Monday, April 28, 2008

Cloudy With a Chance of Misery

Post #54 Topic: Barry Zito

What does Barry Zito have in common with Jake Peavy, Roy Oswalt, Roy Halladay, and Carlos Zambrano, 5 of MLB’s most effective yet consistent starting pitchers? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. In fact, Mr. Zito, the owner of a prestigious 7 year, 18 million/year contract gets paid more than 4/5 of these aces and just as much as Carlos Zambrano, who I note is only 26.

What does Barry Zito have in common with K-Rod, Eric Gagne, Billy Wagner, Francisco Cordero, Joe Nathan and Mo Rivera? A lot more than he has in common with the guys in the previous paragraph, but still not that much. Zito gets paid at least 3 million more than each of these closers… and Zito has not a single save amongst his until recently, decent career stats. But still, there is that one common denominator, for Zito as well as these 5 other star pitchers… COME FROM THE BULLPEN.

Yes, Barry Zito and his $126 million contract have been relegated to the bullpen in what has quickly become the worst city in baseball, San Francisco. As the bay area’s 2nd most successful team, the Giants and their beautiful new Barry Bonds tainted ballpark have become significantly less relevant than other perennial loservilles, Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh.

Get this. The next highest paid non-closing relief pitcher is Tom Gordon, who gets paid an inflated, but comparatively measly $6 million per season. In case you missed it earlier, Barry Zito gets paid 18 million dollars each year.

Zito was brought into San Francisco to be an ace. He had previously in his career had seasons as fantastic as 23-5, with an under 3.00 E.R.A. So far this year? 0-6 with a 7.54 E.R.A., fresh off his first full professional season with a losing record and less than 200 innings pitched. Think the Giants are regretting their investment? They sure as hell are. In what was a somewhat dry free agent pitching market after the 2006 season, the Giants went for broke. They gave Barry another year at an exorbitant price, and apparently expected Zito to be the final piece to a glaringly incomplete puzzle. Had Brian Sabean censored himself even somewhat, he could have preserved those funds to bring in: Tori Hunter, Vernon Wells, Alfonso Soriano, Roy Oswalt or Carlos Lee for even less money. But don’t teams need aces? Well, an ace is only as valuable as his offense enables him to be.

Case in point – The San Francisco Giants, who coincidentally have two other aces on their roster, under the age of 25. First, Tim Lincecum, the 23 year old fire hurler, who has shown signs that he can and will dominate in this league for years to come, who the giants pay a fat $406,000. Last year Lincecum went 7-5 with 150 K’s in 146 innings and an E.R.A. of 4.00, impressive for anyone let alone a rookie. Had the Giants put up more runs last year (amongst the last in the majors), Lincecum’s impressive numbers would have appeared far far more impressive. This year: 4-0 with a 1.23 with 36 K’s in 29 innings.

Take a look at Matt Cain, one of the few pitchers in all of baseball that throws harder than his teammate Lincecum. Cain is 24, in his 4th pro season, having thrown 200 innings in each of the past two years. If Lincecum’s numbers didn’t scream for more run support, then no one was listening (that whole tree in the forest dichotomy and sooner rather than later there will be noone in the park that Brian McNamee built). Last year Cain had 163 strike outs and 3.65 E.R.A. Brandon Webb, former Cy Young winner, had similar numbers to Cain, outperforming him minimally in both the innings pitched, strike outs and E.R.A. categories. Brandon Webb’s record? 18 and 10 for a toddler-ridden Arizona DiamondBacks team. Matt Cain went 7-16. Pathetic.

Where the hell was Giants management when these guys were tearing up the minors? I mean, they had to have been tearing up the minors right? Few if any pitchers come directly from the draft to make an impact in the major leagues, and those that do usually wind up grinding their teeth in a dumpster in harlem after a night of crack and tranny prostitutes (see Dwight “someone call a Doc” Gooden). Did Giants management have so little faith in their pitchers to validate foregoing the incessant recruiting of available power bats (Carlos Lee, Vernon Wells, Torri Hunter) to what was once a far more attractive place to play than any of the locales where those aforementioned sluggers eventually unpacked, in favor of an inning eater with questionable-at-best longevity?

