Oddly, Barry Zito, whose best years were now three or four years ago, has been much discussed in the media this Yule - at least the media I am following. The interesting thing is that he has become sort of a benchmark for the end of value or perhaps overvalue. This has been something of a mad off-season for pitching so far, with an influx of Japanese hurlers as well as a massive and mad overpayment for third-in-the-line-up players like Ted Lily. As a result, Mr. Zito now sits as the supposed prize pick of all the trades with many owners now wondering what all the fuss might have been. Yet he he will play somewhere:
If he is comforted by staying on the West Coast, where he has lived and pitched, he may opt for San Francisco or Seattle. If he is intrigued by the challenge of pitching in New York, he will have at least one option, and maybe two. The Mets remain very interested in Zito but are not comfortable offering him more than $75 or $80 million. The Yankees? If they trade Randy Johnson, they will have an opening on the starting staff and a payroll that can more easily absorb Zito’s salary. But whether the Yankees value Zito enough to make a real run at him remains to be seen.For November's alleged $100 million dollar plus man that is quite a comedown. But, given that right now Boston looks like an incredible dominant pitching staff - at least on paper and inevitable injuries pending - like so much in life, there is at least desire if not demand to make quality out of what is available. The Times has a good multimedia bit on Mr. Zito. See him hold a guitar.
Barry Zito right now strikes me as a greater example of the risk of hype, one downside of the marketplace where your overconfidence in value swings the final price below what it might have been. I was struck by what I think was the same principle when looking at 42 inch screen TVs yesterday. The $300 dollar one at Loblaws with the huge tube ended up winning over the $800 to $2000 ones at Future Shop. Why? Because of that exact one word - why. Why spend so much now when in a year or two the big screens will do so much better for less? Why create a streamlined military based on flawed economic theory when suffocating domination is the tried and tested way? Why spend $100 million on Zito when that much or less will run a number of minor teams from which the next great pitcher will come? What do you do when you are most likely next year's version of last year's model?