Results tagged ‘ Barry Zito ’

Can the Giants afford to pay both Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum?

Barry Zito, right, walks in with Tim Lincecum to Giants spring training. Zito could factor into the Giants signing Lincecum and Matt Cain to long-term deals. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Matt Cain or Tim Lincecum? That seems to be the million dollar question for the Giants this spring. Can they afford both?

Many believe the answer is no. Eric Byrnes and John Hart said as much last month when Tim Lincecum signed his two-year, $40.5 million deal.

General manager Brian Sabean said yes.

“We’ll have enough wherewithal in the budget to sign both players,” Sabean said in early February.

But how can this be, when Cain and Lincecum could end up costing the Giants $50 million a season, or more?

Well, let’s call it the Zito/Rowand Factor.

For the past four seasons and into 2012, the Giants have spent at least $30 million a season for Barry Zito and Aaron Rowand and received little in return. In 2013, that figure will drop to $20 million (just Zito). In 2014, it will just be Zito’s $7 million buyout.

If the Giants can afford to spend more than $64 million on Zito, Lincecum, Cain and Rowand in 2012, they can afford to give Cain as much as $22 million in 2013 with Rowand’s $12 million coming off the board. In 2014, Zito’s contract comes off the board.

So, the Giants should easily be able to sign Lincecum and Cain for less than $64 million a season.

Not only that, but other contracts come off the board after 2012. Aubrey Huff ($10 million), Freddy Sanchez ($6 million), Jeremy Affledt ($5 million), Angel Pagan ($6 million) and Melky Cabrera ($4.85 million) are among the Giants who will be eligible for free agency after this season.

But there are other factors. Brian Wilson is eligible for his final year of arbitration in 2013. Buster Posey will be arbitration-eligible in 2013. Madison Bumgarner also could possibly join him. Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla are also arbitration-eligible.

Cain said on Saturday that he want to settle on a contract extension by the start of the season and is seeking “fair value.”

But what is fair value?

The Giants reportedly offered Lincecum a five-year, $100 million offer, which he rejected before agreeing to the two-year, $40.5 million deal.

MoreSplashHits thinks that offer was more designed for Cain than Lincecum. The Giants offered it knowing Lincecum would turn it down. Then they could turn and make a similar offer to Cain.

The fact that Cain hasn’t nibbled yet indicates he could be seeking more — perhaps along the lines of the five-year, $120 million deal Cliff Lee got from the Phillies last year.

Barry Zito is not as terrible as everyone says

Now, there’s a blog headline that will surely attract some attention.

It’s a point that has risen to the surface Monday after the Giants traded away Jonathan Sanchez. Well, many Giants were glad to part ways with the enigmatic Sanchez, their second thought was “Oh, that means Zito is our No. 5 starter.”

But, at  the risk of exposing myself to the wrath of fellow bloggers and online commentators, I am going to take a rather unpopular stand on the Giants letfy.

Now, when any Giants fan thinks about Zito, one thing comes to mind — He has completely underperformed during his seven-year, $140 million contract.

Now, there’s no doubt Zito has not pitched anywhere close to the value of his contract. That’s a given. However, that contract is guaranteed. That money is spent.

It’s like Aaron Rowand. Even though he’s been cut by the Giants, his $12 million contract for 2012 is still on the team’s payroll.

So Giants fans have to stop measuring Zito against the $19 million he’s set to make in 2012 or the $20 million he’ll get in 2013. It serves no purpose.

The question they need to ask on question: Can Zito be a functional No. 5 starter in the Giants’ rotation?

I believe the answer is yes. And I also believe I have the numbers to support that claim.

The first thing I did was throw the 2011 season. Zito was never 100 percent healthy, from the car accident just prior to opening day to the ankle injury that derailed him for two months then was aggravated in July.

The injuries limited Zito to nine starts, which is not a large sample size. For example, if you removed Zito’s worst start — when he gave up 8 run in 3 2/3 innings in his first start after ther All-Star break — his season ERA drops by one run.

Instead, I looked at his 2009 and 2010 numbers. Why? Because they were practically identical.

Then I looked at the No. 5 pitchers of the five NL teams that finished with better records than the Giants. And I didn’t just look at the guy who took the fifth turn in the rotation. I looked at their fifth-worst pitcher.

In some case, like the Cardinals and Braves, it was one pitcher — Jake Westbrook and Derek Lowe. For the others teams, it was a combination of pitchers.

