The Dord of Darien

Musings from the Mayor of the Internet

I’m afraid! Of the space dragons!

So let’s go into more detail on why I was super nonplussed by Samus’ inexplicable Ridley-phobia in Metroid: Other M. Instead of talking your face off, I’m going to do this in images. Apologies for the size of them; this is going to be large. So I’ll hide them after the jump so you don’t have to fetch all seventeen gobobytes everytime you reload my blog. Which, if you’re like most people, is fifteen or sixteen times a day.

Read the rest of this entry »

October 26th, 2010 Posted by | Games | no comments

What’s going on? Respond! Respond!

I have written a game review, which has been written by me. It is about Metroid: Other M, which has been played by me. If you’d like more details, click that link, thoughtfully provided for you free of charge by the Online Entertainment corporation.

My plan for the evening involved writing three or four game reviews and also making fun of this article about the Yankees, but then I guess I decided to write eleven thousand words about fucking Metroid. You know.

October 24th, 2010 Posted by | Games | no comments

Come on

The two toughest outs in this lineup are Polanco and Ruiz.

So sayeth the Giants’ announcers. But we know better.

Carlos Ruiz’s 2010 OBP: .400. That’s really good. He actually is the toughest out in the Phillies’ lineup!

But Placido Polanco? .339. The following gentlemen are all tougher outs than Placido Polanco:

Jayson Werth (.388)
Chase Utley (.387)
Ryan Howard (.353)
Raul Ibanez (.347)

Good work, announcers! Placido Polanco is the sixth-toughest out in the Phillies lineup. Only Victorino and Rollins are easier to get out.

So maybe they just meant "in the NLCS?"

Placido Polanco: .350

Jayson Werth: .400
Ryan Howard: .400
Carlos Ruiz: .386

And just for fun:

Roy Halladay: .333
Roy Oswalt: .333

So I guess maybe you can just say whatever you want and not worry about checking your facts.

October 23rd, 2010 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

All areas of the field

The Giants’ announcers just described Carlos Ruiz as a hitter who hits to all areas of the field.

Here you fill find Carlos Ruiz’s spray chart for Citizens Bank Park. Notice that all of his home runs, all but one of his doubles, and about 85% of his singles go straight left. Carlos Ruiz is a dead pull hitter, at least in CBP.

Now, granted, we’re playing at AT&T and not Citizens Bank tonight, but Ruiz doesn’t have a hit at AT&T. And there’s no reason to believe he suddenly starts hitting opposite-field smashes constantly due to venue changes.

So: good work, Giants announcers! You were 100% right, except that you were wrong.

October 21st, 2010 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

Commercials are stupid too, part 2

A squeeze play requires timing between the pitcher and the catcher, and the same is true of prostate cancer surgery.

Prostate cancer surgery apparently requires some personnel I wouldn’t expect. Otherwise: fuck the heck?

October 21st, 2010 Posted by | Bullshit | no comments

Commercials are stupid too

Now you can lease-to-own a solar system for no money down and just $140/month!

It’s not just sportscasters.

October 21st, 2010 Posted by | Bullshit | no comments

Fire that stove up!

So, Ned Colletti, what are you looking for in the offseason to improve the Dodgers?

I’d still like to add more starting pitching and a bullpen arm or two and some position players.

So… "everything," then? Oh, and you need a manager. So more like everything++. You’re in good hands, Dodgers!

October 21st, 2010 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

The best thing anybody said during ALCS game five

And it’s now night. All the colour is gone from the sky, except for… uhh…

Good work, Rangers booth crew.

To their credit, they did eventually come up with the answer. But there was a long, pregnant pause first.

October 20th, 2010 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

Thank God for swagger

Where would we be without it? The swagger, I mean. That indescribable quality that makes baseball players, even if they’re not very good, seem really good to lazy journalists.

I’ll tell you where we wouldn’t be: reading another one of these damn articles.

The swagger is still there.

And, again, praise be to Buddha.

It is in his step, specifically on his shoes, which, just to remind people, have the following scripted along the back: J-Roll.

I just checked. It turns out that nobody on God’s green Earth has any idea what that means. Jimmy Rollins is swaggelicious because he writes on his shoes? So does this asshole. Guess which one of them made fewer outs this season.

