Brian Sabean has no plans to trade Barry Zito … because he can’t

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Despite making $18.5 million this season as part of a seven-year, $126 million contract Barry Zito was left off the Giants’ playoff roster for all three rounds, but general manager Brian Sabean said yesterday that he has no plans to trade Zito this offseason.

You know why? Because he can’t. In related news, I have no plans to date Mila Kunis.

Zito is still owed $18.5 million in 2011, $19 million in 2012, and $20 million in 2013, with an $18 million option or $7 million buyout in 2014. Which team is willing to assume what’s essentially a three-year, $64.5 million contract for a 33-year-old pitcher who went 1-10 with a 5.19 ERA in his final 15 starts?

Feel free to take your time thinking of answer. There isn’t one.

Of course, Sabean did his best to spin the situation:

We like Barry’s contribution as far as the innings he pitches and the starts he makes. Part of Barry’s problem is that we haven’t been able to score for him.

“As fas the innings he pitches and the starts he makes” is sort of an amazing way to put it, because it completely leaves out the run-prevention aspect of Zito’s job and basically just means “well, at least he hasn’t gotten hurt.” Zito is 40-57 with a 4.45 ERA through four seasons in San Francisco, but he has averaged 33 starts and 192 innings per year.

Make no mistake, though: Sabean would gladly trade Zito if he could. And he’d be willing to eat quite of a bit of that remaining $64.5 million contract to do so. But even if the Giants were to toss in, say, $30 million along with Zito in a trade, are there any teams out there interested in paying him $34.5 million over the next three years? Probably not, so they’ll keep paying $19 million for a good fifth starter and I’ll avoid giving Mila a call.

Astros greeted with boos in first spring training game

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The Astros and Nationals share a spring training facility, so it was only natural that they would open Grapefruit League play together. The Astros were the home team. Here’s the lineup they rolled out.

Teams typically include at least a few regulars in their spring training lineups as a courtesy to the fans, who are spending money to see big league players play baseball. This is especially the case for home games. However, the Astros have decided to roll out a lineup with a combined 323 MLB plate appearances.

There might be a reason for that. Houston was lustily booed as they took the field. This was after running a video on the scoreboard celebrating their 2019 AL championship.

That’s all with the team that beat them in the World Series (and is widely regarded as baseball’s current heroes for beating the big bad cheating Astros) in the other dugout, of course. Nationals starter Max Scherzer has not thrown at any Houston player, and the game is now in a rain delay. But it seems like the Astros decided to spare their players from some possible rough treatment, both from fans and opposing pitchers.

The same could not be said for Astros mascot Orbit, who was also booed.

One can quibble with the merits of booing a bunch of players who have barely touched the big leagues because you’re mad at Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, but sports fandom is something of an irrational business. Fans are going to want their pound of flesh, especially when they paid for the right to be in the ballpark and give the Astros a piece of their mind. Some of them even brought props! This is just how it all works, unfortunately. If you’re in an Astros uniform, you’re probably going to get booed.

Welcome to the 2020 season, Astros. It’s probably going to be like this all year.

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