Giants Brass: Whoa, whoa, whoa. But we have Edgar Renteria.
McC: ...who is one of the worst regular players in baseball. His offense is so poor that he'd be a bad player if he were a Gold Glover, which he most certainly is not. He plays the game as if he's encased in a Jello mold, and he's trying slowly fight his way out.
Giants Brass: Well, give him a chance. He was injured.
McC: Even if that's true, even if for the past two seasons his abysmal performances were due to injury, why would you expect him to get better? He's getting older, not younger. When you re-sign Juan Uribe and start him anywhere but short, you're doubling your risk. You're saying, "Well, I hope this 34-year-old, nicked up shortstop can stop being terrible, and I hope this 30-year-old player who had his best season in five years doesn't regress." Why not minimize the risk and say, "I hope this 30-year-old player doesn't regress...but if he does, at least he won't be worse than the player he's replacing, and we'll be able to upgrade another position in the lineup."
Giants Brass: But Renteria makes $9M. He has to start.
McC: Would you like to pay $9M and have a good shortstop, or would you like to pay $9M and have an awful shortstop?
Giants Brass: Uh. The first one?
McC: Good. Because you're going to pay $9M regardless. So you might as well find a good shortstop.
Giants Brass: But Renteria makes $9M. He has to start.
Several hours later, after three PowerPoint presentations
McC: So, as you can see, the concept of "sunk costs" applies to baseball as well. You're paying Renteria $9M, yes. But that doesn't mean he's an asset to the team. So if you can find a better player who improves the team, you do it. That $9M isn't coming back, so there's no sense in paying all that money and getting a lackluster performance in exchange.
Giants Brass: Okay, smart guy, answer me this: Why wouldn't Renteria start if we pay him the kind of money that starting players usually get? Hmmm?
McC: Obviously, Barry Zito (genuflects) is the Best 5th Starter in the Game today. He’s (touching mezuzah) League Average. He is worth (fingering rosary) 200 Innings Per Season. OK, he’s overpaid. He’s owed $75 million dollars over the next three seasons. But that’s all the more reason why the Giants can’t let him go.
Voice of Sanity: Well…
McC: And this topic is not open for discussion. If you make trouble by saying anything bad -- anything bad at all against Our Barry -- I will call upon my Army to cut a fart in your general direction. I will have them taunt you a second time. Or better still, we’ll all treat you like someone who talks about "points" and "overtime" in the context of a baseball setting.
Sanity: Barry Zito…
McC: Isn’t he WONDERFUL? He’s (genuflects) the Best 5th Starter in the Game today! He’s (touching mezuzah) League Average. And he is worth (fingering rosary) 200 Innings Per Season! And he’s owed $75 million dollars over the next three seasons!
Sanity: Ryan Vogelsong…
McC: You see, you’re making trouble!!!! You’re using the R Word! You’re using the V Word! Troops! Troops! We have an "RV" troublemaker on our hands!
Sanity: But Vogelsong…
McC: I’ll bet you think that he’s a good pitcher, don’t you?
Sanity: I don’t know, but…
McC: Hey everybody! Stupid here thinks that He Whose Name Shall Not Be Mentioned is a good pitcher.
Don’t you realize that…that PITCHER you’re talking about is the beneficiary of a "Small Sample Size"? Small Sample Size! Small Sample Size! Don’t you realize that "Small Sample Sizes" are worthless?
Sanity: OK, but are you completely discounting his performance against Colorado yesterday? I mean, absolutely completely discounting it? I mean, do you think it even remotely possible that Barry Zito in 2011 could pitch 6 1/3 scoreless innings against the Colorado Rockies given an infinite number of chances in a sequence of alternative universes?
McC: That...creature...was the beneficiary of a Small Sample Size! A Small Sample Size! The V Man‘s name must be blotted out entirely! He’s creating a "5th starter controversy" where there shouldn’t be any! Barry Zito (genuflects) is the Best 5th Starter in the Game today. He’s (touching mezuzah) League Average. He is worth (fingering rosary) 200 Innings Per Season. And he’s owed $75 million dollars over the next three seasons!
And Zito is NOT EVIL! He’s NOT EVIL! I don’t care what you say! Barry Zito had NOTHING TO DO with the bombing of the World Trade Center. He had NOTHING TO DO with genocide in Darfur! Hey everybody, I’ve got some troll here who’s accusing Zito of crimes against humanity!
Sanity: Technically speaking, Zito has never actually reached 200 innings pitched while in a San Francisco Giants uniform and he couldn’t possibly reach it this year because of his having been on the DL. He missed 200 innings last year by virtue of being left off of the playoff roster.
But really, that 200 innings per year thing is a deception that you’ve fallen for. Those innings are going to be pitched by SOMEONE.
