Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
April 29, 2008
BASEBALL: Bad Investments

$126 million for a middle reliever.

Zito is a natural lightning rod, but of course it's not his fault that the Giants have no hitting (an anemic 3.26 R/G, second to worst in the NL) and a crummy defense (.673 defensive efficiency rating is the lowest in the NL and ahead of only the Rangers across MLB). In fact, Zito may end up needing to be traded to stop trying to carry the team.

That said, his core problem seems to be a loss of velocity, and that's not just psychological. Check out the analysis by veteran pitching guru Paul Nyman at The Hardball Times, introduced somewhat verbosely here, with the second installment here.

UPDATE: By the way, one reason Zito may be getting the blame is how well the Giants' other top pitchers are doing. Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and the surprising Jonathan Sanchez, between them, are 7-2 with a 3.10 ERA, striking out 10.1 batters/9 and allowing 0.6 HR/9; they've been wild (4.8 BB/9, mainly Cain's doing), but effective. If you look at DER, Lincecum (.630) and Zito (.667) are getting the short end of the stick, with the others above .700. But Zito has historically relied on a combination of good DERs and decent K rates to keep the hits down, and he's lost both.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:41 AM | Baseball 2008 | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

Get rid of him, his name alone is a bad memory. No, but seriously. He has to be the worst investment the Giants have made ever. You can blame it on whatever you want. The fact is, he doesn't get hitters out. His fastball is BP at best. 85 mph would be blazen for Zito. This coming from a Giants fan for the last 45 years. I was hoping he would be the guy, he isn't. Lets move on.

Posted by: Pat at April 29, 2008 9:29 AM

If I were an owner, I would adopt one rule: never ever ever ever negotiate with Boras.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at April 29, 2008 10:05 AM

It is likely that the coaching staff (Dave Righetti etc.) will try to use the time in the bullpen to retool Zito's approach to pitching. When we had Big Daddy Rick Reuschel he looked like an old man playing catch with his grandchilden, but due to a mix of speeds was still very successful. First step is to regain some semblance of control, then create three or more delivery speeds. Could take forever, but there are still 6 years in his contract.

Meanwhile, unless it's over 6 runs either way, do not let him pitch in a real game. Embarrassing for Sabean and Magowan, but that's life in a world where $126 miilion contracts are inked. Daryl is also right. Never meet with Boras again. Truthfully, if they wanted to get a guy from the A's and pay this kind of money, they should have made an offer to Billy Beane.

Posted by: NRA Life Member at April 29, 2008 10:29 AM

It was a horrible signing and everyone knew it at the time, except Sabean obviously. As bad as the Giants management has been I agree with them on this one; dont play the contract, play the kids until the veteran works it out. They have nothing to lose, the millions are a sunk cost. The other weird thing about the Giants season so far is that they have had some really fortunate injuries, which seems counterintuitive. Roberts goes down so the better, younger Lewis gets his shot. Vizquel goes down so a couple younger prospects get a taste of the bigs. Lowry gets hurt and Sanchez gets plugged in and dominates. You can dog out their offense all you want and deservedly so, but their young pitching core is as dominant as any team in the game.

Posted by: seth soothsayer at April 29, 2008 11:27 AM

I don't know how you consider the Vizquel injury fortunate, given how terrible Bocock has been.

Posted by: The Crank at April 29, 2008 11:38 AM

Bocock objectively sucks youre right, but Vizquel's injury is also giving the Giants a chance to look at Burris, who has some upside. And there is now no way that Vizquel will play 140 games; so the Giants are off the hook for his 2009 option. But you're right that Bocock is horrific.

Posted by: seth soothsayer at April 29, 2008 12:32 PM

Even finding out that one of your prospects sucks has some value.

Posted by: Jerry at April 29, 2008 1:05 PM
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