Baseball Toaster Mike's Baseball Rants
Monthly archives: December 2006


Holy Zito!
2006-12-28 22:36
by Mike Carminati

In an offseason of signings that were—to quote Vizzini from the Princess Bride—inconceivable, the Giants may have made the ultimate apoplectic stunner. Barry Zito may have been the best pitcher available in the free agent market, but signing him to a $126M, seven-contract (or $18M per season) is insane.

It's the largest package ever for a pitcher and ties Vernon Wells's ludicrous deal earlier this offseason as the sixth largest ever. It beats out the legendarily atrocious Mike Hampton signing by the Rockies before the 2001 season ($121M, 7 yrs).

Like the rest of the overpriced signings this winter, this deal is the byproduct of the current atmosphere in baseball. Specifically, the owners are currently rolling in the moolah. With a big TV contract set to commence next season, they are using hundred dollar bills to light the thousand dollar bills they are using to read the small print on the hundred million contracts they are dropping like pennies in a wishing well. But more on that another day.

The Zito signing wouldn't even make sense if he had had a string of excellent seasons following his Cy Young year in 2002. He did win 16 games in 2006 with a good ERA of 3.83. But his park-adjusted ERAs since '02 have been good but not great: 129 (or 29% better than the league average), 105, and two straight 116s. There were stretches in that run where Zito looked extremely shaky and seemed on the verge of being traded, The bottom line is that he is indeed a good pitcher but he's far from a staff savior like Johan Santana.

With Zito averaging eighteen million per season, he would have to win at least 18 games to average no more than one million dollars per win—like my fancy ciphering? I would bet, however, that even in a good year, he'll run closer to $2M per season than $1M.

That made me wonder what was the most a team paid a starting pitcher per win. I ram the numbers through 2005, and Zito, barring an injury or a steep decline, wouldn't even be close:

PlayerYrWL Salary $perW
Chan Ho Park200313 $ 13,000,000 $13,000,000
Steve Trachsel200514 $ 6,782,500 $ 6,782,500
Jose Lima200112 $ 6,250,000 $ 6,250,000
Sterling Hitchcock200016 $ 6,100,000 $ 6,100,000
Eric Milton200310 $ 6,000,000 $ 6,000,000
Kevin Brown200234 $ 15,714,286 $ 5,238,095
Donovan Osborne199913 $ 5,080,000 $ 5,080,000
Bret Saberhagen200112 $ 5,000,000 $ 5,000,000
Jimmy Key199512 $ 4,873,700 $ 4,873,700
Kevin Appier199812 $ 4,800,000 $ 4,800,000
Danny Jackson199712 $ 4,600,000 $ 4,600,000
Denny Neagle200324 $ 9,000,000 $ 4,500,000
Frank Viola199411 $ 4,333,334 $ 4,333,334
Glendon Rusch2003112 $ 4,250,000 $ 4,250,000
Kevin Brown200547 $ 15,714,286 $ 3,928,572
Pete Harnisch200113 $ 3,750,000 $ 3,750,000
Paul Wilson200515 $ 3,600,000 $ 3,600,000
Kirk Rueter200527 $ 7,133,333 $ 3,566,667
Chan Ho Park200447 $ 14,000,000 $ 3,500,000
Teddy Higuera199415 $ 3,500,000 $ 3,500,000
Paul Abbott200213 $ 3,425,000 $ 3,425,000
Jason Bere2002110 $ 3,400,000 $ 3,400,000
Teddy Higuera199313 $ 3,250,000 $ 3,250,000
Brian Anderson200512 $ 3,250,000 $ 3,250,000
Byung-Hyun Kim200315 $ 3,250,000 $ 3,250,000
Darren Dreifort200344 $ 12,400,000 $ 3,100,000
Mike Hampton200553 $ 15,125,000 $ 3,025,000
David Cone2000414 $ 12,000,000 $ 3,000,000
Andy Ashby200120 $ 6,000,000 $ 3,000,000

However, let's say Zito has a typical year and wins at least ten or so games. He has a pretty good chance to top the list for pitchers with at least ten wins:

PlayerYrWL Salary $perW
Kevin Brown2004106 $ 15,714,286 $ 1,571,429
Kevin Brown2001104 $ 15,714,286 $ 1,571,429
Mike Mussina2005138 $ 19,000,000 $ 1,461,538
Roger Clemens2005138 $ 18,000,000 $ 1,384,615
Mike Mussina2004129 $ 16,000,000 $ 1,333,333
Kevin Brown2000136 $ 15,714,286 $ 1,208,791
Mike Hampton2004139 $ 14,625,000 $ 1,125,000
Kevin Brown2003149 $ 15,714,286 $ 1,122,449
Pedro Martinez2003144 $ 15,500,000 $ 1,107,143
Pedro Martinez2004169 $ 17,500,000 $ 1,093,750
Al Leiter2004108 $ 10,295,600 $ 1,029,560
Randy Johnson20041614 $ 16,000,000 $ 1,000,000
Javier Vazquez20051115 $ 11,000,000 $ 1,000,000
Tom Glavine20041114 $ 10,765,608 $ 978,692
Brad Radke2004118 $ 10,750,000 $ 977,273
Mike Hampton2003148 $ 13,625,000 $ 973,214
Matt Morris2003118 $ 10,500,000 $ 954,545
Randy Johnson2005178 $ 16,000,000 $ 941,176
Greg Maddux20031611 $ 14,750,000 $ 921,875
Al Leiter20011111 $ 9,750,000 $ 886,364
In the Country of the Blind...
2006-12-08 21:08
by Mike Carminati

The one-eyed man will be King in the country of the blind only if he arrives there in full possession of his partial faculties—that is, providing he is perfectly aware of the precise nature of sight and does not confuse it with second sight ... nor with madness.
—Angela "Don't Call Me Gary" Carter

The Phils finally made a move that made some sense this offseason, at least from one perspective. With a rotation full of tail-end starters and second-year phenom Cole Hamels, the Phils were begging for a reliable starter.

