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San Francisco Chronicle columnist says Giants might release Barry Zito before Opening Day

Mar 2, 2011, 1:13 PM EDT

zito

Bruce Jenkins is a longtime San Francisco Chronicle writer, so his column today suggesting the Giants may release Barry Zito and eat the remainder of his contract is likely to get a lot of attention, but … well, it just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Jenkins starts by writing that Zito “is walking a very fine line within the organization” and then says an unnamed source told him “his status as the No. 5 starter is definitely not safe and that the team would even consider buying out his expensive contract before Opening Day if that’s what it takes to say farewell.”

Why would the defending World Series champions suddenly feel the need to ditch Zito? According to Jenkins “there’s a healthy sense of urgency” because “they didn’t clinch a postseason berth until the final game of the 2010 season and they realize that just a single loss–something that could be avoided–could cost them a chance to repeat.”

Huh? So, because the Giants got into the playoffs by a slim margin they’re thinking about releasing a pitcher who threw 199 innings with a perfectly decent 4.15 ERA last season and is still owed $65 million through 2013?

And what kind of logic is “they realize that just a single loss–something that could be avoided–could cost them a chance to repeat”? Every team in baseball is going to lose at least 60 times this season, so referring to “a single loss” as “something that could be avoided” sure seems like nothing more than a lame attempt to stir the pot around Zito.

Jenkins goes on to cite Zito’s lack of offseason conditioning and poor spring training debut, which are certainly legitimate issues, but the notion that they’re ready to ditch him a month before Opening Day rings pretty hollow when Jenkins also writes that “the Giants will take a close look at 16-year veteran Jeff Suppan” as one of the “other options” for the fifth spot in the rotation. The same Jeff Suppan who’s 10-20 with a 5.20 ERA in the past two seasons and hasn’t had an ERA as low as Zito’s 2010 mark since 2006.

There’s no doubt that signing Zito to a seven-year, $126 million contract was a mistake and there’s little doubt that the Giants would have gotten rid of him already if not for the money he’s still owed, but Zito has a 4.09 ERA during the past two seasons and releasing him isn’t going to save any of that money. He’s among the best fifth starters in baseball and is certainly better than Suppan or the Giants’ other options. Maybe Jenkins has inside information, in which case I’ll gladly apologize for doubting him, but until then his column looks like an all-too-familiar attempt to “get people talking” by generating some false controversy.

  1. jh0088 - Mar 2, 2011 at 1:18 PM

    Oh no. Please, SF do NOT do this.

    Why? Because he’ll wind up a Yankee by the end of the day and that’s the last thing we need.

    • bigharold - Mar 2, 2011 at 1:33 PM

      You’d rather have Bartolo The Fat Chico Marx Lookalike” Colon as the 5th starter?

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Mar 2, 2011 at 1:54 PM

        As a Cub fan – heck yes.

      • jh0088 - Mar 2, 2011 at 2:33 PM

        oh please, Colon is not making that big league roster.

  2. Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Mar 2, 2011 at 1:23 PM

    “He’s among the best fifth starters in baseball …” ahahahahhaha, that’s like saying he’s the smartest kid in the slow class. He’s also the highest paid.

    • tomemos - Mar 2, 2011 at 1:46 PM

      Sure. And do you expel that kid?

      • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Mar 2, 2011 at 2:50 PM

        No. You pay that kid his unearned money.

    • jxegh - Mar 2, 2011 at 7:57 PM

      Yes, he’s the 5th starter – most teams don’t have the 5th starter in the playoff rotation. Yes, he’s the highest paid pitcher on the World Series winning San Francisco Giants. Yeah, I’d trade that any day!

  3. dodger88 - Mar 2, 2011 at 1:25 PM

    If he were a clubhouse cancer, I could understand an addition by subtraction scenario. That being said, I can’t recall anything negative being written about Zito beyond his pitching stats.

    • loungefly74 - Mar 2, 2011 at 1:58 PM

      great point. i think the guys in the clubhouse like him. the giants just have to suck it up on that dumb contract. and he is one of the best 5th starters.

