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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

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Nice post Jason, and I am wholeheartedly rooting for Zito => Yankees. You get the feeling that if Zito was going to be a Met, it would have happened by now. If they don't get him, that rotation is going to be hilarious.

I also thought I would pass along the ZIPS projections for the Phillies from Baseball Think Factory, a fairly geeky stat-centered site that I know at least a few posters here check out.

The direct link is too long to copy here but just go here and you will see it:

http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/

Some of the notables are a prediction of 51 HR for Howard, an .860 OPS for Burrell (good for #2 in the team!) and about a .330 OBP for our projected 1-2 guys (J-Roll and Vic).

What really stands out on the offensive end is how screwed this team would have been if they traded Burrell, as Utley, Howard and Helms! are the only other players projected to have an OPS above 800. I'm begining to think that the upgrade from Nunez/Bell => Helms will be one of the biggest improvements of any team in baseball, probably worth about 4 or 5 wins!

On the pitching side, Lieber, Moyer and Garcia basically project to put up identical numbers (13 wins, ~4.30 ERA), Gordon and Geary look great and the rest of the bullpen...uh, not so good, with Madson and Smith aroung a 5.00 ERA and, my buddy Brito at 6.00 and the giant Jim Ed at 6.29.

Amazingly, after Gordon and Geary, the next two highest bullpen projections are Condrey and Julio Santana! I was starting to think the pen might be OK, but I'm not so sure, Gillick may want to ask the owners for something around 4-5M so the Phils can join in the bullpen freny.

Thanks for the link. That must have just gone up on BTF. They were still on Oakland when I checked this morning.

I know, I've been watching the site like a hawk recently...M..N..O..P! I don't know why, I tend not to put much stock in computer projections, but they do help identify serious weaknesses.

I also forgot to thank you for the book list on the side Jason...I'm starting "Barnstroming to Heaven" tonight!

Uh, yeah, "BarnSTROMing To Heaven" would probably suck, but I am looking forward to "BarnSTORMing to Heaven"

Once again, let's not allow facts to get in the way of our absurd obsessions.

Jason writes, "I have little desire to watch Zito face Ryan Howard and Chase Utley four or five times a season, for the next six seasons." Really? Here are his platoon splits from last year:

vs. LH batters: .250 avg .344 OBP .386 SLG
vs. RH batters: .228 avg .302 OBP .359 SLG

So while the majority of posters here are busy soiling their armor over the Mets getting Zito, I really couldn't care less. The odds of him continuing to throw more than 200+ innings for the next five or six years have got to be something like 20 percent or so. In fact, if I were inclined to worry about what the Mets do, which I'm not, I'd prefer they sign him, knowing that the combination of advancing age, declining K/BB ratio and years of overwork almost insure they will overpay for him.

Really Alby? You'd rather them SIGN Zito than NOT SIGN Zito? Regardless of whether or not he dominates, and even if he is only a #3 starter, it will allow the Mets to drop a bad starter from their rotation.
The FACT is, any team would like to have Zito in their rotation, if they could afford it.

That's nice, Seth. Check back with me in about three years. Lots of teams wanted to sign Gary Matthews Jr., too. But of course, your response indicates an inability or unwillingness to deal with what I actually wrote -- I don't care one way or the other what the Mets do, and he's a better pitcher against right-handers than left-handers. And he's been overworked. And his peripherals have been fading since his one big season. But by all means, go ahead and argue this on the basis of what teams WOULD do if they COULD do it. Makes a much stronger case for your position, certainly. And my tip for cleaning soiled undergarments is hot water and plenty of bleach.

I completely agree with Seth in the short term and Alby in the long run. Utley and Howard may not have any trouble against Zito based on the numbers presented, but most everyone else in our current lineup would - the Phils are overloaded on the right side after years favoring the other side. Zito stabilizes their rotation for a couple of years, but in a 5th and 6th year he is a potential liability. All along I have liked the west coast teams chances of landing him. Since he didn't want to be a Phillie, here's hoping he stays in the AL with the Angels or M's.

V, I think he's a potential liability at any time during a long-term contract, based on 6 straight years of 200+ innings pitched. While most people might see that as proof he's a stud -- that was the general feeling about Freddy Garcia -- I see stats like that as an injury risk. The difference, of course, is that we're only playing Garcia for one year. The odds of a pitcher breaking down during any given year are much lower than him breaking down at some point over a 5-year period.

