Friday, December 27, 2013

San Francisco Giants Sign Zito

On Dec. 27, 2006, that the San Francisco Giants signed free agent starting pitcher Barry Zito to a seven-year deal worth $126 million.  Zito’s contract made him the highest paid pitcher in Major League history at the time of the signing.

Barry Zito had a terrific season in 2002 when he had a 23-5 record with a 2.75 ERA in 35 starts and went on to win the American League Cy Young as a member of the Oakland Athletics.  However, his next four seasons in Oakland were up and down, as he compiled a rather mediocre 55-46 record.  The Giants felt that a change of scenery would help resurrect his career, so they signed him to be the ace of their pitching staff.  Unfortunately for San Francisco, Zito is not the pitcher he once was as he put together an ugly 40-57 record during his first four years as a Giant.

Things had gotten so bad for Zito that the Giants left him off their post-season roster last year.  The move turned out to be the right decision, as they went on to defeat the Texas Rangers to capture the World Series Championship.

2011 proved to be another disastrous year for Zito as injuries left him sidelined for most of the season after he started off the season with a 3-4 record in nine starts, putting up a 5.87 ERA.
However, Zito would begin to turn around in the eyes of Giants’ fans and baseball fans alike in 2012 as the Giants made their run for their second World Series Championship in three years.
The 2012 season would see Zito post his best record since leaving the Oakland Athletics in 2006. He would post a 15-8 record in 32 regular season starts with a 4.15 ERA in 184 and one-third innings. During the season Zito earned his 150th major league win, becoming the 246th pitcher in Major League Baseball history to hit the mark.
Zito also pitched amazing down the final stretch of the season, as he did not lose a single start after Aug. 2, while the Giants won his final 14 starts of the season.
But it wasn’t his regular season outings that put him the graciousness of San Francisco baseball fans. It was his post-season performances.
Back on the post-season roster was a big thing for Zito, and he proved it against the Cincinnati Reds in the National League Divisional Series. Zito wasn’t up to par though in his start against Cincinnati as he was pulled after in the third inning after allowing two runs. However, the Giants rebounded in the series and would move on to the National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
In the Championship Series against St. Louis Zito would shine. Pitching arguably his best game ever, Zito pitched seven and two-third shutout innings in Game 5 against the Cardinals, leading the Giants to a major victory. The victory would be Zito’s first in the playoffs since 2006 as a member of the Oakland Athletics when he won a showdown against former Minnesota Twins ace Johan Santana in the American League Divisional Series.
The Giants would up beating the Cardinals and head to the World Series to face off against the Detroit Tigers, a team that beat Zito when he was on the A’s in 2006 in the American League Championship series.
Detroit would eventually go to the World Series in 2006 and lose to the Cardinals.
But it was 2012, and the Giants, with Zito were in the World Series, and who was better to pitch the first game of the World Series in San Francisco, none other than Zito. He earned the win while outpitching Detroit’s Justin Verlander, who was up for another American League CY Young award.
Zito pitched five and two-third innings of one run ball, and even helped his cause with the bat on the offense side of the game with an RBI single to help the Giants take Game 1 of the World Series 8-3.
The Giants would go on to sweep the Tigers, leaving Zito a perfect 1-0 in World Series appearances, and giving him an amazing 2-0 record with a 1.69 ERA in three post season appearances in 2012, while earning his second World Series Championship ring, but the first in which he helped the Giants in the post-season.
At the end of the season Zito was awarded the 2012 HUTCH Award, which is given annually to an active Major League Baseball player who "best exemplifies the fighting spirit and competitive desire" of Fred Hutchinson, by persevering through adversity.
The award was created in 1965 in honor of Hutchinson, the former MLB pitcher and manager, who died of lung cancer the previous year.
 2013 would be another mediocre year for Zito with the Giants. After starting the year with a 1-0 shutout win of the St. Louis Cardinals, he would end the season with just a 5-11 record, in 25 starts.

Following the end of the season, Zito took out a full-page add in the San Francisco Chronicle thanking Giants fans for their support. The Giants declined Zito's 2014 option, buying it out for $7 million.