  4. BC - Mar 2, 2011 at 1:31 PM

    $65 mil is a lot to pay for an adequate pitcher at best. But would you rather pay the money for adequate, or pay the money for nothing, and then have to turn around and pay someone else. They have to keep him, unless he starts out 1-9 or something.

    • uyf1950 - Mar 2, 2011 at 2:29 PM

      Adequate? Isn’t this the same guy the Giants left off their playoff roster last year. I wouldn’t even trade AJ Burnett for this guy.

      As a side note, if things go according to plan both Zito and Burnett will hit the FA market in 2014. Look out for the class of 2014.

      • tomemos - Mar 2, 2011 at 2:44 PM

        Yes, they left him off because you don’t need an adequate pitcher in your playoff rotation when you already have two stellar pitchers and two good ones. Blanton won’t be on the Phillies’ playoff roster in ’11 (barring an injury to one of The Four); does that mean he’s inadequate?

      • BC - Mar 2, 2011 at 3:04 PM

        You got it. You don’t need an adequate pitcher, nor a 5th starter in the playoffs. And, their bullpen was already completely stacked.

      • uyf1950 - Mar 2, 2011 at 3:06 PM

        tomemos – to me that means the team doesn’t feel he has anything to contribute. Getting back to Zito, when you are paying someone close to $20MM per year and you exclude them from the most important games a team will ever play, yes that tells me he and his skills are inadequate.

      • tomemos - Mar 2, 2011 at 8:03 PM

        His skills are clearly inadequate to his contract, yes. They’re not inadequate to his role in the rotation. Again: is Blanton an “adequate” pitcher? Will he be on the playoff roster this year?

        Just look at Zito’s stats and tell me if he’s adequate (though, again, not for the money he’s being paid).

  5. tomemos - Mar 2, 2011 at 1:45 PM

    Jenkins is a long-tenured moron.

    • BC - Mar 2, 2011 at 9:18 PM

      +1000

  6. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Mar 2, 2011 at 1:55 PM

    This would have to bury them payroll-wise. I’d love to see my Cubs pay off Soriano and release him if they could afford that as well, but things like this are just never going to happen. Too much money.

  7. phukyouk - Mar 2, 2011 at 1:59 PM

    sigh…. i can see the pinstripes already.

    • bigharold - Mar 2, 2011 at 2:07 PM

      You don’t think that he’s a better option than Colon?

      • phukyouk - Mar 2, 2011 at 3:12 PM

        dude… im a better option than Colon. but so is garcia and Mitre. i dont want Zito.

      • bigharold - Mar 2, 2011 at 3:30 PM

        “dude… im a better option than Colon.”

        You and me both. I’m not saying that I want Zito as the 5th starter. But, I’m pretty sure he’s a better bet than Colon. And, if he were to become available, all things considered he should be looked at if for no other reason than he’s a lefty. And, I’m not as convinced Garcia or Mitre is a better option.

      • phukyouk - Mar 2, 2011 at 3:58 PM

        i dont remember who said it a few weeks ago.. maybe is was UYF but the more we keep picking up the crap the less time the trainers have to work with the actual big league starters. lets focus on what we got for now and worry about another starter come the trade deadline.

      • bigharold - Mar 2, 2011 at 4:11 PM

        “…maybe is was UYF but the more we keep picking up the crap the less time the trainers have to work with the actual big league starters.”

        That’s just one more thing that he’s said I don’t necessarily agree with.

        I’m not advocating acquiring Zito but with his performance one would have to agree that he’s a serviceable 5th starter. He’s slightly less than a .500 pitcher and about a 4.40 era with close to 200 IP per year. How that translates into the AL East is anybodies guess but it can’t be much if any worse than Mitre, Garcia or Colon.

        If he were to get DFA’d it would cost the Yankees nothing to look at him and by virtue of him being a LHP it would be foolish for the Yankees not to.

