Finally, a little bit of drama out of camp.
There's two things going on here:
- Zito is under performing for any contract, let alone his big one
- The Giants are uncomfortable paying dozens of millions to a guy that can't even make their post season roster
If there is anyone in the organization that would be disgruntled with Z's performance to the extent that they want him off the team, it'd be the coaching staff: most natoably Rags and Boche. The coaching staff's job security is tied to player performance and team winning percentage, they have very little to say about the dollars and cents.
Meanwhile, the men in the front office (Sabes and Neukom) would be very unlikely to cut a guy to whom they'll still owe $60 million dollars over the next three years. After all, good or bad, you don't want to loose a guy into the free agent market and pay him so that he can perform for another team.
Still, this threat smacks of front office motivational techniques. I'd have a hard time believing that Rags or Boche would leak information like this knowing full well that Z's temperamental and their best back up plan is Jeff Suppan (I mean come on, Jeff Suppan?). This would be something that the coaching staff would bring up the third week of March, if at all before the season.
Meanwhile, a feigned sigh, shrug, and finger wag might be the only thing Brian Sabean can do to light a fire under Z. Let's be honest "a source close to the team," whoever that is, is operating as a mouthpiece for Sabes and Neukom. Nobody in the front office would piss in front of the press without the GM signing and initialing three pieces of paper to OK it.
So, here's the question: Why would they buy out Z before the start of the season? I mean, let's get real here. Barry Zito, though overpaid, is still a viable, MLB pitcher. He loses a few more than he wins and he only goes 6, but he gives your bullpen opportunies to work and he's never been hurt.
What I'd like to see from Zito is less walks. Last year, in game 161, I was by no means confident that Z would win, but I expected more moxy than what I saw. 2 runs walked in is unacceptable. I'd prefer the guy giving up a granny than 2 base on ball runs (back to back). For god's sake, show some scrote and pitch the freaking ball to the freaking hitter.
Zito is a finesse pitcher, and the National League knows how to take pitches. You'd think after 4 years, the guy would have learned how to pitch a fastball. He has to. But, he's got no confidence because keen eyes and stingier umps have taken away his curveball.
I'd have no problem if I woke up tomorrow and he was no longer on the team, but at what a price? $60 million? It's not my money, but it remains on the books. Does it mean that the Giants payroll is $20 million lighter for the next three years, so management will go out and sign Albert Pujols? Probably not, they'll probably still count it against their yearly budget until 2014.
I say keep him, let him pitch, hope for the best, and know that if you have to bullpen him, bullpen him.
(on a related note: especially in the wake of the current Matt Cain health scare)