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Barry Zito: "I want to be a top-of-the-rotation guy again"

Mar 1, 2010, 4:30 PM EDT

Barry Zito 2.jpgMany people have chalked up Barry Zito’s post-gajillion dollar contract struggles to complacency, comfort, wealth or poor character.  If you believe what he told recently, however, his competitive fire still burn:

Barry Zito used to be the main man on the Giants’ starting staff.
Despite four years remaining on his seven-year, $126 million contract,
he now may be in the No. 3 slot. And he doesn’t like the view.

“I wouldn’t say I’m fine with it, I’m not,” Zito told
this past week in a candid and wide-ranging interview. “I’m competitive
by nature, and of course, I want to be the guy. It’s important. But the
way I pitched in 2008, it didn’t deem me worthy of being the No. 1
starter going into last season. But no, I’m not happy being a No. 3
starter . . . I want to be a top-of-the-rotation guy again. I want to be out there on Opening Day, getting the win. It’s important to me.”

Zito is not worth his contract and given that the guy will make $20M+ in 2013, he never will be. And with Tim Lincecum — and Matt Cain! — around he will never be the Giants’ number one guy.

But there’s every reason to think that he can be a useful part of the Giants rotation for the next several years. He’s durable, reliable and if last year is any indication, he’s showing that he can learn to pitch without his young man stuff.  Indeed, he even flashed some genuine brilliance in a couple of starts against the Rockies late in the season.  Plus, seeing he’s lefthanded, there’s every reason to think that Zito could chug along for many, many more years and wind up with well north of 200 wins.

That doesn’t make him an ace or anything, but the mere fact that Brian Sabean decided to grossly over pay him doesn’t render him a punchline.

  1. APBA Guy - Mar 1, 2010 at 4:44 PM

    I still think it was primarily McGowan’s decision to grossly overpay Zito, vs Sabean’s. McGowan left after Bonds finished, and since then, while there have been some questionable moments in GM’ing, there have been no horrors on the scale of Zito’s contract (and to a lesser extent, Rowand’s). The Giants may actually contend this year if they win enough 1-0 and 2-1 games.

  2. mgflolox - Mar 1, 2010 at 6:43 PM

    Zito gets a lot of crap over how that redonkulous contract, but it’s not his fault the Giants offered him way too many dollars and years. I would have taken it too. One thing I will say though, as someone who follows the Giants, i could see that Zito never stopped working hard, never complained about his role on the staff, never clashed with his coaches or manager. I would like to see him continue the progress he was making the second half of last season, because he’s really a good dude.

  3. CK - Mar 1, 2010 at 8:58 PM

    If Zito was capable of either honesty or shame, he would pay his salary back. He has never been worthy of it even for one afternoon.
    And if he works very hard, he might just pitch well enough to be 3rd or 4th in this rotation. If he did not have this obscene contract (thank you for being gullible Giants) he would have been released a long time ago.

  4. bt - Mar 1, 2010 at 11:58 PM

    I am a huge Zito fan, but he is in denial about this. He will never be the #1 on the Giants again. Has he forgotten that the #1 has just won two straight cy-youngs? Lincecum is a destroyer and their #2, Cain, will win multiple cy-youngs before his career is over. Lincecum and Cain could easily have 7+ cy-youngs between them when their careers are over provided that they stay healthy. Zito, just enjoy being apart of a big three again just like in Oakland, only make no mistake, you are the #3.

  5. James - Mar 2, 2010 at 2:26 AM

    Don’t get me wrong, Zito is a great guy and everything but him thinking he could over take Timmy as the number one or Matt as the number two is insane, worry about improving as the number three because if Sanchez can nail down his control you will become the number four!! Huge giants fan here and I wAs excited when we signed zito but he hasn’t lived up to the hype, hope he can turn things around and make himself atleast worth 5 mil a year

  6. Jake - Mar 2, 2010 at 3:01 AM

    Give the money back? Ha! He couldn’t even if he wanted to. The players assosiation would never let him. Maybe he can restructure so the money gets deffered even farther back but thats it. The main problem here, is the Giants Cannot keep Lincecum Cain and Zito. No matter what. Not even possible w/ the Giants payroll. So instead of pouting, the Giants need to hurry up and move either Cain or Lincecum for a bat. Fielder or crawford come to mind. Whats done is done.

  7. Looney4baseball - Mar 2, 2010 at 6:17 PM

    If the Giants cant afford to keep Lincecum, Cain and Zito then how are they going to afford Fielder or Crawford?

  8. OrangenBlackAttack - Mar 3, 2010 at 3:54 PM

    Zito was never the main man on the Giants’ starting staff, and never will be.

  9. Fan - Apr 17, 2010 at 6:27 AM

    I think Zito (and Andrew Jones) read WAY too many Internet Pitching/Hitting mechanics discussion boards. There is NO way they could fall that far and that fast any other way

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