      • uyf1950 - Mar 2, 2011 at 4:32 PM

        To phukyouk and bigharold – please don’t attribute comments to me or speculate about comments you think but are not sure I may or may not have made.
        Just so we are clear. I have no problem with the Yankees signing reclamation projects (as I like to call them). The Yankees have ample staff in Florida to evaluate the 3 pitchers (Mitre, Garcia and Colon) currently vying for the final rotation spot. I think Nova has the 4th spot locked up.
        One other comment I like Garcia for the 5th spot.

      • phukyouk - Mar 2, 2011 at 4:40 PM

        “i dont remember who said it a few weeks ago.. maybe is was UYF”

        thats the key right there UYF!

      • bigharold - Mar 2, 2011 at 4:47 PM

        “uyf1950 – Mar 2, 2011 at 4:32 PM
        To phukyouk and bigharold – please don’t attribute comments to me or speculate about comments you think but are not sure I may or may not have made.”

        Are you sure you understand how this baseball blogging thing works? Don’t get yourself in an uproar nobody is questioning your intelligence or your sanity.

      • uyf1950 - Mar 2, 2011 at 5:09 PM

        Gentlemen – phukyouk the problem that I have with your comment is and I understand phukyouk the caveat “maybe” but even with the caveat bigharold went on to respond and I quote “That’s just one more thing that he’s said I don’t necessarily agree with”. No caveat in that response, we went from a maybe to it being fact.
        So we went from your comment of really not knowing who said what to bigharold saying that was a comment he didn’t agree with me about.
        I don’t expect people even Yankee fans to agree with all or even most of my comments. But what I do expect is comments attributed to me be accurate.
        I apologize if that’s to much to ask and yes bigharold I realize no one is questioning my intelligence or sanity.

      • bigharold - Mar 2, 2011 at 5:21 PM

        Apology accepted!

      • phukyouk - Mar 2, 2011 at 8:05 PM

        ok now thats thats behind us…. lets get back tot he fact that by this time next week every useless peice of pitching crap available will be on the yankess and Cashman will make a giant dartboard out of them. then AJ gets to throw at them and whoever is left standing is our 5th starter.

      • BC - Mar 2, 2011 at 9:20 PM

        To re-quote/paraphrase myself…. if Colon were any bigger he’d have moons orbiting him. NO chance on Colon. I’d give Garcia a good looking-at though. Might be something left in the tank there.

      • phukyouk - Mar 2, 2011 at 9:25 PM

        you know for all the Colon ripping this mofo is going to throw 220+ innings this season and 2 No-no’s. just out of spite. well… either that or a eat 12 double doubles in one sitting.. i’ll be right about one of those.

  8. scatterbrian - Mar 2, 2011 at 2:10 PM

    “There’s no doubt that signing Zito to a seven-year, $126 million contract was a mistake and there’s little doubt that the Giants would have gotten rid of him already if not for the money he’s still owed…”

    This doesn’t make sense. The Giants want to get rid of him because of the money he’s owed. If the Giants had signed Zito to a more reasonable contract they wouldn’t feel a need to get rid of him. He’s probably be slightly overpaid, but they’d tolerate it because he wouldn’t be making outrageous money, and as a result he’d likely be more tradable.

    • cur68 - Mar 2, 2011 at 2:40 PM

      Yeah, scatter; that’s what I see. Inadvertently the charming Yankee fans that see him in pinstripes might be on to something. As I see it there are 2 teams in MLB that standout as pitching desperate; The Cards and The Yankees. Of the two it’s the Yankers that have the dough and are probably actively looking for pitching. I think this is a tentative move to see if its possible to dump a mammoth contract for an underperforming (in terms of wins per dollar) pitcher (not unlike how the Wells to the Angels got the Jays out of a lot money trouble). By doing it this way the Giants are trying to see if the Yankees will take a chance and take Zits off of them, I think. If not, well its not a problem to them; they keep Zits and he remains the # 5 starter. S’how I see any @ any rate.

