Sure it would be funny to make some crack about Barry Zito being the most expensive long reliever in history, but that would be trite. I don’t feel like piling onto Barry even though people say it’s hard to sympathize with a man making $126 million. He signed the contract, he made the choice, he has to deal with the pressure, should we all be so unfortunate. But I think there are a few problems here that the Giants are making to magnify the situation rather than ameliorate it. All parties want Zito to be pitching well and starting every fifth day — that’s how both sides would win (though one could argue Barry’s already won). Unfortunately what the Giants are doing is only compounding the problem.
Why would you send Barry Zito to the bullpen? What good does that do? Right now this is a problem you have for nearly the next six years. The only way for him to come close to earning his money is by being in the rotation. How does sticking him in the bullpen help you? If you don’t think he’s any good, then he’s going to suck regardless of when you pitch him — 1st inning or 6th inning. Are you demoting him because he’s 0-6 and you’re a results-oriented numbers person? Well maybe if he had some defense behind him (did you see how many balls they botched on Sunday or how many unearned runs he’s given up?) or some hitting, then he’d have a win or two. At 1-4, he’s not pitching well, but he’s not an embarrassing 0-6. Are you demoting him because he can’t throw very hard and he’s getting smacked around? Did you not see his numbers in ’04 and ’06 in Oakland? Did you forget what you were buying?
If anything, San Francisco should be mad at themselves for spending $126 million on a Cy Young Award won in ’02 and the dream that that would be replicated five and six years later. Instead they have what Barry was after that point — a slightly better than .500 pitcher who doesn’t miss a start. Well now he’s become a slightly below .500 pitcher and you’re making him miss a start. What he does best — and what you paid for — is a guy who eats innings. Now you’re taking that opportunity away from him. Burying Barry in the bullpen won’t hide the problem, it will just pile onto the embarrassment that’s already been created.Google+