Thursday, July 16, 2009

Evaluating Zito Plus Wanting More

Yet another column comes out extolling the virtues of just dumping Zito's nearly $100M in contract value, in the belief that it would help out the rotation (I just got done praising him and he done gone and annoyed me again...). Let's examine that issue, but without all the emotional baggage that his contract brings.

First off, if you look through his game log, sure, there are a lot of games where he is not that good. He has not been that dominating this season, and had a large number of disaster starts. As my study of PQS shows, pitchers high ERA is often the result of a large number of disaster starts and even good pitchers need to minimize their disaster starts (check my labels for PQS for more explanation of this concept) to keep their ERA relatively low.

However, more importantly, you need to look at his gamelog for how many games where he gave up 3 runs or less as the starter, as those are the starts we have the most chance of winning. By that measure, he had 10 starts where he allowed 3 runs or less, so the team should have been 10-8 in his 18 starts. Not worth $18M, but it is still a pretty good record for the 4th starter of the rotation. That the Giants have gone 8-10 in his starts is not entirely his fault: the team is only averaging 3.26 runs scored per game in support of Zito.

The problem is that many people just look at Zito and his salary and then compare him with what top pitchers should be doing. We should not do that because that is not his role on our team, even at his career better seasons, he would not be more than our third or fourth starter, and if Sanchez can consistently pitch well, he could be our fifth starter.

Even when they compare him properly with other #4 starters, the point is not what other team's #4 starters can do, but what our starter options can do.

One complaint was that Zito was "nightmarish" against the 'Dres and Nationals, going 0-4 with a 5.75 ERA. But when you look at those starts, he had two horrible starts, April 10th, 4 runs in 4 IP, and his last, 9 runs in 4.1 IP; one so-so start on May 13th against the Nats, 4 runs in 6.1 IP; and two gems, April 22nd, 0 runs in 7.0 IP, and May 19th, 2 runs in 8.0 IP. I don't think it is Zito's fault that he got a no-decision on one and a loss in the other, of the two gems.

And it all goes to show my common complaint this season about people who are complaining about players: they don't say much while he is doing OK, but jump on the bandwagon when things go south. As late as June 10th, Zito still had a 4.09 ERA, and after his gem on June 7th, his ERA was a respectable 4.43. But he has one bad game and he is jumped upon for his 5.01 ERA, which now does not compare favorably with other #4 starters, but was really good comparatively just a month ago.

Which brings me back to the complaint about his record against the two worst teams, San Diego and Washington. Before that bad last start, he had two good games, one so-so, and one bad game, and he should have been 2-1, maybe 2-2. Really, the complaint is about the 'Dres because only one of the five starts were against Washington, and Zito gave up 4 runs in 6.1 IP, which is not nightmarish, as the Nats are actually an average offensive team.

So let's take a look at the starts, one by one:
  1. April 10th, 4 ER in 4.0 IP, Overall 9.00 ERA.
  2. April 22nd, 0 ER in 7.0 IP, Overall 3.27 ERA.
  3. May 19th, 2 ER in 8.0 IP, Overall 2.84 ERA.
  4. July 12th, 9 ER in 4.1 IP, Overall 5.79 ERA.
So yeah, there were two nightmarish starts but he was damn good in his two other starts. His bad ERA overall does not mean he was just beat up all over the place, you have to look at his individual starts to get a better sense of what is going on.

Looking at Zito's stats, he has mainly been in the 4 ERA range, and for #4 starter, that is pretty good. Other team's middle of rotation starters are normally in the 4 ERA range. And as nicely as Sadowski has done so far, I would not walk so far out on a limb and say that Sadowski can deliver that reliably year in year out, which would be the only reason I would be for pushing Zito out of the rotation.

Zito has been much improved overall this season. He is striking out a lot more batters and walking less batters as well. That is because he has been able to regain the effectiveness of the separation in speed between his fastball and his curveball by gaining a key 2-3 MPH on his fastball. Maybe he is not worth his contract, but for what he does as a pitcher, he fits in nicely with our rotation this season where he was, as the #4 starter. That is all that really matters, how he fits on our team.

This might be different next year, when Bumgarner and maybe Alderson will be ready for the majors, but for now, he is fine where he is and is a useful contributor to the team's success. And if he can continue his past pattern of pitching well in the second half, his overall ERA for 2009 will look very nice, and if he can continue it into 2010, then he could be tradeable as soon as mid-year 2010.

