The Deal That Wasn’t

Barry Zito T-shirtYou may have heard by now that Barry Zito has been demoted to the bullpen, after an atrocious start to the season for the San Francisco Giants (0-6, 7.53 ERA).

As Mets fans, why should we care?

Because for every time we weep when the names Scott Kazimir, Brian Bannister, and Nolan Ryan are mentioned (among others) — players that were sent away only to become stars — we should also be thankful that certain deals didn’t happen.

For those with a short-term memory, Barry Zito was — in the minds of the fans and pundits — the number one target of the New York Mets during the 2006-2007 offseason. And for about a year before Zito was on the free market, it seemed as though the Mets were perpetually on the “verge” of acquiring Zito from the A’s in return for Lastings Milledge.

The Mets did, in fact, offer Zito a contract during the winter of 2006 — one for five years and $73M. Scott Boras laughed at the offer, claiming he had a $110M offer from the Giants (we didn’t believe him). Imagine now if the Mets caved in to Boras’ demands, and handed Zito a nine-digit contract? Most likely, there would be no Johan here, and the organization might be in dire straits.

As my friend Hot Toddy quipped, Barry Zito’s current contract commitment makes Carlos Delgado look like a bargain. Hat tip also to Toddy for finding these great T-shirts.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Micalpalyn April 29, 2008 at 10:35 am
    I am going to get smoked by Isuzu but what the hey.

    a. Joe: This post still should allude to luck. Oliver Perez was acquired by Omar kinda like Claudio Vargas was. He was not wanted by his team. and Omar saw a fixer-upper. He had just done some awesome fixer-ups in Heilman, Ro hern, Marlon and Endy. But VERY few of us so the quick dividends Ollie would return. BUT his biggest return was that his 2006 playoff show allowed Omar to rebuff that 120M price tag and say…I already have a top tier lefty, but i will give you $75M. THAT $120 M then was stashed away for Santana. note also that Omar resisted overtures to spend that money last July.

    2. Again I point to the $$$ Pedro, Moises, el Duque and Del are gleaning this yr. How will omar spend it? that is over $38M/yr btw. Next yrs rotation w/o the afore could be Santana, Maine, Pel and Vargas/Figgy add Ollie if Omar resigns him (quote stands at 70M/5yrs).

    3. Zito: I see a Mike Hampton situation developing. With pedro, El duque and possibly Ollie going could Zito come to Shea? I’d do it but for a Mike Hampton deal with SF eating 1/2 the remaining $ (i guess-timate $40M). A peripheral is that Zito reunites with the Jacket.

    4. BTW: MLBrumors has a Heilman for XNady proposal.

  2. Coop April 29, 2008 at 10:50 am
    I was probably the #1 loudmouth in trying to get Zito on the Mets in the 2006-07 offseason. However, when he signed with the SFGs for that ridonkulous amount of $$/yrs, I thought – the Giants are insane. not to mention, sori over to the Cubs – that was a ridiculous contract. It was better than Beltran’s! And as much as I have been down on Beltran lately, I know he’ll come around and Sori just aint that good. My point being – sometimes the best moves are the ones not made. Omar’s done that a lot. Remember all those Manny to Mets rumors? Although I heart Manny, he had no business on this team (although now, we could kinda use him with seemingly no Alou on the horizon, LOL).

    I also think that getting Zito after the fact would be a heinous move. On the flip side, he might not be a bad experiment with Soul Glo Peterson, since they worked so well together in the past. But I hate to say it – and mark my words (and as much as it pains me to say) – Oh Pea will NOT be a Met next year. He’s gonna go where the money is and some stupid team (think: Texas Rangers or San Diego) will pony up the $$/yrs he wants. Remember: Boras is his agent too. He doesn’t want to be a Met next year. We need more pitching, as per usual.

  3. joe April 29, 2008 at 11:16 am
    I don’t think it was luck … it was more fiscal responsibility than anything. There was a definite restraint on the part of the Mets when the bidding for Zito went up. Had the Mets signed him for their price — 5 yrs at $73M, with the fifth year being an option — I don’t think it would have been nearly the disaster at 7/$126+. That contract is an albatross.

    The “found” $38M in my opinion will go toward a new first baseman, another year for Pedro, and possibly Ollie. Though I do agree with Coop — there’s a good chance O’Pea leaves for greener pastures. That said, Mike Pelfrey better develop in a hurry, or perhaps Aaron Heilman will finally get his shot at a rotation spot in ’09.

