Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
For the past two months a good friend of mine keeps asking me why the Yankees won't go after Barry Zito. I've long stopped trying to give him an answer, but if the Bombers do end up moving Randy Johnson, Zito might become a very real possibility.
While I am just as eager as the next guy to rid oursleves of the "The Eunich," I must say that I would hesitate about making such a move if only because of what we all learned from King Theo's ill-advised trade of Aroyo for Willy Mo -- which is, even though you might THINK you might have a surplus of major league ready pitching, you may just be trading away what you might need someday!
I know, I know--it's different with pitching. You can't have too much pitching. Pitching wins championships. etc.
The best one can do is make a calculated prediction. Johnson's age and performance in NY suggest that he will not be much more than a league average pitcher in the AL, for 16 million. Any number of AAA retreads can give you league average performance for a lot less money.
As for Zito, people sem pretty high on him, and he certainly has very good career numbers (but look at those base runners--yikes). But the market this year is so skewed that he will command a very steep price tag. Does the team really want to tie into another 6 year contract for a player who has probably already peaked? Will we love such a deal for the next two years, then bitch and moan in three years about the remaining 3 or four years at 20 million/year?
Sure, Cashman may make this move. But I am holding out hope that the team is moving in a fundamentally different direction. I would like to see far fewer of these big splash deals, especially when the price s exaggerated by a skewed market. This does not mean NEVER signing free agents. But there is no reason why EVERY off season must have a big deal or major signing just because, like, that's what yer sposed ta do. If, however, the team makes more selective moves in the ofseason, it can stagger big contracts and more easily afford to occasionally overpay for truly high impact players.
Byrnes isn't all that, though he's decent defensively, and it looks like last season might have been a career year for him. At the very least, he's a decent #4 OF. Remember, though, he doesn't walk much, he strikes out at a decent clip, and his OBP isn't that high. Oh yeah, and he'll be 31 years old next year. Not exactly a spring chicken.
Zito's worst record over the past 3 years is against the Yankees and the Red Sox (both ERAs over 6). That being said, his ERA was under 4 last year, and he's young. I'd definately welcome him on the team, just as long as he can live comfortably as a Yankee. Hopefully having Damon on the team will help him adjust.
I'm all for trading Randy, but we need to get something for him besides Byrnes. Like someone above said, Montero (catcher) would be fantastic (John Sickels gives him a B+). I also heard about Micah Owings, who would also be very good (rated a B by Sickels). Hopefully a bidding war between the Padres and DBacks will get us a bit more. Part of me hopes that the Padres will get him and that we trade for Linebrink so that we don't have to trade Melky for Gonzo, though Gonzo (assuming healthy) would be a great addition to the bullpen.
If not, then who cares what they pay anyone?
Zito is 28, lefty, and never hurt. Hes also a cy young winner and loves pitching big games. And the Yanks seem to play some of those every yr.
So, again, I do not care intrinsically about George's money, and it is his right as red blooded American to spend it any way he wants. But it is also my opinion that overpaying for Zito, especially if it means a long term contract, will not help the team (in terms of wins and losses) significantly in the short term, and will hurt the team in the long term. THAT is my care.
Now, if we want to debate the merits of Zito as a pitcher, and the degree to which he will (or will not) help the team, that is fine. It is a fact that he has won a Cy Young, and I cannot dispute your claim that he likes to pitch in 'big games.' One could, of course, have said the same thing about Randy Johnson.
This "big game" stuff is nonsense. Randy was phenomenal in 2001 postseason and what has he done for us since?
The main problem with signing Zito is that he wants ace type money over a large number of years. That will hamper a lot of flexibility for a large number of years. With a bunch of promising youngsters coming up very soon, it can be argued that its more of a hindrance than a help.
I wouldn't trade him unless the return value were extremely high.
Then who do you want as the 4 and 5 starters once Randy goes?
I have to assume you mean Rasner or Karstens.
And we have to stop looking at the stat projections like they are the gospel truth. Hes a 44 yr old pitcher coming off MAJOR back surgery who relies on velocity to get hitters out. He only has two pitches and if the slider doesnt slide he has a hittable 93 mph fastball.
Which we all saw last yr when he got hammered. Its not "bad luck" that a pitcher lets up a high batting average with men on base. Its the definition of "pitching poorly".
But you dont replace 17 wins and 200+ innings easily.
With Zito, we'll probably get the 200+ innings, but I can't speak for the 17 wins.
In any case, I am and was not arguing that Zito is not better than the last five names on the list. I simply question if he is worth the amount of $$$, and therefore the % of the Yankees available payroll, that he will absorb, especially if we are looking at him as a #4 starter or as pitching depth.
Heck, if they can get him "cheap', or more probably, if he can be signed to a two year or three contract, great. I am just leery of another longterm deal with a player who has very likely peaked. I mean, it's been fun to wath Giambi and Mussina decline before our eyes, but too much of a good thing...
