Can someone explain how one of the best pitchers in the game, a Cy Young winner, a modern marvel, goes from signing the mother of all free agent pitcher contracts to a glorified lefty-to-lefty specialist in the bullpen?
The San Francisco Giants announced this week that Barry Zito, their seven-year, $126 million investment, was taking the mother of all demotions.
Barry Zito is now a relief pitcher.
OK, let’s put this into perspective. This is like John Mayer having to open for Toby Keith. This is like going to see Wing Commander just to see the first trailer of Star Wars: Episode I.
This is an $18 million per year guy being an afterthought in the rotation.
Look, I’m not arguing that he needs to remain a starter. The guy’s fallen more flat than an American Idol reject. I’m just surprised that it happened so quickly.
Wait… no I’m not.
Opposing hitters are batting a robust .336 against him this year, and since moving to the other side of the bay, Zito is a combined 11-19 in his one and one-sixteenth of a season.
He’s having control issues, meaning that his pitches are mysteriously finding their way to the fat part of the bat.
Batting .336 against him with an era of 7.53 lost velocity and he’s having location problems… by that, I mean his location is… right on the fat part of the bat.
Is it an issue of confidence? Does Zito have an injury that’s being protected like a government conspiracy?
Face it. He’s overrated. He never had the electric stuff of the game’s power pitchers. His velocity was that of a 40-year old, but his control was amazing.
We saw something similar with Rick Ankiel. The guy was on… then he was off just as quickly.
Now, he’s the punchline of a joke. He didn’t get demoted because it could help the team like Smoltz did after Tommy John surgery or like Kerry Wood has been now… although Wood has been a great closer.
He’s Nuke from Bull Durham.
He couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a friggin boat.