  4. Micalpalyn April 29, 2008 at 11:21 am
    My point with luck is that Omar tends to fill the needs. The fact Ollie deflated the ‘need’ is where i see luck. Then again Omar could have anticipated the need and Ollie’s acquisition was a pre-emptive strike.
  5. isuzudude April 29, 2008 at 11:53 am
    Mic, you’re a funny guy. Luckily for you I’m a non-smoker.

    Seriously, though, I have no qualms with your comments. I actually agree Omar’s been a bit lucky throughout his tenure. Think about it – along with talent, money, and chemistry, every successful team needs luck to win. It’s part of the game. As Met fans, all we have to do is harken back to 1986. Wouldn’t you call Mookie’s grounder through Buckner’s legs luck? So yes, luck has a part in it all. I agree with Joe that it was financial responsibility to not cave into Zito’s demands, but it was probably luck that some other team was stupid enough to outbid the world in getting him. And certainly it was luck that opened the door to acquire Perez. It might have been bad luck (as it cost us Duaner Sanchez for nearly a year and a half), but it was luck nonetheless.

    The money that gets freed up by the departing Delgado, Alou, and Duque, and possibly Pedro, should go to a new 1B, perhaps a LF stopgap (until F-Mart is ready), and some additional pitching help. The biggest names are Teixeira and Sabathia, but somehow I doubt either will be CitiField bound for 2009. But I trust Omar will make the right moves, and he certainly will have the money to make things happen.

    Sorry, but I’m not a fan of Zito coming to NY. Zito may have flourished under Peterson’s tutelage in Oakland, but that was when Zito was throwing 5-8 MPH harder than he is now, for much, much less money. I don’t see the Giants paying Zito to resurrect his career on a fellow NL team, nor do I see the Mets giving up anything of value to obtain him. He’s stuck in San Fran for the long haul, and I say let him stay there.

    Although I agree with the consensus that believes Ollie is in his last season with the Mets, I’m never one to put anything past Omar. He was the underdog to land Johan and he did it. He acquired 2 15-game winners for cheap. He landed Beltran when everyone and their uncle thought he was going to the Yankees. He got El Duque from the D-backs for Jorge Julio. And he somehow found a suitor for Guillermo Mota, which we all thought would have been an impossibility. So it’s nowhere near out of the realm of possibilities that he can re-sign Ollie, if he so desires. Coop, I’m not sure how you can definitively state “He [Perez] doesn’t want to be a Met next year,” when I haven’t heard anything of that effect from Ollie’s camp. Yes, he wants to be where the money is, but since the Mets have an abundance of the moolah and are going to be hard up for starting pitching next season, wouldn’t it make sense for Perez to come back?

    But to be fair, the only guarantees the Mets have for their starting rotation for ’09 are Johan and Maine. There are many other possibilities, but no certainties. So, although it’s only April, it’s fairly safe to say the ’08-09 winter is going to be a busy one.

  6. Micalpalyn April 29, 2008 at 2:24 pm
    Isuzu: Something about the topic sent me off the rim.

    1. Someone will get Zito. It is remote that he comes to Shea, but i dont think it would be impossible. But i do think alot depends on OPea. I think the Giants will eat some $$$ moreso because they are bad right now and they are investing in the future. BTW- on losing 5-8mph; Thats what was said about Ollie at the time of his trade.

    2. I dont think Opea wants to leave NY.

    3. The topic (dujour) is 1st base. I am with isuzu in that this is Del’s last yr and I estimate his output at 260/25HR/85-90rbi. The caveat is there are no logical replacements. Carlos Pena? Paul Konerko? The list is not great. Look at rotoworlds 1st baseman rankings.

    4. MY best scenario would be Mike Jacobs. I am also on board with giving Carp an oppurtunity too. Remember jacobs lost 2 yrs to injury only to come back as the Met minor league player/yr. When Jacobs came up and hit 11HR in those 50AB willie scoffed at the achievement. Instead Jacobs has been pretty decent in his growth as a 1st baseman.

  7. isuzudude April 29, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    Neither Konerko or Pena have contracts expiring after the 2008 season, so the Mets won’t be able to sign either for 1B (unless you’re suggesting Omar trade for them, which is a whole new can of worms).