Wanting More

I was listening to KNBR while driving and someone was passionately dissing Giants management, saying that they don't want to win it all, that he didn't have any confidence that Giants management will keep the nucleus of the team together, so why not trade off some of their four Top 50 prospects and get Halladay now, to win it this year.

This was so wrong in so many ways that I had to respond.

First, Sabean was the one who kept the nucleus of this team, the one we have right now, together. He could have traded off any or many of them previously in order to help Bonds win the World Series once during his career. But he didn't, for the most part.

If they didn't want to win it all, they wouldn't have bothered to spend $6.1M on Posey last year, they could have gotten away with drafting someone else and paying at least half as much. They wouldn't have bothered to spend over $4M together to sign Villalona and Rodriguez. They wouldn't have bothered to go over slot to sign Lincecum. Or Bumgarner.

And trading away our Top 50 prospects today would kill our next few seasons, particularly if Posey was traded away. He's our future catcher. If he's traded, then Sandoval's our catcher, but now we have no 3B. In addition, playing catcher would definitely take away from his offense, both because he won't be playing as many games as he would at 3B, plus there is a physical toll as well. Our rotation is good now, but with Bumgarner and Alderson (plus Sanchez), it could be marvelous.

In addition, most of our high salary contracts will be gone by the time Lincecum is arbitration eligible and really pulling in the money. We will have a lot of budget to pay him. I expect a long term contract but even if not, we will still be signing him to less than market value out to 2013. And we have Cain signed to a cheap contract to 2011. Both things he didn't know but still he felt he knew much more how to better run the Giants.

Halladay is good but Bumgarner could be as good as he is for the next 6 seasons, plus Posey will be a middle of lineup hitter for us as well. But he would rather mortgage our future to try to win this year. I think that's idiotic, particularly since another team could get red hot (like Colorado did after Tracy took over) and pass us up like nothing. Then we would have mortgaged the future but don't even get the present.

Be patient, look like you've supported a winning team before, and enjoy the next 6-8 seasons as our young players rise and add to the mix. It looks like it's going to be good.

1 comment:

  1. I have a basic disagreement with this statement:

    "First, Sabean was the one who kept the nucleus of this team, the one we have right now, together. He could have traded off any or many of them previously in order to help Bonds win the World Series once during his career. But he didn't, for the most part."

    When Bonds was on the team and they had a chance to do something with him, they did trade away their prospects or didn't even draft them. However, more to the point is that the current crop of prospects they we all like to tout have come to the team either after Bonds' reign or at the very back end of his usefullness as a player that can carry a team to the playoffs.