  9. The Baseball Gods - Mar 2, 2011 at 2:11 PM

    Players who run for the money will be cast in a dark shadow by the Baseball Gods. Barry was a great pitcher in Oakland before he signed that ludicrous deal with the Devil. Vernon Wells signed the exact same deal and has withered away to baseball nothingness, just like Mr. Zito. Jayson Werth just signed the same contract and will pay for his greed as well. The Baseball Gods do not appreciate greed and will not stand for it!

    • bigharold - Mar 2, 2011 at 2:30 PM

      “Players who run for the money will be cast in a dark shadow by the Baseball Gods.”

      Only if the ‘Baseball Gods” are in fact in cahoots with the baseball owners.

      Naivety at it’s worst. I’d rather a player or two get outrageously overpaid than another owner get outrageously more wealthy. By the way, when was the last time you paid money to see an owner do anything?

      • cur68 - Mar 2, 2011 at 2:42 PM

        2 words; Mark Cuban.

      • bigharold - Mar 2, 2011 at 2:53 PM

        “2 words; Mark Cuban.”

        Three words; Is a buffoon.

      • The Baseball Gods - Mar 2, 2011 at 2:59 PM

        We do not have to pay money because We are the Baseball Gods. We see all. Greed is a sin though and shall not be taken lightly!!

      • bigharold - Mar 2, 2011 at 3:39 PM

        “We see all. Greed is a sin though and shall not be taken lightly!!”

        Then you should start with the owners, especially the ones pocketing the luxury tax/revenue sharing money and screwing their FANS by not even trying.

        There is a great big difference between signing a big contract and not being able to live up to it and being greedy. And, I’d still rather see a few ballplayers get outrageously over paid than any of the owners.

      • cur68 - Mar 2, 2011 at 3:42 PM

        bigharold; LMAO. Nailed it, man.

    • sayheykidwschamp - Mar 2, 2011 at 3:44 PM

      So what were the baseball gods doing when the Yanks signed everyone to a max contract and then went on to win the WS. What will the baseball gods say about the RedSox this year with all their fat contracts? I think the baseball gods are not paying attention all the time…or your theory is swiss cheese.

      • bigharold - Mar 2, 2011 at 3:57 PM

        Maybe they were/are vacationing? Hey, even deities need a little time off.

      • The Baseball Gods - Mar 2, 2011 at 4:23 PM

        First of all, there is no such thing as a “max contract” in baseball. Secondly, the Yankees put baseball on the map and therefore have been rewarded for that. We decided to let Mr. Steinbrenner leave the world on top, just like We did with Harry Kalas for the Phillies. A team wins a World Series, not individual players. Loyalty is a much bigger virtue that cannot be overlooked. Both Steinbrenner and Kalas were extremely loyal to their teams and fans and therefore We rewarded them before they succumbed to the greater powers of this universe.

      • The Baseball Gods - Mar 2, 2011 at 4:29 PM

        Also, Barry Zito won the World Series last season too. We did not punish the team, We punished the player.

      • sayheykidwschamp - Mar 2, 2011 at 7:26 PM

        Baseball god sounds like Selig…so no reason to pay attention I guess.

    • BC - Mar 2, 2011 at 9:25 PM

      Well, wait a minute, Manny did pretty well in Boston. (PED’s notwithstanding). Maddux did pretty well in Atlanta. Texiera and A-Rod have done pretty well in NY.
      The curse is not universal…. it only seeks out the weak and overachieving and sucks the life from them. Mmmmmmmmwwwaaaahahahhahaha……

  10. normb11 - Mar 2, 2011 at 3:25 PM

    Not a chance.

    If we assume that Zito is a $3 million a year pitcher (made up number), then the Giants will trade him to a team (for a non-prospect) that won’t mind paying Zito $3 million a year rather than eating the entire salary.

  11. marinersnate - Mar 2, 2011 at 3:32 PM

    “Every team in baseball is going to lose at least 60 times this season”

    Aaron, you know this is just not true. Just ask the Phillies fans. There is NO POSSIBLE WAY their team can lose 60 games this year.

  12. luckywi - Mar 2, 2011 at 3:39 PM

    his column looks like an all-too-familiar attempt to “get people talking” by generating some false controversy.

