The Boston Red Sox have a connection with the Giants other than Pablo Sandoval. Four pitchers that are following similar paths.
The Red Sox and San Francisco Giants have a connection and it is not a pleasant one. Boston rented Pablo Sandoval for a few forgettable seasons and then saw him return to the Giants and do what he should have done in Boston. The other connection is two parallels to pitchers.
The first is David Price and Barry Zito – both are left-handers, both were Cy Young Award winners, both signed enormous contracts, both signed for seven years, and both have underperformed based on ROI (Return On Investment).
Zito’s contract was “light” compared to Price’s with “just” a $126 Million commitment and for a return that was 63-80 and a 4.41 ERA. Acceptable for a low rotation pitcher, but not for a centerpiece. And just like Sandoval returned home so did Zito floating back across the bay to the A’s where Zito did nothing.
The ROI for Price has been more positive than that of Zito, but a lot is missing. The history of conflagration with the media and fans is well documented, but the key is performance. A surly player can be tolerated if the “numbers” can excuse behaviors and Price has a mixed bag of numbers.
In four seasons Price had either led the staff or disappointed the ardent population of Red Sox Nation. Injuries have taken their toll, but so have opposition bats as Price has had to make adjustments for a loss of speed. That said Price is nowhere the disappointment of Zito but from my perspective, this is not a seven-year and $217 Million pitcher.
Next up is Chris Sale and Tim Lincecum. Lincecum won consecutive CYA’s and was as dominant for four seasons as any pitcher in baseball. Then it happened and it happened quickly for the pitcher known as “The Freak.”
Lincecum signed a two-year deal for the 2014-15 seasons for $35 Million and that was to avoid free agency. A risk for the Giants with Lincecum coming off a disappointing 10-14 season with a 4.37 ERA. The risk became clear and Lincecum went 19-13 in two seasons and was gone. A brief stay with the Angels (2-6, 916) and that was it.
Both Lincecum and Sale have thin frames and a delivery that is questioned as possible arm surgery in waiting. With both the offseason they experienced was a possible warning. For Lincecum, it was the beginning of a slide to oblivion and that could (hopefully not) happen with Sale.
In the instance of Sale, the Red Sox commitment is far greater in dollars with a new contract for five years and $145 Million ready to kick in. That was the risk the Red Sox took with a preëmptive strike in signing Sale, but that is now up in the air regarding results. Will Sale fade quickly like Lincecum or underperform like Zito?
The Red Sox have been forced to buy pitching either on the free-agent market or via trades since internal development has been nil for years. And when that fails it has a nasty reverberation elsewhere as the Red Sox are now in a fiscal bind with expenses on three starters – Sale, Price, and Nathan Eovaldi that is equal to the payroll of the Rays.