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Thread: Lets Talk Barry Zito

  1. #1
    THAT'S A FACT JACK!! GAC's Avatar
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    Lets Talk Barry Zito

    How good is he really? Depends on who you listen to. His agent, Scott Boras will always be objective.

    This is an article by Rob Neyer....

    When evaluating Zito, believe the real numbers

    I don't pay all that much attention to quotes in the newspapers. I used to. I used to spend a goodly amount of my precious electronic space running down ridiculous things I read in the papers and magazines. But I got tired of doing that. So did you, probably.


    Then the other day, I saw this one in the New York Times, Scott Boras talking about his most eligible bachelor/client -- "With Zito, I don't need any perception. Sometimes, I need help. Not on this one. It's rather obvious. He's a special player" -- and I took it as a recall to arms.

    Boras doesn't need any help on this one, huh? So why did he say this, just a couple of weeks ago?

    "He is, next to Maddux, the most durable pitcher to hit the marketplace in more than 30 years He's never missed a start his entire career. He is a winner and he is durable. In the last 25 or 30 years, only two pitchers have pitched 200 innings every year and had over 100 victories for six years."

    That was in the San Francisco Chronicle on Dec. 5, reported by Henry Schulman. Sure, there's nothing untoward about stating the facts if they help your client. And Boras' assertions look reasonable enough. Is Zito the "most durable pitcher to hit the marketplace in more than 30 years?" Depends on how you define "most durable" and "marketplace." Is Zito a winner? Well, he's won more games than he's lost. Is he durable? However you define durable, Zito certainly qualifies, because it's true that he's never missed a start in his career.

    What about that other claim, though? Let's be fair, and focus on just the last 25 years. How many pitchers have, over a six-season span, pitched at least 200 innings in each season and won more than 100 games?

    Two, as Boras said? Nope.

    Three? Nope.

    Four? Nope.

    Without looking all that hard, I found five:

    Randy Johnson did it once (that is, over one span of six seasons); Roger Clemens, Tom Glavine, and Jack Morris each did it twice, and Maddux did it nine times (consecutively, beginning in 1988).

    Hey, anybody can make a mistake, right? Maybe when Boras said "two" he really meant to say "four or five," or maybe he was misquoted. But here's the thing: Barry Zito has not done this. In his (only) six full seasons, Zito has pitched at least 200 innings in each, but he has not won more than 100 games; he's won 95 (he's got 102 career wins because he won seven in his short rookie season).

    Boras doesn't need any help? I read this in USA Today, a bit more than a month ago:

    [INDENT]Boras says Zito, 28, is destined to be the finest left-handed starter since Steve Carlton by the time he's 35. There's a fancy 74-page glossy book to prove it. "You're talking about a very special guy who has never missed a start," Boras says. "His durability has been rewarded with 102 wins. He has (a Cy Young trophy) in his back pocket. He has three All-Stars. He beat ( Minnesota's Johan) Santana, the best pitcher in baseball, in the postseason.

    "Barry could be one of the best left-handed pitchers of all time. Players like this are Maddux-esque."

    Zito does have that Cy Young trophy. Jack McDowell has one, too. He did beat Johan Santana in the postseason. Also, Johnny Kucks once beat Don Newcombe in the postseason. Dave McNally beat Don Drysdale. John Candelaria beat Jim Palmer. Et cetera to infinity, plus one.

    Is Zito likely to become the finest left-handed starter since Carlton? His competition includes Johnson (five Cy Young trophies, 280 wins and counting) and Tom Glavine (two Cy Young trophies, 290 wins and counting). It's one thing to suggest that Zito's going to wind up in the Hall of Fame -- unlikely, but certainly conceivable -- and quite another to say he's going to be even better than the currently active left-handers who we know are going to be Hall of Famers (not to mention Jamie Moyer, Kenny Rogers, Santana, Andy Pettitte and Mark Buehrle.

    And of course, comparing Zito to Maddux is even sillier. As good as Johnson and Glavine have been, Maddux has been better. Zito has one thing in common with Maddux, or perhaps two: He doesn't throw a million miles an hour, but he'll give you a million innings.

    Comparing [Barry] Zito to [Greg] Maddux is even sillier. As good as [Randy] Johnson and [Tom] Glavine have been, Maddux has been better. Zito has one thing in common with Maddux, or perhaps two: He doesn't throw a million miles an hour, but he'll give you a million innings.

    Even that, though … Zito's been wonderfully durable, but not uniquely. With 1,338 innings over the last six seasons, Zito's only third in the majors over that span, behind Livan Hernandez and Buehrle (and four other pitchers have racked up at least 1,300 innings).

