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Big Doings?
2006-12-27 07:04
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

More on The Big Unit. Joel Sherman doesn't think trading Johnson will have any impact on the Yankees' interest in Barry Zito. Jon Heyman has a different take:

After ignoring Zito for weeks, the Yankees suddenly are thinking about the advantages of youth and durability, two of Zito's strengths. Perhaps another new glance at Andy Pettitte's MRI scared them straight.

...One person close to Zito's father said he believes that, just as was true in the case of another former Oakland star Jason Giambi, the father Joe Zito would like his son to play for the Yankees. Joe Zito and George Steinbrenner have several acquaintances in common. Beyond that, Zito told the San Francisco Chronicle he most wants to go to a place that aims to win multiple titles. That sounds like the Yankees, too.

The person who knows Zito's father and family speculated, "If the Yankees want him, they can have him.''

There seems to be some urgency to the Johnson talks, a quick timetable that fits into this headline-grabbing two-step scenario, as well. The Yankees would like to complete a Johnson deal by New Year's Day, presumably to give them ample opportunity to find a replacement. Zito, who's expected to start seriously sorting through his offers after Jan. 1, is the only logical replacement, a left-hander with a Cy Young award on his resume.

Both Steven Goldman and Dayn Perry think trading Johnson is the right move. Here's Goldman:

As for what the Yankees might get out of the Diamondbacks or another trading partner, it almost doesn't matter...Moving Johnson is an all-win scenario for the Yankees. As Branch Rickey said, it's better to trade a player a year too early than a year too late. By definition, 43 years old is a year too late. If the Yankees can use the deal to fill outstanding needs like reserve catcher or utility infielder, so much the better. The possibilities created by his absence are almost limitless.

Ring a ding, ding.

Comments (78)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2006-12-27 07:18:26
1.   jakewoods
I agree with Heyman.

The Yanks know a good rotation is key and trading RJ for Zito improves it while also making it younger.

2006-12-27 07:35:23
2.   jedi
With all this talk of "swapping" age for youth (RJ for Zito), I would be happy if the yanks just made the trade for what we need (younger catcher or utility) and dont sign Zito. I mean, couldnt the yanks just go into camp knowing they got wang, pettite and mussina as a foundation? Not, alot of teams can even say they have one good starter, we got three.

Besides, this "age for youth" theme, I don't buy. We wouldn't have gotten Pettite if that was the case. I think Cashman is buying a championship here. And the fastest way to get it without strapping a team...one year deals. I think Cashman is freeing money for an all out push not for Zito but for Clemens. So in reality, this isnt a RJ for Zito trade. This is a RJ for Clemens tradeoff. Which I will take in a heartbeat.

Zito is a great player, but for some reason I don't think Cashman is interested in him in the long term when you got Sanchez and Hughes in the waiting. Yankees got a short term problem and there's a better player out there who can fix that short term problem.

2006-12-27 08:10:48
3.   monkeypants
According to ed Price:

"Meanwhile, although the Yankees lost out on free-agent first baseman Shea Hillenbrand, who agreed to terms with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, they might still add a first baseman who bats left-handed. Doug Mientkiewicz, an excellent fielder, is still on the market and has drawn interest from the Yankees."

That last sentence is one of the scariest sentences you will ever read. Come on Cashman, you've steered clear of the rocks so far...you must not succumb to the sirens' songs.

2006-12-27 08:35:56
4.   standuptriple
3 I'd rather they bring back Olerud.
2006-12-27 08:42:41
5.   OldYanksFan
I love the way Goldman turns a phrase.
About Arizona aquiring RJ:

"If you squint you can see the logic that's being used."
"Of course, he's not going to go 22-3. He's not likely to go 15-10. He's likely to be 43"
"Would the Dodgers drop a top prospect for a 43-year-old pitcher with no spinal column?"
"As Branch Rickey said, it's better to trade a player a year too early than a year too late"

The guy is a pleasure to read.

2006-12-27 09:05:12
6.   OldYanksFan
From N.J. Star Ledger:
http://tinyurl.com/ydq2ga

"The Padres were believed not to be close to an agreement with the Yankees and reluctant to absorb Johnson's $16 million salary ($1.5 million deferred without interest) in 2007."

