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  1. I’m glad to see Barry doing a little better. Played against him in H.S., and he was always a really nice, genuine guy. Not really his fault that Sabean had his brain removed; I probably wouldn’t turn down that much money either. It’s bugged me that he’s become a villain just b/c of that — any redemption on his part is good for the old heart muscle.

    Comment by Travis L — August 20, 2009 @ 12:02 pm

  2. “I probably wouldn’t turn down that much money either”

    Heh…really? Signing the biggest contract available and get to stay in a market where you are happy? I’d say you probably wouldn’t either.

    Comment by bjupton — August 20, 2009 @ 12:15 pm

  3. You cannot use FIP to evaluate a pitcher like Barry Zito. FIP relies on the assumption that DIPS is working, but as Tom Tippett showed in his comprehensive study of the history of baseball, he found pitchers who did not follow the DIPS tenets. I believe that Zito falls into the crafty lefty category there.

    His BABIP has been much lower than the .300 mean that pitchers normally regress for his career. Tom Tango at his site noted that it takes about 7 seasons worth of pitching stats to have enough results to say statistically certainly that a pitcher’s BABIP is lower than the .300 mean, and Zito is past that threshold.

    Ironically, once Zito joined the Giants, his BABIP has been around .300, so perhaps his FIP is valid now but not back when he was with the A’s, not sure how that works.

    He said that his velocity went up mid-last season when he started long tossing again, which he had stopped when he joined the Giants, and he continued doing that in the off-season with Brian Wilson, who was staying with him and teaching him some sort of physical routine. Obviously, that increase has continued this season and apparently it is still improving if he is up to 89.

    The increase was evident last season by the bump up in his K/9 and by his being able to have a stretch of 3 starts where he struck out more batters than IP. That was something he had not done in SF or Oaktown for 3-4 years and something that he did not do regularly since his first seasons up with the ‘s. His K/9 has stayed higher this season as well, relative to the same stage of the season (apparently he is able to strike out more batters later in the season than earlier, which is probably why he has those second half surges that he has).

    He is surging again and looking to help with this playoff drive.

    I was not one of the Giants fans who expected him to be an ace just because of the money and contract. I expected him to be an innings eatting good pitcher, in the high 3/low 4 ERA range, like he was with the ‘s, as that would lock down one position in the rotation while our young pitchers struggle and learn. Instead, he has struggled and learned, while our young pitchers have locked down two of the positions in the rotation.

    If he would have done that, the contract would have actually been OK: a huge risk, but like a mortgage, paid on regularly with good pitching, it would have been OK. Instead, his first two years were spent waiting for his brain to get over his contract so that he can pitch like he had previously. He seems to be finally there this season, and I guess it all works out, because we need him like this for this season, it would have been wasted the past two seasons, plus then we would have gotten worse picks and not got Posey and Wheeler (though perhaps still would have gotten Smoak and Miller).

    Thanks for pointing out that leaderboard on pitch types, I will have to check that out, sounds interesting.

    Comment by obsessivegiantscompulsive — August 20, 2009 @ 12:44 pm

  4. It’s funny to me that FIP doesn’t normalize for league or park conditions (correct?)

    Clearly Zito has improved this year. This is more a question about the usefulness of comparing Zito to a AL East pitcher in Camden Yards, for example.

    Does tRA or whatever account for these important differences?

    Comment by fanOFdefenseAGAIN — August 20, 2009 @ 2:02 pm

  5. Just running this up the flagpole, knowledgable baseball folks: An Alfonso-Soriano-for-Barry-Zito bad contract swap. Good idea? Bad idea? Remotely feasible?

    I’m not necessarily promoting the concept, and it’s not like the Cubs need a fifth starter – even next season. But I’m curious as to whether such a deal would have any legs to stand on.

    Comment by dat cubfan daver — August 20, 2009 @ 2:35 pm

  6. Moneyball quotes Billy Beane as saying Zito had an 88-mph fastball at the time of the draft :

    Doubt he ever consistently sat at 92, though he may have touched it from time to time.

    Comment by tribescribe — August 20, 2009 @ 2:37 pm

  7. Jesus, can this question die, please? It is asked in every. single. bp chat and gets answered every. single. time. Who cares.

    Comment by scott — August 20, 2009 @ 2:51 pm

  8. I really don’t get why Bochy doesn’t just plug Sandoval into catch during Zito’s starts. Zito is obviously handled better by the guy and it really should take much of a toll on Sandoval.

    Comment by Alireza — August 20, 2009 @ 6:50 pm

  9. Or just plug Sandoval in to catch for all our pitchers. Our current C is sporting a nice .277 OBP at the moment…

    Comment by B — August 21, 2009 @ 10:12 am

  10. Hey, scott – you know this is Fangraphs, not BP, right? I haven’t seen/read any of those chats. Can you spare me the snark and give me at least a brief answer? Thanks.

    Comment by dat cubfan daver — August 21, 2009 @ 11:50 am

  11. To be fair, Zito was pulled the other night for a pinch-hitter because the Giants had runners at 2nd and 3rd with two outs in the 6th. He wasn’t pulled because of the pitch count.

    Would have been worth talking about Zito’s lack of run support this season. The Giants haven’t scored a single run for him in more than a third of his starts. While Zito hasn’t pitched perfect this season, if his record was 13-7 would anyone really be complaining?

    Comment by Kevin Crossman — August 21, 2009 @ 2:23 pm

  12. He does play good defense and slug at least; could do worse at C.

    That .277 really is brutal, though.

    Comment by Joe R — August 21, 2009 @ 4:00 pm

  13. zito’s babip was lower in oakland because he has always generated a ton of infield popups and the coliseum has enormous foul territory. notice his iffb% is way down since he was signed by sf.

    it’s not ironic at all. parks are different and therefore skillsets play differently in them.

    Comment by phildo — August 22, 2009 @ 6:17 am

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