He has, after all, been somewhat easy to forget.

Nonsense. I will never forget Jimmy Rollins.

The years haven’t been kind to Jimmy Rollins, the minute marvel whose razzle-dazzle style won him admirers in hard-to-please Philadelphia and a most valuable player award with the Phillies after the 2007 season. Since then, he slumped through the team’s World Series championship in 2008, turned into an out-making machine last year and suffered through manifold injuries this year. The electric J-Roll disappeared.

The only year that was ever kind to Jimmy Rollins was 2007, when he was legitimately a pretty good baseball player, and won the MVP despite being like the fourth best player on his own team. He was pretty lousy before then, and he’s been pretty lousy since then. And, yes, he did lead all of MLB in outs last season, with 526. Which is not good. But it’s only his second-highest total — in 2007, he made 527 outs, which is even more not good. And won the goddamn MVP.

Also, I love the metaphorage in this passage. Jimmy Rollins is "electric." He suffered "manifold injuries." He’s a "machine." Is Jimmy Rollins a Prius? No. Too much swagger!

Jimmy Rollins was here, and he was nothing special.

Has Bill James written his summary of the last decade of baseball yet? Because that line should be in it.

So to see him come through Sunday night with a bases-loaded rocket shot off the wall that salted away the Phillies’ 7-2 victory in the National League championship series was to step into a warp machine and set it for three years ago.

A what machine? Like, one of these, you mean?

Because along with Rollins’ reliability went the Phillies’ reliance on him, dropping him from first or second to sixth in the batting order, expecting little, hoping that at 31 something remained for the rest of this NLCS, which continues Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET against the San Francisco Giants.

Nothing did. He went 1-4 and got doubled off for the last out. Nice plug, though. Next time you should probably mention it’s on TBS, though — they’ll pay you more!

Oh, and? Rollins had 394 PA for the Phillies this year. 332 of them were batting first. You can look things like this up on the internet, you know.

"You figure out things," he said. "You solve problems. Sometimes there’s going to be confusion. But once you lose the confidence, you’re not going to have a chance to play at this level. So that’s never going to be there. God gave me this talent, and I’m going to do something with it."

Damn right, James. I think. Sure, maybe those sentences in the middle don’t make any sense, but it’s not about making sense. It’s about swagger. And confidence, too, which is like swagger. It’s kind of like a prerequisite for swagger. And without it, you won’t be able to use that God-given talent to do "something" (my guess: make a shitload of outs).

The sentiments echo Rollins’ tack over the last three years, when he followed disappointing seasons with proclamations of better fortunes ahead, the past being the past and the future rewarding him for hard work and dedication.

Rollins shall o-o-o-vercome!

Such thinking was wishful, of course, as baseball gives neither rewards nor special treatment to those once among the elite.

Barry Bonds threw out the first pitch tonight, and the crowd went completely nuts for him. That’s kind of like getting special treatment for once being among the elite, innit?

Also, I’m given to understand that after eight years of service time in the Bigs, you get a "gold pass" that gets you in to any games you want to go to for the rest of your life. That, to me, seems like a reward for once being among the elite.

Other than those two details, though, you’re 100% right, Jeff.

Rollins struggled, and it tested not just his patience but manager Charlie Manuel’s willingness to play him.

Yeah, because Juan Castro is really fucking good. See that 29 OPS+? See how he played in only 54 games and managed to cost the Phillies more than an entire win? Look out, Jimmy! Your job’s in jeopardy!

… Oh, wait, they released Castro once you were off the DL. So what I meant was, look out, Jimmy Rollins! Brian Bocock is coming up fast, and he’s swinging an awesome -100 OPS+! His 100% outs rate is even better than yours!

Fans chirped about Rollins’ season-long slump, and Manuel never wavered.

Jeff means "except when he dropped Rollins to seventh in the order and allegedly considered replacing him with a cardboard box that had ‘shortstop’ written on it."