Thank god the Giants brought in Aaron Rowand, the offensive machine, because otherwise guys like Lincecum and Cain would be in trouble… oh wait, they are. Rowand deserves credit after his monster 2007 year in which he belted 27 long balls and drove in 90 RBI’s at the top of a potent but young and oft injured Phillies line-up. But these numbers were outliers. Prior to ’07, Rowand’s career highs were 24 homers and 70 RBI’s. Before that? 13 home-runs; clearly not the type of numbers you hope to get out of your largest offensive contributor. But the Giants couldn’t afford another major financial commitment, especially with their prospective revenue resting heavily on Zito’s ability to turn it around and become the 3rd cog in what should have been the most feared rotation in baseball.

And things haven’t changed. This year the Giants are DEAD LAST in the NL in runs scored, trailing only Kansas City in the weakest of the weak category. WHERE ARE YOU AARON ROWAND? Rowand has 1 home run to date, and but 10 RBI’s to his name. Probably not all his fault given that the team’s leader in OBP is Fred Lewis who was selling hot dogs and but plugs (bad san Francisco joke) as recently as last Thursday. Leading the team in Home Runs and RBI’s? Benjii of Molina Clown Car fame – the season looks promising.

But not as promising as Zito looked. Money ball or no money ball, Billy Beane deserves more credit than he gets for his baseball wherewithal. Beane not only acquires great promising prospects, but he grooms them into reflections of major league players just in time to deal them off to unsuspecting, highly hopeful teams: Mark Mulder – MIA, Tim Hudson – effective but not the Ace he once was… One can only assume that Dan Haren will be setting up Brandon Lyon in no time at all (ok maybe this is a stretch – Lyon doesn’t have closer stuff). Fortunately, one of several GM’s to catch onto Beane’s dirty dirty tricks is Omar Minaya, who although hesitantly, resisted throwing Zito-like money at this pitcher who was expected to be as dominant as that guy who used to pitch for the A’s – Barry Zito.

But San Francisco fans take heed. Sammy Sosa is a free agent and still has a lot of pop left in his bat (look at his stats from last year… maybe this would help Aaron Rowand get some better pitches). And in case Sammy Sosa doesn’t cut it, there’s another offensive threat who recently returned to a Major league bench… for the 4th time in 4 years… And fortunately, with Smoltz, Glavine and Hudson, the Braves have no reason to hold onto your next savior, former 4 home run hitter and next highest paid pitcher in the worthless category… Mike Hampton.

Other Notes

Attn: Carmelo – GET THE HELL OUT OF DENVER… NOW. Sucks to lose huh? Imagine losing every year. You won at Oak Hill. I’m pretty sure but can’t really remember whether you won at cuse. Oh yeah, you did. You’re NOT GOING TO WIN IN DENVER. Not with Nene. Not with J.R. Smith. Not with Kenyon Martin (see Nets being swept twice by the Lakers) and not with A.I…. no one wins with A.I. The perfect place to go… the team that needs you most? The place that if all was fine and well in draft land you would have wound up anyway. A place where you can film your gang videos and be applauded for giving back to youth film classes – the Detroit Pistons.

Kosher Pizza? Come on, stop serving me this shit. Really, no one likes Kosher Pizza. More importantly, its only because its kosher that no one likes it. Truth is that it tastes almost like real pizza. So start buying the good stuff and slap a rabbi inspection sticker on it. No one will know the difference and if anyone found it they’d only thank you for it.

Extenze don’t work… or so my friends say. What’s the plural of extenze and can I play it in scrabble?

Just when you think he’s done. Just when you think he’s reached the top. Just when you think he’s already done all the things that no one ever thought about because they were too ridiculous to even fathom to begin with, he goes and drops Tha Carter III on ya. Hint: check out “A Millie”, and if hip-hop is dead he’s the embalming fluid – 1 7 in ya face.

1 comment:

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