Barry Zito

A role Barry Zito can sink his talons into

Lots of stories this week as the San Francisco Giants ready themselves for the 2012 season. Mike Fontenot was released in favor of the right-handed (and iron-gloved) Ryan Theriot. Eric Surkamp, Ryan Vogelsong, Freddy Sanchez and Dan Runzler were moved to the disabled list. The team’s installing a new “beach” down the first base line.

Also, there’s a hawk at AT&T Park named Bruce Lee that eats pigeons. However, the scope of the bird problem at AT&T is much too large for one red-tailed hawk, with hundreds of seagulls descending on the place in the late innings, bothering fans and dropping bombs everywhere from the bleachers to the infield. So what to do? According to The Bay Citizen, the Giants are contemplating many solutions:

The problem grew so serious last year — with greedy gulls sometimes diving into the stands for garlic fries and hot dogs before the games were over — that the team opened talks with a falconer in hopes that he could chase them away during games this season.

But the costs of hiring the falconer turned out to be “prohibitive,” according to Costa, who said the team might use remote-controlled aircraft disguised as falcons to scare away the gulls if Bruce Lee fails to perform.

Wait, so the Giants could solve this problem by hiring a falconer, but they can’t afford one? Sounds kind of cheap (cheep), but falconers aren’t left-handed pitchers.

Or are they?

We watched Barry Zito pitch last night, and it was as difficult an undertaking as ever. He gave up 3 runs in the first, 5 runs overall, and 10 baserunners over 3 innings. He threw fewer than half of his pitches (69) for strikes (34). Put simply, he isn’t a good pitcher, and probably won’t ever be a good pitcher ever again. The main problem is the Giants feel they have to keep using him because he’s healthy and they’re paying him over $40 million over the next two-plus years.

I have an idea!

Since the Giants are paying Zito so much money that they can’t afford a falconer, why not just train Zito to be a falconer? He has at least five off-days per week so he has the spare time, and the job could very well suit him. Can’t you just imagine Zito wearing one of those rugged gloves that goes over one’s forearm, watching one of his prized hawks circle around the stadium before coming back to rest on Zito’s arm?

“This is Carlos. He’s such a powerful spirit. I love watching him at work, because that’s what he does, you know? He doesn’t apologize for who he is, man. He sees his prey, he targets, then he makes the kill. I’d like to take that mentality with me out to the mound. We can all learn a little something from ‘Los.

“I think I see myself in these winged warriors. They soar, just looking for freedom. I think we all want to be free in our own way, so living through these creatures has really brought some peace and understanding to my life, man.”

It’s a total win-win. The Giants get a falconer for free, and Zito can finally feel like he’s earning at least part of his contract. The bird problem goes away, and Zito has stuff to do during his off-days that can keep him from further tinkering with his pitching motion (the new “hidden tiger, crouching Zito” thing he does when he’s in the stretch … let’s just say it isn’t helping). The worst-case scenario? One of Zito’s falcons lands on his non-gloved arm.

“The San Francisco Giants have placed Barry Zito on the 15-day DL (talon wounds).”

That’s a risk the Giants can probably afford to take.

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