"That’s what a good manager does," Rollins said. "He keeps running his guys up there and wants you to know that he has your back, regardless. You’re the guy that he chose. And until you run yourself into the ground, he’s going to keep pushing you out there. If it doesn’t happen, you’re still going to get run out there. You figure sooner or later it’s going to turn the corner."

Because that’s what a good manager does: never, ever, ever makes any changes no matter how awful things get. As long as they’re out of the ground.

He turned it, literally, on a 95-mph fastball from Santiago Casilla that soared through the Philadelphia night, scoring three runs.

That’s some pretty intense linguistic trickery there for not really any results. He turned… it? What is "it?" The thing Rollins was talking about was like some metaphorical concept, like "his season" turning the corner. So he turned that — that inferred metaphor there — "literally?" I don’t think he did, Jeff. And unless you aspire to be the next Woody Paige, you should probably nip the tortured paralleling in the bud.

"I know how good Jimmy Rollins can be," Manuel said. "I got a lot of faith in him and I stand there and I pull for him, and I know how good he can hit and also I know how good he wants to be up there or how much he wants to be up there. Stay right with you, son. I’ll go down with you."

Sometimes Charlie Manuel’s mouth starts, and words begin to come out of it, and then they don’t stop for a while. And this is what happens.

The Phillies seem to be going nowhere and everywhere.

Much like this article. Actually, no, not much like this article, because actually that line doesn’t mean anything. My mistake.

The team will return all of its core in 2011 except outfielder Jayson Werth, who likely will sign elsewhere as a free agent. With a rotation beginning with Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels, a lineup with Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and others, the Phillies can do this again.

Sure. They’ll need some offense, though, since Werth was easily the best hitter this year on a team that was below-average offensively. And Carlos Ruiz ain’t gonna OBP .400 again next year. And their shortstop — what’s his name — makes way the fuck too many outs. But, sure, they can do it again.

Already they are on the cusp of their third consecutive World Series appearance and would be the first National League team to do so since the 1942-1944 St. Louis Cardinals.

Already they are down 2-1 to the Giants, and they’re rolling 84 ERA+ of goddamn Joe Blanton out there tomorrow to back up their 99 OPS+ of hitters. The Phillies are in deep, deep trouble right now.

As great as it is to have that cohesive unit, the Phillies don’t want dominance to peter out tomorrow. They want a dynasty, something that surpasses those ’42-’44 Cardinals who win championships in their first and third shots. The Phillies won in ’08. They lost in ’09. They’re different in 2010.

They ain’t got it. They were pretty great last year, sure, what with leading the National League in pretty much all offensive categories, and having solid pitching. They were decent in 2008, but were like the third-best team. They were fair this year, wouldn’t have made the playoffs except that the Braves had their whole team go on the DL at the same time, and they’re getting creamed by a team whose best hitters are the ghosts of Pat Burrell and Aubrey Huff. This is not really a dynasty of dominance.

With a healthy Rollins, they’re downright scary.

Are there really that many people out there with severe out phobias? These people do not manage the Philadelphia Phillies.

And that, of course, is the issue: he still might not be, the double off Casilla a product more of luck than skill, and he already doesn’t like his role. "Batting leadoff is definitely a lot more fun," he said. "There’s no doubt about it."

One hit is almost always more about luck than skill. I mean, yeah, you’ll take the skilled guy over the unskilled guy given the choice, but the effect of skill on such a tiny sample size is completely overwhelmed by luck. It’s like how skill at poker helps you do well in the long term, even though any given hand is still very much a product of luck. Do you see?

Also, that quote you used to make Jimmy Rollins sound like a disgruntled asshole kind of makes him sound like a cool guy. The worst grumbling he came up with was "batting leadoff is more fun?" On a scale of one to Gary-Sheffield-promising-to-have-a-fit-if-he’s-traded, that’s, like, 1.1.

The swagger is there, all right, and Rollins is excited.

Me too, Jeff. Me too.

He’s from Alameda, Calif., just across the Bay. He’ll have friends and family watching. And with a swing of his bat or throw from his knees, he’ll try once again to remind everyone that J-Roll hasn’t gone – and isn’t going – anywhere.

Not unless there’s another team out there willing to trade for an $8.5M shortstop with injury issues and a career OPS+ of 97, no.

