With players like Jason Marquis getting $21 million over 3 years from the Cubs and Gil Meche getting $55 million from the Royals, what is a pitcher like Barry Zito worth? What is he worth to the Rangers is the more important question.
His agent, Rangers nemesis Scott Boras, is comparing him to Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux. Maybe he was comparing the "Ho" (Chan Ho for you non-Rangers fans) to Bob Gibson back in '01.
Don't get me wrong, seeing him pitch against the Rangers was a nightmare. For a guy that can't hit 90 on the radar gun, he sure did make several players look foolish.
But in Rob Neyer's recent column on espn.com, Zito's numbers are on a downward slope. His walks, home runs, and ERA are rising. According to the stat, runs saved above average, Zito is only the 27th best starting pitcher since 2003.
If nothing else, he takes the ball every fifth day. In all six of his complete seasons in the majors he has pitched over 200 innings each season, a bench mark for starting pitchers. His career innings per start is over six.
That kind of stability is priceless for the Rangers. They have rarely had solid starters, and they usually come one per decade. I consider Kevin Millwood a solid starter, and adding Zito to him and Vicente Padilla gives us the best rotation that the Rangers have ever had.
Sure it is a steep price to pay for a pitcher who seems to be in decline. As long as it doesn't hinder the budget enough to not sign Mark Texieria and Michael Young to long term deals, I say do it. Hey, it may even persuade them to stay because of management's desire to put a good product on the field.
In the aftermath, that leaves 2 rotation spots up for grabs still. One seems to be going to Robinson Tejada. The other is a competition between John Danks, Edison Volquez, Thomas Diamond, or Eric Hurley. Maybe bullpen guys John Koronka, Kameron Loe, Nick Masset, Josh Rupe, or C.J. Wilson will get a shot. The main thing is that we hold on to as many as those guys as possible, because who knows what could happen?
Adding Zito to the rotation seems like a good move for the team. But, I trust Jon Daniels not to put the Rangers under a contract that is a hinderance. Remember the "Ho"?