Tagged: Starting Pitchers

Washington tenders minor league contract offer to Zito

Washington announced today that it has made a minor league contract offer to prized free agent Barry Zito.

Washington’s deal is supposed to be guaranteed provided Zito makes the opening day roster. If he does, Zito is expected to make $800,000 on a contract filled with incentives.  Zito will make $10,000 for making the All-Star team, $15,000 for winning 20 games and $20,000 if he wins the Cy Young Award.

“Zito knows what it’s like to work for a frugal organization,’’ says a well-placed source with no knowledge of the negotiations. “All he needs is a ball, a mound and a catcher, not to mention a yoga mat and a guitar.”

Zito’s handlers will be mulling over the offer during the holiday break.  The Mets and Rangers have been considered the front-runners in the Zito sweepstakes before Washington’s offer.

Zito won 102 games as an Athletic in six full major league seasons. He threw more than 200 innings in each of those seasons. Known as having one of the game’s best curveballs,  the southpaw Zito also brings a changeup, slider and a four-seam fastball to the table.

Zito would certainly anchor Washington’s rotation.

“Don’t let the $100 million offers fool you. Zito is a practical guy who has done very well with his money. $800,000 or $100 million, it doesn’t matter,” says the source. “We’ve also heard that Washington is trying to market the game towards the ladies more by bringing in some more attractive players, literally and figuratively, which would explain why they haven’t signed Rich Garces to a deal.”

This story was written by This Base for Rent and not subject to approval by anyone, anywhere!

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Cain is able to lift Giants past Padres

The National League’s top pitcher since mid-August doesn’t wear an Astros uniform or a Cardinals uniform. Don’t bother looking on the East Coast because he’s not there.

San Francisco’s Matt Cain won his third consecutive start and fourth straight decision Friday evening by tossing seven innings of one-hit ball extending his streak to 21 2/3 innings without an earned run as he and three relievers combined on a two-hitter in a 4-0 victory over NL West rivals San Diego in the first of a three-game series Friday night at AT&T Park.

San Francisco (71-70) snapped San Diego’s five-game winning streak and moved to within 2 ½ games of the NL wild card-leading Padres (73-67). Philadelphia moved within 1 ½ games of the Padres in the wild card race with a 3-2 victory over Florida.

Cain (12-9) posted his fourth straight seven-plus inning start and improved to 3-0 with a 1.63 ERA on the season against the Padres, who have lost five straight and 10 of their last 11 to the Giants this season. Cain’s ERA since August 17th is a major-league leading 0.26 allowing one earned run in his last five starts during that span.

Against the Padres, Cain, who walked three, allowed his only hit in the sixth inning as Brian Giles smacked a one-out single to right. Despite the hit, Cain, who has posted a quality start in his seven of his last eight starts,  kept the Padres hitters at bay thanks a sharp fastball that was clocked in the low to mid 90s throughout the game. Cain retired 10 of the last 11 batters he faced ending with Geoff Blum’s groundout in the seventh, his 119th  pitch.
San Francisco’s first three runs were set up thanks to Giants batters moving runners over via groundball outs. In the bottom of the first, Randy Winn snapped a 0 for 13 drought with a leadoff single. Winn stole second, moved to third on Omar Vizquel’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Shea Hillenbrand’s groundout to second for a 1-0 lead. 

In the bottom of the fourth, Durham led off with a double, moved to third on Moises Alou’s groundout to short and scored on Pedro Feliz’ single for a 2-0 Giants lead.  Feliz scored the Giants’ lone run in the seventh for a 3-0 edge. He led off with a double, moved to third on Eliezer Alfonzo’s groundout to second and scored on Vizquel’s two-out single.
Alou added the long ball element with a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth for a 4-0 Giants lead. Kevin Correia, Steve Kline and Mike Stanton combined to pitch the final two innings of one-hit ball.
San Francisco’s victory pushed them over .500 for the first time since July 26.
San Diego Jake Peavy, who pitched with an injured toe on this left foot, continued his frustrating season falling to 8-14. Peavy, who has lost his last three starts against the Giants after winning his first two this season, allowed seven hits and three runs in 6 2/3 innings of work. In his last start, Peavy struck out 14 in a complete-game win over Cincinnati on Sunday.

Sowers Shut Down?

I read a story on Cleveland.com that said Indians rookie pitcher Jeremy Sowers could be "shut down" after a couple more starts. I couldn’t believe my eyes, a general manager taking his young pitcher off the mound possibly for the season even though there’s no sign of injury.
Sowers has thrown a career-high 168 innings this year. He threw 159 1/3 in the Indians minor league system last year.  Between the minors and the majors, he’s 15-4 this season.  In his last seven starts for the Tribe, Sowers is 5-0 with a 1.69 ERA. Friday night, he bested Detroit’s Jeremy Bonderman improving to 6-3 this season with a 3.44 ERA.
"I would like to continue pitching, but I understand completely what they are doing," said Sowers, who will start Wednesday against Toronto, to Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Burt Graeff.
The story states that the Indians have not determined if Sowers will be shut down after two or three starts, or become part of a six-man rotation.
What I don’t get is that Sowers isn’t a power pitcher, he’s struck out 29 and walked 14 in 70 2/3 innings for the Indians. Yes, he’s thrown a personal best in innings this season but I think you might have to let a younger finesse pitcher go a little longer than your flamethrowers. I might be totally wrong in that assumption. If so, please advise.
Sowers’ pitch counts have decreased since his 100-plus outings in July when he posted back-to-back complete game shutouts. In three of his last starts, he hasn’t thrown more than 87 pitches.
Friday, he threw 85 pitches in six innings.  I think the Indians should put him on a strict pitch count for the rest of the season 80 to 85 and don’t let him go more than six innings. 
There’s a growing concern about the overuse of young talent resulting in injuries down the road-see Mark Prior or Kerry Wood. Francisco Liriano’s situation might force GM and team officials to rethink limiting rookie pitchers pitch counts and innings. But Prior, Wood and Liriano are power pitchers.
I expect some teams to limit future rookie starting pitchers to 5-6 innings and 80 to 85 pitches if possible for a lot longer time frame. The problem becomes though a team has to go to their bullpen a little earlier than usual. How does a team evaluate a rookie pitcher’s performance and pitch count without hurting his future and/or the team’s bullpen at the same time?
I know the Indians are 61-69 and their playoffs chances right now are quite remote; however, I don’t think shutting down Sowers entirely sends the right message. No one wants an injury but this might be a situation about preventing an injury that hasn’t happened yet.  If Sowers has any flare-ups, he’ll be shut down, no doubt, but let him pitch a little while longer, especially while he’s pitching this well.  This sends a message that the Indians are concerned about Sowers but yet still can field the most competitive team possible.