Barry Zito

Eric Chavez has shoulder surgery to avoid watching the A’s

Stop me if you’ve heard this before.

Eric Chavez is out for the year.

His back seems okay, this time it’s a balky shoulder that will shelve Chavez for the rest of the season, one that gets worse for the Oakland Athletics by the day.

The A’s have lost 16 of their last 17 games, and Chavez has only played in 23 contests this year. He missed 72 games last year, 25 in 2006 and 37 in 2004, and it looks as if 2005 will be the last time Chavez will play 160 games.

Billy Beane has done a tremendous job deconstructing the Athletics this year, but he can’t get rid of the most expensive mistake of his tenure, an injury-riddled third baseman who’s making $11.5 million this year.

Chavez is signed through 2010 with a club option for 2011 (I’m guessing the club will decline). I know comparing the A’s and the Giants in terms of fan interest is like putting the Clippers up against the Lakers, but can you imagine the fan reaction if Brian Sabean had signed Chavez to the same contract in 2004?

Say what you will about Barry Zito, but at least he stays healthy enough to give himself a chance to earn his bi-monthly overpayments. Chavez’s contract is about $60 million less than Zito’s over the course of the deal, but if he keeps playing less than 100 games a year, Chavez’s contract may prove to be just as big an albatross for Beane as Zito’s is to Sabean and the rest of the Giants front office.

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