"Teams have asked San Diego about setup man Scott Linebrink all year, and if the Padres are now willing to move him, that could facilitate a deal (for RJ) with the Yankees. Linebrink, 30, had a 3.57 ERA in 73 appearances last season. Since San Diego claimed him off waivers in May 2003, he has gone 14-9 with a 2.57 ERA over 262 games."

Scott Linebrink's current salary is 1,365,000. If the Yanks throw 5 mil into the deal, its an even swap (RJ for Linebrink) and the Yanks save $10mil this year. Isn't that worth it?

2006-12-27 09:09:33
7.   mehmattski
3 But their songs, they're so beautiful... if I could just get a bit closer to hear them more clearly... they're singing something about Grittiness and Clutchitude and Scrapicity, and most importantly, about how he can actually field the ball.

I guess the noZito.com movement didn't get off the ground as much since there was not much talk about him early in the offseason. I am just as opposed to signing Zito as fellow commenter jakewoods apparently is in favor of the signing.

Apparently stats are not enough to satisfy the people who look at Zito's birth certificate and think it's enough. It's not enough to show, as many here have done, that Zito is barely above a league average pitcher who got a lot of benefit from solid defense in Oakland the last few years. Those who were singing his praises would quickly turn on him after he walks two guys and gives up a three run home run in a key game.

So here's a theory to satisfy the "intangibles" crowd: what about Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder. The rest of the Big Three have left Oakland and struggled mightily. Hudson racked up a 4.86 ERA while pitching in the NL last year... Could it possibly be that we should take consideration of these park-fatcor stats and realize that pitchers from the early 2000s in Oakland were helped tremendously by a big ballpark and a solid defense.

As for the other argument I've seen, that Zito out-dueled Santana this year in the playoffs, should the Yankees also go out and get 2006 post-season hero Jeff Weaver? I mean, he was so good in the playoffs, and the Yankees desperately need someone who can perform in October. Signing Weaver would make perfect sense to anyone who had selective amnesia, I'd imagine.

Signing Barry Zito would be Jaret Wright/Jeff Weaver/Javy Vazquez all over again, and I don't understand why more fans can't see that.

2006-12-27 09:20:14
8.   standuptriple
Anybody know the backstop pipeline in SD? They churned out a decent amount of pedestrian (ie career backup) C's in the past (Ben Davis, Wiki Gonzalez).
2006-12-27 09:29:55
9.   kylepetterson
I love this mentality of "Great in October". It only takes one good postseason and you're "Great in October" and therefore worth your weight in gold. Yay for Bake Zito, yay for the 3rd Grade, and yay for me!
2006-12-27 09:30:55
10.   SF Yanks
7 You know, I used to be completely against Zito until I realized that, Hey, he is actually a pretty decent pitcher. With a career 3.55 ERA to Mooses 3.63 and a CY Young to boot, you can't really go wrong.
2006-12-27 09:40:49
11.   standuptriple
10 The key word there is decent. Not "Ace", not "Stud", not "Stopper". Living in the Bay Area for his entire career (and trust me I watched a ton of A's games before the glorious '06 addition of Extra Innings into my household) and I always thought the "Big 3" were, in order of ability, Mulder, Hudson and then Zito. If the Yanks could get him to agree to a 3 year deal I might accept it, 6 is ridiculous.
2006-12-27 09:47:53
12.   yanklifer
2 Zito is not league average. I don't care what the stats say he is above average, maybe not great but above average. Also we score a ton of runs so compose yourself.
2006-12-27 09:48:12
13.   kylepetterson
11 And like was said before, the problem most of us have with signing Baked Zito isn't the "having him on our team" part, it's the "having him on our team until he's 60" part.
2006-12-27 09:48:35
14.   SF Yanks
11 6 years IS too much, but having a bunch of #2 #3 pitchers is not bad. I'ts not like the Cards had a "Stopper."
2006-12-27 09:50:25
15.   SF Yanks
14 Well, they did have some guy named Carpenter that I forgot about.
2006-12-27 09:53:23
16.   SF Yanks
15 So, basically my point went down the drain. I guess like MOST people here, I would like to have him but not UNTIL HE'S 60.