It's not that I think he'll suck -- as a junkballer he actually should do pretty well against the Phils, who traditionally load up on fastball hitters -- but if you'll note what I said, I think they'll OVERPAY for him, just as they did with Pedro (let's see how long it takes for him to come back, and how effective he is when he does). But really, what's the point of sitting at home rooting for a player to sign here, there or anywhere? It seems like a rather silly thing to be rooting for, IMHO, especially when it's a New York team that we all know has close to unlimited financial resources. About all I can hope is that they'll spend too much money on players who won't put them over the top. Zito seems to fit that bill to me.

Mets have the financial resources where overpaying Zito won't impact any of their baseball decisions down the line. Bottom line is he provides immediate starting pitching help to a divisional rival that won 97 games last season.

I agree with Billy. The next 2 seasons, I don't see any con to the Mets signing him aside from financial, and that is close to being a moot point.

While the chance he breaks down is as good as anyones, I see the "bad" Zito from 2 of the last 3 years as a big improvement over the likes of a Traschel. And the John Maine, Oliver Perez, El Duque types virtually have no chance of out performing Barry over a full season next year.

And god forbid if he improves reuniting with Rick Peterson, having a better offense and defense behind him, and league change.

Hopefully the Giants make a big push for Zito since they have had a really disappointing offseason so far. The Giants were supposed to finally get rid of a number of their veterans and bring in some younger talent. Didn't happen.

Giants lost their best starting pitcher (Schmidt) and one of their better offensive players (Alou). Giants a player to market to their fan base besides Bonds.

Wow Alby. Santa not bring you anything for Christmas this year?? Dude relax. My feeling on Zito is that who ever gets him at this point is going to way over pay him. I would prefer he went to the Yanks. But if he signs with the Met I think he won't have a dramatic effect on Howard or Utley. He is not a deceptive pitcher to lefties. Plus don't expect Boras to let Zito sign anytime soon. He is going to want to wait and see if the Yanks get involved. Even if they don't he will use them against the Mets to make them jump the 100 million line. If that happens Omar Minaya will be fired within 3 years.

MG, Who knows what the Giants are doing, but I agree they are a wildcard in the Zito pursuit. Their alleged youth movement including signing Bonds for $16M (no other team in baseball would have even given him half of that) along with some new players in their mid 30s like Molina, Klesko, Aurilla, and Roberts.

Live out in the Bay Area and there really has been a total lack of interest in the Giants' offseason signings this year.

Giants will sell plenty of tickets next year since the All-Star is in SF and Bonds will be chasing Aaron but they actually need to sign a player that resonates with the fan base. Zito would do that and help to anchor their young rotation.

Does anybody know if Zito's lefty/right splits from '06 are typical? I'd be surprised, with that big curve, if they are.

If you're a Mets' fan you'd have to be happy with a Zito signing-at any price. But you'd also have to be worried about the rest of the rotation. If the Phils' rotation (which should well out-pace the Mets') and key starters are healthy the Phils should at least be able to stay close to the Mets in '07.

Yes, Zito's career platoon splits are surprisingly much better against right handed batters. JS, Agree the Mets starting staff looks shaky on paper, but was it much better last season ? Pedro got hurt and Glavine was awful in the second half of the season. I think they used 13 different starting pitchers because of their injuries. They had an advantage of jumping out to such a big lead early in the season. I don't see the Mets being in first wire to wire again this year. Yet, they are still a very formidable team with or without Zito -- preferably without.

kdon, Thanks for the zips projections link. Howard's projections are Babe Ruth like. Did you notice the optimistic projections of 59 hrs, 175 rbis, and ops 1124 ?

to the folks who hope the mets sign zito because in 4 years it will be a bad contract, who cares? not the mets. occasionally teams do get saddled with bad contracts and aging stars, but they don't really mind becasue they have won a few pennants and they are able to change the roster from year to year. like pedro, zito isn't signed to be the ace for every year he is around. he is signed to be great for a few years and solid for a few years then they can bring in other player who might not be on the radar yet. also the mets aren't exactly cash strapped so they'll be able to add players without a problem. and again this is really about winning baseball games not balancing check books or getting value for free agent signing so who cares if there are better bargains out there when zito is more likely to push the mets over the top this year?
Also one can break down splits and stats until they convince themselves that zito isn't a good pitcher or that pat burrel is better than alfonso soriano or that randy wolf was the best free agent deal available, but does anyone really buy it?