Fortunately, the good lord gave us the Mets. And the Giants. And the White Sox. So there’s hope yet, Jimmy!

October 19th, 2010 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

Feeling fit as a fiddle

and ready to bust Steve Henson a new orifice. You remember Steve Henson. He’s the tool who wrote this very bad thing and then thought he was off the hook because I was too sleepy to call him an asshole yesterday. Oh, no, Steve. I do not forget this.

Zito isn’t pitching because he’s a colossal bust

That’s Steve’s title. My first thought: wow, that’s pretty harsh. My second thought: wow, your grasp of causality is pretty weak.

Quick note: Steve’s understanding of causality does not improve at any point during this article. Nor does his writing.

By the time the dreaded "bust" tag is draped around the neck of a baseball player collecting obscene paychecks for negligible production, he’s usually become a clubhouse cancer (think Kevin Brown), is beset by injuries (Mike Hampton) or both (Albert Belle).

Kevin Brown was a bust because he was injured too, Steve. Not because he was clogging up the clubhousepaths with his cancer ass. He threw 132 innings in 2004 and then 73.1 in 2005 and then he was out of baseball forever.

Now, you could argue that his injuries weren’t unrelated to his cancer-y-ness, since the main one was when he hilariously broke his hand punching a goddamn wall, but still. You think he’d be regarded as a bust if he’d been healthy and put up his career-average numbers, which are 127 ERA+, 1.222 WHIP, and 3.6 WAR?

Also, you’re going to go on to name more people who’ve famously been tarred as "busts" and who don’t fit in your make-believe categories. But go on.

Then there is Barry Zito. Pleasant fellow. Cool cat. Team-first attitude. Stays healthy.

Regular readers of this blog know about my sick obsession with a baseball man whose name is very similar to that and might in fact be the same. If I were you, Steve, I’d have talked more about how unstoppably sexy he is and used fewer weird terms that make me sound like a beatnick who got trapped in time warped by someone.

But a bust just the same, maybe the biggest in baseball because of his exorbitant contract: $126 million over seven years, with his biggest three paydays still to come.

There’s a clue in here about why maybe Steve’s a bit late to this party. You see where he mentions that swanky Barry’s contract is for seven years? And you see the bit about how he has three years left on it?

Steve. Daddy-o. The rest of us are like four years ahead of you. Do you follow baseball much?

He’s been so bad that the San Francisco Giants didn’t include him on their National League division series or championship series rosters.

On pretty much any other team, that would be an amazing piece of dickery; I mean, Zito’s been about average this year. But the Giants have like fifteen better pitchers, including one with a crazy man’s beard.

The Giants signed Zito to that albatross of a contract before the 2007 season based on his mostly stellar seven seasons with the Oakland Athletics.

Before which season, Steve? Oh, the 2007 season? You really have your finger on the pulse of hot baseball happenings, don’t you.

Barry Zito’s 2010: 4.25 FIP, 4.77 xFIP
Barry Zito’s 2003: 4.05 FIP, 4.73 xFIP
Barry Zito’s career: 4.29 FIP, 4.73 xFIP

He’s the same pitcher he’s always been. Average-ish. Walks way way too many dudes. Has worse defense behind him than he did in Oakland Coliseum — a ballpark the size of Utah — and so allows more runs. Shouldn’t you know this? It’s kind of your job, Steve. My job is to fold boxes on an assembly line, and I know this.

Zito won the American League Cy Young Award in 2002, never had a losing record and pitched credibly in five postseasons.

Zito’s Cy Young was kind of a weird choice, but not indefensible. Pedro was way better, but pitched thirty fewer innings. Derek Lowe (of all people) was a little bit better, but pitched ten fewer innings. Kind of a wash, and, of course, Pedro and Lowe split the Red Sox vote. And one sucker voted for Jerrod Washburn. What?

I mean, I know; I’m not stupid. Zito recorded 23 misleadingly-named-and-utterly-meaningless "wins," and all you dummies in the BBWAA had a giant collective baseballgasm.