For the Phillies, it was Roy Oswalt and Joe Blanton. For the Brewers, it was Chris Narveson and the three late-season starts by Marco Estrada. For the Diamondbacks, it was smorgasbord of Micah Owings, Zach Duke, Armando Gallaraga, Wade Miley, Jason Marquis and Jarrod Parker.

Here are the numbers:

Barry Zito: 33 starts, 196 IP, 4.09 ERA, 1.35 WHIP

Cardinals: 33 starts, 183 IP, 4.66 ERA, 1.53 WHIP

Diamondbacks: 32 starts, 170 IP, 4.92 ERA, 1.51 WHIP

Braves: 34 starts, 187 IP, 5.05 ERA, 1.51 WHIP

Phillies: 31 starts, 177 IP, 4.02 ERA, 1.38 WHIP

Brewers: 31 IPs, 179 IP, 4.17 ERA, 1.33 WHIP

Zito in 2009-10 had a WHIP that was only behind the Brewers’ No. 5 starter. He had an ERA that’s only behind the Phillies No. 5, which includes 23 starts from Roy Oswalt.

So spending $3-4 million on a free agent pitcher to push Zito in the spring — as some have suggested — is not the way to go. Better to spend that money on improving the defense.

Instead, the Giants should go find a veteran pitcher who will sign a minor-league deal as insurance next spring in case of another injury or Zito implosion. This is what they did in 2009 with Todd Wellemeyer and 2010 with Jeff Suppan.

Five more scoreless innings from Zito? How exasperating!


So, it’s hard to say.

Did Bruce Jenkins’ column motivate Barry Zito?

Has Zito’s spring outings make Jenkins look foolish?

Or is neither above statement true?

Whatever the truth is, MoreSplashHits likes the results.

For a second straight spring outing since Jenkins wrote that Zito’s status with the Giants was on thin ice, the lefty has shined.

In the Giants’ 4-2 win over the White Sox on Wednesday, Zito pitched five scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and one walk. He struck out one. His spring ERA is 2.79.

“Fastball, change-up for the most part,” Zito told the AP of his outing. “I felt significantly better than I’ve felt on the mound during spring training. Things were just smooth. When things are quiet and moving slowly, that’s where success lies.”

Well, Barry, keep things quiet and slow!

Zito was so efficient Wednesday that he didn’t even hit his pitch limit. He came out after five innings because the Giants wanted to get other pitches work. Zito finished his day with 10 pitches in the bullpen.

But again, it’s only March 9. So none of this really matters.But we’re encouraged.

ANDRES TORRES: Torres was 1 for 3 with a double, run scored and RBI.

AUBREY HUFF: Huff-Daddy went 2 for 3 with a home run and two RBI.

BRIAN WILSON: The Beard produced another scoreless inning, although this one was a big dicey. After opening the inning with a strikeout, Wilson gave up back-to-back singles, the second coming on an infield single to SS by Juan Pierre. Buster Posey helped Wilson by throwing out Lastings Milledge trying to steal third. After a walk, Wilson struck out Adam Dunn to end the inning.

JEFF SUPPAN: Suppan pushed his spring scoreless inning streak to eight with two more scoreless innings. Then he gave up back-to-back solo home runs in the ninth before retiring the side.

BUSTER POSEY: Posey went 1 for 2 with a walk and an RBI. His spring average plummeted to .526.

Like Zito, Chronicle report misses mark

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San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy spoke out vehemently Wednesday against a report in the San Francisco Chronicle that suggested Barry Zito’s spot in the Giants’ rotation is not assured.

Bochy, speaking to the media prior to Wednesday’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, said Zito remains the team’s No. 4 starter and the skipper conveyed that point to the left-handed pitcher earlier Wednesday.

The report, by Chronicle columist Bruce Jenkins, said a source close to the team indicated that there is “exasperation” with Zito and his status in the Giants’ rotation was “definitely not safe.”

The report went on further to say the team would even consider buying out his contract before Opening Day.

The report surprised MoreSplashHits, particularly the latter portion considering that the Giants still owe Zito almost $60 million over the next three years, and that doesn’t even include the $7 million buyout for 2014.

The report surprised Zito, too.

“Obviously it was a shock,” Zito told of seeing the column. “I’d love to know who these source are, but I know enough about the media to know that we’ll probably never know who they are. It’s a little frustrating because I pride myself on being accountable. … Unfortunately, not everyone’s as big on accountability as other people.”

Bochy denied the Chronicle’s report.

“Believe me, there has been no conversation anywhere near what the article was about,” Bochy said.

MoreSplashHits has worked in the print media for 20 years, and we hate unnamed sources — most of the time.