Well, Corbett, to you the money might not matter but it does to every team that doesn't play in New York -- and at a certain point, it matters even to them. And, just for the record, Burrell is a better player than Soriano, and I don't recall anyone ever claiming Wolf was the best free agent pitcher available.

But for a fun mental game, let's concede that you're right -- Zito will help the Mets. So what? So I should expend my energy doing what -- hoping, praying, writing silly posts hoping that they don't sign him? What's going to happen is going to happen. And here's a little news flash for you -- if the Mets don't sign Zito, it will free up the money for them to improve their pitching some other way. They're not just going to lay down and surrender. The Phillies are going to have to beat them. And let's go one more step -- the Mets won the division by double digits last year and it didn't prevent the Phillies from making the playoffs. Eventually, if what you care about is winning OCTOBER baseball games, you're going to have to beat somebody good. IMHO, you do that by playing high-level competition all year long. Ever notice that the Braves, after beating a weak division for 15 years in a row, only won the WS once? So much for hoping your competition sucks so you can get into the playoffs.

In the end, you can choose your poison and I'll choose mine -- I'm not afraid of any team that will run Barry Zito out there as its ace pitcher.

I've seen absolutely nothing to backup his assertion that "it's obvious he wants the Mets." Seems like the typical everyone must want to come to NY attitude.

Zito could care less whether he was in NY. He'll go to the highest bidder. My bet is that it will be the Yankees. I think Big Unit to Arizona will happen quickly and they'll swoop in for Zito.

agreed on some points. true that money does matter to teams who aren't the mets, but we are talking about the mets here. they will spend and then spend more so i hope they can't get zito and have to spend the money on something not as good. keep in mind not all dollars spent yeild the same results. during the last 6 years the phillies never really went out and signed what people thought would be bad contracts down the road (meaning older players whose last few years would be costly and not as good as their first few years under contract). good for them, but in the end they are always 2 games out at the end of the year. its hard to get behind a move that you know will be bad in 3 years, but sometimes you have to get the player and then deal with the consequences three years down the road.
but back to zito specifically, he isn't as good as he once was and he isn't scary by any means, but the mets pitching is a mess and i would love it if they were unable to substantially improve it with someone like zito. hes their best option and hope they don't land it. glavine, maine el duque,??? is alot better for phills fans than that rotation with zito at the top.
As for worrying about it, i'm with you completely whatever moves the pills and other teams make they make. not much we can do about it. its fun to talk about it, but come spring no one will remember the potential moves and we'll just get to enjoy the play. I like the phills pitching and i think they can still score runs, so if they can fix the bullpen things should be good and i don't see why they can't catch a mets team, short on starting pitching, that had everything work out last year and ran away with it before injuries caught up with them in september/october.

Corbett writes, "during the last 6 years the phillies never really went out and signed what people thought would be bad contracts down the road (meaning older players whose last few years would be costly and not as good as their first few years under contract)."

That's just wrong. Jim Thome's contract was six years, a length no other team was willing to match because of his age and injury history. Being able to trade his contract while picking up only half the cost, despite the serious injury that put his career in doubt, is arguably Gillick's best move as Phillies GM.
It can also be argued that any objective analysis would have put Lieberthal's contract in that category as well, simply because of how old he was when it expired.
In sum, long-term contracts are a total crapshoot because of the factors you identify. I would say Pedro's contract was an albatross for the Mets, as I don't expect to see him pitch in the bigs until June, and I don't expect him to be effective when he does. They got 1.5 years of service for a big-bucks 4-year contract. I realize they'll just spend their way out of the mistake, but in the end the Mets are not the Yankees and will have a finite budget they can't exceed (this is mainly a factor of their smaller TV contract, and the fact that the Yanks have a worldwide fan base, the Mets merely a regional one). Had they coughed up $100 million for Zito and he broke down, it would hamper their ability to compete down the road. Combine that with my feeling that he's just not all that good -- Oakland's park still favors pitchers -- and I would have been willing to take my chances with him in orange and blue (it now appears he's going to be in the orange and black of the Giants).

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