As for Zito never having a losing season with the A’s, well, that’s technically true. Here are the Oakland Athletics teams Barry Zito pitched for:

2000: 91-70 (947 RS (!) / 813 RA), 1st place
2001: 102-60 (884 RS / 645 RA), 2nd place (Seattle won 116 fucking games)
2002: 103-59 (800 RS / 654 RA), 1st place
2003: 96-66 (768 RS / 643 RA), 1st place
2004: 91-71 (793 RS / 742 RA), 2nd place
2005: 88-74 (772 RS / 658 RA), 2nd place
2006: 93-69 (771 RS / 727 RA), 1st place

It’s not really hard for pitchers to accumulate a bunch of "wins" when their teams are that good. And Barry was 14-12, 11-11, and 14-13 in 2003-2005, which is really really close to having a losing record. 11-11 on a team that was 20 games above .500 ain’t something to cheer about, Steve-o.

Meanwhile, the Giants haven’t scored 700 runs in a season since Zito’s been on the team, which I’m pretty sure is entirely Barry Zito’s fault. Asshole. Choker.

Unless somebody can come up with some other reason why the Giants’ offense would have tanked after 2006. But… what could that be?

The Barry Bonds era was coming to a close in San Francisco.

Oh. Right.

Already a Bay Area favorite, Zito was a refreshing counterpoint to the sullen slugger.

Yeah. I mean, he’s called Barry too, but this one’s white! And kind of stinks at baseball.

He plays guitar and sings.

I copied the link because Barry’s "celebrity playlist" is amazing. It’s mostly like Dave Matthews and Joni Mitchell and Jeff Buckley and earnest singer-songwriter shit like that, and then what pops in at #5? Fucking Incubus. Here’s what Barry Zito has to say about Incubus:

"Incubus has inspired me musically in many ways. I love their jazz style rhythms and progressions that come through in a heavier sound. This is a killer instrumental that shows a great use of 9/8 and 9/11 in the main theme and features a more mellow but meaty B section."

That’s a dude who takes some awful nu-metal way the hell too seriously. Though I agree with him about one thing: Incubus would have been a great use of 9/11. Too bad they hit the World Trade Center instead.

He surfs, meditates, eats organically and exudes an understated charm.

He’s so dreamy.

He gives back to the community, and his Strikeouts for Troops program especially resonates.

What is it with dipshits that they think "resonates" is a meaningful word? Here’s a definition of "resonates." You could twist definition 3 into fitting here, but… his Strikeouts for Troops program especially strikes a chord? That doesn’t mean anything either. With whom? In what way? Why?

Steve, if you get paid by the word, you stand to benefit by answering these questions. And if you don’t, you should cut that line, because it’s awful.

But upon collecting paychecks from the Giants, Zito stopped pitching well.

Alternative hypothesis: he never pitched that well to begin with (except for his 2002 career year), and his excessive walks and flyball tendencies don’t play as well in SBC as they did in the Coliseum, which is the size of Utah. Wait, did I do that joke already? Then let’s jazz it up: the Coliseum is the size of your mom’s underpants! Whoa burn!

Four years into the deal, the left-hander has yet to post a winning record. His ERA has fluctuated between 4.03 and 5.15.

Come on, Steve. Wins are for retards and criminals. And his ERA hasn’t "fluctuated." Here are his ERAs for those four years: 4.53, 5.15, 4.03, 4.15. That’s not what "fluctuated between" means. He had one really shitty year, and his ERA jumped. Then he settled back into his usual four-and-change routine.

Incidentally, his 4.15 ERA this year ain’t bad. It’s just a hair worse than league average, and is better than, among others, Zack Greinke (4.17), Phil Hughes (4.19), Mark Buehrle (4.28), John Lackey (4.40), and A.J. Burnett (5.26). But wait, you say, because you are a moron, Phil Hughes went 18-8! He’s a winner! That proves that ERA is for retardeds and cripples, because wins are what counts. Winning! Wins!

Phil Hughes, RS/GS: 6.8
Barry Zito, RS/GS: 3.6

The Giants scored 3.6 runs per game for Barry Zito. How the shit many wins do you expect a man to get in those conditions? Hell, if they’d scored 6.8 like the Yankees did for Hughes, he’d probably be like 18-7 and everybody would be writing articles about how the old Barry Zito is back and now he’s totally worth that $126 million, because, holy shit, 18 wins!

