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The True Cost Of Barry Zito
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The True Cost Of Barry Zito

There he was, standing on the pitcher’s mound inside the friendly confines of the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum. It was 2006, his last season with the Oakland A’s and one of the last times that Barry Zito would be considered a top flight major league pitcher.

A’s general manager Billy Beane decided not to keep Zito around and instead let him hit the free agent market where the bidding would be out of the A’s range. Zito did hit the market, and he hit it hard as it was the San Francisco Giants who ponied up the dough for him to come to their “jewel by the bay” AT&T Park. How much dough you ask? Try on seven years for $126M type of dough on for size. Just for fun, let’s go ahead and break down just exactly what the Giants bought with this purchase of theirs.

I was surfing around and found these gems about Zito courtesy of baseball-reference website and for comparison sake let’s base this off of the WORST year Barry ever had in Oakland, which happened to be 2004 when he was 11-11 with a 4.48 ERA. For his best year we’ll take his Cy Young year in 2002 where he went 23-5 and had a 2.75 ERA.

His worst year in San Fran was probably 2008 where poor Barry went 10-17 with a horrendous ERA of 5.15. His best year for the Giants is a little bit harder to pin point but I’ll take a stab at it and say that the following year 2009 was his best. Here it is 10-13 and a 4.03 ERA. That’s it. His best.

He’s been his usual durable self during his Giants stint. In his first four seasons he started 33, 32, 33, and 33 games respectively from 2007-2010. In 2011 he spent some time on the disabled list and also pitched a few games in relief only starting 9 games all year. He didn’t make much of those starts either by going 3-4 with an inflated 5.87 ERA.

So it’s been five years of the Zito era in San Francisco and there are at least two more years that they are guaranteed to have to pay this man. They are stuck with the bill and possibly the player for this season and next. Did I mention that there is also a club option for the 2014 year? If they don’t want to pay him another bloated salary they can mutually part ways for a mere $7M. So that would bump his total take from 7/$126 to an even tastier 7/$133.

Let’s say for the sake of argument that Zito has a bit of resurgence and is just average over the next two seasons. He makes 30 starts in each and goes 12-12 with a 4.00 ERA. No matter which way you add it all up this is the answer I keep getting. For Zito’s seven years of service he will have made 200 starts, he will have a record of 67-85 with an ERA of around 4.53.

You can also have some fun with the numbers I’ve come up with like saying that Barry Zito will earn $630,000 per start for the team. Or that he makes $1,938,462.00 per win. Maybe you like his philanthropic side and his Strikeouts for Troops campaign which I think is a great charity, but Zito will have been paid by the Giants approximately $145,329.00 per strikeout.

Any which way that you slice it, nobody will disagree with the fact that the signing of Barry Zito was a colossal mistake by Brian Sabean and company. Seeing these numbers just puts into perspective how much Barry Zito is actually making. I’m not saying this in any way to denigrate Barry Zito, as he is presumably a nice, friendly, stand-up kind of guy. I’m sure he tries just as hard if not harder than any other player in the game, but he’s been saddled with the albatross of a contract which he never has and probably never will be able to live up to.


Street Talk

How are the Giants going to all of a sudden get tough with the budget with the guys in line being much better than what they previously paid for.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Very good points made. Also, this type of contract sets up disaster when dealing with Tim Lincecum and the like. You can be sure Lincecums agents are pointing out the fact that Timmy is far and away a better pitcher than Zito, and he should be paid far and away much more. Just look at Matt Cain's new extension.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
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