    ReplyDelete

Labels

1984 Draft (1) 2007 Draft (15) 2007 Giants (52) 2008 Draft (22) 2008 Giants (53) 2008 season (6) 2009 Draft (18) 2009 Giants (87) 2009 season (24) 2010 Decade (10) 2010 Draft (11) 2010 Giants (137) 2010 NL ROY award (1) 2010 season (19) 2010's (3) 2011 Draft (9) 2011 Giants (84) 2011 season (8) 2012 Draft (11) 2012 Giants (93) 2012 season (11) 2013 Draft (3) 2013 Giants (39) 2013 season (5) 2014 (1) 2014 draft (5) 2014 Giants (54) 2014 season (13) 2015 season (1) 25 man roster (7) 3B (1) 40 Man Roster (4) 49ers (1) 6-man rotation (1) 89 Quake (1) 89 World Series (1) A's (6) A-Ball (1) A-Gon (1) A-Rod (3) AA-Ball (1) Aaron Rowand (25) accomplishments (1) Adalberto Mejia (4) Adam Duvall (3) AFL (4) Alex Hinshaw (3) All-Star Game (1) almost perfect game (1) Amphetamine (2) analysis (5) Andre Torres (14) Andres Torres (2) Andrew Susac (5) Andy Baggerly (2) Andy Sisco (1) Angel Joseph (1) Angel Pagan (10) Angel Villalona (29) Anniversary (1) appendicitis (1) Aramis Garcia (1) Arbitration (12) Armando Benitez (5) Armando Gallaraga (1) art of failure (1) At the Rate They Are Going (1) ATT Park (1) Aubrey Huff (20) Award (4) BABIP (2) Barry Bonds (28) Barry Zito (77) Baseball America (2) Baseball Prospectus (2) Baseball Prospectus Bias Against Giants (3) baseball strategy (5) Baseball Study (14) baserunning (2) batting peripherals (1) batting stance analysis (1) batting title champion (1) Beat LA (6) bench players (1) Bengie Molina (14) Benjamin Snyder (1) Bert Blyleven (1) Beyond the Box Score (1) Bias Against Giants (1) Big 6 (7) Bill Hall (1) Bill James Handbook (2) Bill Neukom (21) Billy Beane (2) Blog Philosophy (2) Bob Howry (2) Bob Mariano (1) Bobby Evans (1) Brad Hennessey (5) Brad Penny (2) Brandon Bednar (1) Brandon Belt (38) Brandon Crawford (18) Brandon Hicks (1) Braves (5) breakout (1) Brett Bochy (3) Brett Pill (9) Brian Anderson (1) Brian Bocock (2) Brian Cooper (1) Brian Horwitz (3) Brian Ragira (2) Brian Sabean (41) Brian Wilson (14) Bridegrooms (2) Bruce Bochy (22) Bucky Showalter (1) bulllpen (1) Bullpen (21) Bumgarner (1) Business Plan (13) Buster Posey (91) Byung-Hyun Kim (1) Cained (4) call-ups (3) Candlestick Park (1) Cards (8) Career Prospects (3) Carl Hubbell (1) Carlos Beltran (4) Carlos Gomez (1) Carney Lansford (2) Carter Jurica (1) catcher injury (4) catching (1) CC Sabathia (1) censorship (2) CEO (2) Chad Gaudin (5) Charles Culberson (5) Charlie Culberson (3) Chase Johnson (2) Chillax (1) Chris Brown (1) Chris Gloor (1) Chris Heston (3) Chris Lincecum (1) Chris O'Leary (1) Chris Ray (4) Chris Stewart (4) Chris Stratton (8) Christian Arroyo (3) Christmas (1) Christopher Dominguez (4) Christy Mathewson (1) Chuckie Jones (2) Clay Hensley (3) Clayton Blackburn (5) Clayton Tanner (3) Closer (7) closer by committee (3) Coaches (3) Cody Hall (1) Cody Ross (8) Col (1) Comeback Award (1) Commissioner (1) competitiveness (1) Conor Gillaspie (22) contender (1) contract negotiations (1) contract signing (4) Cory Hart (1) Craig Whitaker (2) cuts (1) Cy Young Award (5) D-backs (14) D-gers (31) D-Rocks (3) D-Rox (16) Dallas McPherson (1) Dan Ortmeier (11) Dan Otero (2) Dan Runzler (6) Dan Uggla (1) Daniel Slania (2) Darren Ford (1) Dave Roberts (11) David Aardsma (1) David Huff (2) David Loewenstein (1) Decade of the Giants (10) decline (1) Defense (8) Deferred Money (1) deleted comment (1) Derek Law (4) Detroit Tigers (1) DFA (3) DH (2) Dick Tidrow (1) Dirty (1) DL (1) dodgers (6) Donald Snelten (1) Draft (3) Draft Analysis (8) Draft Bonus (7) draft list (1) draft signing (3) Draft Strategy (11) Draft Study (2) Draft Success (2) drafting (1) Dres (16) DRS (1) Edgar Renteria (13) Edwin Escobar (5) Ehire