This is why wins — and, again, I mean the preschool pitching stat confusingly labeled "wins" and not actual winning — are stupid. Which isn’t to say that ERA ain’t stupid, but I’d take it over wins any day of the week.

Barry Zito 2010 FIP: 4.26
A.J. Burnett 2010 FIP: 4.83

And his most abysmal stretch came when the Giants needed strong performances the most – the last few months of the 2010 season, when they were chasing the San Diego Padres for the NL West crown.

September 8: Barry Zito goes 6 strong innings, giving up two runs on four hits. The Giants score one, and Zito takes the loss.

September 14: Barry Zito throws 5.2 innings of one-hit ball, allowing only an unearned run due to an error by execrable shortstop Juan Uribe. Giants don’t score, and Zito takes the loss.

September 19: Barry Zito throws 6 innings, allows 2 runs on 3 hits. The Giants show up at the ballpark this time and score nine runs. Zito gets the win.

"The last few months of the 2010 season" were apparently all played on October 2. Who knew?

In his final 12 starts, he went 1-8 with a 6.14 ERA.

The Giants scored more than three runs in exactly one of those losses. And Steve data-searches out three games in which Barry went seven strong innings and got a no-decision even though the Giants ended up winning. And that huge ERA is mainly down to two really awful starts — August 28, when he went 3.2 IP with 7 ER, and August 22, which was 3.2 IP and 5 ER. That span also includes four games where Zito went 6 IP or more with 2 ER or fewer, but Steve doesn’t want you to know about those.

Not that 6 IP / 2 ER is exactly setting the world on fire, but come on. It’s pretty good.

Yet even after all the failures, Zito had an opportunity to redeem himself, to win the game that would clinch the pennant Oct. 2 against the Padres at AT&T Park. He walked in two runs in the first inning and was pulled one batter into the fourth after walking the opposing pitcher.

Yeah, that start was pretty bad. I watched it. Fortunately, the Giants have an invincible staff ace who would never have a start that bad! Oh. Wait. Well, at least in those crucial last few months, when the team really needs him, he won all his games. Especially the ones against the Padres! Hmm? Oh. Shit.

He pitched without conviction. He nibbled off the strike zone as if he knew his stuff wasn’t any good.

Is that also the reason Timmy sucked in those two games? Or is it maybe because pitching is hard and sometimes dudes fuck it up, even if they’re pretty good?

Here’s a fun game:

Steve Henson wrote his article without conviction. He nibbled off the facts as if he knew his brain wasn’t any good.

Also, Barry Zito walked too many dudes because of a confidence problem? Barry Zito is an iron-disciplined zen monk who has always, always, always had a problem with walks. The year he won the Cy Young he still had 3.1 BB/9.

"The last game was the thing that sticks out," he said. "The money was on the table and I went out and didn’t attack the strike zone the way I should have. That’s a huge disappointment to me."

Asshole. Why can’t you walk 0.8/9 like Cliff Lee?

He hasn’t pitched since, losing his spot in the postseason rotation to a 21-year-old rookie, Madison Bumgarner, who is being paid about $250,000 this year.

Yeah, see, that’s the thing; the Giants signed a massively expensive, kind-of-average free agent pitcher right as their farm system was about to barf a thousand awesome young pitchers right into the bigs. Which was: stupid. But, again, we’re about four years ahead of you, Steve.

To Zito’s credit, he hasn’t complained. He was one of the first players out of the dugout to congratulate his teammates when they eliminated the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS.

Would somebody get this asshole out of my clubhouse?? He is cancering up the clubpaths!

Also: Barry Zito is left off the roster, and yet he’s still sitting in the clubhouse during the games. Unlike, say, Dioner Navarro, who told the Rays they could (and this quote is verbatim*) "go fuck their fucking selves."

* Quote may actually be a lie

But the disappointment runs deep, beyond Zito and through the fan base and Giants’ decision-makers who lavished riches upon him, expecting a staff ace.