There are times when unnamed sources are helpful, like when a team or an agent wishes to control the release of information. For example, a team might say “We have a major announcement tomorrow at noon.” That means something has already been decided and we’ll announce with pomp and circumstance tomorrow. Getting the inside info from an unnamed source to tell you what has been decided is fine in that scenario.

But a columnist to come in a use unnamed sources in this situation is probably driving the beat reporter nutty.

If this were a hard news story, the writer would have taken this information from the unnamed source and gone to someone in the Giants front office for a reaction, of some sort. Give someone like Bochy or Brian Sabean the chance to say “we haven’t made any final decisions of that” or some sort of “no comment” or “those reports are patently false.”

It had also been suggested that this leak was planted by the Giants as a way to get Zito to fall into line. A good theory, until Sabean blew that up.

“Absolutley, unequivocally not,” Sabean said of the leak idea. “We have too much respect for players, and more so, I have a great relationship with Barry Zito. If thing had gotten to that point, I would have talked to him directly, firsthand.”

So it appears Jenkins used the unnamed sources to give credence to a viewpoint that is in line with what the writer is trying to express. Seeking a confirmation of this information would potentially undermine what the writer is trying to say. And that’s a dangerous game to play.

Jenkins finishes his thoughts on Zito with this: “Bank on this: There’s no way Zito will be wearing a Giants uniform in 2013.”

Really, Bruce? No way?

Zito is due to make $20 million in 2013. Wouldn’t the Giants try to get something for that? What if Zito finally gets it together? What if he takes the start he had last season and is able to carry that through an entire season? Remember he started last season 6-2 with a 2.78 ERA into June. Even late in the season, in September, when the Giants had their run of 18 consecutive games of allowing three runs or fewer, three of those starts were Zito starts.

That string ended with a Zito start in Colorado. His next start was on the penultimate day of the season when he walked home two runs in the first inning in a loss to the Padres. That start led to Zito being left off the postseason roster.

But he could come back and go 13-9 this season, maybe 15-10 next season. I don’t expect that, but it’s possible. The Giants are paying him big money and he’s never going to pitch up to that salary. But all he has to do is pitch like a serviceable No. 4 or 5 starter and eat up some innings. But not too many innings, he has an $18 million option that kicks in 2014 if he reaches certain inning-pitched thresholds.

Zito said he was most upset with the notion that’s he’s not in good shape. But he will continue to work and the rest “is out of my control.”

Yikes! Once again, another example of how major league players need MoreSplashHits to help them with their public relations.

Barry! You saying “out of my control” is a poor choice of words.

To read more about the Giants support of Zito, click here.

Zito, Fielder rekindle Bowling Ball-Gate

Bowling Ball-Gate continues.

The Giants’ Barry Zito and the Brewers’ Prince Fielder exchanged words after Zito issued a first-inning walk to the slugger in the first inning of Monday’s 10-9 Giants win over the Brew Crew.

A frustrating Zito issued a four-pitch walk to Fielder. After the first pitch, the lefty asked home plate umpire Stephen Barga where the pitch was.

Fielder barked at Zito and was still talking when he got to first base, and another umpire stepped in between the two players.

“Prince was letting me know that it was a ball,” Zito explained.

When pressed further, each player offered different explanations.

“Yeah, we talked a little bit,” Zito said. “Caught up. Asked him how his offseason was. Family’s good. No new tattoos.”

Fielder remarked: “I like Barry. I really do. (Mutual agent Scott Boras) called and we have dinner tonight. I asked (Zito) which one we were going to. I said Houston’s. He thought Fleming’s.”

And then Fielder let out a big chuckle.

The back story on this event dates back to September 2009 when Fielder, celebrating a game-winning home run against the Giants, jumped on home plate and his teammates fell backwards as if knocked over by a bowling ball.

The Giants didn’t appreciate the stunt. So the following spring in the two teams’ first spring meeting, Zito hit Fielder square in the back with his first pitch.

MoreSplashHits had no issues with Zito’s message pitch last spring. At least THAT pitch went were Zito intended.

The same could not be said for Monday’s outing.

Zito walked five of the 13 batters he faced. After loading the bases in the first, Zito worked out of the inning by inducing a pair of popups. He gave up two runs in the second, and was removed after walking Fielder a second time to force in the second run.

“I’m just working on timing,” Zito said. “I had some where it clicked and some where the timing was off a little bit.”

But there was good news — apart from the victory — for the Giants on Monday.

MARK DEROSA: Starting again at 2B, DeRosa continues to swing the bat well. He went 2 for 3 with 2 RBI, including his first spring training home run.

