Barry Zito: The Bernie Madoff of Pitchers

Justin SiscoContributor IJune 17, 2009

SEATTLE  - MAY 24:  Pitcher Barry Zito #75 of the San Francisco Giants gives up the ball to manager Bruce Bochy #15 during the game against the Seattle Mariners on May 24, 2009 at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Honestly, I have to be careful when I write about Barry Zito because I tend to lose any rational thoughts, and my heart rate races faster than Chris Farley's at a birthday party for cocaine.

Every fifth day, I usually find myself saying, "D*mn it Zito, that's it, we're through." But, like an abused dog, I just keep coming back for another swift kick in the ribs.

It's not that Zito is a bad guy.

By all accounts, he seems like a very nice person who happened to be born with a wicked curve ball and a crazy dad.

At one point, he was seemingly the left-handed Greg Maddux, keeping hitters off-balance with a mixture of speeds and pinpoint accuracy.

Hell, he went 23-5 with a 2.75 ERA in 2002, when the A's went on to win the AL West.

He pitched well after that season, typically pitching at least 200 innings and coming in with a sub-four ERA.

But, it didn't take an experienced general manager to realize that Zito's skills had diminished and that he was no longer the ace of the staff as he had been during that magical 2002 season in Oakland.

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His fastball couldn't break one of the Olsen twins’ ribs four years ago.

Now, I fear that it won't even reach the mound if a strong wind is blowing.

After last night's debacle, where Zito managed to give up seven runs on 10 hits in just three 2/3 innings, I finally hit my breaking point.

The Giants are hanging tough in the National League without any semblance of a true threat at the plate. They are getting unreal efforts from Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum on almost every start, and their bullpen has been acceptable.

But, every fifth day, our poor man's Jack Johnson heads out to the bump to get shellacked. Maybe his hair products are weighing him down, or maybe his conscience is eating at him for stealing the Giants' money.

It could even be as unbelievable as Alyssa Milano's character from Charmed, casting a spell on Barry after they broke up.

If he were hurt like Jason Schmidt or Carl Pavano after they signed huge contracts, I would still be upset, but at least there would be a reason for his failures.

Barry Zito is just bad.

Plain and simple.

In his two plus seasons with the Giants, he is a combined 24-37 with a 4.81 ERA.

That's not exactly sterling.

Compare that with Matt Cain, who is 24-31, not great, but is rocking a 3.48 ERA.

Obviously, the Giants' offense has wreaked havoc over the last three years with Cain's winning percentage. He is giving up almost a run and a half a game less than Zito over that time period.

Add, in fact, Zito has rarely made it out of the fifth inning over that span and his $126 million contract is a soul crushing blow.

The thing that really grinds my gears is that the Giants are on the hook for this guy for another four years, and, at the end of the worst free agent signing in baseball history, could get railed with a player option for $18 million in 2014 that would include a $7 million buyout.


He is currently making six times more than last year's CY Young award winner, Tim Lincecum and potential CY Young award winner this year in Matt Cain, combined.


Four more years of a guy who can't throw hard enough to hurt himself.

Four more years of a guy costing the Giants a legitimate shot at a big time bat.

Four more years of a guy smiling while stealing, just like Bernie Madoff.

Four more years of me wanting to jump off the Bay Bridge every time Zito hangs a curveball.

In a direct way, fans always pay for management's mistakes both financially and emotionally. I really like the direction the Giants are headed except every fifth day when they make a U-turn.

If Barry Zito had any pride or a conscience, he would restructure his deal. It HAS to be humiliating taking the mound as the 10th highest paid player in baseball when you aren't even the 10th best player on your team.

Of course, the Giants are to blame for offering a contract that was so ludicrous that people were even balking at it the day it happened.

Unfortunately, there is no end in sight and Zito seems unfazed by his lack of success.

I hope my heart can take it.

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