Not really, Steve. Because, again, those of us who’ve actually watched baseball or read about baseball or perhaps made dick jokes about Gary Sheffield in the last four years are very familiar with this. I mean, for fuck’s sake, it’s been almost two entire years since I dared your co-worker, Kevin Kaduk, to play 10 and 17 in roulette at the winter meetings as a tribute to Barry Zito’s 2008 W-L (for the record, Kevin totally did it; much like the Giants, his bet on Barry Zito did not pay off).

And nobody with brains expected Zito to be any kind of "ace." Look! Look! Here’s an article from December of 2006 which is all about what a ridiculous overpay Zito’s deal is, and how he’s kind of average-ish. People have always known this, Steve. You are: super, super late to this party.

It only gets worse. Zito’s contract was backloaded so that his highest salaries come last. He stands to make $18.5 million in 2011, $19 million in 2012 and $20 million in 2013.


And the contract includes a club option for 2014 at $18 million with a buyout of $7 million. In other words, the Giants would have to pay Zito an additional $7 million just for him to pack his bags and leave for good.

What? No, that’s… not what that means. That means the Giants can tell Zito to pack his bags and leave for good and save $11 million. Seriously, Steve, do you know anything about anything?

The full 2014 option vests if he pitches 600 innings over the next three years, although rest assured the Giants won’t allow that to happen.

Zito pitched 199.1 innings this year, so if the Giants conspicuously cut his innings, the union might have a thing or two to say about that. Remember the union, Steve?

Reciting baseball salaries can be disorienting. The amounts are so exorbitant that it’s difficult to determine whether a player making megamillions is a relative bargain or a bust. To give Zito’s deal some perspective:

• The Yankees’ CC Sabathia (seven years, $161 million) and the Mets’ Johan Santana (seven/$137.5M) are the only pitchers with more lucrative totals than Zito.

Sabathia’s deal is ridiculous. Not as ridiculous as Zito’s, sure — mainly because the Giants really, really couldn’t afford the contract they gave — but pretty damn ridiculous nonetheless. Santana’s deal was awesome when it was signed, but then he got hurt. So we’ll see.

• Sabathia ($23 million), Santana ($22.5 million) and the Phillies’ Roy Halladay ($20 million) are the only pitchers who will make more than Zito next season.

That’s, like, the same data point again, Steve.

• In 2013, only the Tigers’ Justin Verlander ($20 million) will have joined Santana ($25.5 million), Sabathia ($23 million ) and Halladay ($20 million) as making as much or more than Zito ($20 million).

Wait, how does saying the same thing over and over and over provide any "perspective?" We get it. Zito makes a lot of money. We already knew that, you dope.

Sabathia, Halladay and Verlander are in the top echelon of pitchers. So is Santana when he’s healthy, although injuries call into question whether he’ll be a burden or a blessing to the Mets going forward.

Sabathia is stunningly overrated. Seriously, if the Yankees had the kind of payroll limits the Giants do (and the kind of run scoring issues — ye gods!), everybody would be writing this article about Sabathia also.

Position players with $100 million-plus deals are more common than pitchers because their injury risk is less and their production tends to be more easily predicted. Yet even with hitters, teams are more generous than they need to be, as this chart illustrates:

Oh my God, there’s a chart?

This is the part of the article where I was going to embed Steve’s chart. Welcome! Turns out that’s a big fat pain in the Sabathia, so I didn’t bother. But the title of the chart is "Questionable contracts of $100 million and more," which is a pretty sweet hedge. Here’s the list:

• Alex Rodriguez, Yankees
• Johan Santana, Mets
• Alfonso Soriano, Cubs
• Barry Zito, Giants
• Vernon Wells, Blue Jays
• Carlos Beltran, Mets
• Carlos Lee, Astros

Okay. Listen to me slowly. When they signed their contracts, Alex Rodriguez and Johan Santana were the best position player and pitcher in baseball. Then they both got hurt. Still, Santana has given the Mets one amazing year and two really good years, and projects to be worth most of the value of his contract over its lifetime (assuming the marginal value of a win doesn’t crash). A-Rod’s been hurt; if he can recover, he’ll earn his money easily. If he doesn’t, then, yeah, injury-related bust.

