that lately, even if it swells the payroll somewhere near or above $150 million.
It's who the Giants are now. They just told us so.