Has anyone made that point yet?

2006-12-27 09:54:19
17.   monkeypants
7 I am with you, though I would describe Zito in more generous terms than "barely above average." I agree with Mike Plugh's analysis: it's not whether Zito is a good pitcher, or if he would help the team next year; the question is how much is he worth, how much will he help the team relative to other options, and how much will a longterm contract hurt the team beyond next year. I have grown weary of the debate. The fact that he out-dueled Santana in one game, and the fact that he won a Cy Young award in 2002 seems to trump any other rational analysis of his relative skills.

So for now, I am just hoping that Cashman can actually dump RJ and get a little something in return, and I am especially hoping that he does not sign some worthless player like Minky or Cairo (or, hate to say it, Bernie) for the various reasons you astutely point out.

2006-12-27 09:55:47
18.   SF Yanks
16 What a jumbled mess that was. Sorry guys.
2006-12-27 10:00:25
19.   jedi
12 did you reference the wrong post and confused mine with something else? Because I don't get what your reply comment has to do with mine?
2006-12-27 10:02:20
20.   kylepetterson
16 That's hilarious because I just made that exact same point only with more bold and less CAPS! Plus I threw in a joke or 2. But still, that's just weird.
2006-12-27 10:05:13
21.   unpopster
sorry to divert everyone's attention away from the Unit/Zito/Clemens drama, but rotoworld.com has the following somewhat interesting post:

With seemingly less chance now of a Mike Gonzalez deal, the Yankees reportedly have interest in acquiring George Sherrill from the Mariners.
"Sherrill wouldn't cost Melky Cabrera, but it's not like he'd come particularly cheap. The 29-year-old has struck out a batter an inning while posting a 4.35 ERA in 122 relief appearances over the last three years."

Me thinks this is a smokescreen thrown up by $$$$man and that the Melky-Gonzalez deal will eventually get done. any thoughts?

2006-12-27 10:07:32
22.   SF Yanks
20 Yeah I forgot how that whole bold thing worked. Care to refresh my memory?
Bold - That's not it
2006-12-27 10:08:03
23.   standuptriple
I've always liked Zito. I think he's a pro, but as a person who's probably seen more of his starts than anyone on this forum I'd like the Yanks to pass. I've noticed a decline over the last few seasons, aside from just stats. If the Uncle Charlie is not crisp he gets into trouble. The fastball isn't devastating. I watched how the Tigers took pitches and work the count against him. That immediately let me know that A) Leyland is a top notch manager and B) The book is out on Zito. He wants you to chase, he needs you to chase and has made a nice career out of that. I just don't see it continuing.
2006-12-27 10:09:35
24.   monkeypants
21 I think Melky only gets traded if Cashman is sure of acquiring another #4 OF who can play CF, either directly from the Pirates or, more likely, as a part of another deal (involving RJ or whomever).

I don't think Cashman will go with either AAA Kevin as the #4 OF, nor do I think that he will re-sign Bernie (cue Siren Song).

2006-12-27 10:10:18
25.   ric
i dont see it as likely that any team would be willing to pay a very large portion of that $16 million owed AND give up a prospect considering he's coming off of back surgery.... i thunk dumping him would be a good move for the yanks though
2006-12-27 10:14:11
26.   kylepetterson
22 * on either side of word or phrase=bold, baby
2006-12-27 10:20:46
27.   Ken Arneson
23 I disagree with you on several points (your conclusions about the Detroit game in particular), and I've been meaning to write a detailed blog entry about Zito, because I keep reading all sorts of misleading things about him from the most respected of baseball writers. But I haven't had the time lately. I'll get around to it sooner or later.

To summarize this unwritten blog entry about Zito, people reach the right conclusions (he's a good pitcher, not an ace) about Zito for all the wrong reasons (misleading stats).

