July 16, 2011; San Diego, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Barry Zito (75) pitches during the second inning against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

Still Living On Planet Zito

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Barry Zito may be playing for the San Francisco Giants right now, but to me, he’ll always look better in the A’s famous green-and-gold colors. Sadly, though, Zito’s days in Oakland are being overshadowed by both his ridiculously expensive $126 million contract and his poor performance during his Giants tenure. In fact, you could go as far as saying that he’s not the same Zito as he once was while he was in Oakland.

Still, my support for Zito remains intact. While frequently disappointing me on my fantasy team on ESPN.com, Zito remains one of my favorite baseball players of all-time. From the years 2000-2006, Zito went 102-63 with a nifty 3.55 ERA while with the Athletics. He was part of Oakland’s famous trio of pitchers called the “Big Three,” but after the 2004 season the trio was broken up.

Zito became the leader of an A’s rotation in 2005 that suddenly did not include the likes of Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder. Still, Zito found ways to win during the ’05 and ’06 seasons, compiling a 30-23 record with a 3.85 ERA over those two years. Since departing Oakland in 2006 in favor of the Giants and their $126 million offer, Zito has gone 43-61 with a 4.55 ERA.

But for some reason, I still find myself a citizen on the planet called “Zito.” Even after posting a -0.4 WAR last year with the Giants, I’m still a fan of the big left-hander. The population on planet Zito, however, is beginning to diminish. FanSided’s San Francisco Giants blog recently chronicled the problems surrounding Zito and the growing frustration that is surrounding the southpaw.

Zito was supposed to a leader for the Giants’ rotation, but sadly, he’s in a fight for the team’s fifth and final rotation spot. He’s essentially become a $126 million No.5 starter on the verge of becoming a $126 million reliever. Zito’s contract has been criticized up and down, but you really can’t blame Zito for the high price tag. Blame the Giants, who thought giving a pitcher that much money to begin with a good idea.

Zito has been tinkering with his delivery this past offseason/spring, but as AroundtheFogHorn.com notes, the results of Zito’s new methods are not entirely inspiring. In fact, they suggest that Zito’s new mechanics are failing to work and produce solid results.

Still, despite Zito’s struggles, I remain a permanent citizen of the Planet Zito, which has been dwindling in size ever since he left Oakland for that $126 million contract in 2006. Hopefully, Zito will be able to put in some quality work this season for the Giants instead of his mini hot-streak he usually experiences during the summer months of the season.

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