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Giants “have to sit down and talk about” Barry Zito’s future

Sep 7, 2011, 10:47 AM EDT

San Francisco Giants v Arizona Diamondbacks Getty Images

San Francisco still owes Barry Zito $19 million next season, $20 million in 2013, and a $7 million buyout in 2014, but when asked yesterday about the left-hander’s future role with the Giants manager Bruce Bochy replied: “We’ll have to sit down and talk about it … I can’t answer that.”

Zito has been one of the biggest free agent busts in baseball history, at no point living up to his $126 million contract, but when healthy he’s at least been a decent back-of-the-rotation starter with a 4.52 ERA in 818 innings for the Giants.

However, this season he has a 5.62 ERA in nine starts and has spent much of the year on the disabled list. And the Giants’ impressive collection of young starting pitching means they may not really need a decent back-of-the-rotation starter in 2012 and beyond.

As it stands now the Giants figure to enter next season with Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, and Ryan Vogelsong locked into the rotation, leaving Zito to potentially compete for the final spot with Eric Surkamp and Jonathan Sanchez. San Francisco has been in a contract-eating, veteran-releasing mood lately, cutting Aaron Rowand and Miguel Tejada, but so far Zito has avoided the ax.

  1. halladaysbiceps - Sep 7, 2011 at 10:50 AM

    Pitching coach, perhaps?

    • dlevalley - Sep 7, 2011 at 1:12 PM

      I got it: let’s replace the best pitching coach in the majors, and a guy who’s been with the team for over a decade, with a pitcher who can’t throw a strike to save his life, who’s strategy (even when he was good) is: ‘Throw Curve’, and who most everyone agrees is less interested in pitching than he is in ‘Being Barry Zito’?

      Maybe he can teach timmy and cainer how to play guitar. I say: “Team Life Coach”

  2. cardsfanindelaware - Sep 7, 2011 at 10:58 AM

    Zito is another reason that players need to have performance clauses written into their contracts…

    • bravesman1983 - Sep 7, 2011 at 11:22 AM

      . . . or perhaps a reason general managers should know better than to offer starting pitchers albatross contracts. Pitchers get hurt. Most of them aren’t effective for extended periods of time. That’s just how it is. Guys who manage to avoid both of those near certainties are a rare breed, and it’s damn near impossible to know they fit that description until they’ve actually done it.

      I don’t remember exactly what kind of bidding war might have surrounded Zito’s free agency, but a seven-year deal for a pitcher is 99 percent guaranteed to bite you in the ass at some point. The crazy amount of money involved only served to bump the deal from “stupid” to “f-ing ridiculous.”

    • 78mu - Sep 7, 2011 at 11:36 AM

      Good luck getting anyone to sign a contract with performance clauses. All it takes is one team to offer a contract without the performance clause. Plus I doubt the union would be silent if all the teams started putting such clauses into free agent contracts.

      • atlsp - Sep 7, 2011 at 12:08 PM

        True performance clauses are forbidden by the MLB uniform player contract, anyway.

  3. cleverbob - Sep 7, 2011 at 11:33 AM

    Their best bet is to get him framed for attempted murder. Or lying about his age. Has he ever been to the Dominican?

  4. 78mu - Sep 7, 2011 at 11:38 AM

    I am still amazed the Jim Hendry and the Cubs didn’t give Zito this contract. It would have made a good bookend to the Soriano contract with the other crappy contracts in-between.

    • mcchef - Sep 7, 2011 at 12:44 PM

      Hendry did…… only he misspelled Zito and wrote Zambrano!

  5. dreadpiratesteve - Sep 7, 2011 at 11:45 AM

    Performance clauses are a necessity in baseball. But 100% guaranteed contracts are just stupid. That’s one of the major problems with MLB contracts right there…

  6. phukyouk - Sep 7, 2011 at 12:09 PM

    “Giants “have to sit down and talk about” Barry Zito’s future”

    I picture this to be like the scene from Dispicable Me when Gru talks about how to get the moon
    Gru:“In terms of money… we have no money. So how will we get to the moon? The answer is clear: we won’t”
    Just change Money for future and moon for starting pitching

  7. yournuts - Sep 7, 2011 at 12:29 PM

    No one else offered close to the money the Giants offered Zito. Its wasn’t Barry’s fault, if someone offered me or you that money we would pitch for them too. He was never worth that kind of money, not even close to it. Barry would be a good starter for a team that can at least score some runs. The Giants can’t hit, they can’t score runs and can’t support excellent pitching let alone decent pitching. Barry has always been a team player. I wish him well. The Giants have a lot of money they just don’t want to spend any to upgrade their team.

  8. nolanwiffle - Sep 7, 2011 at 12:43 PM

    Barry Zito’s future, like that of the Phillies…….is murky.

  9. APBA Guy - Sep 7, 2011 at 2:03 PM

    People forget, obviously from the comments above, that Zito’s contract was more of the previous managing General Partner’s doing than the general manager’s. McGowan was faced with no-Bonds future and a stadium built with his money that was heavily mortgaged. So in his mind, it was a necessity to obtain a high name recognition player to help maintain AT&T’s 3 million plus attendance required to service the mortgage. Voila, Barry Zito, advised by Scott Boras.

    At the time, all of us Oakland fans were absolutely stunned. Not at the loss of Zito, that was anticipated, but at the size of the deal. Each year since his Cy Young rookie year, his numbers had declined. And in each of those declines there were underlying fundamental numbers that pointed to future declines (decreasing velocity, higher bb/9, lower k/9, etc).

    Also, his signing was in an era of bad pitcher contracts in part brought upon by scarcity: good starting pitching was relatively rare in the early post steroid era. So His contract was no worse than Zambrano’s, similar to CC’s minus the NYC uplift, etc..

    It’s just that we all KNEW he was going to stink. But they did it anyway, And now that they have a surplus of starters they can probably afford to let him go. And should, he really is more concerned with night life and lifestyle than with winning ball games.

    • 24may98 - Sep 7, 2011 at 2:45 PM

      I know for a fact from Zito’s own mouth (2 degrees of separation) that the Giants offered him much more than he wanted or expected.

  10. hcf95688 - Sep 7, 2011 at 3:20 PM

    Trade him to the A’s for the rights to San Jose.

  11. ftbramwell - Sep 7, 2011 at 3:56 PM

    This whole “conversation about the future” is laughable. How is that conversation going to go?

    Giants: Barry, we’d like you to do the right thing and walk away from $46 million. It’s for the good of the team.

    Zito: No thanks. I’ve got a guaranteed contract.

    Zito: We’ll kick you off the 40 man roster, a la that Yankees pitcher that’s commutes from Scranton to Manhattan and back again.

    Zito: If that’s how you want to use your investment

    Giants: Don’t be such a spoil sport. Think of the team!!!

    Zito: I mean, I might be willing to consider a Bobby Bonilla type buy out. . . .

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