2006-12-27 10:42:08
28.   standuptriple
27 Your ideas intruigue me and I await your analysis/opinion.
2006-12-27 10:42:37
29.   SF Yanks
26 fantasmic
2006-12-27 10:52:04
30.   jakewoods
What would be so bad about using Thompson as the 4th OF?

He has the speed and he certainly has the defensive abilities. And he showed he could hit last yr. I dont think you can find many better 4th OF's especially one in the system and cheap.

2006-12-27 10:55:03
31.   kylepetterson
In memory of Gerald Ford

http://gorillamask.net/fordsnl.shtml

(I had no idea that Taft was eaten by wolves.)

2006-12-27 10:58:16
32.   jakewoods
Not many SP's are actually worth what they get paid relative to baseballs salary structure. But you overpay for the commodity especially since a guy like Zito is a free agent.

28 yr old, leftys like him dont come on the market often if it all. And the next 2 yrs for SP is weak at best.

You cant put your eggs in the Zambrano basket because how do the Cubs let him hit the market when they just gave Jason Marquis 21 mill and Ted Lilly 45 mill?

It makes sense to lock up a Zito and improve the rotation now.

2006-12-27 11:16:30
33.   monkeypants
30 I don't have a problem with Thompson per se, I just don't think that Cashman will go in that direction. If he was going to, he would have pulled the trigger on the Melky deal already.

In any case, KT is already 26 y.o (he will turn 27 late next season), so he is more or a less a 'what you see is what you get' type player. He only hit around .750 OPS in two stints at Columbus, though some of his lower Minor League numbers were quite good. I don't know about his defense--I'll take your word for it that it is good and that he can play CF (the Yankees only allowed him to patrol RF last year). So, yeah, he could be a decent #4 OF option.

But this is also the kind of player that the Yankees tend squander in the minors, opting instead to play a 'sure thing' major leaguer or a younger prospect. So like I said, I am predicting that Cashman will not trade Melky unless he knows that he is getting an OF in return, or in some other deal.

2006-12-27 11:19:48
34.   monkeypants
32 But in the next two years the Yankees will add one, if not more, pitchers from within their system. Only next year does Zito bring a commodity to the table that probably can't be had elsewise.

Three year or four year contract, sure. Six year deal, forget it.

2006-12-27 11:49:53
35.   weeping for brunnhilde
Just a perfunctory admonition: There will be no trading or otherwise parting of the company of Melky Cabrera.

Not so long as I'm above the earth.

I have spoken.

2006-12-27 12:00:57
36.   jakewoods
34

Well, you aint getting top Sp's now for less than 4-5 years. So sometimes you got to take the shot. I bet most said Mussina wouldnt last either and he did pretty well for his contract.

Tough to take the chances that all your young stud pitchers develop quick and become good.

2006-12-27 12:11:06
37.   vockins
Mehmattski, if you want nozito.com I'll hand it over, gratis. I won't, and haven't, do/done a damn thing with it.
2006-12-27 12:19:38
38.   ChrisS
That Cy Young year was the exception, not the rule. Starting pitching is indeed thin, but there's no reason to pay premium money and lock into a long term deal for someone that is one step removed from League average.

I dunno. The Yankees, of all teams, can do whatever they want, so it's not money that's stopping them. They do have limits, but if it's essentially a trade of Randy's salary for Zito's, and back-up catcher thrown in ... do it. I wouldn't complain like I would if they offered Johnson a contract extension

2006-12-27 12:27:39
39.   New Amsterdam Yankees
34 "But in the next two years the Yankees will add one, if not more, pitchers from within their system"

But none of them are left-handed.

Plus, you could just as easily use that as an argument in favor of adding Zito. They can afford to overpay for Zito, since they will have young guys making little money. This is even more relevant when you look at what the Yankees can expect the entire rotation to cost instead of focusing on individual player salaries.

Come 2009, Mussina and Pettitte will be gone. That would leave Zito at 16M, Igawa at 4M, Wang in arbitration (if not extended at a semi-reasonable rate), then Hughes, Clippard, Chamberlain, Kennedy, et al. 2009 will be Zito's age 31 season, and he would be the oldest pitcher on the staff. That's a good foundation, and would cost about 15M less than the rotation for 2007, even if they trade RJ and don't sign Zito. That would be enough to add ANOTHER front line pitcher, if need be.

