In 2008 — at a press conference where then-Giants owner Peter Magowan discussed his impending retirement — I asked him how he felt about Barry Zito’s effectiveness in the second year of his 7-year, $126 million-dollar contract.
“The Barry Zito signing at this point is clearly a failure.”
The Zito signing marred Magowan’s tenure as managing general partner, even though he should be remembered for saving the Giants from moving to Tampa Bay in 1992 — and helping to build Pacific Bell Park in 2000.
Just like in Hollywood, it was “what have you done for me lately?” when Magowan was shown the door.
Now, it’s Barry Zito who is inching toward his Giants’ exit after the 35-year-old left handler cleared waivers with seven weeks left on his contract and about two weeks until the postseason trade deadline.
Zito can now be traded to any other MLB team for other players who have themselves cleared waivers. He remains on the Giants’ 25-man roster.
Zito is being paid $20 million in 2013 and having a disastrous 4-11 season with a 5.91 ERA. But what’s really glaring is Zito’s road record: 0-9, 9.56 ERA.
Zito pitched his way right out of the rotation and into mop-up relief in the bullpen. Once there, he poured gasoline on the fire: two innings, six hits, five earned runs, two home runs and an ERA of 22.50.
Zito would never come close to the expectations present when he signed with the Giants prior to the 2007 season.
The most promise he showed was in 2010 when he had a great first half. But Zito once again sputtered after the All-Star break and was left off the Giants’ postseason roster, clearly a blow to an athlete like Zito who was the 2002 American League Cy Young winner and a three time All-Star with the A’s.
Giants fans will always remember Zito for his comeback 2012 season when he was 15-8 with a 4.15 ERA.
But it’s what Zito did in two games of the 2012 playoffs that will forever have Giants fans thankful for his seven years wearing the Orange and Black.
Zito pitched magnificently in the postseason, particularly in must-win Game 5 at St. Louis.
He got the win, which continued the Giants’ magical ride into the Fall Classic, then he proved it was no fluke when he outpitched Justin Verlander in Game 1 of the World Series.
Zito was vindicated as he helped propel the Giants to their second World Series title in three years.
In the era of technology, the hashtag #RallyZito was arguably the most popular and attached to any tweet associated with No. 75 during the Giants postseason run.
But now, in 2013, Zito has not only regressed, but appears to be done. He’s not the first to see such a drop-off in numbers.
In 1973, the year after Roberto Clemente died in a plane crash on a rescue mission in Nicaragua, his teammate Steve Blass was just 3-9 with a 9.85 ERA.
But the season before, in 1972, Blass came off a 19-8, 2.49 campaign after cementing his name in the record books with a complete game victory in Game 7 of the 1971 World Series as the Pirates defeated the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles.
Zito unfortunately will be remembered for that monster contract and his overall 62-77 mark and 4.57 ERA. But like Blass, I’m sure many more will think back to his Game 5 win in the NLCS and his Game 1 World Series victory.