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Barry Zito quietly bids goodbye to the San Francisco Giants

Sep 26, 2013, 11:05 AM EDT

Los Angeles Dodgers v San Francisco Giants Getty Images

It started with a splash but ended quite quietly. Barry Zito pitched and won for the Giants last night, completing his seven-year contract that, at one time, was considered the worst in baseball history.

Zito gave up two runs — one earned — on four hits over five innings in Wednesday’s win against the Dodgers. As might be expected given his track record in San Francisco, he struck out only one. Contrary to his track record, he didn’t walk a batter. He left between innings and did not therefore force fans to decide to cheer, boo or stand with truly conflicted feelings about how the past seven years have gone.

Zito finishes the year with a record of 5-11 and an ERA of 5.75. He finishes his Giants career with a record of 63-80 and an ERA of 4.62. With the exception of 2011, he basically took the ball every time Bruce Bochy gave it to him, and he rarely complained, and that has to count for something.

And with that, seven years and $126 million is in the rear-view mirror. It’ll be curious to see what the view out of the windshield holds for him, but I bet someone will take a chance on him on a make-good deal next year. He’s left-handed and durable and that’s, like, 65% of pitching value, right?

  1. hojo20 - Sep 26, 2013 at 11:19 AM

    After the TB-NYY game, they aired the SF game. I did sit and watch Zito pitch an inning to witness the end of a legendary career.

    • daveitsgood - Sep 26, 2013 at 1:18 PM

      Legendary – That word that you keep using, I do not think it means what you think it means. Although Bochy did him dirty by not letting him come out in the 6th when he was pitching pretty well and let the fans give him a sendoff. Regardless that Zito didn’t live up to the contract, it wasn’t his fault Sabes and ownership got silly with the checkbook, he still went out and pitched every 5th day and went about it like a professional.

  2. apkyletexas - Sep 26, 2013 at 11:32 AM

    If you had told any Giants fan 7 years ago that Zito would basically rob the team for most of $126 million, but that the team would be guaranteed to win 2 World Series during his tenure, and that Zito himself would play a key role in one of the World Series titles, I’ll bet the fans would take that deal every day of the week.

    I can’t think of a fan base that wouldn’t take that deal.

    • stex52 - Sep 26, 2013 at 12:00 PM

      No kidding. Where do we sign up?

      • kevinbnyc - Sep 26, 2013 at 3:00 PM

        This off-season! Sign Barry to the NEW worst contract in baseball history, and you’ll have a shot at glory.

    • APBA Guy - Sep 26, 2013 at 12:00 PM

      I agree. It’s about winning, and the Giants fans around here (and I am surrounded by them) rarely mention Zito when they talk about the team. “It was a big deal, it didn’t really work out. But we got two championships.” That about sums up what I hear.

      On the other side of the Bay the talk is a little different. Barry was part of the Big Three, an integral part of the A’s winning ways early in the 2000’s (and not mentioned in the Moneyball movie). There is a great deal more fondness for Barry in the East Bay. He was probably the last big name A’s player who finished his 6 years with the A’s, rather than be traded for prospects. Beane learned a lot from keeping Barry, Tejada and Giambi for their full terms. He learned not to do that. But 2006, Barry’s last in Oakland, was a winning year for the A’s (he was 16-10, 3.83, essentially a 2012 Tommy Milone) and this completed a run of 6 seasons with double-digit wins and over 200 IP. Now 35, Craig’s right about what probably awaits Zito in free agency: a one-year deal with incentives.

      • NatsLady - Sep 26, 2013 at 12:17 PM

        Dan Haren. Been there.

    • American of African Descent - Sep 26, 2013 at 1:52 PM

      Of course any fan base takes a deal that gives them two World Series titles within a seven year period.

      Fans care about titles — it’s a whole lot less important who’s playing and what they’re being paid.

