Friday, December 29, 2006

Barry Zito Signs With Giants

So I took a break from blogging for a week or two, and returned to find an excellent topic to consider, i.e., Barry Zito. Three questions come to mind immediately - is this a good deal for the Giants, what can I expect to pay for Zito, and what can I expect Zito to earn.

Is Zito worth $18 million per year for 7 years? In this market, who knows anymore. I am going to venture a guess that says, yes, this year and next year, he is likely an $18 million a year pitcher. Zito has a lifetime 3.55 ERA in the American League, with over 200 IP each year since 2001. Yes, Zito has shown inconsistency over the last three years. Yes, his K rate has declined (though it is up from its low in 2003. Nonetheless, he is getting people out, he is an innings eater, and he is moving to the NL West, the land of spacious ballparks and weak offenses. Mets fans should be disappointed. Four years from now, however, perhaps Giants fans will be the ones disappointed (particularly with a full no-trade clause).

Now, the real stuff - what can we expect Zito to earn and what can we expect him to produce. Mike is the better guy with the numbers, so I will let him comment on comparisons with other pitchers in a more in depth manner should he like to, but I can cite the following statistics. His ERA would have been 14th in the league last year. Only 6 pitchers threw more innings in the NL. IN a 4x4 league, my quick off the cuff calculation is that Dontrelle Willis last year may be a fair comparison. His WHIP does not compete with guys like Schmidt and Harang. In a 5x5 league, the precipitous drop in K rate over the last few years should be of some concern, particularly with an old, old, old Giants defense.

I think you can only count on 12-14 wins at most from Zito on the Giants. I do like his chances to improve both his ERA and ratio - a 3.50/1.30 season from Zito is certainly within expectations. Mike will likely disagree, given the steady diet of walks in light of the declining K rate. Nonetheless, the free-flowing and deceptive motion will help Zito. Given that, I can see earnings in the $18 range.

One other thing to keep in mind - durability. Zito will give you 200+ innings; pencil him the lineup and wake up again in September.

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