Sunday, September 1, 2013

Friday Baseball Post

I was thinking for writing this on time (that is, Friday), but wound up letting it go...until now, when I just looked at the pitching matchup for tomorrow. And really: why is Zito starting?

No, really. Why is Zito starting? For that matter, why is Zito on this team?

Seriously. We're talking about a very, very, very, bad starting pitcher. You want to see his ERA+ with the Giants? From 2007 through this week, in order: 99, 85, 105, 94, 60, 85, 58. Yes: he's had 23 starts this year despite zero expectation that he would be any good and then zero positive results.

So it took them however many starts to remove him from the rotation, but finally they did...and they he came back! And apparently is just going to stay there. Despite that there's no way that he has less chance of being a positive contributor to the next Giants winning team than...well, he may have less chance than Russ Davis.

Tomorrow will be Zito's 163rd start for the Giants in seasons in which he didn't reach a 100 ERA+. That's got to be historically very rare, no? I poked around Giants history a bit and found only one guy to top it; Woody had 178 starts in seasons where he fell short of 100 ERA+. But four of those seasons were over 90, and he mixed in a couple of very nice wasn't nearly as bad.

Look, I know that there are injuries, and I know that Fresno wasn't stocked with guys who look like they'll make it, but I don't care; they're better off taking a shot at Machi or Rosario or Kontos turning out to be a hidden future starter.

I have nothing against Barry Zito as a person. And I certainly get the sense that he's tried his hardest over the last seven years. It's not his fault that the Giants offered him a terrible contract. And of course I'll always appreciate his start against the Cardinals in the LCS last year. However, there's just no reason for him to be on the active roster, much less starting games. And there hasn't been for years.


  1. I follow two teams, the SF Giants and the Pittsburgh Pirates. When the Giants were in contention (i.e. cared about the current season) they made astute late season moves that wound up being crucial to ending up world champions twice.

    This year the Pirates are attempting to do the same. But the Giants are not. Tells me something, like why Zito is starting. Front office attention is on next year.

    So if I lived in SF I'd be out to the ballpark to look at this particular team that was so great and so much fun to watch, one more time. Because I'm guessing next year's team will be as different as they can possibly make it.

  2. Well starting Zito could improve next year's draft position for the Giants, I guess. Since the Giants aren't making the playoffs and are paying him anyway, they might as well start him, bank the losses, and get a higher draft position.

  3. ^ Except I've never really heard of a baseball team tanking for draft position. It's not like basketball, where you might get the next impact guy to alter your destiny, or even football, where you can pick up a handful of strong players to restock your team. With the minor leagues and bonuses and the risk of injuries to any decent arm, I'm not sure there's any difference between drafting 8th and drafting 10th in baseball.

    (In fact, I seem to recall that the expected returns for any draft pick after the first-- or maybe the first few-- fall off sharply, to the point that there is no difference. But I can't recall where I read that, and I could be mixing up several articles in my mind...)

    1. I think more basically: the difference between picks, or at least the difference that giving Zito an extra half dozen starts might get you, is smaller than the upside possibility of giving Kickham or whoever those half dozen starts.

      It's not even clear that the next guy would actually be any better than Zito. But at least they would learn something.

  4. I just found out that in the fantasy league for which I've done nothing I barely missed 3rd place. I let the autodraft go and I didn't make any lineup changes.

    The guy who eked out 3rd had to go 10-0 the last 10 matchups to beat me.


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