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 Post subject: Who will overpay for Barry Zito?
PostPosted: Thu Dec 21, 2006 3:38 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2005 6:47 pm
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Location: Washington
By virtue of being the last major free agent standing, Barry Zito and his agent-of-Satan agent, Scott Boras, are playing interested teams off against one another and jacking up their price into previously uncontemplated stratospheres. Five years and $75 million (reportedly the Mets' best offer) is deemed insufficient; Texas has gotten a noncommital response to its offer of seven years and more than $100 million.

An afterthought in all this insanity is whether or not Zito's past and probable future performance merits superstar money. As Patrick Swayze said in "Roadhouse": "Opinions vary."

— Baseball Prospectus: "Zito has gained a great deal of fame for some incredible pitching in the past, as well as his reputation as a goofy left-hander. This has kept him in the spotlight for some time in Oakland, even during a time where few Athletics players were given much love by the national media. He'll certainly be paid for what he has done rather than what he will do, but unless the situation turns out to be just right, the club that signs him may very well regret it as soon as year two or three of what will most likely be a much longer deal."

— USS Mariner: "Barry Zito, the last three years, has given up about 10 to 15 runs less than an average starting pitcher over the course of 200 innings. He’s been something like a three win player compared to what the Mariners could cobble together as their fifth starter with some combination of prospects and assorted Triple-A fodder.

"If there was a 100% chance that Zito would repeat his average performance over the last three years, with no decline in performance and no chance for injury, he still wouldn’t be worth $16 or $17 million per season. He’s just not an elite pitcher. He hasn’t been for several years.

"Toss in the significant chance of decline and injury over the course of a long term deal, and giving Zito anything close to a 6 year, $100 million deal shouldn’t even be on the Mariners radar. Give superstar contracts to superstar players. Barry Zito isn’t one now, wasn’t one last year, and won’t be next year."

— Keith Law, ESPN.com: "Zito is a third or fourth starter with the reputation of a one or a two. In fact, over the last three years, he's struggled badly when facing the two premier offenses in the AL, posting a 6.59 ERA against Boston and the Yankees while walking 47 men and allowing 18 homers in 83.3 innings. His control is below-average; only Daniel Cabrera has walked more batters in the last two years than Zito has. And should Zito's stuff slip at all, he becomes a fifth starter or a guy who needs to head to the National League, the current destination for asylum-seekers who fear AL persecution of their fringy fastballs."

— The Hardball Times: "Zito’s unique skill, so to speak, is the theoretical ability to induce infield fly balls. Seriously. If you look at his line, that’s the only thing he does particularly well. The league average IF/Fly rate is 10%, but the last three years, Zito has posted marks of 13.3%, 19.3%, and 16.4%. He ranked 5th in the AL in IF/Fly this year, 2nd last year, and fourth two years ago.

"The rest of his line - walks, strikeouts, home runs, line drives, and stranding runners - are all mediocre (with the exception of his ‘06 LOB%, which was very high, but is a Washburn in ‘05 style fluke). His success has been built on inducing a lot of infield flies, which are basically guaranteed outs, allowing him to post a significantly higher rate of outs on balls in play than the average pitcher.

"Paying a guy with the hope that he continues to induce an above average rate of popups is a great way to lose a lot of money. Of all pitcher skills, it’s one of the least consistent, and if that disappears, he doesn’t have much to fall back on. "

— Anonymously quoted major league scout on ESPN.com: "The last two times I've seen him the last couple years, he wasn't on at all. He struggled getting his breaking ball over for strikes, and when he does that, he's in trouble. He can't get by on a power arm."

— Scott Boras: "Clubs have identified Barry Zito as a No. 1 pitcher and a difference-maker for their staff."


And, as anyone who follows baseball knows, Scott Boras' opinion is the one that matters most.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 21, 2006 4:35 pm 
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Joined: Tue Dec 28, 2004 11:40 am
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Location: 60'6" from home plate
Yeah. What you said.

Take away 2001 and 2002 and Zito is a decent pitcher, but not an ace. For a team to give ANY pitcher a five-year contract is dumb; a seven-year contract is insane. Which means Texas will probably do it.

Which brings up a question: Are there any sleepers out there among available pitchers?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 25, 2006 10:19 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jun 24, 2005 1:17 pm
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While his 2006 was dreadful, I've been a fan of Tomo Okha. I don't know what happened to him in Milwaukee, but he was great as an Expo/National.