    Boras says that Zito is a "special player," but what exactly makes him special? How good is Zito, really? It's obvious that he's not Maddux-esque, or Carlton-esque, or Glavine-esque. But is Zito even Oswalt-esque, or Halladay-esque? Buehrle-esque?

    Before trying to put him in some sort of context, let's split Zito's six full seasons in half: 2001-2003 (Part 1), and 2004-2006 (Part 2, so far) …

    Code:
             Starts  Innings   BB   SO  HR   ERA   RSAA
    Part 1   105     675     246  533  61   3.17   92
    Part 2   103     662     269  485  81   4.05   34
    Through the 2003 season, Zito was a special pitcher (by the way, RSAA stands for Runs Saved Above Average, courtesy of the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia). Since 2003, though? Not so much. The walks and homers and ERA are up ( i.e. bad), the strikeouts and Runs Saved Above Average are down (ditto).

    How does Zito compare to some of the other top young starters in the game? Considering only 2004 through 2006, here are some of our special pitchers:

    Code:
              Starts  Innings  ERA   RSAA
    Santana   101     693     2.75   137
    Oswalt    102     699     3.14   93
    B. Webb   101     672     3.40   87
    C'penter  93      645     3.10   85
    Halladay  72      495     3.24   80
    Zito      103     662     4.05   34
    That is not an exhaustive list, by any means. Over the last three seasons, Zito ranks just 27th among starters in Runs Saved Above Average. With 34, he's behind not only those luminaries listed above, but also (among others) fellow left-handers Buehrle (58 RSAA), Pettitte (56), Dontrelle Willis(48), Rogers (46), Glavine (40) and C.C. Sabathia (36). We might be charitable, and bump Zito up a few spots because he's been pitching in the tougher league. Still pretty hard to argue that he's one of the 20 best starters in the majors (especially if we give Oakland's defense as much credit for his recent success as it probably deserves).

    Why is Boras so desperately trying to create this perception of Zito as a truly special player? Because that's what agents do. I'll bet Boras knows exactly how good Zito is. Or if he doesn't, he's got a bunch of bright people in his office who do. I'll bet that 74-page glossy book doesn't contain any out-and-out lies. Lying in print isn't good business. But I'll bet it doesn't mention that over the last three seasons Zito's been a good pitcher but not a great one. I'll bet it doesn't mention that he's not one of the dozen best pitchers in the majors, and probably not even better than Buehrle or Sabathia.

    In today's inflated market, where Gil Meche is paid $11 million per season to be humdrum, Zito is worth something like $15 million per season, if only because he's so reliable. But Zito's agent doesn't want $15 million. He wants $17 million or more, and he's going to get that only if he can convince some team that Zito's new six-year contract is going to cover the middle years of a Hall of Fame career.

    Considering the financial profligacy that we've seen over the last 25 (or 30) years, does anybody want to bet that he can't?
    Last edited by GAC; 12-26-2006 at 06:29 AM.
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  3. #2
    Rally Onion! Chip R's Avatar
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    Re: Lets Talk Barry Zito

    Wrong forum, Mr. Magoo.
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    Member Crosley68's Avatar
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    Re: Lets Talk Barry Zito

    If a good, but not great, pitcher gets $17 mil for 6 years.......I wonder what a truely great pitcher would get in this market? Good stuff GAC.
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    Re: Lets Talk Barry Zito

    Zito will have a renaissance moving to the NL. It's tough pitching to the same cast of characters in the AL for as many years as Zito has.

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    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: Lets Talk Barry Zito

    Barry Zito and Aaron Harang were born 4 days apart. Look at Zito's numbers and then look at Harang's the last 2 seasons. Zito plays in a tougher league but in a friendlier park with a much better defense.

    I'm not sure if it says more about Harang or Zito, but if both were FA, I'd rather have Harang. Zito is a fine #2/3 type guy, which makes him very valuable. But he's not special and shouldn't get "special" money.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

  7. #6
    Posting in Dynarama M2's Avatar
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    Re: Lets Talk Barry Zito

    Barry Zito pitches more than 210 IP every year (he averages better than 220) and he has a 3.55 career ERA. That is far from common.

    Now it's possible that his next six seasons won't match his last six, but if they do, then he'll be worth every penny of the contract he gets.
    Baseball isn't a magic trick ... it doesn't get spoiled if you figure out how it works. - gonelong

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    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: Lets Talk Barry Zito

    Quote Originally Posted by M2 View Post
    Now it's not likely that his next six seasons won't match his last six, but if they do, then he'll be worth every penny of the contract he gets.
    Fixed Greg Maddux has a career ERA of 3.07 but I don't think anybody is anticipating that out of him in 2007 because his more recent performance suggests otherwise.

