The headline (hopefully) says it all. Reyes’ footwork gets messed up, he slides way late, and ends up in extreme pain. No word yet on the extent of the injury, but I can’t imagine this turns out well for anyone.
It doesn’t take a revisionist historian to understand that the 7 year, $126 million dollar deal that the Giants gave Barry Zito was a bad idea. Looking at the results of the nearly completed deal certainly backs up those of us who thought it was an overpay at the time, but the eroding skills and results during his final years in Oakland showed a guy who was morphing from a good pitcher to an innings eater. Innings eaters shouldn’t get seven year deals, let alone $18 mil a year on top of that.
Zito had the one great season when he stole a Cy Young Award away from Pedro Martinez, but otherwise his key attribute was reliability as he a near-certainty for 34-35 starts a year. His coda with the A’s saw rapidly dwindling ability paired with remarkably fortunate ERA totals that hid from plain sight his drop into mediocrity. The first suspected culprit would be his home ballpark, known for fueling ERAs that easily outpaced the accompanying skill. Alas it was actually his road work that kept him afloat with two sub-4.00 ERAs in his final two years.
The results compared against the advanced ERA indicators further showed the impending doom:
Flash forward six-plus years and it’s not too surprising that Zito’s San Francisco career has yielded 1020 innings of 4.41 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, and 1.58 K/BB. In other words, he has been the innings eater we saw developing back in his late-20s logging 32 or more starts in all but one of his seasons with the other Bay Area ballclub (2011).
Two starts into the final year of this nightmare deal for the Giants has seen Zito mow down his competition for 14 scoreless innings, a 2-0 record, and an even 1.00 WHIP. Maybe it is the difficulty of finding topics early in the season or maybe some actually believe it to be true, but these two outings have spurred talks of some sort of rejuvenation for Zito with some suggesting that a situation may arise where he is on the cusp of 200 innings and the Giants may be inclined to fiddle with him in the rotation to avoid that threshold as it would kick in a 2014 vesting option for $18 million dollars. Slow your roll, folks.
Zito hasn’t yet thrown 200 innings as a Giant and only once has he been better than league average by ERA- registering a 98 in 2009, or two percent better than league average. Meanwhile, his next 2.0 K/BB ratio with the Giants will be his first. Furthermore, we’ve been down this road before.
First off, something about season openers sits well with Zito. In his last four season debuts, he has a 0.96 ERA and 0.68 WHIP in 28 innings with all three runs given up in 2011. He stayed hot in 2010 posting a 1.53 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in 35.3 innings across five stats. His opponents in those five starts included four of the worst offenses in baseball that year: Houston (29th in wRC+), Pittsburgh (28th), LA Dodgers (22nd), St. Louis (12th), and Colorado (27th on the road). The rest of the year he put up a 4.72 ERA and 1.45 WHIP in 164 innings.
He did it all again last year. After kicking off the season with a shutout of the Rockies (in Colorado no less!), he reeled off another trio of gems yielding a 1.67 ERA and 0.93 WHIP in 27 April innings. He deserves plenty of credit for thwarting the Rockies in Coors as they were the 8th-best home offense, but the next three outings came against Pittsburgh (26th), NY Mets (22nd), and Cincinnati (23rd, but in fairness, 17th at home). The rest of the way? He was quite pumpkin-like with a 4.58 ERA and 1.47 WHIP in 157.3 innings.
There is nothing in the 35 year old’s game that suggests these first two starts are indicative of a forthcoming strong season. His velocity continues to drop toward Moyerian levels checking in at 82.9 MPH this year, continuing a four-year plunge from 2009’s 86.5 MPH. It will be a major upset if he is an above average starter for 200+ innings and these first two starts don’t change the odds much, if at all. Fantasy managers, step away from your waiver wires, there’s nothing to see here.
The game-ending call in Arlington on Monday night was undoubtedly one of the worst strike calls I’ve ever seen. Even closer Joe Nathan knows they got away with one they most certainly did not deserve.
Edit to add: Excellent stuff here by MLB.com posting it with all four calls (home and away TV and radio). Hat tip to my co-host Jason Collette for posting that on Facebook.
Are you sitting at your desk thinking, “I wanna hear MORE of Paul’s voice, after all he only does a 2+ hour podcast each week!”?
You’re not alone and I have just the remedy for you.
- First off, here is the latest episode of the aforementioned podcast I co-host with Jason Collette.
- Here is my regular Monday morning spot with Ragz & The Bartender on 95.7 The Fan Michiana in Indiana.
- Next up, I was a guest cohost of the ESPN Fantasy Focus with Matthew Berry.
- And then this evening I appeared on The Fantasy Insiders Show w/Joel Henard.
Listen to them all back-to-back-to-back-to-back for best results!!!!
It’s been a bit quiet around here since the release of the SP Guide, but not because I’ve just been sitting on my butt doing nothing (my full DVR can attest). Check me out at these various outlets:
- Matthew Kory and I answered three questions about six mid-tier teams (Bos, Tor, Phi, Cle, Oak, & NYM) for an annual series at the site.
- I contributed to this week’s Lineup Card discussing a familiar disappointment in a new place.
- I did an insane 5 hours on Starting Pitchers split over two podcasts: one with Jason Collette and Doug Thorburn, the other with just Doug. (BTW, we’re recording this week’s episode tonight!)
- More pitcher madness at BP as I did the Tiers for the American League and National League.
- Are you tired of pitching pieces? I’ve got three underrated arms for you to target this spring.
- I wrote this piece on five pitchers with unclear roles heading into spring five weeks ago and now you can see how their roles have evolved in the interim.
Daily Fantasy Sports Network:
- My debut piece over there covered the worst pitching staffs for 2013.
Betting Dork Podcast:
- I appeared on the 2/26 and 3/7 episodes discussing starting pitchers (obv!) with my friend Gill Alexander.
Fantasy 15 Fox Sports Podcast:
Fantasy Fix Podcast:
- I appeared on the March 14th episode with Brett Talley.
Ladies and gentlemen,
You’ve been waiting all winter for this moment and the day is finally here. The finishing touches are being put on the 2013 Guide and it will be released this afternoon. Those of you who have ordered will find it in your inboxes this afternoon. The army of 1 is working at a Paul Walkeresque and Vin Dieselian rate to get everything in order with final edits, clean ups, charts, graphs, and even the final handful of profiles.