Zito's not perfect, but he is very good. The deal Zito is looking for is similar to the deal the Yankees signed with Mussina before the 2001 season. Mussina's slightly more impressive pitching pedigree might be offset by the fact that Zito is a lefty and 3 years younger than Moose was. Assuming they trade RJ, signing Zito becomes much more realistic. And I was deadset against signing Zito when the off season started.

2006-12-27 12:28:26
40.   OldYanksFan
"The 29-year-old has struck out a batter an inning while posting a 4.35 ERA in 122 relief appearances over the last three years."

Not much of a brag. Aren't these numbers well BELOW league average for a reliever?

2006-12-27 12:38:59
41.   monkeypants
36 Mussina was a far better pitcher when he signed the big chalupa deal with the Yankees than Zito is now (his four previous ERA+ in order were: 125, 138, 129, 137, which blows away Zito's four previous ERA+).

But, yes, signing Mussina to that deal at age 31 was basically crazy. No one would argue that Mussina has been not "pretty good", but after a monster first year (2001), he has put up three pretty crummy years out of five (ERA+ 108, 98, 101)--certainly not worth the 15 million/year or whatever teh average of his contract was. Moreover, that contract has been albatross the last two years (19 million/year + whatever the luxury tax caused). It is obvious that the contract was overvalued, or else the team would not have declined his option for this year. So, I would actually contend that he has NOT been "pretty good for his contract."

It's these exact sort of long term contracts, like Giambi's and Bernie's, that have hamstrung the team the last few years. That is why I do not want the team to overpay players now, especially with long-term contracts.

Check out Zito's Similar Pitchers through Age 28 (on Baseball Prospectus)--that's not a pretty picture.

2006-12-27 12:41:25
42.   monkeypants
39 That's the best argument I have seen so far.

I will say, I don't understand the fascination with LH starting pitching. Don't RH starters have the advantage over 75% of the batter they face? I know the Stadium favors lefties, but those splits are not as extreme as they once were, and it only really matters if the pitcher is a fly ball pitcher anyway.

2006-12-27 12:53:21
43.   Start Spreading the News
On Zito from Baseball Prospectus:
"Zito is a flyball pitcher who has been protected by his environment the last few years, pitching in a good-sized home park for a team that often had three center fielders roaming the pasture."

So in the right circumstances, Zito strikes out enough people to be a good pitcher. Our ballpark is spacious but our outfield defense is sketchy. Damon was above average last year but is a year older and always running into walls. So when he is injured, he is below average in CF. Matsui was an average fielder as was Abreu (though he has an arm). So with Zito who is a flyball pitcher, we only have one of the two ingredients required to make him a success.

That isn't going to be worth $16 mill a year.

I say if we can get a good catching prospect along with other stuff (good 4th OF or middle reliever, or mid-tier prospects), we should trade RJ. I do think we have enough starting pitching to allow us to slug our way to the pennant.

But otherwise RJ should stay. Baseball prospectus did an analysis on his numbers the last few years and seems to think that he was unlucky on his groundballs last year. Way more than normal found their way to being hits. So BP thinks he will rebound and have a good year.

From BP unfiltered:
" * Johnson struck out 20.6% of batters with the bases empty, and 19.8% with someone on base. Not much difference there.
* He yielded an unintentional walk to 7.1% of batters with the bases empty, and 9.9% with the bases occupied. That difference is a little more substantial, but it's also a natural adaptation that a lot of veteran pitchers like Tom Glavine make: there's more incentive to challenge a hitter when there's nobody on base, leading to comparatively lower walk rates.
* Johnson's BABIP with the bases empty was .239. With runners on, it was .369. This is almost certainly a matter of luck.
* So perhaps the big difference is that Johnson was getting hit up for extra bases more often with runners on base? Well, this is true: his home run rate was nearly twice as high with runners on (4.6%) than with the bases empty (2.5%). But the funny thing is that Johnson was actually doing a better job of keeping the ball on the ground with runners on. His groundout-to-airout ratio was 1.09 in those situatuons, as opposed to 0.78 with the bases empty. In other words, more bad luck. "

So BP thinks that we are trading away a potential #1 Ace rather than a #2 or #3.