Ah, family-man Randy... Is this the same millionaire douche-bag who was sueing his estranged teenage daughter over a couple hundred bucks? Don't let the door hit yer ass on the way out!
I seem to remember Zito out dueling the great Santana last yr. Whos to say he wouldnt be the 2? With the way pitching is being paid these days 15$ mill for a 2-3 starter isnt that bad.
When Meche and Lilly make 11$ mill Id rather have the proven guy.
"Then who do you want as the 4 and 5 starters once Randy goes?"
You're right. If he can really be a #2 pitcher and if he only costs around 15 million/year, and if he continues to put up good numbers for five or six years, then this would be a good move.
Zito has averaged an ERA+ of about 112 the last three years, which is not that much better than Mussina (108) and worse than Pettitte (about 130, but really skewed by a freaky-good 2005). The latter two are older, so we can expect a falloff for them, so it is not unlikely that Zito will post better numbers than they will. The fact that 28 y.o. Zito seems to be the equivelant of 35 y.o. Mussina and/or Pettitte is a little worrisome.
By the way, the last playoff game Mussina won was in 2005. Yes, Zito did outduel Santana, but he also gave up 5 ER in 3.2 IN against Detroit in the playoffs, so is he really a 'big game pitcher.' Really, the whole concept of 'big game' pitcher is pretty meaningless. I hope Cashman is not making decisions based on half a dozen innings (or whatever) in the post season.
If Boras wants to mess up that strategy, let him take his overhype to another team, who would likely be influenced by the Yanks' stance when it pans out in the playoffs.
All I'm saying is that if the Yanks are supposedly the 800 pound gorilla in the room, then use that influence to push the market closer to your economic advantage. Zito's value is overinflated simply because of the dearth of quality pitching and he knows it. If a team is stupid enough to buy into Boras' chatter, that's their problem. The Yanks can put a take-it/leave-it deal and still not miss a beat quality-wise with what they have in the system. Does it have to be a one-shot now or another string of championships starting in another year?
And yes, that's arbitrary, but so what? More money for better quality down the line, or better yet, keeping the proven quality you have.
Beating Santana in a game 1 in a pitchers duel makes me believe hes a big game pitcher. What more can one ask for out of a SP?
I just want to improve the rotation and not stay the status quo. I have faith in Cashman.
Acquiring Byrnes could let Cashman spin Melky into Gonzalez...without making Bernie the 4th OFer.
Byrnes is the type of player who should be a 4th OFer, IMO. Probably a defensive upgrade on the guys we have. Probably not a great hitter, but if he was, he'd be a waste as a 4th OFer. Been in the majors a long time, but isn't geriatric. At 30 years old, with seven years experience, there are no worries about stunting his development by parking him on the bench for long stretches.
To me, Zito would be a very good pitcher in New York. He'd probably win 17-20 games and fare well in general. I just don't think that long term he's the type of pitcher that earns his money at the end of the contract. In 5 or 6 years, I see Zito as a guy who can't get anyone out and is still paid in the $18 million range. He's a classic soft tossing lefty, that lefties actually hit well.
He may even help us win a title, but I think there are a lot of other guys out there that can do that too, that can actually be a good long term investment. The Yankees can start the year with Moose, Pettitte, Wang, Igawa, and Pavano in the rotation. Rasner and/or Karstens can stand by in case of injury, and after the All Star Break we bring in a guy that costs us a minor league contract and may be better than Zito anyway (Hughes). I'm in favor of that strategy. It saves money, and years of uncertainty. There are bigger prizes on the horizon in the next few years than Zito.
But it might not make much sense to wait if Cash has 4 teams vying for him and gets a good package of prospects. Plus he gets 16-20 mill to play with and opens up a slot in the rotation right now for someone.
You cant trade Pavano right now. Makes no sense. You may as well see what you have with him in spring training. if healthy he could turn out to be a steal as a 4th/5th starter. And then if you want to move him he'll have much more value than he does now.
If I were a GM of some mid market team you bet I would be calling Cash to see if I could get Pavano for 30 cents on the dollar.
BTW, anyone know what kind of money Aaron Guiel is likely to pull down in Japan? Do they pay well over there?
How can you say that only wang has ANY HOPE!?! of staying healthy and effective during the 1st half of the season?
Zambrano is a FA after next season.
I'd say no to 1, and a qualified no to 2. I still think we have tremendous depth on the farm and there's always midseason trades. I'd rather have the cash to go after Zambrano or someone else next year when possibly Pettite comes off the books and then we can bring up Hughes and Clippard.
33 At least Zambrano will be available next year. What 2-3 year gap are you referring to? We have Sanchez, Hughes, and Clippard in the minors. Hughes is a potential ace, the other two project as #2-4 starters. We've also got Rasner, Karstens and Henn to fill out the back end. And signed through the next 2 years at least are Wang, Mussina and Pettite.