    Aside from Teixeira, I don’t see any 1B that fit into the Mets’ plans. However, Omar could go the “Todd Zeile route,” and sign someone from a different position and convert them into a 1B. Candidates, who have had 1B experience in their careers, include Jose Vidro, Adam Dunn, Raul Ibanez, and Jeff Kent. Or, in a more drastic move for the future, the Mets could move Wright to 1B, and go after a 3B, although there aren’t very many options there either. You mention Carp as a candidate, but I fear he’ll still need more ripening in the minors next year. The Mets do have Michel Abreu (AAA) and Nick Evans (AA) who could factor into the equation, as well. And I’m pretty excited about Lucas Duda (Single-A St Lucie), although I don’t imagine him being ready until late 2010 at the earliest. At any rate, 1B is going to be an interesting position moving forward with this team.

  8. Micalpalyn April 29, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    1. yes I went straight to the can-o-worms simply because the FA pool(s) lately have been awefull. But you are right in bringing up position switches. Pat Burrell?

    2. I think Carp should be considered if for no other reason, the pending HOLE. IF he continues (given his age) he could see AAA by July then Shea in Sept.

    3. No one has bit on the MLB rumors proposed Heilman for X-man swap. As Metsblog points out the Pitts have depth in the OF and LaRoche among others at 1st. But if the Mets want a LF why not Jason Bay for 2009? Can Church play 1st base?

    4. If the discussions we have on Omar We have so long forgotten his fore runners:

    Duquette: highs; Signing cliff Floyd?
    Lows: Looper, Benson for Huber & Wiggy, VZ for Kazmir, Matsui(reyes at 2nd), Lowballing for Vlad, bURNITZ FOR vIC dIAZ,
    SP: Highs;

    I think given the sampling, even adjusting for era and specific goials of the club Omar is out in front.

  9. sincekindergarten April 29, 2008 at 5:42 pm
    Oookay, seeing that I’ve been out in the wilds of Ulster County all day, I’m just seeing this.

    1. Position switches . . . How ’bout this one: David Wright to 1B, and Brandon Inge becomes our 3B? It saves, potentially, a bunch of cash. To . . .

    2. Either retain Ollie, or to go after someone like C.C. Sabathia. (Hey, if you can dream, so can I.)

    3. Gotta get back to y’all on the Heilman for XNady deal. I’m inclined to not do it, because Heliman has been proven to be a second-half pitcher.

    4. I agree that Willie is closer to the chopping block than Omar is.

    Also, I said yesterday, something to the effect that Carlos Delgado would have a year like this: .270, 28 HR, 90 RBI. My rationale was that someone’s got to drive in Wright and Castillo. I’m modifying it to include Beltran, as he’s going to come around soon, as well. Moises should be back soon, as the MRI showed no fracture (according to MetsBlog).

  10. Micalpalyn April 29, 2008 at 5:51 pm
    Isuzu and Joe have been found guilty of extorting the Texas Rangers GM:

  11. joe April 29, 2008 at 9:36 pm
    SK: that Inge 3B / Wright 1B isn’t the craziest nor most unrealistic proposition. Not sure I love it, but considering the alternatives (few), it’s a fairly creative and intriguing thought.

    And I also don’t like XNady for Heilman, but that might be because of my man-crush on Aaron (don’t tell my wife).

  12. More Non-moves -- Mets Today May 1, 2008 at 12:01 pm
    […] to avoid the reality of yesterday afternoon, and following up to The Deal That Wasn’t, I was looking through some of the players the Mets were reportedly “after” during this […]
  13. Micalpalyn May 1, 2008 at 4:52 pm
    From Jayson stark:

    a. Metsblog have his comments on the Millz-Church trade, but read further on Zito……….

    Rumbling through the jungle
    • Baked Zito — the appetizer: An official of one pitching-starved team said this week: “I think I could trade for Barry Zito right now. But who the hell would want to?”

    So we posed this question: How much money would the Giants have to pay of Zito’s remaining $112.5 million or so to get somebody — anybody — interested?

    “The Giants would have to eat 80 percent — I’m talking $80-90 million…..

    Baked Zito — the main course: So can Zito ever get straightened out? We surveyed a half-dozen scouts and executives, and we found only one who thought he could. And that was a scout who said his only hope was to get reunited with Rick Peterson, “the only [pitching coach] Barry Zito ever had success with.”