Monday, May 3, 2010
Reader Submission: Zito is back
This is a submission by Julian Perez, who is an avid Dodgerhater reader and commenter. As this blog is for fans, by a fan, I thought it fit to open up the floor from time to time to a reader with something to say. Anyone is welcome to submit something for consideration if they are interested in doing so. Email me here.
Well ladies and gentlemen, it may still be a little too early to say it but I am too excited to wait… Barry Zito is back! The former All-Star and Cy Young starter that was signed after the 2006 season to the largest pitching contract in Major League history (at the time) has been sub-par since signing with the Giants, to put it nicely. It is certainly a difficult thing to live down a record of 31-43 in your first 3 seasons when you are making $20+ million a season.
I will be the first to admit that I have taken plenty of shots at Zito throughout the last few years. Many will also argue that he had a good season last year and that many of his losses were due to lack of run support. The fact of the matter is that so did all of the starters in 2009, and yet Tim Lincecum won a Cy Young with only 15 wins while Matt Cain posted a 2.89 ERA and made the first All-Star game of his career. That being said, I think most fans are in agreement that Zito has sucked since crossing the Bay Bridge over to San Francisco.
Zito is a well-known head case and many thought that the transition of teams, cities, and leagues as well as the aforementioned contract would take its toll on Zito. Throw in the fact that Dave Righetti decided it would be better to change Zito’s windup, and it quickly seemed that the Giants had signed a guy who would soon be the most expensive #5 starter ever! To make matters worse, with a 7 year/$126 million contract and a no-trade clause he is basically impossible to trade.
This season, something has clicked though. His fastball has gained a few miles per hour and his curveball is looking the sharpest it has in his career. This is in addition to the fact that he is not walking guys while attacking the zone. This in turn is allowing him to go further into games. Zito is finally looking like the guy we stole away from the Yankees, Mets, and Red Sox that fateful off-season a few years back. You can just see it in the guy's face when he is on the mound. He used to look stressed every time he went between the chalk lines, but this year he's having fun... and it shows. He took a page out of Lincecum’s book and is enjoying the fact that he is making more money then God to throw a baseball around.
He also has a swagger about him that any elite pitcher must have. This first became evident during spring training this year when the first pitch he threw to Milwaukee Brewers slugger Price Fielder was a fastball to the ribs as retaliation from last season. Last year I doubt Zito would have done that. If he had, he probably would have tipped his cap and apologized in hopes Fielder wouldn’t eat him. I don’t think I have seen Zito smile once this year.
If Zito can keep up this hot start he's thrown together in 2010, the Giants will have possibly one of the best starting rotations ever and will be a scary team to face in September. Also worth mentioning is that Zito has a postseason career record of 4-3 with an ERA of 3.25. Again, it is probably too early to talk about, but one can only drool over the possibility of Lincecum, Cain, and Zito as a 3 man playoff rotation with Jonathan Sanchez in the bullpen.
The Giants have finally unearthed the guy they expected to get 4 years ago. An All-Star "top of the rotation" guy who can lead his team deep into the playoffs.
I will state it once more for all of you non-believers… Barry’s back!!!