    • largebill - Sep 26, 2013 at 4:10 PM

      The 2 rings were first thing I thought of reading this post. Sure, anyway you look at it the contract was bad. However, the team got some value out of the player. Even slightly below average performance from a pitcher has significant value if the manager knows he will always be able to take the ball and pitch every five days.

    • BalladOfKyleBlanks - Sep 26, 2013 at 6:31 PM

      Very true. And not to discredit your comment, but I think his role in that series is overstated a bit. He pitched a helluva game, and the Giants and their fans should consider themselves very fortunate (as I would if it were my team), but his performance/role seems to be taking on this almost irrationally exalted and legendary status, whereas I think any viable major league lefty starter could have had a game like that. My point is, this just happened to be Zito, and he has this narrative of being so terrible and overpaid that that game took on some sort of redemptive quality, and all that feels a little too tidy and artificial. The Giants are one of the luckiest baseball teams of the past few decades, especially in 2010 with their glaring dearth of offensive talent and roster depth.

  3. kingscourt25 - Sep 26, 2013 at 12:04 PM

    Barry Zito has Anaheim Angels written all over him

  4. mattlukethompson - Sep 26, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    Meet the Mets, meet the Mets, step right up and rob the Mets

  5. tlow97 - Sep 26, 2013 at 2:34 PM

    Aging, soft-throwing previously well-compensated pitcher? He’d be the Twins ace.

  6. sisqsage - Sep 26, 2013 at 3:20 PM

    Don’t forget, the Mets were negotiating hot and heavy with Boras to sign Zito. They wanted less years, a wise move, and Sabean stepped up and bit. The dumbest thing about the contract was Sabean never insisted on an out clause that would have given them the freedom to cut their losses and move on like after year 4 when it was obvious Zito was never going to live up to the contract performance wise. Zito deserves credit for his clubhouse demeanor and admirable off the field charities. But purely baseball speaking, we all know Bumgarner deserved that start last night. He’s the only starter who came through since April and deserved a chance to get over 200 Ks in a season, which is a big deal; 199 sounds like he got robbed. It was a pure Bochy-Sabean move. Let’s be nice and honor Zito, and then not let him face a batter or two in the sixth for a nice sendoff in front of the fans. Why start him then? Senseless, which sums up Bochy and Sabean in 2013, a very disappointing year where so many failed to live up to expectations. Throw in Flannery too. I think he broke a record for getting guys thrown out by at least 15 feet at home this summer. The sad thing is the coaches and front office people know better and they still made one bad move after another.

    • APBA Guy - Sep 26, 2013 at 3:54 PM

      We had this debate years ago in Shysterball. I said it then and I’ll say it now: the Zito contract was McGowan’s move, not Sabean’s. It’s a big reason why McGowan is no longer the managing partner. That and some Mitchell report assertions.

  7. sisqsage - Sep 26, 2013 at 4:39 PM

    No doubt MacGowan really wanted to make a splash and foolishly signed off on it, like he did with Barry Bonds’ first huge contract in SF (which Bonds then made look like a relative bargain with several MVP seasons), but it’s the GM’s job along with assistants at the time like Coletti and now Evans, to do the back and forth with agents, and provide crucial due diligence. So, Sabean had nothing to do with Zito’s albatross of a contract? Somebody needed to step up and protect the organization (out clause) vs. being stuck with a white elephant for seven long years, which really hurt the organization’s ability to acquire other more deserving FA’s well before the 2010 title, and even this season (LF killed them this year thanks to going cheap with the Blanco/Torres platoon that was a failure). Sabean’s the baseball/business guy, a former scout trained by the Yankees and should have known better. Don’t forget: Macgowan was a rich fan who made his money in groceries before saving the Giants from going to Florida.

    • APBA Guy - Sep 26, 2013 at 5:40 PM

      You forget that Boras was Zito’s agent. He only does out clauses when it suits his clients (like JD Drew). McGowan drove this deal. In his mind Zito was going to be the face of the franchise, despite his declining numbers. When the owner is desperate for a deal and the player’s agent is Boras, that’s a bad combination for the team.

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