... here's a message to all those fans who have seen enough of Zito: He's walking a very fine line within the organization.That just brought out a lot of Giants fans out of the woodwork agreeing and saying we should just move on and get rid of Zito.
A source close to the team indicated Tuesday that there is "exasperation" with Zito, that his status as the No. 5 starter is "definitely not safe," and that the team would even consider buying out his expensive contract before Opening Day if that's what it takes to say farewell.
Zito has the rest of spring to either resurrect his worth to the Giants or show an opposing team that he'd be valuable in a trade, according to others familiar with the situation.
I had wrote about Giants fan's misconceptions about Zito previously when this happened, but didn't really address the issue about the insider much previously. But it really bothered me and a column on The Crazy Crabbers about fans giving Sabean and the Giants a honeymoon period got me thinking further on it. Here is what I wrote there:
I think the problem for a lot of people is that they have believed that they know better than Sabean, when they should just be quiet and let Sabean and the Giants do their stuff, they are the people who need to give the Giants a honeymoon period.
I think it's legit to complain if there is anything that don't make sense, but a lot of people complain about something when there is nothing to complain about. Like the whole Zito controversy, once that came out, they leapt upon it like starving rats on a crust of bread, and talked about dropping Zito for nothing, just to be rid of him, and would rather start someone unproven like Tanner or over the hill, like Suppan, instead.
If there was any proposed move this off-season that would jeopardize the Giants chances to repeat the greatest, it is the proposed move of releasing Zito for nothing. Not only would we not have gotten as a good a performance from the replacement, most likely, but the odds would be great that one of our competitors, particular the Dodgers, who seem to love collecting Giants castoffs (perhaps because Colletti don't trust Dodger scouts?), and the Padres, as Zito is from the San Diego area and lives in the LA area. He would sign for the minimum with them and provide pretty good performance at little cost.
So not only would those fans (and apparently a Giants insider or more) shoot themselves in the foot for the team repeating in that regard, they then boost the chances of one of our competitors at the same time, as Zito would be one of the better starters for the Padres and an improvement over in the #5 spot for the Dodgers, pushing them up while also pushing us down.
Then again, these are the same people who, at one point or another, suggested that the Giants should do one of the following or the team is doomed and/or stupid: 1) trade Lincecum for Rios, 2) trade Cain for Prince Fielder or Rios, because he's a "loser", 3) trade Dirty for Corey Hart, 4) trade Bumgarner for offense, 5) select hitter instead of Bumgarner in the draft, or 6) select Smoak instead of Posey in the draft. Any of those happen, I'm pretty sure the Giants don't win the World Series championship in 2010, yet they still think they are smarter than Sabean.That just sticks in my craw: that this was planted by an insider with the media. Most people who wrote about this agree that a Giants insider leaked this in order to motivate Zito to do better.
Release the Insiders Instead
The Giants hopefully will clean out their organization of such insiders who don't understand the Giants or baseball that well. I have gone over how stupid a move it would be to do this from a baseball standpoint. What I realize more and more in connecting the dots is that this insider is possibly in a position of authority or influence, and thus the Giants might actually be considering this stupid move.
Worse, if this was just a stunt to motivate Zito, I'll bet now that person is (or persons are) patting themselves on the back because Zito has been great ever since then. However, it was and still is the wrong move, Zito frankly has a fragile ego and he has not dealt well with the stress and expectations that the contract placed upon his shoulders. He only started figuring out how to handle it emotionally at the end of the 2008 season, after nearly two years after signing.
Adding more stress and strain is maybe a good move with a young man still learning to be a major leaguer, it could be something he builds off of, but for someone like Zito who is already on the downside of his career, this could be something that shoves him closer to his retirement. Why risk that when we still owe him so much money?
And the thing is, as I noted in the other post, Zito is actually very valuable to us right now given our rotation, he gives us a solid rotation, top to bottom, something probably 26-27 other teams would love to have, is reliable for a full season of starts plus roughly 200 IP. Ask the Twins if they would rather go with Francisco Liriano's up and down Russian Roulette with their ace starter, they might prefer Zito's constancy and reliability. Or how about the Brewers who just lost their ace Zach Greinke (he hurt himself playing pick-up basketball).
I'm just counting my blessings that Zito was not affected this time. We might not be so lucky the next time the Giants insider speaks again.
Serious Doubts About Giants Management
This is my first serious doubts about Giants management since Peter Magowan retired. I have been generally positive towards Giants management over the past few years because, whether they actually had a plan, a Giants Way, or not, I liked the direction the franchise was headed in and the pieces that were being put into place. And I do believe that they have a plan, but that we are just not privy to all the details.
