The Barry Zito Effect

As most fans know, Barry Zito has been with the Giants since 2007, when Brian Sabean signed him to an albatross of a contract. Going into his fifth year with the team, many still wonder, “Really? $126 million over seven years? How could Sabean have given a contract like that?”

Well, the thing is, it happened. There are a few scenarios about how this season could play out for him.

  1. He falters halfway into the season and gets sent to the bullpen, but once Jeff Suppan makes a few starts, Zito is moved back into the rotation. (This is also me being the most optimistic I can be about Suppan, but I digress.)
  2. Zito could pitch like a #3 starter at least and get some suitors. The right trade proposal could come along — one that at least takes half his remaining contract, though that is dreaming big — and boom. The Zito contract nightmare is over.

There is a problem with scenario #2, however. If he starts pitching as well as a #3 starter, would you want to get rid of him? It’s better than his current #5 starter quality and if he could get that 12-to-6 curveball working as it once was, he would be a valuable asset to the rotation.

The contract is bad, yes. It’s the kind of contract you wish your team’s GM would never make. But the Giants are stuck with this, as well as Aaron Rowand’s contract. Unlike the situation with Rowand, Zito isn’t expendable. Rowand is, with Andres Torres being a replacement in centerfield and Cody Ross and Pat Burrell in the corners, with Aubrey Huff and Nate Shierholtz also being able to play those positions. The front office can easily get rid of Rowand’s contract given a good trade proposal, because it’s easy to find someone to play his position with the surplus of outfielders the Giants have. With Zito, it’s not as easy to find a starting pitcher within the organization. There are no other alternatives currently, as there’s no prospect in AAA that appears to be ready for the majors, and Jeff Suppan isn’t exactly a great choice for a replacement in the rotation. It’s either Zito pitches well enough to get traded or lose a man in the rotation when you there aren’t that many options to take his place.

What this is is a case of a man whose contract is so horrible, that you want him off the team, but at the same time, you can’t risk not having him on the team. Complex, isn’t it?


2 thoughts on “The Barry Zito Effect

  1. Very balanced perspective, Mac. I understand the desire from Giants fans as a whole to move him (and moreso his salary) out. No doubt he has been no where near the Zito A’s fans knew, but, like you mentioned, he could very well become a valuable part of the Giants rotation, providing he actually gets more results this year. I think it would be more than beneficial to SF to have a him as their 5th starter. People forget that he is a work horse in that he can eat up 200 innings, he’s rarely (if ever) hurt and when his stuff is ON (and his head is in the game) he can really show flashes of brilliance. Now, I am partial lol, so, its harder for me to want to move him, but if (and of course, there are tons of IF’s) everything works out for him, imagine how much more dominating that SF rotation could be.

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