Adrianza (14) Eli Whiteside (4) Elimination game (1) EME (2) Emmanuel Burriss (18) epic season (6) Eric Byrnes (1) Eric Surkamp (6) Erik Cordier (1) Eugenio Velez (12) extension (6) fanfest (1) Fielding (4) Fielding Stats (4) finger injury (1) first post-season press conference (2) Francisco Peguero (4) Fred Lewis (3) Freddie Lewis (17) Freddie Sanchez (4) Freddy Sanchez (7) Free Agency (3) Free agent possibilities (17) Free agent signing (4) Free agent signings (21) gamer-tude (1) Gary Brown (23) Geno Espinelli (1) George Kontos (3) Ghosts of Giants Drafts (1) Giants (1) Giants blogs (2) Giants Chat (3) Giants Draft (7) Giants Drafts (2) Giants Farm System (29) Giants Franchise record (2) Giants Future (62) Giants GM (4) Giants Greats (2) Giants hitting manual (1) Giants No-Hitter (4) Giants Offense (21) Giants Offseason (21) Giants Strategy (34) GiDar (1) Gino Espinelli (1) glossary (1) good will (1) Graphical Player (1) Gregor Blanco (12) Gregor Moscoso (1) Guillermo Moscoso (2) Guillermo Mota (2) Guillermo Quiroz (1) Gustavo Cabrera (3) Hall of Fame (7) Hall of Shame (3) Hank Aaron (5) Happy Holidays (2) Hate mail (1) heart-warming (1) Heath Hembree (8) Hector Correa (1) Hector Sanchez (9) Henry Sosa (8) HGH (1) high expectations (1) high school focus in draft (1) Hitter's League (1) Hitting (15) Hitting Coach (1) hitting mechanics (3) hitting pitchers (2) hitting streak (1) Hitting; (1) Home Run Career Record (7) Home Run Hitting Contest (1) Hunter Pence (19) Hunter Stickland (1) Hunter Strickland (1) Idea (4) improvement (1) Indictment (1) injury (2) instant replay (2) instructor (1) Interesting Question (1) International Free Agent Pursuits (3) International Signings (5) interview (3) Investment (1) Ivan Ochoa (2) Jack Taschner (4) Jackson Williams (2) Jacob Dunnington (1) Jacob McCasland (1) Jake Dunning (1) Jake Peavy (6) Japanese Starters (1) Jarrett Parker (5) Jason Heyward (1) Jason Stoffel (1) Javier Lopez (5) JC Gutierrez (2) Jeff Kent (1) Jeff Suppan (1) Jeremy Affeldt (10) Jeremy Shelley (1) Jerome Williams (1) Jesse English (2) Jesse Foppert (1) Jesus Guzman (4) Joaquin Arias (9) Joe Panik (10) Joe Torre (1) Joey Martinez (2) Johan Santana (1) John Bowker (22) Johneshwy Fargas (2) Johnny Bench (1) Johnny Monell (1) Johnny Rucker (1) Jonah Arenado (1) Jonathan Mayo (1) Jonathan Sanchez (48) Jose Canseco (1) Jose Casilla (1) Jose Guillen (3) Jose Mijares (3) Jose Uribe (2) Josh Osich (3) JT Snow (1) Juan Perez (5) Juan Uribe (9) Juggling Monkey (1) Just Say No (1) Kendry Flores (1) Keury Mella (1) Kevin Correia (2) Kevin Frandsen (22) Kevin Pucetas (10) Kung Fu Panda (30) Kyle Crick (10) Larry Baer (2) Larry Ellison (1) Lead-off (2) left-handed (1) Lew Wolff (1) LHP (1) Lineup (17) lineup construction (1) Lineup position (1) Long-Term Contract (21) long-term planning (3) luck (1) Luis Angel Mateo (2) Mac Williamson (5) Madison Bumgarner (127) Mailbox (1) Malcolm Gladwell (1) management change (3) management issues (5) managerial value (2) Manny (1) Marc Kroon (2) Marco Scutaro (11) Mark DeRosa (8) Martin Agosta (6) Marvin Miller (1) Masahiro Tanaka (1) Mason McVay (1) Matsuzaka (1) Matt Cain (127) Matt Downs (2) Matt Graham (1) Matt Holliday (1) Matt Morris (2) Mechanics (4) Media (15) Media Bias (17) Media Trade Idea (3) Medical (1) Mediocy (10) Mediots (4) Melk-Gone (1) Melky Cabrera (14) memories (1) mental (1) Merkin Valdez (8) Message in a Bottle (1) Michael Main (1) Michael Trout (1) Miguel Cabrera (2) Miguel Tejada (5) Mike Fontenot (3) Mike Ivie (1) Mike Kickham (9) Mike Matheny (1) Mike Morse (6) milestone (1) minor league (1) minor league contract (1) minors (11) mismanagement (1) misnomer (1) mistakes (2) MLB (2) MLB