At least, conceivably, they could come from outside. If Vogelsong doesn’t pan out or doesn’t stay healthy, the Giants might find another Brad Penny from somewhere. Or they could even conceivably come from within the organization. Hinshaw could be cut loose and Loux might be added to the 40-man roster. Something. Essentially, the Giants could do the same things that other teams do at crunch time when looking for more pitching. But those 200 innings are going to be pitched by SOMEONE. Would you rather have the Giants aspire to have them be quality innings or poor innings?
McC: Er, quality innings?
Sanity: Good. Because quality innings are better than poor innings. And would you rather pay $75 million and get a good pitcher or pay $75 million and get a poor pitcher?
McC: I know! I know! Good pitcher!
Sanity: Good. Because, as three Power Point presentations would demonstrate, you’re going to pay $75 million regardless. So you might as well find a good 5th starter instead of a bad one.
McC: But Barry Zito (genuflects) is the Best 5th Starter in the Game today. He’s (touching mezuzah) League Average. He is worth (fingering rosary) 200 Innings Per Season. And he’s owed $75 million over the next three seasons! And the topic is not open for discussion!
Sanity: You realize, don’t you, that Vogelsong is out of options? So when Zito comes off the DL, the Giants would likely lose Vogelsong if they tried to demote him in order to make room for Zito? If Vogelsong continues to pitch effectively, are you suggesting that the Giants should still just cut Vogelsong loose to make room for Zito?
McC: Yes! Well, maybe! Maybe that…that person you keep talking about could go into the bullpen or something. But the thing is, we don’t need a 5th Starter Controversy. Barry Zito (genuflects) is the Best 5th Starter in the Game today. He’s (touching mezuzah) League Average. He is worth (fingering rosary) 200 Innings Per Season.
Sanity: Look, none of that is true, based on his pre-DL performance this year! I mean, you could get Zito or anyone else to 200 innings if you specifically sought to do so, to the exclusion of all else, but for Zito, you'd need to start him at least 50 times! Or perhaps, you'd just start him 33 times for six innings and accept a 65-70 ERA from that slot. You see, that 200 innings benchmark is kind of meaningless for the purpose of this discussion.
McC: 13 innings pitched! Small Sample Size! Small Sample Size!
Sanity: OK. But he was league average last year on the basis of a great start and a horrible finish. Which of those two half-seasons do you think more accurately reflects Zito’s likely future performance? Doesn’t the Giants decision to leave Zito off of last year’s playoff roster suggest a likely answer?
McC: Oh, that was OK. Zito is the best FIFTH starter in the game today, but you only need FOUR starters for the post-season.
Sanity: But isn’t that saying something that the Giants DID leave Zito off of the playoff roster? Wasn’t that a window display of THEIR take on which Zito would likely show up for the post-season? Aren’t this season's 13 innings a likely continuation of last season’s second-half trend? Why would you expect Zito to get any better? He’s getting older; he’s losing velocity; he’s losing control and becoming more ineffective!
There’s no reason to suppose that anything is going to happen to turn that around. Obviously, the Giants have been studying Zito through a microscope for four years and haven’t found any real answers!
McC: This is utterly moronic! I’m the guy with the award-winning blog and you’re just a troll! Only a troll could possibly think that there's any room for improvement in the 5th starter position.
Barry Zito (genuflects) is the Best 5th Starter in the Game today. He’s (touching mezuzah) League Average. He is worth (fingering rosary) 200 Innings Per Season. And he’s owed $75 million over the next 3 seasons! (bows towards Mecca) No organization can afford to just walk away from that sort of money, so I can’t believe we’re having this stupid discussion!
Sanity: But the concept of "sunken costs" applies to baseball, as well. The money isn’t coming back, so there’s no sense in paying it and getting a lackluster performance in exchange.
And mantras, such as the ones that you are chanting, can be done to death. Last season, the Giants, astoundingly enough, chose the playoff roster purely on the basis of merit. They might have instead chanted "Veteran Experience! Veteran Experience! Save Bumgarner's arm! Save Bumgarner's arm!" and included Zito on the roster at Bumgarner’s expense. Would you have liked that?
McC: OK! OK! I’m going to make a magnanimous concession here. Maybe a little 5th starter controversy isn’t such a bad thing. Maybe we can even consider keeping that…that…V Creature around for as long as he’s pitching effectively. Though a TRUE Giants fan would have rooted for that V Creature to have pitched ineffectively in order to leave a clear pathway for (genuflects) the eventual return of Barry Zito.
Sanity: (sighs) OK. Then assuming that Vogelsong continues to pitch effectively, whom on the Giants roster would you demote -- and possibly lose to the waiver wire altogether -- in order to make room for Zito?
McC: No, stupid! That’s not the question. The question is, whom would you demote and possibly risk losing in order to make room for…for Vogelsong? Barry Zito (genuflects) is untouchable! He's the Best 5th Starter in the Game today. He’s (touching mezuzah) League Average. He is worth (fingering rosary) 200 Innings Per Season. And he’s owed $75 million dollars over the next three seasons.