A's Orbiting Planet Zito?

Let’s get one thing straight, I am in no way advocating a reunion between the Oakland Athletics and Barry Zito. Furthermore, I might add that anyone who’s watched Zito pitch with the exception of a two-week period last October would agree that the southpaw has very little to offer. At least, on the surface.

Still, the fact remains that the once lovable lefty has cleared waivers and it’s safe to assume that the San Francisco Giants would show very little resistance relinquishing control of Zito. With approximately $5.14 MM remaining on the final season of his seven-year 126 mm contract, Zito would be an expensive addition to the back end of any team’s bullpen. In some respects, he makes more sense as a starter given his track record, as marred as it is currently.                

At first glance, the 35-year old’s 2013 season looks much like a final swan song to an overall decent career that hit the skids when he left the sunny side of the bay after 2006. His 5.30 ERA certainly pays him no favors, nor does his 4.63 FIP, or 1.69 WHIP. A deeper look also reveals that Zito’s had his share of bad luck as his .350 BABIP will attest to. K/BB ratio? I have that too, and it’s nothing that will surprise you. In fact, the 5.6 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 are nearly the exact same numbers he posted last season during a markedly better year. It seems the real kicker, revolves around Zito’s lack of success on the road.

To be completely honest, Zito’s complete decimation outside of AT&T Park makes Tommy Milone‘s road troubles look like child’s play. In 43 2/3 nightmare innings, he’s been absolutely destroyed to the tune of a 9.07 ERA. During this time he’s allowed 81 hits most of the “loud” variety, which have absolutely torpedoed his numbers and exiled him to the bullpen. In contrast, Zito’s 3.01 ERA and 1.34 WHIP in 71 2/3 innings at home have many begging to ask if the real Zito would please reveal himself.

Now there’s been no credible link to any true Athletics interest in Zito. Sure the Rise Guys on 95.7 were throwing around such a scenario during Wednesday’s morning commute, and KNBR’s Ray Woodson apparently revealed on-air that he “heard some chatter” regarding a potential trade. However, I don’t put much stock into any of the above opinions. After all, the thirst for ratings often dominates common sense on the airwaves around these parts.

Nevertheless with Bartolo Colon suddenly pitching his age, and an inescapable feeling that Brett Anderson is going to return as full fledged reliever, I can’t help but wonder. Would the Athletics consider acquiring Zito by the August 31st postseason roster deadline? Salary aside, if Billy Beane could nab Zito for next to nothing and plant him in the bullpen as a rotation insurance policy, would he do it? Could he do it?

Baseball is strange like that. Seven years after he left, the possibility of a return for Barry Zito suddenly feels very real.












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Tags: Barry Zito Oakland Athletics Trade Rumors

  • Rob Ferrier

    You just put the vomit in my mouth. I sincerely hope not.

  • Devin Pangaro

    I wonder if his old locker is still available…

  • thxII38

    Um, you failed to mention what’s owed to him for next season (at least a $7mil buyout). I hardly think Beane would jump at that, even if the Giants ate the rest of this season’s contract.

    • Devin Pangaro

      Actually there won’t be a buyout. He has an $18 MM vesting option that would only hit if he eclipses 200 innings pitched this season. Only then would he be eligible for a $7 Million buyout. He’s not going to come close to that many innings. Feel free to check baseball reference for further details.

      • http://obsessivegiantscompulsive.blogspot.com/ obsessivegiantscompulsive

        You don’t understand how that works. The 200 IP only covers vesting that $18M option, changing it into an $18M contract for 2014. Instead, the Giants could either pick up his option for $18M or buy him out of the option for $7M. That is how these buyout vesting options work. Feel free to check with any extremely knowledgeable baseball friend on this.

        You can bet on the $7M buyout, and given the number of cheaper options available, the only way Zito is returning (he has expressed interest in retiring as a Giant) is if he accepts a minor league contract with the Giants. I doubt that, I think some team will offer him a MLB contract but for a low amount.

  • http://obsessivegiantscompulsive.blogspot.com/ obsessivegiantscompulsive

    People need to be objective and look at the actual circumstances.

    Of course, Zito never came close to fulfilling the value of his contract, but he wasn’t chopped liver either.

    He was roughly an average pitcher in 4 of his 7 seasons, and one of his poor seasons was explained by his near death car accident that he survived, but probably should have been DLed, instead of skipping no time and trying to pitch, there was probably underlying injuries (I’ve been in bad car accidents and know that’s true) that most could live normal lives dealing with it, but not professional athletes putting great pressures and forces on his body, especially a pitcher.

    Until he imploded this season, he has been a perfectly fine 4/5th starter for the Giants. His salary obviously was way overpaid, but that’s sunk costs. What matters after the contract is whether he provided value in the role he was given. If he was the ace of the staff, like he probably would have been with the Mets, who nearly signed him, he would have provided little value. But for the Giants with Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner, Sanchez, Vogelsong, Zito has basically been the 4th or 5th starter, 5th since 2010 really, when healthy.

    And he has provided value, most 4/5th starters don’t give you roughly almost 200 IP with an ERA in the 4′s most years, and even in his bad years, still better than most 5th starters for any team.

    Look at any team and you will find that most have a rotating crop of guys in the 4/5 spot, and especially in the 5th spot, and the composite ERAs are usually out of this world. Let’s take a look at the 2012 A’s.

    5th starter was basically Straily, Blackley, Godfrey, Ross for 39 starts, so that covers 7-9 starts for the 4th starter as well. They had a composite 5.20 ERA in 206 IP. Zito had 4 seasons much better than the 5.20 ERA, one injured season, two which was worse than the 5.20 but was in the ballpark (high 5′s), a difference of 13 runs over the 39 starts and 206 IP. And over 39 starts, on average for the Giants, he would have gone 227 IP, saving over two games worth of stress away the bullpen.

    Heck, looking at your 2013 A’s, Milone with his 4.39 ERA is the 5th starter, that’s basically Zito in his best four years with the Giants. As I noted, each team’s #5 varies, sometimes good (4.39 ERA), most times bad (many pitchers, 5.20 or higher ERA) and bad ones tend to go less innings putting more of a burden on your bullpen. Zito was no horse, but he was no piker either, he didn’t reach 200 IP, but was regularly in the 180-190 range.

    So while he never had a chance of living up to his contract, he wasn’t useless either. Based on WAR, he has basically produced $5M per season for the Giants, or 1 WAR per season.

    • http://obsessivegiantscompulsive.blogspot.com/ obsessivegiantscompulsive

      And that’s good production out of your fifth starter.

      That said, Zito has basically been done since his first couple of starts of the season. He has been lost most of this season, going up and down but mostly down. He had some nice results early, but his peripherals, never that good in the first place, were even worse than usual.

      I would not want him even if the Giants paid for his salary and his buyout, minus the MLB minimum for remaining time. Maybe if you are desperate for a 5th starter who won’t beat up your bullpen greatly, but I have to think that there are better options out there. But you never know how desperate a team can get, look at the Mets long ago trading Kazmir or the Dodgers trading away Carlos Santana for average or worse vets, so you never know. Or even trading away Ethier for Milton Bradley, with the cruel irony that in the FIRST season after the trade, Ethier outperformed Bradley. Dumb moves are made all the time in the name of trying to make the playoffs.

  • chacha711


  • chacha711

    BET SFGM Sabean’head is kickin himself (If not I hope he is) 4 not tryin 2 unload deal/trade Zito in the off-season after his huge success w/his great World Series wins/success!!! SFG SABEAN R NOW THE NEW NYSKANKS/CASHMAN OF THE NL, LOL!!!