Apparently the Giants finally have something to thank Barry Zito for. Although the seven-year, $126 million contract they gave Zito following the 2006 season was pretty much a bust, they can now officially thank Zito for the team now having starting pitcher Tim Hudson.
Hudson and Zito were teammates and friends as part of the Oakland Athletics’ “The Big Three” in the early 2000’s along with Mark Mulder
Zito was a three-time All-Star with the Athletics. He won the Cy Young Award in 2002, the same year of the Athletics’ now famous 20-game win streak during the regular season. He won 23 games that season and posted an ERA of 2.75, a career low if you do not count the 2000 season in which he only started 14 games.
Upon signing with San Francisco Zito’s ERA only rose as his velocity dropped. Zito was 108-63 with the Athletics while posting a 3.55 ERA. With the Giants Zito went 63-80 with a 4.62 ERA.
Zito never posted an ERA under 4.00 again and was pitching so poorly that he was left off the postseason roster in 2010. He bounced back a bit in the 2012 World Series but that was the only tiny bright spot in his career with the Giants.
After the Giants declined to pick up Zito’s option for 2014 and Hudson had an opportunity to sign with the Giants, Hudson called his old friend for some advice, according to Ryan Hood at MLB.com.
When the two spoke, Zito said of the conversation that he,
“got the impression that he [Hudson] was not sold on it yet, that he was just feeling it out. He obviously knew a lot from playing against them.”
Seemingly worried about the fans and the organization, Zito reassured Hudson that Giants fans had changed telling MLB.com,
“I didn’t have to sell him on the Bay Area because he’d been there a while, but Giants fans, I told him they had kind of changed from when we were in Oakland. Giants fans had a little more of a rep of just coming out for baseball games and not really having a die-hard presence and creating an intimidating atmosphere. It was very light. I told him 2010 changed everything.”
It’s true, coming from someone who also lives in the Bay Area, that Giants fans seem to have realized that they actually have had a baseball team since 1958, once the Giants finally won a World Series in 2010.
Whether or not the fans actually watch baseball now, instead of going to Build-A-Bear (actually that has now been turned into a social media cafe that according to one fan “ isn’t close enough to see the action on the field“), bowlingor touring and eating at the organic garden where they can “watch the game through knotholes in the center-field wall,” still remains to be seen.
However they do seem to come out in droves and have figured out how to dress up like different animals (pandas, giraffes, horses), which shows a certain level of dedication. At least it is more dedication than pre-2010 according to Zito.
Either way, apparently the Zito’s $126 million contract was worth something in the end. It helped the Giants sign Tim Hudson who has pitched well for San Francisco despite being 39 years old and nearing the end of a very successful career. He even managed to make quite a comeback after suffering a terrible ankle injury in 2013.
Hudson was a three-time All-Star with the Athletics and the Atlanta Braves. He made his fourth All-Star team as a Giant in 2014, finishing the season with a 3.57 ERA.
So far in the postseason Hudson has a 3.29 ERA in two starts and now he is headed to the World Series, thanks to some advice from Barry Zito.