Barry Zito’s stuff is so bad, every pitch is a potential embarrassment. The great curveball he threw in Oakland, it’s gone. Because even if it works sometimes, if it’s a pitch that only works out every three starts it’s not a pitch he can count on. And not coincidentally, the Giants clearly can’t count on Zito for the rest of this season.
Why would the Giants keep Zito on the postseason roster (if there’s even a need for a postseason roster)? To save face? To avoid headlines about their $126M man on the bench? To avoid foisting the same embarrassment via the press that Zito faces every time he throws a fastball that catches too much of the plate?
He walked the pitcher to lead off an inning. Forget the run support, forget Pablo Sandoval’s awful throw after making that diving stab. He walked the pitcher, just an hour or so after walking two runs in.
The problem with Zito is that when he’s good, he’s just merely good. And when he’s bad, he’s the most pathetic starting pitcher in the Major Leagues who doesn’t bounce back and forth between the Majors and Triple-A. Speaking of Triple-A, here’s five things the Giants should do to fix this Zitastrophic free agent signing.
1. As mentioned earlier, keep Zito off the playoff roster if the suckage he displayed today didn’t send the Giants into a permanent tailspin.
2. Make it clear going into next season that he is the fifth starter, and treat him accordingly. Skip his starts when the chance is there. Sign a veteran “long reliever” who’ll push Zito during Spring Training. Slide Kevin Pucetas, Henry Sosa or Eric Hacker into his spot in the rotation if Zito has two bad starts in a row.
3. Consider trading Zito while eating a lot of the remaining dollars on his contract. While it might cost $30-$40 million, Zito obviously needs a change of scenery. He doesn’t like the fans, the fans don’t like him. Bruce Bochy has no faith in him. It just isn’t working.
But it could work somewhere else. Zito never gets hurt, and while you won’t catch anyone wanting to spend $18M a year on what he provides, there are a few teams who’d pay $3M or $4M a year for a lefty starter who can at least be counted on to pitch 190 innings, if nothing else. Even though Zito has a no-trade clause, I’m guessing if you asked him today he’d be willing to waive it. Those boos he heard today are probably still ringing in his head.
4. Create an award that’s the opposite of the Willie Mac Award (The Armando Benitez Award?) for the team’s least inspiring player. Then at least Zito would have the chance to get a nice plaque and Giants fans would be able to get some comic relief from all this.
5. Make him a knuckleballer.