BRANDON BELT: Belt made his first spring start and began to make his case to make the big league club. Belt went 3 for 5 with 2 runs, two doubles and 4 RBI. However, manager Bruce Bochy reiterated that the plan is for Belt to start the season at Triple-A unless injury and an incredibly impressive spring by Belt make the Giants rethink that.

TRAVIS ISHIKAWA: Ishikawa made his first start in left field, as the Giants tried to improve his versatility on the team. He wetn 2 for 3 with a double and run scored. “It was a lot fun. I hope I get more chances out there,” he said afterwards.

JEFF SUPPAN: Batting for a roster spot, Suppan got off to a good start, throwing three scoreless and hitless innings.  

Pitching rotation set; no qualms

Manager Bruce Bochy and pitching coach Dave Righetti set the starting rotation for the 2011 Giants. And here it is:

RH Tim Lincecum

LH Jonathan Sanchez

RH Matt Cain

LH Barry Zito

LH Madison Bumgarner

Now there are some who might object to this rotation, saying that Cain has earned the distinction of being No. 2 man, and that Zito is better placed at No. 5.

But there are several reasons this rotation is the best one.

1. The mix of RH-LH-RH-LH-LH offers different looks to opposing lineups. That different look of pitching behind Cain would put Zito in the best position to succeed. And don’t we all want Zito to succeed?

2. Stress on the bullpen. Lincecum and Cain are the two pitchers on the staff best equipped to pitch deep into a game. Putting them back-to-back would leave the bullpen susceptible to a heavy workload in consecutive games. Sanchez has the ability of pitching eight innings of two-hit ball one start and struggling to get out of the fifth inning the next. And, of course, Zito is the poster child for failing to get out of the fifth. Putting a workhorse like Cain in between the two is a good move.

3. Sanchez has earned the chance to supplant Zito in the No. 2 start with a strong finish last season.

4. Keeping Bumgarner at No. 5 lessens the taxing on his arm. Although, the Giants will not skip anyone in the rotation, so the benefit of this is diminished. 

5. Moving Zito down in the rotation gives him a better chance at getting some improved run support because he’s facing the opposition’s No. 4 pitcher. Run support has been a problem for Zito. Now he gets to go against the likes of, for example, the Dodgers’ Jon Garland, instead of Chad Billingsley.

All good reasons. Now, let’s see if it works. And let’s hope (knock on wood) that there’s no reason to change this rotation between now and March 31.

Countdown to Spring Training: No. 2, Rotation

The Giants enter spring training not really worrying about the starting rotation. It’s set, barring any injury. That’s the only reason they signed Jeff Suppan to a minor-league deal.

Knock on wood, this is the 2011 starting rotation

RH Tim Lincecum

LH Barry Zito

RH Matt Cain

LH Jonathan Sanchez

LH Madison Bumgarner

Now, as much as some Giants fans would love to move Zito down in the rotation, the No. 2 spot is the best place for him. Putting the soft-throwing Zito in between the hard-throwing Lincecum and Cain makes sense.

And please, please, please, can we stop with the questions and comments around moving Zito and his contract. He’s not going anywhere. He’s set to make $18.5 million, $19 million and $20 million over the next three years. He’s got an $18 million option for 2014 that will vest if Zito pitches 200 innings in 2013 or averages 200 IPs over 2012-13 or 2011-13. The only good news is that Zito has not pitched more than 199.1 innings in any of his four seasons in San Francisco.

He’ll never be the kind of pitcher who warrants that kind of salary. But the Giants just need to hope he can be a functional starter.

But the bigger issue at hand is that Zito is the only returning starter who is not coming off a career-high for innings pitched in 2010 — regular and postseason.

So the concern is if any of the four starters will feel the effects of all those innings thrown in October.

Look for the Giants to be conservative with their pitchers this spring and early in the season. What the Giants should consider is treating Bumgarner like a true No. 5 starter in April.

The Giants have five scheduled off days in April, meaning they would only need a No. 5 starter three times in April — the opening homestand, the road trip to Arizona and Colorado, and the end-of-the-month trip to Pittsburgh and Washington.

They could skip Bumgarner’s turn in the rotation and throw him as a long man in between starts.

But we don’t expect the Giants to do this. This has not been Bruce Bochy’s M.O.  Hopefully this philosophy doesn’t come back to hurt the Giants

Zito pitches Giants to best record in majors

OK, OK, so it’s only a 2-0 record. But it’s the only 2-0 record in the majors, and the Giants own it.

Barry Zito threw six shutout innings, limiting the Astros to three hits and one walk. He struck out five.

