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I’ve been sidetracked by the draft for a few days, but it is time now to get back to thinking about baseball. Here are a few of the things that caught my attention as I was getting caught back up:”

  • Barry Zito makes $126 million and now he is heading to the bullpen. That’s ugly but not surprising – he’s o-6 after all. Still, this is a massive fall from grace for a guy who was supposed to be one of the elite arms in the league. A lot of bettors are probably pretty happy to see him go, too – he’s been an underdog in every game he has played, and at some juicy prices, so a lot of people have probably been sucked in by thinking that his next game could finally be the one in which he turns it around. When he’s in the bullpen that temptation is eliminated.
  • James Shields had a ridiculously good game against the Red Sox – a two hit complete game shutout with seven strikeouts and just one walk. It was no fluke, though – this guy can pitch. He was 12-8 last year for a team that only won 66 games, and his strikeout to walk ratio was better than 5-to-1. This year he has allowed just 11 runs in six games, and he hasn’t allowed more than three in a game. His ERA dropped a full point from his first year in 2006 to last year, and it has dropped more than 1.3 points so far this year. Best yet he’s only 26, so the best is still ahead of him.
  • Since we’re on the topic of pitchers, I owe a mea culpa to Chien Ming Wang. At the start of last year I was positive that this guy was a half-weight masquerading as a top-of-the rotation starter. He’d gone 19-6 the previous year, but I had no faith in his ability to recreate it. He didn’t – he went 19-7 instead. Now he has started out 5-0 on a team that is otherwise struggling, He has had one disastrous start – eight earned runs in four innings against the Red Sox – but in that one his team managed to bail him out and win 15-9 to leave him without a loss. I still can’t say that I’m in love with his stuff or that he’s a guy I like to watch pitch, but I really have no choice but to admit that this guy is an elite starter. Now if only the Yankees had another one to join him.
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