2006-12-27 12:58:06
44.   Start Spreading the News
BTW, Will Carroll is reporting that the investigators on the BALCO case have been allowed by the courts to have access to the names of all the baseball players who tested positive under the "sample testing" that MLB did.

Given there have enough leaks in this case to literally write a book, it won't be long before those names are released.

2006-12-27 13:08:18
45.   Ken Arneson
43 See, now that thing from BP is exactly the sort of misleading stat from respected writers that's been bothering me.

The best statistical breakdown of Zito is here:
http://www.lonestarball.com/story/2006/12/17/20939/021

You'll see that Zito is not really a fly ball pitcher. He gives up fly balls at about a league average rate. Instead, you'll see that Zito is a popup pitcher. He induces popups at roughly twice the league average.

Big difference. Fly balls become doubles and triples and homers. Popups are outs nearly every time, and when they're not, they're just weakly hit bloopers that find a hole in the shallow outfield.

I could go on, and will, at some later date...

2006-12-27 13:26:10
46.   New Amsterdam Yankees
42 Well, I went and looked at Zito's similar pitchers, and you're right, it's not impressive. Although Glavine does show up, which is encouraging, and a couple of those guys had very good years before flaming out.

43 I saw that about RJ on BP. Randy really did get pounded with runners on though: an OPS against of over 1.000 with RISP, for example. Again there, the BABIP is unusually high (.405), but at least SOME of that has to be simple bad pitching. And it seems like in each bad start when he lost it, he REALLY lost. I suppose Torre and Guidry could monitor him much more closely and pull him at the first signs of implosion, but then he likely becomes a 5 or 6 inning pitcher, and that is certainly not an ace.

2006-12-27 13:36:45
47.   kylepetterson
According to LoHud we offically own Igawa.
2006-12-27 13:42:04
48.   standuptriple
45 He is a popup pitcher, but he's also fallen victim to the HR ball too. Granted he's no Beckett, but when I think about the defense, park and division strength he'd face in NY I just don't see how Zito warrants Ace $ and, more importantly, Ace length of contract.
I fall into the group that likes having LHP, but my wish list includes the likes of Santana, Capuano and Sabathia before Zito.
2006-12-27 13:42:43
49.   New Amsterdam Yankees
45 Thanks for the link to that Zito analysis, informative stuff.
2006-12-27 14:03:25
50.   randym77
30 I think the problem is that Torre won't use KT. Cashman needs to get guys that Torre will actually use, and Thompson and Reese aren't it.
Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2006-12-27 14:10:44
51.   Ken Arneson
48 True. Zito is definitely going to be overpaid. That's from the artificial scarcity of the free agent market.

And if, for that money, you start expecting him to be a dominant #1 ace instead of a very reliable #2-#3 innings-eater, you're going to be disappointed.

I hope Zito ends up somewhere where he can be appreciated for what he is, instead of resented for what he isn't. I've certainly enjoyed watching him here in Oakland these past seven years, and I wish him well.

2006-12-27 14:29:47
52.   mikeplugh
51 Ken, I think Zito is a very nice 2-3 pitcher, and I think the Yankees would do very well to sign him...to a 3 year deal. If he's not willing to take that I don't want him. I agree that the stats are a bit misleading on him. He's a better pitcher than his K/BB ratio for example. The thing that worries me about Zito, and I think someone else said it here, is that he needs you to chase. If you don't chase, he gets into deep water. The Red Sox, for one, don't chase. That worries me about bringing him here.

The other stat that I think IS important to note is his lefty/righty split. Lefties have a .760 OPS against him over the last 3 years, while righties put up a .716 against him. That isn't really awe inspiring with the short porch at Yankee Stadium. The park factor will eat him alive in the AL East.

