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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Barry Zito Gearing Up For Rebound

We have officially hit February and pitchers and catchers are starting to pack their bags as spring training reporting dates are only 2 weeks away.

One Giant that could be reporting early is the newly determined Barry Zito. The 30 year-old lefty has gone through a new workout regime this winter, in effort to break out of the funk he's been in over the previous two seasons. The Giants' top earner has been working out with the teams' closer, Brian Wilson, and has put an extra emphasis on strengthening himself this winter through the use of weight training. Zito has seen his fastball drop in velocity over each of the last two seasons (all though he did get it back up into the 87-88 mph range toward the end of the year) and whether that's attributed to strength and conditioning isn't clear, but getting stronger won't hurt anything. 2009 is a very big year for Zito. It's still early enough in his contract where he can turn things around and start changing the minds of his doubters, but he's going to have to put up some solid numbers this season if that's to happen. If he ends up struggling through year number 3 like he did in his first 2 seasons in San Francisco, chances are likely that he'd never get back to normal in a Giants uniform. Again, I don't think all of Zito's problems were attributed to conditioning, I think they were more mental than anything else, but being in top shape should give him a boost of confidence heading into the new season. I also believe that with the addition of Randy Johnson along with the rapid rise of Tim Lincecum, the spotlight will drift from Zito a bit and he can enter the season without feeling like the success of the starting staff rests directly on his shoulders. If a pumped up, determined Zito can't get back to .500 this season, I don't think he ever will (at least with this team).

As far as roster movement is concerned, I don't think Sabean is quite done putting some final touches on the team and we could see another addition, likely to the infield, in the next week or so. Joe Crede worked out in Arizona last Thursday and apparently impressed the two teams that are pursuing him the hardest, the Giants and Twins. I think Crede would make a lot of sense for this team if healthy and apparently he is now. The only question with him is how long can he stay healthy. He was an all-star last season after putting up 17 first half home runs, but his defense and batting average slipped last year. Another option for the team could be swooping up Orlando Hudson (another name who's been discussed here a few times this winter) on a 2 year-deal. Again, Hudson isn't the ideal, power hitting cleanup hitter that the Giants need, but he is an offensive catalyst (kind of like a younger Ray Durham) and a gold glove second basemen.

Still, signing Crede is much more likely of scenario for the Giants as they have options at second and adding a third basemen would seemingly complete the infield. Whether it's Crede, Hudson or someone like Ty Wigginton, I do think there will be another infielder coming on board before the start of spring.
The Giants Baseball Blog


  • At 8:36 PM, Anonymous Bleacher Bum said…

    Nice rant on Zito. But as a fan I still want better than a .500 would season for him. The addition of the unit should help though, that's a good point and I bet that Sabean might have had the same thought when he signed Randy.

  • At 9:20 PM, Blogger Trevor said…

    Well, Ty Wigginton's going to be wearing orange and black in 2009, but it's going to be for Baltimore. I think the Giants missed out on this one. Baltimore got him for 2 years and 6 million and it was the 2 years that likely caused the Giants to back away. I think Wigg will be a fine player over the next 2 years and at 3 million per year, Bochy wouldn't feel obligated in starting him every night. I just think he made a lot of sense. Too bad the Giants weren't more aggressive. This also means Joe Crede is the last option at third for them, unless they plan on dealing away some pitching.

  • At 1:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Zito needs to go like 20-5 for us to forgot his dismal 2 seasons in San Fran. And he also needs to help lead them to the playoffs. I won't consider a 12-10 season with a 4.50 era a good year for Zito. He has to pitch like a #1 or #2 starter and win a lot more than he losses. I think Randy Johnson will help too. He really was a good singing for the Giants.

  • At 4:41 PM, Blogger Trevor said…

    20-5 would be a stretch, but a 15 win season wouldn't be bad. Face it, Zito will never live up to his contract, but at least he can salvage his reputation and help the Giants if he can get back on track. I don't think he's done.


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