Update: February 3, 2014 –
According to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnik, Barry Zito will be holding a showcase for teams today – Tuesday – and I felt it appropriate to update and repost this.
Barry Zito is throwing for a select group of teams Tuesday, says Scott Boras. He still wants to pitch after sitting out 2014.
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) February 2, 2015
I’ve become fascinated with the fact that it seems like everyone and their mom is trying to make a comeback in 2015 whether your 33-year-old Joe Blanton or 37-year-old Andruw Jones, it’s a rush to try to get back into the show. I’m just extremely curious as there are so many, who’s going get lucky and who’s going to choke.
I’ve written more posts on BBST and Baseball Hot Corner regarding these older players attempting to return to the big leagues. I’m compiling those articles together and there will be a link on the New & Featured Posts page in the menu.
Original Text: November 14, 2014 –
To get this out of the way, I am not a big Barry Zito fan. I was, once.
Back in the early 2000’s when he was just coming up with the A’s. He was good then. Back in 2002, Zito’s fastball averaged 87 mph and his 12-6 curveball was unhittable, if he was on and didn’t leave it hanging.
Zito’s pitching started to decline and so did my like for him way before he signed his seven-year $126 million contract with the San Francisco Giants. A move that, may not have started my dislike of Zito, but it surely cemented it.
The reason my dislike of Zito started was because, after winning the Cy Young, he was completely inconsistent. Though if you look at his stats on Baseball Reference they don’t look bad. He even made the All-Star game twice, post his Cy Young season.
Yet, that’s only really looking at his good moments. His fastball began it’s slow decline, he often stopped throwing the curve for strikes and after 2002, he never had an ERA under 3.00 again. Ever.
So while nobody (as usual) paid attention to the day to day games of the Oakland Athletics, I did of course (being an A’s fan), only Zito’s stellar games were ever showcased.
He may have made the All-Star team in 2006 but his ERA on the year was 3.83 AND you have to remember that that was the year that the A’s actually did make it past the first round of the playoffs.
Consequently they still choked, getting swept by the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS but still – he had one of the better A’s teams behind him.
Bottom line he was inconsistent. Either spectacular or terrible. I actually laughed when the Giants gave him that big old contract.
So, here we are now, years later and at 36 years old Zito is going to try to make a comeback? Bad plan, in my opinion.
Unless he’s suddenly increased his fastball’s velocity or developed another pitch to add to his five pitch repertoire then I doubt any team will need Barry Zito.
Of course, he’s yet to workout for anyone, no scouting reports, so perhaps Zito has figured something out. Either way, I don’t doubt that at least one team will bite.
The Los Angeles Angels took a chance on Mark Mulder who had struggled with a rotator cuff injury that forced him into early retirement.
Even though Mulder’s comeback was short-lived, he injured his achilles tendon during his first workout, I was rooting for him. He still had the pitching ability – it had only been hindered by injury – and he’d developed a new delivery that took the stress off of his shoulder.
Zito’s pitching ability was just declining. He’d hit his peak at age 24. That sucks, sure, but you’ve got a Cy Young Award and a World Series ring. You played for 14 seasons, take it. Be happy. Go surfing.
Most importantly, just stay out of everyone’s way. It’s being greedy. Mulder only played for seven full seasons, nine total, never won a Cy Young, so be happy with what you have Zito.
When your fastball was already pretty weak at 87 mph when you were 24 and you couldn’t consistently control your strikeout pitch by age 28, it’s’ hard to see this “comeback” working out.
The really crappy part is that my luck – he’ll end up back in the big leagues and not only that, but back with Oakland. I really hope Billy is smarter than that.