Monday, August 8, 2011

San Francisco Giants: 5 Reasons Barry Zito Will Not Make the Postseason Roster Again

It is borderline silly that we are talking about a baseball player that signed a seven-year, $126 million contract, and is having a hard time making a team's playoff roster, albeit for the second year in a row.

However, Barry Zito is just that man, and San Francisco knows all too well why the lefty will be hard-pressed to make the 25-man playoff roster.

It has just never clicked for Zito. Signing the richest contract in MLB history for a pitcher at that time is something that player must live up to. The 33-year-old has never even sniffed living up to that contract.

Five years into that lucrative contract, Zito's record is 43-61 and he's has had trouble staying in the Giants starting rotation.

As of late, San Francisco has even taken such measures that Zito has been placed on the DL to either make room for fellow starter Jonathan Sanchez or to just get him out of the way.

Zito's injury diagnosis: Pretendonitis.

However, as we inch closer and closer to playoff time, the lefty may have his way with the Giants' coaching staff and make his way onto the 25-man roster.

In what role?

That has yet to be decided or made up yet.

Here are five reasons why Zito should not make the Giants' playoff roster.

5. Barry Zito's 82 MPH Fastball

In baseball these days, there seems to be two types of starting pitchers. There are the power arms with fastball speeds up to 97 or 98 MPH, and then there are the crafty pitchers with strong changeups and wicked curveballs.

Allow me to introduce Barry Zito, who is his own type of pitcher.

The past few starts, the lefty has thrown fastballs that have been clocked at 82 and 83 MPH, and they do not top 85 MPH at any point.

It is a far cry from what Zito used to be. With the Oakland Athletics, his fastballs ranged from 85 to 89 MPH with that same sick bite to his patented curveball. In the Major Leagues, there is a clear difference from an 82 MPH fastball and an 88 MPH fastball.

However, the main problem with Zito's fastball is that it is as straight as can be. He simply cannot produce consistently on the mound with a fastball that does not move, being clocked at 82-85 MPH.

The Giants cannot expect that either, which is why any pitching role in the playoffs is out of the question.

4. Barry Zito Will Not Be A Starter in the Playoffs

One of the easier questions to answer about Barry Zito is will he start a game in the playoffs?

For the second year in a row, there is not a chance.

As far as the Giants are concerned there are five starting pitchers ahead of him: Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Ryan Vogelsong, Madison Bumgarner and Jonathan Sanchez.

The fact is that San Francisco will only need three, maybe four, starting pitchers if they make the playoffs.

Zito is two players out of that possibility.

Why even carry him at all?

The fair answer to that would be to either play the long-reliever role for the playoffs or be a dugout presence.

Guillermo Mota may have the long reliever-role locked up, and Mark DeRosa is probably the lead candidate for the dugout presence position.

3. Benching Barry Zito Worked Last Year

It is hard to forget about a man making $126 million, but fans did just that last season when Barry Zito was left off the 25-man playoff roster.

The Giants went on to win the World Series and Zito played a key role on the bench as an extremely highly-paid fan.

Is he the luckiest man in the world?

You can make an argument. Getting paid $126 million over seven years to root for a team from the bench during the most important time of the season would be a dream come true for me.

Although Zito seemed like a great team guy in the dugout during the 2010 World Series, there had to be a part of him that thought 'this time of the season is exactly why they paid me that amount of money, and I am on the bench.'

It may be something the lefty should get used to because he has done nothing to promote himself onto the 2011 playoff roster.

2. Benching Barry Zito Would Mean Open Spot For Brandon Crawford or Darren Ford

When we talk about players being left off the 25-man playoff roster, there must be a player in his place that should make that team better without him.

In Barry Zito's case, benching him would mean activating someone like Brandon Crawford or Darren Ford.

Crawford is a sure-handed shortstop with incredible range for how young he is, and a solid arm. The Giants could use him from the seventh inning on to solidify the defense up the middle.

Ford could help this team—by being activated for the playoffs—more than any player not currently on the roster.

Ford brings speed and speed, that is about it. However, that speed has won the Giants three games this season, and there is not a batter in that San Francisco lineup who can say they have single-handedly won more.

With Ford, the Giants become a serious threat with a man on first and no outs in the ninth inning. There would be no hesitation to plug the speedy Ford right in as a pinch-runner.

1. No Need For A Long Reliever

If the San Francisco Giants were to make the playoffs, there would not be much need for a pitcher that could eat up long innings out of the bullpen.

The Giants have arguably the second best starting rotation in the National League, and if last season's playoff run was any indication, San Francisco will not be needing a long-reliever for the postseason.

However, say they do need someone to come in and give them a few innings after a bad start by one of the starters.

There would still be two players ahead of Barry Zito.

The odds are that Jonathan Sanchez would still be on the postseason roster and looking for a way to contribute. He could be a viable option.

However, if the Giants wanted to kill two birds with one stone, putting Guillermo Mota into that role would be a knowledgeable move by Bochy.

Mota can both eat up innings if a start goes awry, and he can also be a decent reliever if need be.

Either way, finding roles for Zito during the playoffs is going to be a tough job for Bochy, which is why we may be seeing the lefty and his hefty paycheck on the bench for the second year in a row.

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