The most expensive long reliever ever…

Ok, I cannot help myself.  I have to pile on with everyone else who is guffawing at [tag]Barry Zito[/tag]’s recent demotion to the bullpen by the Giants.  I make no secret of this, I loathe the [tag]SF Giants[/tag].  There are worse teams in [tag]Major League Baseball[/tag], but I’d wager there are no worse run teams that have the sort of resources at their disposal that the Giants have.  Case in point – Zito.

The Giants are now, at least temporarily, paying $18 million a year for a mediocre long reliever.  They’re saying they’ve moved Zito to the bullpen so that he can work out his mechanics and return to the rotation.  Thing is, there’s nothing wrong with Zito’s mechanics.  His dramatic 12 to 6 curve ball just isn’t being called for strikes by the umps, and without that curve Zito is left to rely on a feeble fastball, a bush-league slider and a pretty impressive change-up to make it through an opponent’s line-up.  If you’re a big league hitter and you see that the umps aren’t going to give him the curve (traditionally Zito’s out pitch) for a strike then you can sit fastball and tattoo it when he serves it up for you.

The irony here is that [tag]Tim Lincecum[/tag], is currently sporting one of the best ERA’s in the National League, has won 4 games (that’s doubly impressive when you consider the tepid hitters, and mediocre defensive players the Giants are fielding this season) and is doing it all for a little more than 1/10th what Zito is getting paid.

The Giants signed Zito because their front office apparently does not understand baseball fans at all.  They signed Zito to try to balance out the impending loss in star power they knew they were going to suffer when Barry Bonds left for free agency.  The trouble with that theory of running a baseball team is that while Barry Bonds may have had sufficient star power and draw to distract fans from the poor performance of the team, Zito was never going to be close to that, and what really matters to any sports fan isn’t the names printed on the jerseys, it’s winning.

We invest our egos in our favorite teams.  When they lose we feel like losers.  When they win we take credit and carry that around as if we’d done more than just scarf down hot dogs and drink beer.  The Giants have two very talented home grown pitchers, [tag]Matt Cain[/tag] and the aforementioned Lincecum.  It stands to reason that there’s other talent in the Giants organization, or at the very least that their scouts know where to find young, inexpensive talent.  This is one of the biggest reasons I hate the Giants.  They consistently rely on overpriced, under-performing veterans to flesh out their roster.  That’s a questionable move with hitters/fielders.  It’s brain-dead with pitchers.  It’s likely that Zito’s curve doesn’t cross the plate anymore because he no longer has the strength or flexibility to throw it with the proper bite.  Mechanical tweaking isn’t going to fix that.

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