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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Giants In On The Zito Sweepstakes

Once the Giants unofficially announced that they have agreed to a new deal with Barry Bonds, most people thought it would mark the end of any significant moves Brian Sabean would make the rest of the offseason. However, Sabean said the team did still have financial room for another starting pitcher, thanks to deffered money in Bonds' contract. On top of that, there has been whispers that Peter Magowan may allow the Giants payroll to excede 100 million dollars for the first time in franchise history. Last season, the Giants' payroll was around the 85 million dollar range. They are doing all this in hopes to possibly accomidate the huge salary that Barry Zito will command. Latest word on the free agency front has the Giants in hot pursuit of Zito, and there where even rumors they'd offer him 20 million dollars a year over 6 years. A very simalar deal in which they offered to Carlos Lee. The Giants real competition for Zito appears to be the Texas Rangers and the New York Mets. The Boston Red Sox could join that list if they lose out on Daisuke Matsuzuka. Zito has been quiet regarding the Giants situation, but as a native Californian, and a guy who's spent his whole career in the bay area, it would seem the most geographicaly appealing place for Zito. However, Zito plays guitar in the offseason, and many people close to him hint that his dream would be to play in New York, where he could showcase his talents on and off the field. Even if the Giants outbid, I still think it would be a longshot for the them, I expect him to be a Met. The Giants outbid the Astros for Carlos Lee, and where ready to do the same for Soriano, but both players decided against the Giants, and there is no reason to believe Zito won't do the same. As far as the money is concerned, If there is a pitcher, and a pitching style I would give $100 million to, it's Barry Zito. He's been nothing less than a mark of consistancy and quality throughout his career, having never missed a start in the 7 seasons. 213+ innings in 6 straight seasons, while holding a career 3.55 era. No, Zito isn't the overpowering 98 mph flamethrower that Jason Schmidt was in his prime for the Giants, he is a finesse pitcher a la Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. This is why I really wouldn't mind giving Zito big money for a lot of years. Look at how consistant Glavine and Maddux have been over their careers. I have every reason to believe that Zito will age like those two and be doing the same stuff Glavine is now when he is 38 years old. Zito's style of pitching will keep him healthy, and it should also keep him effective for years to come. The only small question I have with him is his inability to finish games. He hasn't completed a game in 3 years, but again, the "no missed starts" in 7 years has to cancel that out a little bit. I'd give it a 20% of happening, but if the Giants did land Zito, it would definetely brighten up what has been a glum, predictable offseason thus far.

The arbitration deadline has slowly creaped up on us, and one big name player has already been non-tendered, Marcus Giles. Giles appears destined to join his brother, Brian, in San Diego, but there are a few other interesting names who could be released. Joel Pineiro is isn't likely to be offered a contract by the Mariners. Pineiro had a terrible season last year, and really hasn't been very good since '03. But he is still only 28 and has a very live arm. In '02 and '03 this guy looked like a potential ace for years to come in Seattle. Some people think a change of scenery will do him some good. Another interesting name who was released Tuesday is Chris Rietsma. Rietsma was very effeciant for the Braves as a set-up man in '04 and '05, but started to struggle when the Braves moved him into the closers role. Rietsma was injured for most of '06, but he is a guy who would be low risk/high reward on a minor league contract. Shawn Chacon and Rodrigo Lopez are two other non-tendered candidates who are still young, have tremendous upside, but struggled last season. The list of potential position players are less impressive than the pitchers. Besides Giles, Brad Wilkerson and Jason Lane are the only two guys who could come in and have in impact on a team. Wilkerson would offer the Giants a left-handed option at first base and a caddy to Barry Bonds in left field. Lane could give the Giants a right-handed outfielder to insert into the lineup for Dave Roberts vs. tough left-handed pitching.
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