You Want Zito? You'll Have to Pay.
There seems to be a common misconception that Barry Zito will not cost Lastings Milledge, the only trading chip left that carries any clout in the Mets system. Billy is looking for either power arms or a power bat from the right handed side. The Mets have Victor Diaz and Xavier Nady, but they would be more of a throw in for any deal made for a player of Zito's stature. Say Milledge/Heilman and Nady/Diaz for Zito. That's more about what it will take for him to come here. I want Zito on this team, but not at the cost of possibly decimating this farm system when there are other viable options that don't have anything to do with getting rid of Lastings Milledge or the increasingly important Aaron Heilman.
Zito has a career line of a 3.50 ERA, 3.43 BB/9, 7.03 K/9, 7.56 H/9, and a 2.05 K/BB and had a BAA of .195, .230, .218, .219, .263, and .221 since he came into the league. He is also a lefty and 27 until this upcoming May. That means he still has a lot of very, very good years ahead of him and has been very impressive so far. If you take out his worst year in 2004, which seems to stick out in everyone's minds more than his entire career, he owns a 3.40 ERA, 3.43 BB/9, 7.04 K/9, 7.41 H/9, and a 2.05 K/BB. Basically the only thing that fluxuated was the amount of hits he gave up and as a result, his ERA ballooned. The guy has pitched in five complete Major League seasons and has been very, very good in three of them, spectacular in one of them, and just alright on the other one, but not horrible. Is he ever going to approach his Cy Young year again? Maybe not, but he still figures to be one of the better starting pitchers in the league for years.
Very good and young lefty pitchers do not come around often and why anyone thinks that Billy Beane will just hand him over for anything less than a blue chip player is beyond me. To get Zito, Milledge or Heilman will have to be the center piece and while some people may not have a problem with dealing either of those two, I think it is an issue. Reuniting him with Rick Peterson seems to be a reason that people point to, but I see a guy who has largely remained the same pitcher without Peterson with one bad year. In 2005, Zito went through a stretch of three months in which he put up a 3.05 ERA, 2.51 ERA, and a 2.13 ERA and was arguably the best pitcher in the league during that time. His resurgence was due in part to Curt Young allowing him to work on a sinker/slider that Rick Peterson thought would have messed up his curveball.
While it would be nice to have Zito on this team, he is going to cost dearly. The Mets have other options at starting pitcher and unless Beane gets knocked over by an offer, what incentive does he have to just take the best deal out of four crappy ones? Imagine the market for a 28 year old left hander at the trade deadline for teams on the cusp. How often can you actually get a bonafide ace that could make a difference at the deadline that usually makes teams overpay for the Jeff Suppan's and Victor Zambrano's of the world. Zito is not coming to Queens without Beane extracting some large return for him. I would just rather see the Mets seek out another option and though I do not fault Omar for at least investigating a worth while player, I do not see how he fits in the big picture. Zito is certainly a good pitcher, but we cannot focus on his Cy Young year as a justification to move one of two guys that figure largely into 2006 and beyond when it is not necessary.
Also from the above NY Post article, the Mets might talk to Burnett's agent as well as Ricardo Rincon's while investigating a deal for Barry Zito.
The Mets could have some options on the starting pitching front. According to A.J. Burnett's agent, Darek Braunecker, the Mets have not been too aggressive with arguably the off season’s top free-agent pitcher, but the two sides may speak at the meetings.
"I anticipate talking to them next week, but we haven't really had any ongoing dialogue with them," Braunecker said yesterday.