Tag Archive | "Cy Young Award Winner"

BarryZito3

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Reinvention of Barry Zito

Posted on 11 February 2013 by Trish Vignola

When Barry Zito signed with the Giants in 2007, it was a coup. Why shouldn’t it be? He was a Cy Young award winner with a curve ball that looked like it was falling off the dinning room table. Zito was in the prime of his career. Big named markets, including New York, courted him. Barry Zito couldn’t be beat. San Francisco had a bright future on its hands.

BarryZito3

That future became a nightmare quite quickly. In six years with the San Francisco Giants, his ERA ballooned an entire run. From 2007 to 2011, he posted a loosing record for the first time in his career. He was riddled with injuries, loss of speed and rumors that batters had begun to pick up his once unhittable curve ball. 9 years out of a Cy Young award winning season, Barry Zito was getting booed out of town.

He came to a crossroad. Reinvent him self or find room next to Mark Mulder on “Baseball Tonight”. Once a part of the “Tres Aces” of Oakland, the once promising trio (Zito, Mulder and Tim Hudson) were split up and looking at the distinct possibility that only one of them (Tim Hudson) would last a decade in the game.

Barry Zito, power curve ball pitcher, became a finesse pitcher with location. “Pitchers that stay in shape, especially left-handers, seem to have ways to reinvent themselves,” Brian Sabean (Giants General Manager) said to MLB.com. With Zito’s reversal in 2012, he finished 15-8. More miraculously, he did something he never could do in his Oakland A’s “hey-day.” He was a relevant contributor to their post season run. He added two more victories in the postseason, basically saving San Francisco and allowing them to go on the run they did. Two years earlier, he wasn’t even on the team’s postseason roster.

I am a self-proclaimed “Zito-phile” with an Oakland jersey I no longer have to wear ironically. I must admit that even I was shocked, when in October, Barry Zito actually created the possibility that the Giants might want him to stick around longer. With Zito’s contract coming to an end this year, Barry Zito and the Giants could be involved in an activity that would have been unimaginable in 2011 – retaining him. The door is now wide open, and why shouldn’t it be, for the left-hander to be kept on for an additional season, or to even negotiate an extension.

Zito and the Giants have reached the seventh and final year of his $126 million contract, which culminates this season with a $20 million salary. Zito’s performance this season will determine whether the Giants pick up an $18 million option on his services for 2014. They also can buy him out for $7 million. Even Sabean now acknowledges that keeping Zito beyond this year is within the realm of possibility.

Said Zito to MLB.com, “This is where I want to be. I would love to play baseball in San Francisco until I’m happy riding off into the sunset.” If Zito can prove that last year was not an anomaly, than he can prove a priceless member of the pitching staff. Although no longer an ace on a staff of aces, Zito can be that veteran leadership and presence to younger talent, such as Tim Lincecum. Strong veteran presence is at a premium today, ask the Blue Jays and RA Dickey. It’s worthy investment, especially when that veteran still has some pop on the ball and hasn’t turned 35 yet.

Comments (0)

The Hall Will Be A Bit Emptier This Year

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Hall Will Be A Bit Emptier This Year

Posted on 10 January 2013 by Trish Vignola

After days of speculating, today we found out that no player was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame for 2013. This has easily been the most controversial vote by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BWAA) since they were a part of the election process. Today shows us that trauma of the steroid era has clearly not healed.

BarryBonds

 

The first page in baseball’s history of the “steroid era” has been written. The owner of baseball’s most cherished records, Barry Bonds, was clearly rejected. Cy Young winner, Roger Clemens, might have skirted prison time in 2012, but today he did no better. Only Craig Biggio came close to election. He got 68.2% of the vote, falling 39 votes short.

