Last month we learned that Barry Zito was making a comeback after sitting out all of 2014 and now John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the 36-year-old left-hander will throw for interested teams in January.
Here’s the latest on Zito, via agent Scott Boras:
He’s been working hard on his mechanics. He doesn’t cup the ball anymore. His drive to home plate is a little bit different than it was. He has some new mechanical evolutions he’s been working on to really advance what he thinks will be effective.
Zito was terrible for the Giants in 2013, posting a 5.74 ERA and .314 opponents’ batting average on the way to losing his spot in the rotation. He was a decent back-of-the-rotation starter in 2012, but Zito has basically been a below-average starting pitcher since signing with San Francisco in 2007.
He’ll surely have to take a minor-league contract and prove himself, assuming he impresses enough next month to get some offers.
Scott Boras just made his annual tour of the lobby here at the Winter Meetings. It’s all rather silly, of course. He’s the biggest agent in the game and dozens of reporters crowd around him and hang on his every word. So you’d think that, at some point, he’d just hold an actual press conference where everyone could hear him and people could ask questions in an orderly fashion.
That doesn’t happen, of course. Probably because Major League Baseball doesn’t want to give him some sort of official imprimatur. Probably because he rather likes people crowding around him like he’s a rock star. So, every year, we get Scott Boras strutting around the place, the scrum in hot pursuit.
But maybe the silliest stuff about it is not the overall vibe, but the actual things he says. Things like this, which he said about an hour ago:
That’s not quite to the level of his infamous Oliver Perez/Sandy Koufax comp, but it’s up there.
Barry Zito didn’t pitch in 2014, taking a year off to, as Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com describes it, “travel, surf, and enjoy life away from baseball.”
And now he’s making a comeback.
Zito’s agent, Scott Boras, told reporters at the general managers meetings yesterday that the former Cy Young winner has been working out with his eye on returning in 2015 at age 36.
He called me on the phone in August and said, “I’m ready to go. I want to pitch.” He set up the plan and did all of that.
Here’s the problem, though: Zito wasn’t any good when he stepped away.
He went 5-11 with a 5.74 ERA and .318 opponents’ batting average in 133 innings for the Giants in 2013, losing his spot in the rotation. He was decent the year before, but combined during his final three seasons Zito had a 4.97 ERA in 371 innings. And really, he wasn’t much better than a back-of-the-rotation at any point during his seven-year (and $126 million) stay in San Francisco.
Back in February Barry Zito listed his Tuscan-style Marin County pleasure dome for rent. Now he’s listing his modern Hollywood Hills home for sale. It goes for a cool $4.2 million. It has its own pitchers mound. I figure he doesn’t need it anymore now that he’s out walking the earth like Caine in “Kung Fu” or whatever it is he’s doing.
Bonus: it sorta looks like the kind of house that a bad guy/kingpin in a 1980s action crime movie would live in. Like, say, a knockoff “Lethal Weapon.” At the end, Zito — who is wearing a silk robe and holding an Uzi maybe — dies when the hero cop who plays by his own rules puts his head through the fish tank glass.
Anyway, nice house.
I was unemployed for a month and a half a few years back. It wasn’t voluntary. I just got laid off and it took me a bit longer than I thought it would to find another job. Thanks, financial crisis of 2008. Anyway, I called it a sabbatical because that sounded fancier than saying I was unemployed, so let’s say the same for Barry Zito. Who, as Jon Heyman reports, has the benefit of some extra free time right now:
Barry Zito plans to take some time off, but he isn’t retiring. Curiously, almost nothing was written about Zito this winter, and the reason for that is there’s no evidence he actively sought a job. Just the same, Zito isn’t ready to call it quits, either, according to people in the know.
I wonder if he’ll do what I did during my sabbatical: read the entirety of “Y: The Last Man” and have coffee with neighborhood moms while I killed time as the kids were in preschool. It was actually pretty fun, if you set aside all of the crippling anxiety about not being able to feed your family if you can’t find a job eventually. It ended up working out for me. It’ll end up working out for Zito too.