2006-12-27 14:37:51
53.   standuptriple
This is completely off the subject, but does anybody know where I can find a good ballpark comparison site. I found one a while ago and bookmarked it at a job I am no longer at. Of course, I can't find it now, but it had every stadium from every period and it was extremely user friendly to toggle between them. Any suggestions?
2006-12-27 14:47:42
54.   monkeypants
54 Doesn't baseball-reference.com list the park factors for every stadium, every year? You have to search around for it, and park factors are pretty flaky...

What sort of comparisons do you want?

2006-12-27 14:55:16
55.   standuptriple
54 Basically in-depth dimensions (more than LF, CF, RF and the power alleys).
2006-12-27 15:01:15
56.   monkeypants
56 Check out Andrewclem.com--a mixture of libertarian/right wing politics (not to everyone's liking) and a fantastic baseball page with all kinds of neato stadium diagrams.
2006-12-27 15:06:39
57.   standuptriple
Bravo monkeypants.
2006-12-27 15:27:16
58.   thurmtheman
This is from a Heyman article:
'When the Oakland A's have scored four or more runs for Zito, he is an astounding 85-4, for a .955 winning percentage.'
I think an innings eater who will be on the short side of 35 at the end of even the most ridiculous contract the Yanks would offer him may be worth the risk.
2006-12-27 16:07:15
59.   mikeplugh
58 He's an innings eater? That's wonderful. The less innings there are for everyone else, the more time for cards in the clubhouse. ;)

The thing is, Tim Hudson and Freddie Garcia can also be called "inning eaters", and conveniently have two of the ten most comparable careers to Zito according to BR. Both of those guys are solid pitchers that you'd love to have on your team, but I don't want either of them long term either.

When the A's have scored four or more runs for Zito he's an astounding 85-4. Great. How many of those are at home? How many of them are against AL East teams? On the road? That kind of information would make me feel a lot better about that statistical compilation. Maybe all 4 of those losses are by 10 runs in Fenway.

You may be right thurmtheman, but I don't want to take the chance when there are better contracts to be offered in the next few years. Patience is a virtue sometimes.

2006-12-27 16:14:24
60.   jakewoods
mikeplugh, you do realize that a 3 yr deal for a pitcher, a free agent nonetheless, doesnt happen anymore? Unless you're coming off an injury, Eaton, or terrible, Marquis.

Sometimes you got to bite the bullet and go the five years. A 28 yr old lefty who is a 2/3 starter is certainly worth that. And the way pitchers salaries are going 15 mill wont be high in 3 yrs. Will it stop the Yankees from making moves for 5 years? No. So whats the problem? This isnt the Royals here.

You cant say what he did against the Sox either. These arent the 2003-2005 Sox now. Offensively.

2006-12-27 16:48:47
61.   vockins
45 Popups are fantastic for the stadium with the largest foul territory in MLB, where Zito has played half his games. Lots of those foul popup outs in McAfee are souvenirs at Yankee Stadium.
2006-12-27 17:46:18
62.   mikeplugh
60 Well, then I don't make deals for free agent pitchers anymore. That simple. If I have to sign a guy to 5 or 6 years at $75-100 million, then I want him to be a #1 guy. As the Yankees, I can do just fine developing my own 2, 3, 4, and 5 starters. That's where the money is spent. In the farm and development.

If I need a #1 guy, I'll buy him. If Johan Santana is out there, I'll spend $25 million a season to get him on my club. Whatever it takes. When the #2 and #3 guys want $15-20 million per year I have to wonder. Think of it this way.

If you spend $125 million over 5 years for Johan Santana, and you're luck enough to develop a guy like Phil Hughes to slot into the rotation behind him at #2 at Major League minimum suddenly your team looks very good. If you can develop one more solid guy for your #3 and pay him major league minimum, you're golden. You have the two young studs on your team at the rookie contract, under your control for 6 years. If you start messing around with Barry Zito, and he doesn't age well, you have a lot of money tied up in a guy that the fans will start to resent.

The Yankees rotation looks very nice right now, and after the 2008 season, you'll be without Moose, Pettitte, and Pavano. If you save your big money bullet for Santana, Zambrano, or someone a bit more likely to age well (power pitcher), you can put a rotation out there of:

Santana/Zambrano
Wang
Hughes
Igawa
Sanchez/Clippard/Chamberlain/Betances

I like that much better than spending for the sake of getting every good arm that's out there at whatever cost. Just my opinion. I could be wrong.