Of course, on the wire tonight came word that the Yanks are shopping Randy Johnson. That might temper the Zito market a touch (you know, the market for offbeat lefties who are losing a foot or two off their fastball).

And, will Clemens come back?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 26, 2006 9:35 am 
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Joined: Sat Nov 01, 2003 1:01 am
Posts: 741
Location: The Empire State
Zito will probably go to the Mets. It makes the most sense for his career, and surely there's at least one athlete who can convince Scott Boras that Boras works for the athlete and not vice versa. Zito could well win 20 games with the Mets in that ballpark and with that lineup behind him. And he could do it for two or three years. He will break down over the course of the contract, but the Mets can probably get three good years and three Glavine-like years out of Zito, so in the end, the $100 mil will have been well spent. (Don't forget: The Mets will have $20 mil a year just in naming rights coming in starting in 2009 from the new stadium. And all the extra revenue from the new park's luxury suites and increased ad rates on their new TV network. To the Mets, $100 mil is not that extravagant. Fred Wilpon's not going to be on any soup lines anytime soon.)

If Clemens' agents truly know what's best for him, they will advise him to go back to the Astros or go back to the house and avoid the American League altogether. He will be lit up by the explosive AL lineups, half a season or not. And as a Yankee fan, I have no desire to see him back in pinstripes. He is not the future. I'm tired of Clemens; he should just go away.

And megakudos to Brian Cashman if he is able to get any arms of value from Arizona for the Big Crank. Adieu. The deal to acquire Johnson could well be the last misbegotten trade inspired by Steinbrenner, given the owner's deteriorating hold on the reins of the baseball end of his business, if media reports are accurate.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2006 12:34 pm 
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Location: The Empire State
And the winner is ... the Giants, says Yahoo.com.

Wow-wee. Seven years, $126 mil? Let's see how much the Giants get out of that deal. I predict three years of excellence, an arm injury that takes a year and a half to recover from (essentially two years of performance wasted), followed by two years of so-so performance not unlike what Tom Glavine has delivered for the Mets the past few years.

I'm surprised. I really thought he would realize the best combination of factors to put him in position to win a world championship existed in Flushing, Queens. Not to mention that he could probably attain baseball immortality, given the size of the media market here.

And the Giants are on the verge of a rebuilding plan, given how old their team is. How many games is Zito going to win them over the length of his contract with all the presumably young, inexperienced players who will be joining the team in the next few years? I guess it doesn't matter; he got his cake.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2006 5:49 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 08, 2002 12:01 am
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Location: Baltimore
Maybe he just likes the area.

Some players don't want the scrutiny they receive when they land in New York with a huge contract.

[I know less about Zito than others who've written here, but from what I've seen and heard, he's not worth that kind of money. Maybe the Giants figure they'll make a fortune with Bonds chasing Aaron's record this season, then be rid of that contract while needing a veteran to build their pitching staff around. Still ...]


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2006 6:02 pm 
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What I can't believe is that committing to Zito's age-35 season, the Giants asked for a team option on his age-36 season. I would bet any amount of money that that option will never be exercised.

I would bet, too, that Giants GM Brian Sabean will be selling used cars by that time.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2006 7:08 pm 
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Location: The Empire State
Wabberjocky wrote:
What I can't believe is that committing to Zito's age-35 season, the Giants asked for a team option on his age-36 season. I would bet any amount of money that that option will never be exercised.

I would bet, too, that Giants GM Brian Sabean will be selling used cars by that time.


Agree on all counts, and the last one made me smile.

Wayne: Yep, you heard right. Can't argue with your reasoning, either.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2006 8:17 pm 
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Location: Washington
Looking ahead to the next offseason:

Boras client Andruw Jones is probably cackling insanely to himself, thinking of the 9-year, $175 million deal he'll get a year from now.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2006 9:08 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jun 24, 2005 1:17 pm
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At least it gets the Rockies and their $121 million Mike Hampton contract off the hook for being the richest. Still is the dumbest, with the $51 million Neagle a close second.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2006 11:12 am 
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Joined: Mon Apr 08, 2002 12:01 am
Posts: 3135
Location: Albuquerque, N.M. USA
This was a good discussion, but I'm locking it, because such a discussion of ungodly sums of money borders on the pornographic.

Baseball players make a lot of money. The people who employ them make even more. Working folks pay $20 or $30 to indulge them. Let's move on.


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