It’s the kind of season-opening start the Giants have been waiting four years for from Zito.

The Giants got their first shutout of the season, as Zito got help from four relievers. If not for Brandon Medders’ struggles on Monday, the Giants might have had back-to-back shutouts.

And they needed a good pitching performance, because the offense struggled to put together rallies.

But the Giants got enough in the sixth inning, set up by back-to-back walks by Edgar Renteria and Pablo Sandoval. Aubrey Huff singled Renteria home. Mark DeRosa beat out a potential double-play ball, with Sandoval taking third. Bengie Molina got Sandoval home on a sacrifice fly, with DeRosa taking second. Then DeRosa scored on Juan Uribe’s single.

That’s the Giants’ offense. It’s not one guy. The Giants need to score runs as a team.

But it wasn’t all good news for the G-men.

The pessismist might point out these facts:

The Giants killed several rallies by hitting into three double plays.

Aaron Rowand went 0 for 5 with a strikeout, making him 0 for 10 for the season.

They had eight scoreless frames.

But in the end of the day, they are 2-0, both wins coming on the road, with Matt Cain set to go to the hill on Wednesday for the sweep.

And no one is going to complain about that.

Oh, and the Giants’ magic number to clinch the NL West? 160.

Giant notes: Zito’s outing bad, not that bad

At first glance, Barry Zito’s outing Thursday looked like another hair-pulling, aggravating Zito-esque outing — five runs on seven hits on 74 pitches over three innings.

But there are two things to remember: One, it’s still preseason, so it doesn’t count; Two, Zito was very close to giving up just one run on Thursday.

That’s kind of Zito’s M.O. — he walks along a fine line between quality start and implosion.

Let’s take a close look at Zito’s three innings on Thursday.

In the first inning, things started out well enough, as Zito set down the first two batters he faced. But things began to go bad the way they usually do with Zito, with a two-out walk. Kevin Kouzmanoff followed with an RBI double off the right field wall. But then it looked like Zito would get out of the inning after going 0-2 on Kurt Suzuki. Suzuki turned on a Zito fastball, and ripped it foul down the left-field line. Zito tried to come inside again off the plate, presumably to set up a 1-2 curveball. But it caught too much of the plate and Suzuki yanked it out for a 3-0 lead.

Zito set down the side in order in the second.

Zito gave up two more runs in the third, but the first run was on Zito and the second should have been charged to manager Bruce Bochy.

Coco Crisp led off with a double to left. Zito tried to pick him off second (why???) and threw it away, sending Crisp to third.

Then Bochy decided it best to play the infield in with a runner on third and no one out. The brilliant strategy allowed Rajai Davis to reach on a bloop single that would have been caught by 2B Juan Uribe if he were playing at his normal position.

Davis then stole second and took third on the first out of the inning. With a runner on third and one out, Bochy again played the infield in and Kevin Kouzmanoff singled to left on a ground ball that would have a ground out to short if the infield were playing back.

The A’s got two more hits in the inning on balls that were not hit out of the infield before Zito escaped with no more damage.

So basically in the third, Zito gave up a clean double to Crisp and four singles on balls that all should have been outs.

LEWIS DL-BOUND? Fred Lewis appears headed for the DL to start the season with a rib injury that his limiting to little more than running work.

Lewis hit off a tee Thursday and reported he’ll need more time to get ready to play.

Bochy said the Giants wouldn’t push Lewis and would know more on his status in a couple of days.

Well, we’d hope so since the Giants face at 6 p.m. deadline Saturday to set their 25-man roster for the 2010 season.

Lewis said the injury is keeping him from taking full hacks at the ball, which isn’t a lot different from when he’s healthy.

And speaking of Lewis, check out this blog post by Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle on Lewis and his OBP. There’s been a lot of chatter about how the Giants must keep and play Lewis because his OBP was about 100 points higher than his batting average.

We think Giant fans are just starved for ANYONE in the lineup who can show some plate discipline. But, as Schulman shows, Lewis gets his high walk total by striking out WAY TO MUCH (particularly on called third strikes), not to mention his struggles in the field. Great post Hank.

SANCHEZ DELAYED: Bochy said that 2B Freddy Sanchez won’t be ready to begin a minor-league rehab assignment for another 3-4 weeks. That effectively takes Sanchez out of the Giants lineup until May at the earliest. Ugh.

Good thing we’ve got Juan Uribe.

You know, More Splash Hits, often sits around with bags of ice on his various aches and pains. You think maybe Brian Sabean would be willing to give us a few million to do that?