2006-12-27 17:49:49
63.   mikeplugh
60 Also, the difference between the Yankees 2006 and the Royals is that we spend smart. We don't go after guys like Gil Meche at $11 million per season. We take that same $11 million, plus the millions and millions more that we save by developing our own players and get agressive on the international market, amateur draft, and other places. If we avoid paying the luxury tax by spending less on our Major League roster, we put all that wasted money that is funding everyone else's payroll into our minors and development. That's MUCH smarter business.
2006-12-27 17:58:23
64.   Ken Arneson
61 I don't have the numbers, but just anecdotally, I don't think all that high a percentage of his popups are foul popups.

If foul popups were a big part of his arsenal, he'd have much better numbers in Oakland than on the road. But his career road ERA is lower than his career home ERA.

2006-12-27 18:24:10
65.   OldYanksFan
62 Very well said Mike, and once again, I agree 100%. As my friend Borat would say: "We must have been nursed from the same breast".
2006-12-27 21:00:40
66.   dianagramr
64

If you are a bp subscriber:

Go here
http://tinyurl.com/y255rs

and download the BallsInPlayChart (BIP1.0) software ...

there you find the type of ball and direction of hit for every batter and pitcher for the last 3 or 4 years

2006-12-27 21:03:13
67.   dianagramr
66

addendum .... it won't tell you the number or % of FOUL popups, but it will give you the TOTAL # and % of them

2006-12-27 21:18:28
68.   JimCobain
66 Does it tell you the direction and where the foul balls land, even if they go out of play? Just curious how in depth this software is... Thanks!
2006-12-28 03:23:20
69.   randym77
Yikes. Bobby Murcer is undergoing surgery for a brain tumor:

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=2710047

Doesn't say whether it's cancerous or not, but he's going to a cancer facility in Houston for the surgery.

2006-12-28 05:23:46
70.   Jim Dean
62 Good God, man - you're making far too much sense!
2006-12-28 05:35:45
71.   Raf
63 Music to my ears

69 I heard that this morning on 1010-WINS. Wow. Is it me or does it seem like there are a lot of baseball players (or people in baseball) affected by cancer?

2006-12-28 06:02:33
72.   Raf
Looks like the guys @ USS Mariner wouldn't mind landing RJ

http://tinyurl.com/y5o3q9

2006-12-28 06:49:46
73.   Jim Dean
Now that Igawa's signed, anyone want to place bets on:

(a) Performs "better" than DM, as seen by internet geeks (K and BB and RSAA).

(b) Performs "better" than DM, as seen by popular press (Wins and ERA).

(c) Gives an average season (14 W, 10 L, 4.50 ERA, 190 IP, 150 K, 100 BB)

(d) Beats DM in at least one head-to-head matchup.

Me, I'm putting money on (b) (better run support), (c) (see run support), and (d) (law of averages).

Anyone giving odds?

2006-12-28 07:48:14
74.   tommyl
Peter Abraham has a nice argument against Zito as well in his blog:

http://www.lohud.com/blogs/lohudyankees.html

I guess I just don't see Zito as anything all that special. He's decent to good, but certainly not worth a 5+ year deal.

2006-12-28 09:34:33
75.   tommyl
Zito has signed with the Giants for $126/7 (that's 18 per) according to Peter Gammons.
2006-12-28 09:43:13
76.   pistolpete
75 Yup, it's on ESPN's front page.

Yikes. I can't wait to hear Russo's take on it.

2006-12-28 10:03:14
77.   monkeypants
If that's what it took to get him, good riddance. This is a pretty good outcome, actually--he goes to the NL, and his signing MAY pressure the Dodgers, Padres, and DBacks to take a longer look at RJ.

OK, that last part was really wishful thinking.

2006-12-28 10:05:44
78.   Simone
And I was thinking that the Yankees could get Zito for 5 years/$16 million. Boras did well for his client.

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