    You mean like calling a guy who isn’t even an opening day starter an “ace”?

    • normb11 - Mar 2, 2011 at 4:29 PM

      You have to start on opening day to be an “Ace”?

      • luckywi - Mar 2, 2011 at 4:54 PM

        Nah, I guess not. I’m sure you wouldn’t want the “ace” of your staff to get things off to a good start.

      • normb11 - Mar 2, 2011 at 5:16 PM

        Is Cliff Lee not an Ace?

      • luckywi - Mar 2, 2011 at 5:25 PM

        Ace of STAFF?

      • normb11 - Mar 2, 2011 at 5:53 PM

        “You mean like calling a guy who isn’t even an opening day starter an “ace”?”

        You didn’t say anything about ace of staff there…

        White Sox starting Mark Buehrle on opening day. Is he their Ace? Nope.

      • luckywi - Mar 2, 2011 at 6:27 PM

        Nope. It’s Peavey, right? Thsi was all started in reference to Gleeman calling Liriano the twins ace. Which he clearly isn’t. SO we can argue semantics, or you can take your poodle act back to the espresso machine and find anither heel to nip at. Your choice.

      • normb11 - Mar 3, 2011 at 9:40 AM

        I would have gladly went for another trip to the espresso machine, but now you say Liriano isn’t the Twins ace, which is just flat out wrong, so I have to call you out on that incorrect comment.

    • luckywi - Mar 3, 2011 at 10:56 AM

      Ok. This whole exchange started with me disputing Liriano’s “ace” status. It is subjective, but shouldn’t a true ace throw more than 180 innings in a full season? His other numbers are good, but I think an ace should be able to go PAST the 7th inning once in a while. Liriano seems to view 6 innings as his goal. I just don’t think the guy is mentally tough. He seems well aware of the numbers that make a quality start. And transferring those numbers to $$$’s. He freely admitted to a lack of confidence last year. Not really the sign of an ace. He may be a true ace in the future, but at this point he’s just a good starter. Or good trade bait. The people who run the team seem concerned about his health in the future. And since they see him on a day to day basis, and certainly won’t talk publicly about his health, would know morre about this than you or I.

  13. pauljanto - Mar 2, 2011 at 3:54 PM

    by all means, check out what SF fans are saying…. http://www.mccoveychronicles.com/2011/3/2/2025350/barry-zito-historys-greatest-monster#storyjump

    usually the best source for Giants info….

  14. trevorb06 - Mar 2, 2011 at 5:40 PM

    I’m sure they could easily trade him tot he Angels. They like that sort of thing.

    • cur68 - Mar 2, 2011 at 6:13 PM

      stop kicking paulee, man. He’s hurting enough.

  15. fatcatt - Mar 2, 2011 at 9:55 PM

    what an absolutely assinine coment to make. their is no team in any major sport willing to eat 65 mill over a healthy player. how unbelievably stupid..this source of his made him look stupid. you always have another source to confirm rumors such as that before you say or print it. This reporter should be fired. Because he wanted the glory he reports a false rumor. unfortunately this happens everday in the media world now. not like it used to be when there was some integrity. The media gets pissed when they dont get what they want from someone, but its ok for them to report factless stories. 20+ years or not this reporter should be fired. Moron.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Mar 3, 2011 at 11:01 AM

      Sportwriters need to garner attention, even if that means writing ridiculousness such as this. It’s a shame, and it wasn’t a bright or reasonable thing to write, but look at the attention his article got.

  16. 1kkadams - Mar 3, 2011 at 5:20 PM

    last year — who was tim seemingly always talking to when not pitching? zito — so you keep him to keep timmy happy!?!?!?!?!?

    while I agree that eating that much money on a 4.x ERA 5th in the rotation starter is not reasonable — I also agree that you don’t start people just because they have a big contract — kudos to the organization in the world series…………..and if he is out of shape etc — then ding him etc.

    yes the article was to generate buzz — congrats!!

    unless of course somebody wants him — he might be happier?

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