stupidity (2) MLB Success (6) MLB Trade Rumors (1) MLBAM (1) MLBTR (1) MLE (1) Mock Draft analysis (4) MVP (1) Natanael Javier (1) Nate Schierholtz (45) Nathanael Javier (1) Naysayers (1) Negotiations (1) Nick Noonan (26) Nick Pereira (1) Nick Vander Tuig (2) NL Champions (2) NL West (21) NL West Division Title (16) NL West Future (1) NLCS (15) NLCS MVP (1) NLDS (7) Noah Lowry (14) non-roster invitees (1) non-tenders (1) NPB (1) Oakland A's (4) OBP (1) oddities (1) Offense (3) offensive era (1) Omar Vizquel (3) one-run games (1) Opening Day (4) opening day pitcher (1) opening day roster (3) Optimism (1) Osiris Matos (2) Outfield (1) Ownership (7) Pablo Sandoval (87) Panda (6) Pandoval (1) passing (1) Pat Burrell (15) Pat Misch (5) Payroll (8) Pedro Feliz (12) PEDS (10) Perfect Game (2) perjury trial (1) Personal Reminiscence (2) Pessimism (1) Pete Rose (3) Peter Magowan (2) Phillies (7) Phoenix Theory of Rebuilding (1) Pitch Count (3) pitch value (1) Pitchers League (1) Pitching (14) Pitching Rotation (57) pitching staff (1) plate discipline (1) Play Ball (1) player budget (2) player development (2) playoff (2) playoff hopes (25) playoff roster (1) playoff rotation (3) Playoff Success (18) Playoffs (26) postmortem (1) PQS (69) press conference (1) pressure (2) priorities (1) Projected Record (4) projection (2) promotion (1) prospect (2) prospect analysis (1) Prospect of Note (3) prospect study (1) Prospects (42) questions (1) Rafael Rodriquez (8) Rajai Davis (2) Ralph Barbieri (1) Ramon Ramirez (3) Randy Johnson (9) Randy Messenger (2) Randy Winn (14) Rangers (5) Ranking (4) raspberry (1) Ray Durham (5) re-sign (2) Rebuilding (4) Rebuilding Myths series (1) rebuttal (1) Reds (5) Relocation Concession (2) Research (2) resource scarcity (1) Retired (3) Retirement (1) return (1) RHP (1) Rich Aurilia (7) Rick Peterson (1) Rickie Weeks (1) Ricky Oropesa (3) right-handed (1) risk mitigation (2) risk profile (1) Rod Beck (1) Roger Kieschnick (13) Roger Metzger (1) Ron Shandler (2) Rookie of the Year (1) Roster (4) ROY (2) Rule 5 Draft Pick (3) rumors (9) runs support (1) Russ Ortiz (11) Ryan Garko (2) Ryan Klesko (4) Ryan Rohlinger (2) Ryan Theriot (3) Ryan Vogelsong (70) Ryder Jones (2) Sabean Naysayers (4) Sabermetric Thoughts (5) sabermetrics (3) Salary speculation (3) SALLY (1) San Jose Giants (1) San Jose Relocation (3) Sandy Rosario (1) Santiago Casilla (8) Scott McClain (2) Scott Shuman (1) Scouting (1) Sergio Romo (13) SF Giants (2) Shilo McCall (1) Shooter (1) shutouts (1) Signature Song (1) signing (12) Silly-Ball (3) South Atlantic League (1) South Bay Rights (1) Spring Training (15) standings (1) starting lineup (14) starting pitching (51) statistics (2) STATS (1) Steroids (5) Steve Edlefsen (4) Steve Johnson (3) Steve Okert (1) Sue Burns (1) sunk costs (1) superstition (1) Team Speed (1) Team Support (1) The Giants Way (1) The Hey Series (15) Thomas Joseph (3) Thomas Neal (9) Tigers (4) Tim Alderson (17) Tim Hudson (21) Tim Lincecum (163) Todd Linden (3) Todd Wellemeyer (6) Tommy Joseph (3) top prospect list (4) Trade (9) Trade Analysis (15) Trade Idea (7) Trade PTBNL (2) Trade Rumors (28) trading (1) training staff (2) Training Tool (1) Travis Blackley (1) Travis Ishikawa (40) turning point (1) Ty Blach (2) Tyler Beede (2) Tyler Horan (1) Tyler Rogers (1) Tyler Walker (2) umpire mistake (3) Umpires (3) USA Today (1) Voros McCracken (1) Waldis Joaquin (5) walks (1) WAR (1) Warrior Spirit (1) Wendell Fairley (10) What-If Scenario (3) wild card (1) wild card race (1) Will Clark (1) Willie Mac Award (1) Willie Mays (1) Winter League (1) World Series (18) World Series Champions (10) WS Ring Bling (1) Yusmeiro Petit (24) Zack Wheeler (9)