Friday, December 29, 2006

The SF Chronicle's Zito coverage gets it right

Readers of this blog might have noticed that I have been pretty critical of the San Francisco Chronicle's lame sports coverage, particularly John Shea. And I still regard Shea's listing Nomar Garciaparra as one of the "feel-good" stories of the year as unforgiveable. So I must admit that the stories by Shea and Henry Schulman/Susan Slusser in today's edition are solidly done and pretty informative.

The latter story makes a good point as to what drove the signing -- The Giants were enticed by Zito's durability. He is 28 -- the same age Bonds was when the Giants first signed him in 1992 -- and has not missed a start in seven major-league seasons. Over the past six seasons, the left-hander with the rainbow curveball has thrown more innings (1,337 2/3) than any major-league pitcher except for Livan Hernandez (1,393 1/3) and Mark Buehrle (1,376 2/3) and ranks ninth in strikeouts, with 1,018.
Giants scouts also believe Zito, a flyball pitcher, will prosper in the large National League West parks and that his taut, over-the-top delivery will keep his arm strong into his mid-30s. They compare him to Tom Glavine, who pitched 219 innings and won 16 games for Atlanta in 2001 when he was 35, the same age Zito will be in the final guaranteed year of his contract.

As for Shea's story, here's the key part -- But the Giants needed someone to replace Bonds as the franchise's go-to guy, and Zito was the chosen one. The Giants like his durability and willingness to be a staff leader, traits he displayed in Oakland, and it doesn't hurt that they swiped an ace from the rival A's, whose biggest offseason announcement was their plan to leave Oakland for Fremont.
Zito will average $18 million a year, but the contract is backloaded so he'll make about $10 million next season. With Bonds' contract, which hasn't been finalized yet -- his base is $15.8 million with much of it deferred -- the payroll will approach a record $95 million, making it tougher for cynics to accuse the Giants of not spending enough money.
Some of those cynics are charter-seat holders whose ticket prices rose substantially after seven years of tiny increases. Without Zito, it might have been difficult for the Giants to do damage in the National League West or draw 3 million fans again. With Zito, both seem possible.


Blogger PEFACommish said...

I think the Zito deal effectively ends any hope of signing Miguel Cabrera.

10:56 AM  

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