And Melky was playing CF. Until Torre put Womack in for him.
No way the Yankees are in contention in the AL East with that old and injury prone rotation by the All Star break? Only Wang has any hope of staying healthy?
I just can't agree with that. One, Wang is just as likely to be injured as anyone with his history, but more importantly Pettitte is healthy to start the year, and has a physical to prove it. He pitches 200-220 innings a year for the most part. His injuries, if they come, will occur after the All Star Break.
The same can be said for Moose. He used to be a regular 220 inning guy, but has started to break down more over the last 3 years. That said, his problems don't figure to start in the early part of the season either. You can expect him to come out strong like he did last season, when he pitched 197 innings at a 3.51 ERA.
Igawa may or may not be a league average pitcher in the American League. He may be a 110 ERA+ guy or a 90 ERA+ guy, but we know he will be healthy enough to pitch 200 innings, as he's done all but one season of his career in Japan (where they start less than 30 games a year.
The health issue is the wrong one to take up when it come to Johnson. He won't be healthy at the start of the year anyway, so we'll be relying on Pavano and/or Rasner out of Spring Training for more than a month, possibly. If we're going to do that anyway, and then cross our fingers that Johnson is going to be even a shadow of his Arizona self, we may as well ship him and his $16 million out of town for some prospects and wait on Hughes. In either scenario, we're looking at a similar post-All Star break scenario. May as well start it now.
Last thing, if we add Zito we end all discussion on this. Johnson out, Zito in is a plus for the Yankees in 2007 and probably 2008. I just don't think that a team who scores 6+ runs a ballgame needs to bring in a soft tossing lefty at big money to win the AL East. If Moose, Pettitte, and Wang can't keep us in or near 1st place this year, the playoffs won't look very good either. The fact is, the Yankees have a good plan and they should stick to it. I'd rather look at a 2008 rotation with Moose, Pettitte, Wang, Hughes, Igawa, and maybe Carlos Zambrano than without Zambrano and Zito in his place.
And we shouldnt pencil Zambrano in for the 2008 rotation just yet. A lot can happen in a year. Doesnt make much sense to bank on that happening even if it makes the most sense. If banking on the norm was okay the Cubs would have Prior and Wood coming off back to back Cy Youngs right now.
"Yankees may finally be operating with a brain":
You don't buy a lot of stock at it's highest value. You buy low. This is NOT the year to buy... especially long term pitcher contracts. The genius's behind Lily, Meche, Soriano and many others will be drinking Cool-aid together in a few years.
We have all agreed that long term pitching contracts, especially ones inflated by a bad market, is a terribly philosophy... and has not resulted in a ring. We can not panic over one slot for one year and make a bad contract.
We might still need pitching help, especially if we trade RJ. But Zito is not the last pitcher on earth.
25 Chyll Will is correct. Pitching for the Yankees is an honor, and many player's Mecca. As Beltran did... if you want to be a Yankee, you get paid LESS then playing in the mid-west. We offer history, fame and an ongoing shot at the post season. If Zito wants to be a Yankee, let hime settle for 4/60. Last year, that would have done it.
"Look for this deal to quiet down over the next few days. Nothing will happen quickly, in large part due to Johnson's back. Any team that deals for Johnson will want to have a much clearer picture on his health before figuring out what the cost for him will be."
And also some wild trade tidbits surrounding the Braves:
The nostalgia is terrific but what player would take less money? Players dont care about traditions and such. They want to be paid and why shouldnt they? They all have egos or they wouldnt be at the top of the profession. No player takes a smaller deal because of the uniform, fame or the the chance at the postseason. When push comes to shove money talks.
Gerald Ford has died. I think his death may have been required by James Brown's along with the Cosmic Law of the Conservation of Soul.
When push comes to shove its rare for players to leave millions on the table.
Even when players semi want to take less money to play where they want they dont ie Beltran and A Rod.
ARod gave up his position, and with it, the possibility to be the greatest SS of all time.
When Moose signed THIS year, he knew the market was inflated, and he could get more as an FA.
Lily would have come for 4/36... leaving 4 mil on the table.
The Yankees are literally the greatest and most famous sports franchise on the planet. Very few would debate that point. How many great players has said they 'got goosebumps' the first time they played at the stadium?
It is not nostalgia. The ghosts are not real. God does not root for the Yankees. What is real is history, tradition, greatness, the chance to play with some pretty good players, and of course, a higher probabilty to win a ring.
It would be hard to pass up a job for $40,000 if I was making $33,000. The extra 7 grand counts. However, the difference between $100mil and $90 mil, is a little more esoteric, and basically ego.
Plus endorsements and other percs come with NY. PS money comes with NY. We are all Yankee fans and maybe prejudice towards our team... but don't kid yourself.
Playing for the NEW YORK YANKEES has meaning.
Wearing pinstripes, especially into the HOF, has meaning. It's hard to put a price tag on it.
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