With 569 members of the BWAA returning ballots, the Los Angeles Times reports that 427 votes would have been needed to meet the 75% standard for election. This is only the eighth time since 1936 that there has been no election class. The last was 1996. Former Detroit Tigers ace Jack Morris, in his second to last year on the ballot, was second with 67.7%. Jeff Bagwell got 59.6%, followed by Mike Piazza at 57.8% and Tim Raines at 52.2%.

This is the first time the Baseball Hall of Fame will host a ceremony with no living inductees since 1960. The July 28 ceremony will honor the three inductees of baseball’s pre-integration era. Each of these inductees had been dead for at least 74 years.

Barry Bonds holds the career and single-season home-run records. He is the only seven-time most valuable player and was only named on 36.2% of the ballots. Clemens is the only seven-time Cy Young Award winner and was named on 37.6%.

Players remain on the ballot for 15 years, provided they receive at least 5% of the vote. However, this has easily been the most baffling ballot in the Hall’s history. Links to alleged steroid use has turned a player the Times described as “a first-ballot lock into an also-ran.” Voters were divided between those who wanted to deny induction to any player with ties to performance-enhancing drugs, those who are taking a “wait and see” approach to what additional information might emerge about those players, and those who just want to vote for the most dominant players of their their era.

Mark McGwire got a paltry 16.9% of the votes. In his six previous appearances, he never received more than 23.7%. McGwire and Sammy Sosa were credited with reviving baseball in 1998, when the two players battled for the single-season home-run record. McGwire ended with 70. Sosa finished with 66. In 2001, Bonds hit 73 home runs.

Bonds leads the all-time home-run list at 762, with Sosa eighth at 609 and McGwire 10th at 583. The trio is the only men to hit more than 62 home runs in a season – Bonds did it once, McGwire twice and Sosa three times. Yet, these former historic impact players are now dim long shots for Baseball’s Valhalla.

Comments (0)

R.A. Dickey, National League Cy Young award winner, is the Toast of the Town

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

R.A. Dickey, National League Cy Young award winner, is the Toast of the Town

Posted on 19 November 2012 by Trish Vignola

R.A. Dickey will deservedly be accepting the Cy Young Award at the BBWAA’s annual awards dinner this January. The 38-year-old knuckleballer for the Mets, found a fitting epilogue to his storybook season tonight, when he was named winner of the 2012 National League Cy Young Award.

Dickey earned 27 of 32 first-place votes, finishing ahead of Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Gio Gonzalez of the Washington Nationals. The awards are voted on every year by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA).

Dickey amazed baseball fans and beyond this season, harnessing the previously unruly knuckleball to devastating ends – something even the greatest knuckballers have claimed to not be able to do. He was 20-6, becoming the Mets’ first 20-game winner since Frank Viola in 1990, and led the league in innings pitched (233 2/3), strikeouts (230), complete games (5) and shutouts (3). He finished with the lowest earned run average of his 10-year career (2.73) and was named to the All-Star team for the first time.

Regardless, the New York baseball writers were still planning to honor the Mets knuckleballer whether he won the award or not.

This week, Dickey was named the winner of the Toast of the Town Award, presented by the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America. It is an award given to the player who captivated the city over the season, and boy, did he. Let’s face it. At some point this season, R.A. Dickey was the only reason to keep watching the New York Mets.

The awards dinner will be held Saturday, Jan. 19 at the New York Hilton. It will feature the BBWAA presentation of the MVP, Cy Young, Rookie and Manager of the Year awards. It will also feature the Toast of the Town as well as eight other local honors. R.A. Dickey will not be the only local to be honored though. CC Sabathia will also be honored, as he is awarded the Joan Payson Award for community service. Current/Former/Future Yankee (who knows what the off-season will bring) Nick Swisher was named this year’s Ben Epstein/Dan Castellano Good Guy Award winner for his professionalism with the media. Jim Abbott will receive the You Can Look It Up Award to commemorate the 20th anniversary of his no-hitter. The chapter will honor the 1973 Mets on their 40th anniversary with the Willie, Mickey and the Duke Award award.

