Rangers Need A Fastball
Yeah. Yeah. I know. This is a lot of coverage for the offseason winter baseball meetings. What? With the Cowboys, Stars, and Mavericks all winning?
But I can't help it. I long for this team to be something. To do something. And the window is closing fast on this offseason.
Carlos Lee, Gary Matthews, Jr., and Mark DeRosa? All gone. Mike Piazza? Signed with the A's. But that's okay. It's time Jason Botts got a real shot. The Rangers consolation prize? Frank Catalanotto and maybe Kenny Lofton or Jay Payton.
Adam Eaton? Gone. Vicente Padilla? Aggressively retained. Ted Lilly and Jason Schmidt? Off the market. Chicago White Sox pitchers? They just traded Freddy Garcia and are probably done for the year.
So you want Gil Meche? Miguel Batista? Not so much. Jeff Suppan? He's one of those creepy, career year guys. Tim Hudson or Mark Mulder? Too many red flags.
So it's time. The Rangers have flirted with it. Worked the edges of the strike zone. Now its time for the best pitch they've got. Barry Zito is just about the only quality pitcher of note left standing so forget the risk and sign the guy.
I know. There's negotiations. Don't pay the guy more than they want to until they have to. But bring the guy to Arlington.
Sure, you can hear the chatter about fly balls and home runs and how he won't fit the Ballpark. You can listen to talk of his velocity being down.Or you can see the track record. Here's a guy who not only gives big innings. He wins games.
Compare Zito to two of the most hyped pitchers of recent years: Josh Beckett and A. J. Burnett. Here's a pair of pitchers with out of this world stuff. Great fastball. Above average breaking balls. Solid changeups. Three pitch pitchers. Yet, for all that, they can barely stay above .500 for their careers.
Beckett was a case study last year. Came out of the gate on fire. Looked like he was in for a career year. But fizzled down the stretch and played a role in the Red Sox second half collapse.
Zito, on the other, always brings it. He slumps are shorter and he has won over 60 percent of his decisions in his career. And his durability has been unreal. This guy's arm is reliable. It doesn't break down every couple of months the way Mark Prior's and Kerry Wood's does.
And don't be scared by the Chan Ho Park fiasco. That had bad move written all over it from the beginning. It was well documented Park was much better in the pitcher friendly confines of Dodger Stadium. The Rangers ignored that and signed him anyway. Last year, with Millwood, the Rangers trusted the track record and got almost what they expected. Same should go for Zito.
Here is a case where the reward outweighs the risk. I'm aware this is Scott Boras' boy so he will cost. I'm also aware he is a Cy Young winner and one of baseball's best pitchers.
So, whatever it takes, sign Zito. To be almost the only one left, he's a damn fine pitcher.