    I agree, what Zito did from 2000-2003 was superb. However, what he's done since, while still very valuable, isn't elite. The question is, why the change? Why did hitters go from hitting .220 against him to hitting .250? Why is he striking out fewer people? The durability is certainly commendable, but I think signing him with the expectation (and associated cost) that you're going to get Cy Young caliber pitching is a risk I wouldn't take.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

  9. #8
    Posting in Dynarama M2's Avatar
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    Re: Lets Talk Barry Zito

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick View Post
    Fixed Greg Maddux has a career ERA of 3.07 but I don't think anybody is anticipating that out of him in 2007 because his more recent performance suggests otherwise.
    Greg Maddux isn't 28.

    BTW, I don't view Zito like he's a Cy Young caliber pitcher. He's a horse and, to date, a good one. IMO, he'd be a huge pickup for the Mets.
    Baseball isn't a magic trick ... it doesn't get spoiled if you figure out how it works. - gonelong

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    Titanic Struggles Caveat Emperor's Avatar
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    Re: Lets Talk Barry Zito

    I'll go out on a VERY short limb and say that if you put Barry Zito on last year's Reds team, they walk away with the NL Central.

    Making the playoffs worth $15 million to you? Because with a rotation of Harang, Arroyo, Zito, Bailey and Milton, I'd give the Reds an even-money shot of making it -- even with their offensive problems.
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    Re: Lets Talk Barry Zito

    Quote Originally Posted by Caveat Emperor View Post
    I'll go out on a VERY short limb and say that if you put Barry Zito on last year's Reds team, they walk away with the NL Central.

    Making the playoffs worth $15 million to you? Because with a rotation of Harang, Arroyo, Zito, Bailey and Milton, I'd give the Reds an even-money shot of making it -- even with their offensive problems.
    They would walk to the NL Central title with that rotation. Hell, they'd prance there. This season, too.

    It's all in whether they really want to win or not. It's up to Castellini.

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    Re: Lets Talk Barry Zito

    My guess as to why Zito rebuffed Texas is that it's a terrible place to pitch, and he'd have to face the DH still.

    I'm guessing that Boras is shoveling him towards the NL--the Mets have to be the favorites at this point, but I'd be willing to wager that with all the money that's flowing into this team's coffers from the various radio/media deals, that the Reds have a good chunk still available to spend if they wanted not to be penurious.

  13. #12
    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Re: Lets Talk Barry Zito

    Quote Originally Posted by Falls City Beer View Post
    the Mets have to be the favorites at this point,
    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/unfiltered/?p=118

    Iím hearing from trusted sources that Texas is all but out on Barry Zito. They came over the top on the Mets, but werenít able to make that stick. Those same sources are hearing that the Mets arenít the shoo-in we all thought, but that Seattle and San Francisco have made credible pitches as well. Zito may actually prefer the San Francisco offer, though it is shorter than the others (4 years.)

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/200....johnson.zito/

    Randy Johnson is available, and the Yankees have begun trade talks with the Arizona Diamondbacks, San Diego Padres and possibly the San Francisco Giants, and if they are able to deal Johnson, the Yankees could jump in as a surprise late entrant in the Barry Zito sweepstakes.

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    Matt's Dad RANDY IN INDY's Avatar
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    Re: Lets Talk Barry Zito

    It's all in whether they really want to win or not. It's up to Castellini.
    Why would Zito want to pitch in the GAB in Cincinnati, if he didn't want to pitch in Texas?

    Looks to me like it's more up to Zito and the $$$$'s offered. Not to mention the ballpark involved.
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    Mon chou Choo vaticanplum's Avatar
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    Re: Lets Talk Barry Zito

    I've probably said this before, but one of the big reasons I've been pushing so hard for Zito is that he's one of the few established starters whom I believe is truly smart and hard-working enough to adjust to this ballpark. That's even before I take into consideration how good he is.

    It's not just the talent. If Boras is talking about him being "special", I think this is what he may mean, even though I am loathe to admit understanding anything Scott Boras says.
    There is no such thing as a pitching prospect.

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    Posting in Dynarama M2's Avatar
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    Re: Lets Talk Barry Zito

    Quote Originally Posted by RANDY IN CHAR NC View Post
    Why would Zito want to pitch in the GAB in Cincinnati, if he didn't want to pitch in Texas?

    Looks to me like it's more up to Zito and the $$$$'s offered. Not to mention the ballpark involved.
    Agreed. Zito's the kind of guy who'll want to pick his spot and Cincinnati isn't remotely close to what he's looking for - ballpark, team situation or city.
    Baseball isn't a magic trick ... it doesn't get spoiled if you figure out how it works. - gonelong

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