They didn't help their cause by signing Adam Eaton, a quintessential number five pitcher, for the astronomical sum of $32 M over four years. Not only did they bypass pitchers of better quality, they drove up the price tag for the more valuable pitchers by overpaying for Eaton early in the free agent season.

The one piece that didn't fit into the rotation was the once-heralded, now-debased Gavin Floyd, who failed in two tryouts the last two seasons in the bigs (1-2, 10.04 ERA in 2005, 4-3, 7.29 ERA this past season) and will be a seemingly ancient 24 in 2007.

Rumor had Floyd being packaged with 36-year-old Jon Leiber, whose innings were severely down and whose ERA was severely up in 2006, in a deal to get corner outfielder Kevin Mench and defrocked closer Derrick Turnbow from the Brewers. That deal was supposed to follow a deal fro Freddy Garcia with former White Sock Aaron Rowand supposedly as bait.

The deal instead ended up being Floyd and a player to be named, who is unofficially officially Gio Gonzalez. Gonzalez came out of the White Sox organization and came to the Phils in the Rowand trade. He looks like a very good power-pitching prospect, has struck out more than a man an inning throughout his professional career (10.31per nine innings), is just 20, and was un Double-A last year. He seems to have a great shot at moving up to the majors late this season or early next season.

The Phils in turn get a reliable, durable starter in Garcia with one year and $10 M left on his contract. One year from a pitcher who is on a stratum just below ace for two potentially pretty good pitching prospects? Sounds like a bad deal, right? Especially, if the Sox can do their usual stellar job of developing young pitching prospects. Can anyone say Millwood-for-Estrada?

But I submit that given the Phils track record in developing young pitchers—witness the stellar job they have done so far with Floyd himself—had they kept these two, they would have been another Pat Combs and Carlton Loewer. Therefore, getting anything in exchange for them is a plus.

Garcia could move into the number two spot and Hamels could blossom into an ace. If so, the Phils will have a solid rotation in 2007. At least that seems to be Pat Gillick's plan. Then again, Gillick is on record saying that the Phils would compete until at leats 2008. Of course, that was before the Phils ended up getting back into the wild card hunt this past season.

Gillick is my one-eyed man in the parable cited above. He is a good baseball man, who has made some deals that have been quite impressive, but I have to say that about two-thirds of his moves leave me scratching my head. Why would anyone sign Wes Helms as anything but a fallback guy, especially at third?

The plan behind the plate seems to change on a daily basis: either it's rookie Carlos Ruiz with 35-year-old, second-year man Chris Coste backing him up or they are getting a veteran backup for Ruiz or they are signing a veteran like Benjie Molina to tend to the catching duties until or if ever Ruiz is ready.

The team now has two center fielders (Rowand and Shane Victorino) and have been desperately trying to trade their only corner outfielder, Pat Burrell. Burrell started the offseason wildly overpriced with two years and $27M left on his era-defining contract. However, with the ever-escalating free agent salaries—especially J.D. Drew's five-year, $70M, Scot Boras-aided deal from Boston—Burrell seems somewhat reasonably priced.

They'll have two backup players platooning at third and will apparently have to resort to the ever-streaky Jimmie Rollins in the leadoff spot. Their free-agency depleted bullpen is now down to aging, overpriced closer Tom Gordon, long reliever Ryan Madson (himself the subject of trade rumors), setup man Geoff Geary, and an assortment of youngsters (Matt Smith, Clay Condrey, Fabio Castro, plus two Rule Five draftees).

So Garcia helps set up the rotation, the biggest problem the Phils have had in recent years. It's issue number one out of about a dozen to be fixed this offseason. It's a step in the right direction in a journey of a thousand steps, or in the Phillies' case, missteps.

Should the Phils figure out the Gordian knot behind the plate and pick up another corner outfielder, trade Rowand for a veteran catcher or some bullpen help, maybe the Garcia trade will be the launching pad for their first playoff appearance in 14 seasons.

Then again, this is the Phillies we are talking about. Given that, the odds are that Garcia will have an unremarkable season and then leave as a free agent, Gonzalez and Floyd will blossom in Chicago, the Phils will not resolve the laundry list of issues, and they will end up at or about .500 again.

Still they are the best team in this once proud sports city. When a USFL team (the 1984 Stars) is your last champion, you've got problems.

This is my site with my opinions, but I hope that, like Irish Spring, you like it, too.
Frozen Toast
Google Search
Mike's Baseball Rants


10  09  07 
06  05  04  03 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
Links to MBBR