It’s been said that Spring Training stats don’t matter – and while I wont go technically that far, they do certainly need to be taken with a grain of salt. Well, unless you’re Barry Zito. As much as we all want to love Zito (who really is a nice guy) and hope his new found crouching Zito, hidden curve-ball delivery will change the results of past seasons – its become beyond obvious that Zito is as Zito does.
One of the biggest contractual busts in MLB history came into the Spring with the idea that his previously used delivery was causing him to tip his pitches, so the new styled delivery would change the results. Yeah, about that – Zito, in 16.1 innings has an ERA of altitudeic levels, currently sitting at 6.61 which might not even be the ugliest of his stats. In addition to the eye-wrenching ERA, his WHIP currently sitting at 2.08 and the batting average against sitting at .379 can’t help but make the black and orange faithful shudder in fear.
Yes, granted, Zito has been “trying” new things in Spring which generally always relates to uglier stats for any pitcher, but at the same time, Zito’s also been facing some seriously sub-par offensive talent in his starts, so it all evens out when it comes to the pro’s and con’s of Spring activities.
More than just the overall skill set of Zito, who’s projected as the Giants’ fifth starter, is the health of the back half of the rotation. Ryan Vogelsong will start the season on the disabled list, and while he does appear healthy currently, you always tend to worry about back injuries as they can linger and take little to reoccur. There’s also concern for the perceived “6th starter” in Eric Surkamp who’s dealing with injuries of his own. Boy – Zack Wheeler wouldn’t sound so bad right about now…
The Giants have, at least according to them, all but shot their wad of their rainy day funds – so despite the All-World front half of the Giants rotation, the back-end currently looks patch-work, especially as it pertains to Zito.
Granted, you’re not looking for anything elite out of your fifth starter role, but you’re also hoping for more effective results than you’d get from throwing Nate Schierholtz onto the mound, which right now, might be a toss up between the two.
There are still available free agents out there that could solve the back-half of the Giants rotation, but unable to afford them and with some of the higher touted names being picky in their desired locations (Roy Oswalt), it appears the once deep pitching depth has thinned out with the loss of both Wheeler and Sanchez and now the Giants are reeling to figure out how to save face with their back-end of the rotation.
Zito, with a nice season could be more important to the Giants than they know, but other than his usual 3-4 week hot streak, expecting much more than that will only lead to disappointment – not that we’re not already disappointed in him enough.