A’s Orbiting Planet Zito?


Let’s get one thing straight, I am in no way advocating a reunion between the Oakland Athletics and Barry Zito. Furthermore, I might add that anyone who’s watched Zito pitch with the exception of a two-week period last October would agree that the southpaw has very little to offer. At least, on the surface.

Still, the fact remains that the once lovable lefty has cleared waivers and it’s safe to assume that the San Francisco Giants would show very little resistance relinquishing control of Zito. With approximately $5.14 MM remaining on the final season of his seven-year 126 mm contract, Zito would be an expensive addition to the back end of any team’s bullpen. In some respects, he makes more sense as a starter given his track record, as marred as it is currently.

At first glance, the 35-year old’s 2013 season looks much like a final swan song to an overall decent career that hit the skids when he left the sunny side of the bay after 2006. His 5.30 ERA certainly pays him no favors, nor does his 4.63 FIP, or 1.69 WHIP. A deeper look also reveals that Zito’s had his share of bad luck as his .350 BABIP will attest to. K/BB ratio? I have that too, and it’s nothing that will surprise you. In fact, the 5.6 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 are nearly the exact same numbers he posted last season during a markedly better year. It seems the real kicker, revolves around Zito’s lack of success on the road.

To be completely honest, Zito’s complete decimation outside of AT&T Park makes Tommy Milone‘s road troubles look like child’s play. In 43 2/3 nightmare innings, he’s been absolutely destroyed to the tune of a 9.07 ERA. During this time he’s allowed 81 hits most of the “loud” variety, which have absolutely torpedoed his numbers and exiled him to the bullpen. In contrast, Zito’s 3.01 ERA and 1.34 WHIP in 71 2/3 innings at home have many begging to ask if the real Zito would please reveal himself.

Now there’s been no credible link to any true Athletics interest in Zito. Sure the Rise Guys on 95.7 were throwing around such a scenario during Wednesday’s morning commute, and KNBR’s Ray Woodson apparently revealed on-air that he “heard some chatter” regarding a potential trade. However, I don’t put much stock into any of the above opinions. After all, the thirst for ratings often dominates common sense on the airwaves around these parts.

Nevertheless with Bartolo Colon suddenly pitching his age, and an inescapable feeling that Brett Anderson is going to return as full fledged reliever, I can’t help but wonder. Would the Athletics consider acquiring Zito by the August 31st postseason roster deadline? Salary aside, if Billy Beane could nab Zito for next to nothing and plant him in the bullpen as a rotation insurance policy, would he do it? Could he do it?

Baseball is strange like that. Seven years after he left, the possibility of a return for Barry Zito suddenly feels very real.