Soriano and Wells are in the same boat as Zito: they each had one really good year and then got a massive, ridiculous contract as a result. Neither of them has a chance of being worth the money he makes.

El Caballo’s contract was insane.

And Beltran. Holy shit, Steve. How did you manage to get Beltran on this list? Beltran’s phenomenal, and he only has one year left on his deal, which means he can’t really go into the tank and ruin the whole thing. Baseball Reference says he’s been worth 28.4 wins to the Mets during his deal, which is a lot. The average value of a win in 2010 is $4 million (I’m using just one value to make the math easier, but it ain’t changed a whole lot over the last few years), which means that Beltran’s been worth $113.6 million to the Mets. They have paid him $95.9 million. That is what a good deal is, Steve.

But anyhow, Steve just inserted that little bit of wrongness as an aside. Now he’s back to being wrong about Barry Zito:

Why is Zito so disturbingly mediocre after being so good?

Better question: Why is Zito, who is pitching exactly like he always has, suddenly getting more Ls and fewer Ws?

Answer: worse team, less foul territory.

The statistical gurus at Inside Edge note that Zito is the only pitcher in baseball whose fastball averages less than 90 mph to consistently throw in the top half of the strike zone.

Oh, lord. This is going to be like how that Adelson fool said that the way to beat Cliff Lee was to hack away at every pitch, isn’t it? I think this is what they mean when they talk about "just enough knowledge to be dangerous," only instead of dangerous you’re just being an ass.

Zito’s average fastball was 85.7 mph in 2010. In his Cy Young season of 2002, it was 87.4. So while he isn’t throwing as hard as he did with the A’s, it’s not as if he was ever a power pitcher.

That’s something, sure. He’s getting older. But, as you say, he didn’t blow anybody away in 2002 neither. His K/9 is pretty much the same.

The primary difference is location. Zito threw only 23 percent of his fastballs in the lower third of the strike zone this season – third-lowest in MLB to relievers Heath Bell and Tyler Clippard, both of whom throw well over 90 mph. Furthermore, half of Zito’s fastballs were in the top third of the strike zone, a dangerous area to work for anybody less than a flamethrower. The short list of pitchers who worked upstairs that often includes hard throwers Verlander, Matt Cain, Neftali Feliz
and Matt Thornton.

You hear that, Barry? Steve Henson wants you to work downstairs. Acutally, I… I kind of do, too, you dreamboat.

Anyhow, did anybody notice the piece of salient information Steve leaves out of his airtight proof? That’s right: he never told us how many of Zito’s fastballs hit the lower third in 2002. I’m not an Inside Edge member, so I can’t get at that data, but anybody care to guess? I’m picking 23%, myself.

Zito doesn’t belong in that company. He needs to work down in the zone to be successful.

If that were the case, I expect you’d have given us pitch location data for 2002. Which I’ll bet says his pitches hit the same spots they do in 2010, since his flyball rate hasn’t changed.

Barry Zito 2002 GB/FB: 0.55%
Barry Zito 2010 GB/FB: 0.57%

Sorry. I mean it’s slightly improved. As has his HR/FB%, which went from 7.6% in 2002 to 6.5% in 2010. But just go ahead and make shit up, Steve. It’s easier.

And anybody wondering whether he could be effective coming out of the bullpen in the NLCS to face a left-handed batter in the late innings, consider this: The batting average of lefties against him in his past 11 starts is .304, and in the past two months lefties have hit his fastball at a .500 clip.

Nice cherry-pick. Batting average against lefties in his last 11 starts? What? Anybody care to guess how lefties hit Zito in the start before that? The answer is: they didn’t.

And that "batting average by lefties against Zito’s fastball in the last two months" is a crazy, crazy stat to cite. Also, the big round .500 is your tipoff that something’s amiss. How many fastballs do you suppose that’s counting? Two? Four?

So instead of pitching, Zito will continue to be the world’s most highly paid cheerleader. He’ll say the right things. He won’t be a distraction. And when he returns home, waiting in his mailbox will be another fat paycheck.

Welcome to 2007, Steve. Now do the one about how Barry Bonds’ home run record is tainted and we should stamp asterisks all over it.

October 17th, 2010 Posted by | Baseball | no comments