At minimum, Sabean has been saying for years now (I believe since the 2002 World Series, at minimum) that baseball was undergoing one of their foundational shifts that happens about once every generation, and that the game would be moving towards pitching, fielding, and speed, and that this would be their general template for success in the future. And it appears that they have executed on that plan very well up to now, not without hiccups, but the best plans work around hiccups and handle multiple scenarios in order to maximize the chance for success. Their 2010 World Series Championship is excellent proof that their plan is succeeding at a high level.
But this leak is shaking my confidence. At minimum, this means that there is an insider who thinks that he can shake players up by going anonymously through the media. This "success" with Zito will only embolden this person to do more of this sniping through the media. Who knows what other idiotic statement this person might make in the future that screws up one of our players, or worse, perhaps insults one of our top stars into not wanting to sign up long-term with us.
What If This Causes Lincecum to Not Want to Sign Long-Term with Giants?
For all we know, one of our young stars (Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez) might sympathize with Zito and decide that they don't want to be with the team long-term where insiders can snipe without penalty in the press like this. Players are funny in that way, they will circle the wagons when management comes after one of their own, even if they might understand the point of management, given that Zito is the highest paid and yet did not throw one pitch during the playoff run. Admittedly, I'm not privy to inside info, so maybe management has already spoken.
Worse case scenario, this insider is high up the food chain in a position of authority, or really bad, is one of the guys making decisions. If this is so, what type of horrendous decisions might be made in the future with respect to the Giants? This leak does not generate confidence on my part that Giants management got it all together or is as united as they had appeared to be.
This instead makes me think one or more of them got a big swelled head after winning the 2010 World Series Championship and think that they can do no wrong.
I Will NOT Ignore Stupid Moves, I Will Point Out the Emperor's New Clothes
If that is what they think, they are wrong, they can do a lot of harm, and while I believe the Giants are currently positioned very well for making the 2010's the Decade of the Giants, I think stupid moves can be made that will ruin our chances of accomplishing such a lofty goal and title. And championship or not, I will point out such stupid moves as I see them and I know other bloggers and fans will do the same.
They do not get carte blanche with me, no honeymoon period. I lived through the 70's, 80's, and heck, the 90's and 2000's, and I want them to strike while the iron is hot and win as many championships as they can and do the best that they can. I believe that they are in an excellent position to add at least one more championship this decade, and could win more depending on how things work out with top prospects Brandon Belt, Zack Wheeler, Gary Brown, Charlie Culberson, Thomas Neal, Francisco Peguero, Ehire Adrianza, Brandon Crawford, Nick Noonan. I do not want that window of opportunity jeopardized in any way.
My Confidence in Management is Shaken
This Zito sniping incidence could just be the first such incidence. Zito's improved performance might convince this person that this is the way to do things in the future. It is not, players don't like getting blasted in the press, particularly by management or insiders, and if Sabean's administration gets that reputation, free agents, whether outside or inside, will try to avoid the Giants when they can.
For the first time in a while, I am worried about our team's future, and for me that sucks because I should still be high from the World Championship that the Giants won in 2010. This media snipe against Zito was a stupid move and because it appears to have worked, we might see more stupid moves like this. The scarier thing is that this might be someone in management and is a sign of future stupid moves.
To Restore my Shaken Confidence, Neukom Would Have to Speak Up
Until Neukom comes out and says something publicly about this, and perhaps take some action, even if unknown action, the silence besides both Sabean and Bochy publicly stating that there is no such insider feelings tells me a number of things.
First, Neukom's silence is tantamount to agreeing with the sniper, particularly since no action has been taken that we are aware of. If this is something not condoned under his watch or in his organization, then he either publicly would have said it already, or it would have leaked out that he said it internally and quietly.
Second, no action means that the sniper will feel free to do this again, because there was no consequence to his or her action. And again, it is the same as supporting the sniper.
Third, there will be some players who view this the same way I do. The team would have poisoned their relationship, or in the case with younger players, their budding relationship, with their most prized assets. That is no way to run an organization, not for long-term success.
It might work in the short term, but any disrespect directed towards players by management will probably not be forgotten by the players, it could bite management in the ass at some inconvenient point in the future, like when trying to negotiate a long-term extension with one of our young stars.
That player could legitimately ask management if something embarrassing like that might happen to him once he sign a big contract. And Giants' management would be able to say that only Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy spoke out about it, not anyone else. No player would want that to happen, so then the Giants' price for an extension with that player could go up at that point if they decide that they might want to check out free agency and ask for more to sign on.
Why would this Giants insider risk all these negative consequences? Does this person want our team to implode? Team chemistry is very hard to concoct, but the 2010 Giants had that wonderfully in spades. Hopefully this will not disrupt that chemistry or harm us in any way in the future. But I worry that this could backfire at some point in the future.