Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News says it’s time to cut $126-million man Barry Zito loose:
So there’s a test coming up for new
owner Bill Neukom and General Manager Brian Sabean. A big one. And it
could come in a matter of days (Zito is slated to start Saturday in
Pittsburgh) or, at the most, a few weeks.
They have to seriously consider
pulling Zito from the rotation when and if Randy Johnson is ready to
go, presuming Jonathan Sanchez and Ryan Sadowski hold up. And the
Giants have to very seriously consider trying to trade Zito to any
suitable team that will take some of his money (Zito has a no-trade
clause); or they have to think about releasing him in the off-season.
With Jonathan Sanchez’s no-hitter still fresh in our minds, Zito is an
easy target. He was pounded in his last start before the break,
allowing a season-high nine runs over 4 1/3 innings against the Padres.
We all know the contract is awful, arguably one of the worst ever,
but so far in 2009, Zito has compiled his best FIP as a member of the
Giants at 4.59. He’s allowed three runs or less in 10 of 18 starts this
season. The beneficiary of lowered expectations, he’s on pace for his
best FIP since 2005 as a member of the Athletics.
With the emergence of Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, and assuming that
Randy Johnson can get healthy, Zito doesn’t need to be anything more
than a fourth or fifth starter for this team. They would benefit more
by dealing Sanchez (at his highest value) for a bat. Finding a taker
for Zito will be near impossible, unless, of course, they would be
willing to take on another albatross like Vernon Wells. Even that is
Lost in the nifty base running by Dustin Pedroia that won Sunday’s game against the Rays, the Red Sox set a new major league record by striking out 11 batters in a row, per Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. Starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out the final six Rays he faced and reliever Heath Hembree struck out five Rays in a row after that. Tom Seaver had the previous consecutive strikeout streak of 10, set on April 22, 1970 against the Padres.
The Red Sox also set a team record with 23 strikeouts in total: 13 by Rodriguez, five by Hembree, one by Matt Barnes, and four by Joe Kelly. Per Abraham, that’s the most strikeouts in a 10-inning game since at least 1913 and the most in a game of any length since 2004.
For Rodriguez, Sunday marked the first double-digit strikeout game of his career. He has pitched quite well since returning to the rotation at the start of the second half. Over 13 starts, the lefty has a 3.10 ERA with a 70/23 K/BB ratio in 72 2/3 innings.
Dodgers second baseman Charlie Culberson delivered a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, clinching the NL West for the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon. What a way to celebrate Vin Scully’s final home game behind the microphone.
The Dodgers were trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning, but shortstop Corey Seager tripled in a run to tie the game. Rockies outfielder David Dahl untied the game in the top of the ninth with a two-out solo home run off of Kenley Jansen. But Seager once again rose to the occasion, blasting a game-tying solo shot in the bottom half of the ninth against Adam Ottavino. That would set the stage for Culberson in the next frame.
Culberson, a former Rockie, came into the afternoon with a .591 OPS and zero home runs in 53 plate appearances. He finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with the homer.
It’s the fourth consecutive season in which the Dodgers have won the NL West. The Cubs have clinched the best record, which means they’ll play the winner of the Wild Card game. The Dodgers will play the Nationals in the NLDS. The Nationals have a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers for home-field advantage, so both teams are still playing for something of importance in the regular season’s final week.