Shot of San Francisco Giants pitcher Barry Zito warming up in the outfield.
Barry Zito went 9-14 with a 4.15 ERA for San Francisco in 2010. That didn't merit a spot on the Giants' playoff roster. (Photo Credit: CC BY/Kanesue/Wikipedia)

The MLB postseason has arrived, and managers have set their 25-man postseason rosters. After much deliberation, San Francisco Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy has decided to leave pitcher Barry Zito off the Giants’ playoff roster. The National League West champions will go with a three-pitcher starting rotation of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Barry Zito — with his seven-year, $126 million contract intact — will not throw a single pitch as his team competes in its first postseason action since 2003. As much as the finances sting, the Giants made the right decision.

Giants’ playoff roster keeps former ace on the sidelines

The Giants’ playoff roster includes 11 pitchers, none of whom earned as much as Barry Zito during the 2010 season. Zito’s $18.5 million salary was the highest on the team. The 29-year-old left-hander has had trouble spotting his fastball this season, enabling hitters either hit Zito’s curve hard or watch it drop out of the strike zone. This problem flared up during Zito’s Oct. 2 start against the San Diego Padres. The National League West title was on the line. Zito forced in multiple runs during the forgettable performance with bases-loaded walks. He also took the loss, ending his season with a 9-14 record. The San Jose Mercury News called Zito’s performance “one of the least impressive efforts of his four unimpressive seasons with the team.”

Long-term guaranteed contracts are dangerous business

Long-term deals may seem like a good idea on the surface. However, the guaranteed money that comes from such contracts is astronomical. Beginning with the 2007 season, Barry Zito’s free agent contract with the San Francisco Giants called for seven years and $126 million. Zito had turned in one outstanding season before – 2002 for the Oakland Athletics, when he went 23-5 – but outside of that year, Zito’s pitching was not dominant.

A highly competitive free-agent market forced the Giants to overpay for the pitching they needed, but seven years at $126 million is money only a dominant pitcher deserves in the current market. Zito could get injured, never play again and still be set for life financially. The Giants would be out of luck and out of money.


Baseball Reference:
San Jose Mercury News:
St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Barry barking with the seals to get his mind off baseball

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