The chapter will also name two winners of its Arthur and Milton Richman “You Gotta Have Heart Award,” honoring both MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner, former Mets GM Jim Duquette and his daughter, Lindsey. Weiner was treated for a brain tumor, while Duquette donated a kidney to his own 10-year-old daughter.

Miguel Cabrera, the front-runner for AL MVP honors, was named the chapter’s Sid Mercer/Dick Young Player of the Year. Pablo Sandoval, who led the Giants to the World Series title with his three-homer Game 1 against the Tigers, won the Babe Ruth Award for postseason excellence. Chipper Jones, the long-time Mets nemesis, was voted the winner of the William Slocum-Jack Lang Long and Meritorious Service Award upon his retirement.

Comments (0)

Barry Zito …. the pitcher du jour

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Barry Zito …. the pitcher du jour

Posted on 24 October 2012 by Trish Vignola

Barry Zito, the suddenly now relevant lefty, will pitch Game 1 for the San Francisco Giants tomorrow night. Manager Bruce Bochy opted with Zito, who turned that abysmal contract and in turn his career around this year. Alex Rodriguez should take note.

Zito’s outing in a 5-0 victory on Friday night in Game 5 of the NL championship series at Busch Stadium was down right stellar. He helped San Francisco rally from a 3-1 series deficit against the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals. His fastball may have lost speed, but it was Zito’s crafty performance that allowed the Giants to return to the World Series for the second time in three years.

Left off the postseason roster for all three rounds in 2010, Zito made a conscious decision to find his way by just plain having fun again. He just started forgetting the bad starts and moving on to the next. Whatever he did to change his mental approach, it has certainly paid off. Zito is the pitcher du jour.

It doesn’t hurt he now has four pitches to baffle batters, aside from just his nasty curveball that defined his career back in the early days of the Big Three. “It’s hard to sum it up in one answer,” Zito said to the Associated Press (AP) after beating the Cardinals. “It’s just a plethora of things that I’ve done and gone through here with the Giants. But the most important thing was to come out and give everything I’ve got.”

The Giants have won Zito’s last 13 starts. Psychologically, if you have to go up against the best pitcher in baseball (Justin Verlander), you would put Zito up first as well. The 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner with Oakland went 15-8 for his most wins since joining the Giants on a $126 million, seven-year contract before the 2007 season.

“He’s been through a lot, obviously. He took the beatings,” Giants general manager Brian Sabean said in the AP of Zito. “He’s always been a stand-up guy, he’s never stopped working. In his own way he’s never stopped believing and he’s made changes. He’s made changes when he had to. I actually don’t think other than when he first came here that he was supposed to be the lead dog in the staff as it turned out the young guys were so good so fast. You look back in Oakland he was just one of the group. I don’t think the money ever bothered him.”

“In this game sometimes we forget at times what we’re all capable of, and I think those are the times when we struggle a little bit,” Zito said. Zito won his last five regular-season starts and seven decisions of the regular season since a loss Aug. 2 to the Mets.

He has tweaked his delivery, added a cut fastball and learned to make adjustments right away when things go wrong. “I think Barry really deserves most of the credit along with Dave Righetti, with them working together,” Bochy said to the AP. “Sometimes in this game you’ve got to make changes, adjustments, that’s what the game is about. And Barry’s done that. He’s a little different than what he was when he won the Cy Young. Maybe he doesn’t have that same velocity. So he’s had to I think change his style of pitching a little bit. And he’s come up with the cutter. And I think he’s pitching down more than he used to.”

Comments (0)

A-Rod is benched but is it for the right reason?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A-Rod is benched but is it for the right reason?

Posted on 17 October 2012 by Trish Vignola

Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher were benched by the Yankees for Game 3 of the American League Championship series at Detroit tonight. Welcome to the latest attempt by New York to reverse a deep hitting slump that threatens to knock New York out of the postseason.

