# Zito, quickly

I’m not going to do a big write-up on why signing Barry Zito is a bad idea because I don’t believe the Mariners are actually going to sign Barry Zito. The leaks about the M’s interest in Zito are coming from the Scott Boras camp, a source from whom public statements can only be described as questionable at best. The Mariners, as a general rule, won’t give six or seven year contracts to pitchers, and they don’t have the money in the budget for Zito. Yes, they could increase the budget, go against organizational philosophy, and outbid the Mets while hoping that Zito takes a few million more to pitch for a last place team rather than joining one of the main contenders in the National League, but let’s just call it a pretty big stretch.

Anyways, for those curious as to why I’d be against a Zito signing even if I thought it would happen, here’s the short explanation.

Barry Zito, the last three years, has given up about 10 to 15 runs less than an average starting pitcher over the course of 200 innings. He’s been something like a three win player compared to what the Mariners could cobble together as their fifth starter with some combination of Cha Baek, Jake Woods, Sean White, Justin Lehr, Ryan Feierabend, and assorted Triple-A fodder.

If there was a 100% chance that Zito would repeat his average performance over the last three years, with no decline in performance and no chance for injury, he still wouldn’t be worth $16 or $17 million per season. He’s just not an elite pitcher. He hasn’t been for several years.

Toss in the significant chance of decline and injury over the course of a long term deal, and giving Zito anything close to a 6 year, $100 million deal shouldn’t even be on the Mariners radar. Give superstar contracts to superstar players. Barry Zito isn’t one now, wasn’t one last year, and won’t be next year.

I have to jump in with a comment.

Those would be normal distributions, in a normal distribution (the so-called bell curve) the mean is equal to the median. In a skewed distribution, the mean is farther toward the tail.

Since we are only talking about the teams in the AL, we can just glance up and down the table of the numbers, and if they seem to be somewhat normally distributed we can assume that the median team(s) will be performing at close to the league average number. Of course, it could be calculated out, but for general conversation it’s probably close enough.

And as for Zito, I’ll repeat something I posted awhile back. The best thing that could happen for the M’s long term would be for Texas to give Zito a 7 year, 120 million contract.

Gentlemen: Not to worry, the Mariner’s FO will not do a contract with Zito for 6 years or more. They just won’t. They will do one for 5/80+ however.Which means Zito will have to prefer Seattle over the rest. This of course will be Zito’s last contract and Boro’s has convinced him it has to be big and with a winner(Mets). Favorites to sign Zito, 1) Mets, 2) Giants …. distant 3)Texas

66-

LF – Monroe – .255/.301/.482

Thames – .256/.333/.549

CF – Granderson -.260/.335/.438

RF – Ordonez – .299/.350/.47

You care to explain to me how thats good enough to get a team to the World Series, but Choo/Ichiro/Snelling isnt major league quality?

(hopefully that is in quotes)Dave. I have never written before, I need some clarification. the Detroit outfield you compare to snelling, choo, and ichiro to had 97 home runs and 324 RBIs last year. how is that not a darn good outfield. And how would snell-choo-Ro be mentioned in the same breath?Yeah, an eternity when you start throwing out names like Koch, Guardado, and Bernie Williams. Besides Hinske, the rest of the guys you mentioned were older and on the downsides of their careers. Any one of them, besides Garrett Anderson, still have a starting job in baseball?

Zito does.

He won 16 games last season, and besides going 11-11 in 2004, he has won at least 14 games each season since 2001. Also has pitched 200 or more innings each season since 2001.

Who do you consider as an average major league pitcher? Washburn? Perhaps he’s worth more to the Mariners than I realized, if Zito is only somewhat better?

Those would be normal distributions, in a normal distribution (the so-called bell curve) the mean is equal to the median. In a skewed distribution, the mean is farther toward the tail.Not strictly true. The mean is equal to the median in any symmetric distribution, not just the normal distribution. The uniform distribution, for instance, is another distribution where the mean is the same as the median. Certainly the distributions we’re talking about here aren’t perfectly symmetric, but I invite you to take a look at them. As I stated back in #141, Castillo, Hill, and Lopez are all essentially at the mean and median of the league.

Highly skewed distributions are certainly where the distinction between mean and median is important, but outside of the salary distribution, I can’t think of anything in baseball where you’re dealing with a highly skewed distribution.

Zito is by far the best pitching option available to the Mariners, aside from trade… and as we all know, we’d rather have staples jammed under our fingernails than give Bavasi any more authority to make trades.

The Mariners need to get better – now. They need to show not only US that they’re turning it around, but their own players. Barry Zito is the only option they have that will communicate this.

Zito is no superstar, but he’s a pitcher who has proven he can handle the pressure of being a #1 starter. He’s durable, crafty, and perfectly suited for Safeco. He can be our #1, giving Felix the freedom to be the #2. When Felix is ready to be our #1, Zito will make a solid #2-#3 for the rest of his contract… he’ll still be an integral part of the puzzle. And as his skills decline (I bet it doesn’t happen too quickly), his present day contract value will decline somewhat as well.

IT’S NOT OUR MONEY. If the M’s are willing to overspend to get what we know they need… then I’m going to be glad if they do it, even it the contract is ridiculous. Our financial woes in years to come won’t come from Zito at $16m per… but from the combination of Washburn, Batista, and the like… marginal players making too much money. You can promote a Feierabend and ask him to be a Ramirez or a Batista, but you can’t ask him to be a Zito, a Buehrle, a Smoltz, a Millwood. Occasionally you’ll develop one of the latter, but our system isn’t at that point.

The simple fact of the matter is, purchasing Zito will be a good move for the M’s financially – they’ll have butts in seats they would be losing otherwise. It’s a good move on the field, because we have a GOOD pitcher on the mound who’s suited to Safeco… and even if he’s not a ‘true’ #1, he pushes every other pitcher down a notch and takes pressure from Felix. It’s a good move for the rest of the team, because they see the FO is willing to get what it needs (even if we know better that it’s only a desperation move they won’t repeat later).

Zito may be the catalyst this team needs to win the AL West. It’s pretty close right now, and while Zito isn’t Santana… he may be a difference maker in this division. How much is the division title and the first round of the playoffs worth, when contrasted with the division basement?

Another thought on this point…

Zito isn’t eating anyone else’s cookies. We’re talking about the FO spending this money on Zito, or no one. From a roster standpoint… if you’re playing Roto, and you have either $30 to spend on a $20 star, or $5 to spend on no-one… you’d spend the $30 on the star.

We’re at a point of futility where 2008 needs to take care of 2008. If we don’t take care of 2007, we’ll lose another huge percentage of fans, and payroll will go down not up.