Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Quickee Zito Post: Could The Price Be Right?

Found an article that supports Zito getting $18M for 2007 (and of course he's being paid only $10M for 2007) and it was published on The Hardball Times. The author, Jeff Sackman (seems like a nice guy, wrote an e-mail to him with a question and he replied very nicely, unlike most newspaper reporters I've written to; of course, he's not a newspaper reporter...), analyzed how much pitchers this off-season have been getting per Win Share Above Bench (i.e. their way of saying above replacement level player) and found that the average pitcher, once outliers were tossed, got about $1.74M per average WSAB of their past three seasons or $2.02M per with all the pitchers. Based on that, Zito had a WSAB average of 9 the past three seasons, which works out to $16.2M without outliers, $18.9M with outliers (i.e. all starting pitchers).

Obviously, the Giants are within that range of per season salary, though perhaps a bit on the high side, but that hardly makes up for the length of the contract (as obviously the risks goes up greatly because you have to keep your fingers crossed that he's going to be not only healthy the whole 7 seasons, but that he's going to at least be a mid-rotation guy or better the whole time).

He then noted that whether paying that much would only make sense if the team thought that they were close enough that acquiring Zito would push them into the playoffs. Of course, many Giants fans don't think the Giants have a snowball's chance in LA of making the playoffs. I am currently not sure whether they will make the playoffs, but think that there is a good chance that they will at least be competing for the division title.

They have the makings of a playoff caliber starting rotation and potentially could have a very good top 4 starters in Cain, Zito, Lowry and Morris, if all pitch to their potential peak performance, plus I think their offense, while not stellar, is underrated by most.

Giants Offense Was Not All That Bad in 2006

According to Bill James Handbook, the Giants should have won 80 games had they been efficient with their wins, particularly their pitching, which pitched in bad luck in 2006 (they gave up 790 runs when they should have given up only 733). The bad news was that most teams were inefficient and the the 'Dres should have won 93 games, the D-gers 92 games, the Rockies 85 games, and the D-backs 83 games, putting the Giants last in the NL West, theoretically. Their runs scored was 10th out of 16 teams, so while they were not a good offense, they were at least average (9th had 749 runs and 8th had 758 runs, so they are not that far off from the median).

2007 Giants Offense Could be Better

And with the boost to the offense of Roberts over Finley/Bad Winn and Aurilia over 2006's 1Bs, plus Winn returning to his career norms and Bonds playing on healthy, plus improvements to the bench with Klesko, Frandsen and Linden, and Sweeney returning full time to his pinch-hitting role, I think the offense should be at least around the median again in terms of runs scored, offsetting any declines from Bonds, Durham, and maybe Vizquel (I think Molina will be a push against Matheny/Greene/Alfonzo).

And if Klesko returns to old form, I'll bet we will see him at 1B a lot, pushing Aurilia to 3B and Feliz to the bench, and that would be a boost to the lineup as well. Even if Klesko can hit as poorly as Feliz, it might be worth it to play Klesko/Aurilia over Aurilia/Feliz at least occassionally, to give Feliz a rest, as he clearly petered out last season from all the playing - he was not ready for a long season. That might even push Feliz to do better, as he knows he has to hit well to keep his spot in the lineup if Klesko is hitting at least as well as Feliz is, particuularly since he will be a free agent again next off-season.

2 comments:

  1. Hello Martin.
    It seems to me you cannot JUST look at the contract numbers. Sabean, rightly, I think, concluded that 3 yrs at $16 mil was too risky for J Schmidt - given his age, history, and declining fastball and performance.
    Do nothing or try to get a replacement? I don't think anybody in his right mind wanted Sabes to trade whatever it would have taken to get a legit #1/2 starter. WE all want Cain, Lowerey, Sanchez, Correia, Lincecum. Sign Maddux? Cheaper, sure. He was kind of piss poor in Chicago just last year. And his signing is the definition of stop gap. Suppan, et al? I think you can make a case that $11 mil for a mid rotation starter is money less wisely spent than spending the additional money for a front line starter. It certainly does make a statement. It certainly is exciting. There do appear to be additional benefits to Zito beyond just wins and loses.
    So, the decision to go after Zito, I think, is unassailable. It is the cost.
    But the fact is, the Mets were thought to be reasonably to fairly interested in Zito, the Rangers were thought to be very interested, the Yankees were thought to be trying to unload RJ as quickly as possible to get in on the bidding. I don't have a feel for how much relaible inside info a GM (Sabean, here) can get by calling around the league. He has to, just like us, more or less rely on what he reads in the papers + what he gets from his scouts, etc. After losing out on several other high priced FAs, how can you fault him (and I do think he has the input of Bochy, Rags, all his scouts, Magowan)for saying "hell, if they're giving Schmidt $16 mil, and Meche, and Lilly, and Maddux $11 mil, then $18 mil for Zito is CHEAP."
    And isn't there a theory, especially since it might have looked like the extra 1 or 2 years might have been what it took to get the deal done NOW and not wait for the Yankees to get involved, the extra years actually make the deal CHEAPER over the long term. this, of course, assumes Sabean did something like you and I have done and adjusted the money for inflation, and figured, well, we will count on him being a # 1 for 2 years, a #2 for a year, a #3 for 2 years - and all sorts of options (including: trade, Zito as #4, even solod #5 [if rest of rotation still not too expensive]).

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sorry for such a long comment. And I haven't even got to the 07 offense. Basically I agree with you. Here is a quick analysis:
    1) Roberts/Winn/Linden = more than Alou/Winn/Finley. More speed, more stolen bases, better D. +15 runs
    2) Omar - slight drop off. BA= 283 runs = -10
    3) Aurelia/Klesko (1b) +20 runs
    4) Bonds - return to health + entire winter of conditioning + elbow surgery + same production as 2nd half of 06 for entire year
    = +20 runs
    5) Durham - slight decline - 15
    6) Molina (135 games) + Notgardo -
    Notgardo had 2 or 3 good months, but almost zero for Sep. + Matheny was not having a good year. + 5.
    7) 3b (you notice I don't say "Feliz" If he doesn't produce he sits. Our 1b, 3b situation is not perfect, but, unlike last year, there are options. Thus, Feliz/Aurelia/Frandsen = 266, 335, 390 = + 15 runs (even with the potential loss of Feliz' HRs, if he fizzles. [I think it is much more likely that days off + serious winter conditioning + ST + winter hitting work + competition gives a Feliz of 265, 325, ___ (HR=27).
    That gives us 796 runs, which would have been good for 6th last year. Maybe a bit optimistic, but I haven't factored in the bench - and I think the '07 bench is much bette than the '06 bench

    ReplyDelete

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