Now with Phil Hughes being taken out of the game with a reoccurring back issue in the 4th, those bats are needed more than ever. Hughes left the game, only down by one.

For any other team, they’re still in the game. For the Yankees, it’s a well-documented problem this entire postseason.

”We talked about the dimensions here, and we talked about, fly-ball pitcher today, and we’ve had some guys struggling, so we decided to make some changes,” manager Joe Girardi said to Fox.

It was the second time Alex Rodriguez has been benched this postseason. Easily one of the greatest hitters in the history of the game, Rodriguez is hitting .130 (3 for 23) with no RBIs in the playoffs. He went 0 for 18 with 12 strikeouts against right-handers.

What’s interesting though is, why did Girardi bench Rodriguez now against Verlander? Detroit right-hander Justin Verlander, last year’s AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner, took the mound tonight against New York. He’s trying to help the Tigers to a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. He is a master. However, the one person in the Yankee lineup he doesn’t have a mastery of? Alex Rodriguez.

Rodriguez didn’t talk to reporters as we he walked onto the field for pregame warmups. He was smiling, joking and laughing with teammates as he stretched. Someone not taking his benching as well is Nick Swisher. Swisher has struggled about as much as Rodriguez. Hitting .154 (4 for 26) this postseason, Swisher is 1 for 34 with runners in scoring position in his postseason career.

Eric Chavez, 0 for 11 in the playoffs, started at third base in place of Rodriguez. He has a decent history against Verlander. Brett Gardner led off and played left field, his first start since April 17. Gardner hasn’t see live pitching since before the All-Star break. The most controversial move was moving Eduardo Nunez to shortstop. When runs are obviously at a premium, as evidenced in the 4th inning, why did Girardi put such an error-happy player in such an important position?

”We have a lot of guys in there working toward one common goal and that’s to come back and beat the Tigers and get to the World Series,” Gardner said to Fox. ”We’re all pulling for each other.” Gardner has been recovering from a right elbow injury that required surgery in July.

”Gardy, we believe, is one of the best leadoff guys in the game when he’s healthy and has had a chance to play,” general manager Brian Cashman said to Fox. ”He’s healthy now and he’s going to get a chance to play. With all respect, he can’t give us any less than we’ve gotten.”

He also wasn’t written up in today’s gossip page. Rodriguez’s benching came following a New York Post report. Citing an unidentified witness, the Post said Rodriguez flirted with two attractive female fans near the New York dugout after he was pulled late in Game 1 against Detroit.

Let me say…if this story is true, I detest it. Nonetheless, the organization pays Rodriguez a lot of money to do a specific job.

Girardi would not comment on that report and said the decision to bench A-Rod was strictly performance related. “Part of it has been his struggles against right-handers in the playoffs,” Girardi said to Fox. I question this.

He hasn’t struggled against Verlander.

Nick Swisher’s benching was richly deserved. Swisher was unable to catch Delmon Young‘s double in the 12th inning of Game 1, a 6-4 Detroit win, saying he lost the ball in the lights. Eligible for free agency, Swisher complained after Game 2 about hearing from angry home fans in the right-field corner. You know the pressure is getting to Swisher when the fans are getting on his nerves.

It’s hard to figure out the Yankees game plan. Hughes can’t help a potential lumbar problem, but why wasn’t CC Sabathia brought back on short rest? The team potentially could go 0-3. Why are you playing for tomorrow? I understand wanting Chavez’ glove in the game, but aren’t you counteracting that with Nunez? Couldn’t Rodriguez play shortstop?

”I wouldn’t say desperate. We are down 2-0 but there was an extended period of time when opportunities were given and now we’re going to give them to some other people who are legitimate major league guys who can contribute,” Cashman said. ”It’s not like we’re dropping off the face of the earth.

So, is this really the appropriate time to teach Rodriguez a lesson?

Comments (0)

Advertise Here
Advertise Here