Saturday, December 02, 2006

Barry Zito Loves NY, But Does NY Love Him Back?

It has generally been assumed that Oakland A's lefty Barry Zito will decline arbitration now that it has been offered, opting to find his maximum value on the open market. But would Zito change his mind, now that insiders see Mets owner Omar Minaya going to Orlando to trade for a White Sox pitcher rather than pay the price for Zito or any other free agent?

Zito prefers to go to the National League, where the hitting is lighter and where Shea Stadium is spacious enough to reduce Zito's propensity to give up the big fly. After all, Zito gave up 27 homers last year, one every five innings when he pitched against the Rangers at Arlington, Texas. He'll likely get bombed at Wrigley Field as well.

The deep fences and generous foul territory at Oakland Colliseum, on the other hand, have helped Zito chalk up a Cy Young Award, 3.55 career ERA mark and a 102-63 record. That's a success rate Zito will never enjoy again if he signs with the Rangers or Cubs.

Sure the Rangers and Cubs will offer big, big money, but the arbitrator's results would hardly be chopped liver. If Zito settled for arbitration he could stay close to home in spacious Oakland, where some say he best fits. It's not a likely scenario, but then again perameters are rapidly morphing for the 30-year-old ace.

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