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Zito: Top Pitcher in the Game?

We here in Athletics Nation know that Barry Zito isn't the best pitcher in the game. Hell, he wasn't the best pitcher on the A's staff. So why are the Giants paying him like he's Johan Santana...or Mike Hampton and Kevin Brown?

Yes, I know he has all the lofty durability stats. Since 2001, he has 208 starts, most in the majors. He ranks third in innings pitched since, fourth in wins with 95 and 11th in ERA at 3.61. But here are his AL ranks for bases on balls allowed from 2001-2006 courtesy of Baseball Reference (great, great site).

2001- Fifth in walks allowed
2002- Fifth in walks allowed
2003- Second in walks allowed
2004- Seventh in walks allowed
2005- Second in walks allowed
2006- Second in walks allowed

Now I'm not saying that he won't be a good pitcher for the Giants, his stats will likely be great next year as he moves to a National League that doesn't have a single lineup that resembles the Yankees or Red Sox or even the Tigers. He'll also be pitching in a park that can be very favorable to pitchers.

But the bottom line is that the Giants are paying Zito like he's the best pitcher in the game whereas I question whether or not they would've been a better team with Jason Schmidt instead of Zito. I know market forces are beyond control and Scott Boras can work voodoo magic on any GM in the game that forces them to empty their owners' pockets, but when Alex Rodriguez signed that mammoth contract with Texas, he was the best player in the game. He's continued to produce throughout the life of that contract as one of the best despite the enormous pressure of New York.

I just wanted to say this because I'm tired of hearing media say that this was a great move for the Giants because it was all about PR. Zito is going to be paid like the best pitcher in the game for the next few seasons.

Holy hell, how much does this make Johan Santana worth? A 10-year, $220 million deal?

Any way, I'm done talking about Zito for now (or at least today). I'm just tired of reading most columnists and media types saying it was a great signing for the Giants. I'm just not convinced that the Giants have made a move for the better in switching out Schmidt for Zito(outside of the huge durability factor).

Oh, I also have four free tickets to the upcoming FanFest event as I can't attend. I'm willing to mail it to you for free. Just comment that you want them below and I'll get in contact with you. My one request is that you take a few photos and write a diary about your experience. But you were going to do that any way, weren't you?