Barry Zito still has two years and $46 million left on his seven-year contract with the Giants (or three years and $57 million if they pick up his option hahahaha). But is there something salvageable for the team? Maybe! Because Barry Zito has reinvented his delivery!
Barry Zito made a slight change to his delivery this winter he hopes will help him rebound from an injury-plagued season. During the offseason, he worked on bending his front leg to get lower to the ground and speed up the momentum the ball gains traveling to the plate.
Zito revealed his new crouching style during a spring training throwing session Sunday.
“It’s pretty subtle from a feel standpoint. As far as when it manifests in momentum, that’s when it’s a little more noticeable,” Zito said. “It was something I was doing a little bit last year that you guys were aware of, just getting a little bit more momentum down the mound. That was something that I worked on all offseason.”
This sounds good. Zito works on a new delivery, gets more power on his fastball, maybe stops tipping his pitches. And yet… it also sounds eerily familiar.
March 8, 2004
A’s lefty tries out new delivery, promises more aggressive approach
This is the first recorded instance of Barry Zito, dissatisfied by his previous season’s performance, going into spring training with a revamped pitching motion. It won’t be the last.
Less than two years ago, Barry Zito won the Cy Young Award. Now, dissatisfied with his 2003 season, he’s changing his mechanics.
Zito has modified his stance in the stretch, moving out of what had been a fairly pronounced crouch in an effort to take some pressure off his left knee. His hands are also higher at the start of his delivery, and the overall effect is smoother.
April 19, 2004
Barry Zito tinkers with his pickoff move
Zito’s new pickoff move resulted in three stolen bases for the Angels in this game.
March 26, 2005
Zito gets rocked in spring training; blames his delivery
“I was just too excited out there,” Zito said. “Night game, it feels crispier, kind of cool. I was rushing my delivery. … The extra six hours (before game time) kind of feels different, muscles have had blood pumping through them longer. I felt too good.”
If nothing else, Zito has solved the “feeling too good” problem during his five years with the Giants.
May 2, 2005
Zito adds a slider
At a time of disturbing whispers around the American League — teams are catching up with this guy — Zito has added a decidedly fresh entry to the menu.
It’s called the slider, and it was a big reason behind the seven-inning, five-hit, no-walk performance that earned him his first victory of the season Sunday, a 3-2 decision over the Seattle Mariners.
Zito is hardly a stranger to the pitch, having thrown it regularly during his collegiate career. Somewhere along the line, he was told that the mechanics of a slider delivery would interfere with the Picasso-like beauty of his curveball…Even the best sliders don’t improve a man’s fastball, but variety can get inside a batter’s head. For example, Zito said Sunday, “I’ve had some really good battles with Ichiro (Suzuki) over the last couple of games. The slider has been a big part of that.”
Ichiro’s career average against Zito is .325.
February 15, 2007
New contract, new delivery for Zito
Barry Zito plans a significant change to the delivery that made him a Cy Young winner in 2002, led to a 102-63 major-league record and earned him a seven-year, $126 million contract with the Giants.
Zito phoned pitching coach Dave Righetti this winter to say he wanted to tinker with his windup, and Righetti told manager Bruce Bochy, but after Zito showcased the new delivery during his first bullpen session as a Giant on Thursday, Righetti expressed surprise at how different it looked - and some trepidation.
“I looked at his tapes from Oakland, so that was a waste of time,” Righetti said half-jokingly after Zito’s new delivery added some spice to the team’s first workout. While clearly a bit nervous about Zito’s windup going from “one extreme to the other,” Righetti expressed support and a willingness to let Zito try a change that the left-hander believes will make him better.
This was where the Giants made their first mistake with Zito, second if you count signing him in the first place. Barry Zito has established that he likes changing up his delivery in spring training. But even more than that, he likes talking about changing up his delivery, and then pitching the same as ever once May rolls around. But that’s not what happened this time.
February 18, 2007
Zito goes back to his old delivery
Zito chided the media for blowing out the story, saying he never intended to go into the season pitching as he did during his initial bullpen session Thursday, in which he crouched, rocked way back and came to the plate with a huge stride. He said he had planned to introduce a few new elements to his delivery, exaggerating them at the outset to get a feel for their effect, then dialing things back.
When he rose Friday morning and saw a negative ESPN report on the new delivery, he said, “Smoke started coming out of my ears.” On Saturday morning, Zito said he would not discuss his delivery anymore, telling reporters, “You guys lost your privilege.” By the afternoon, he relented.
“It’s all a work in progress,” Zito said. “The plan is to do things a certain way and reincorporate them into the original look and feel. What happened was, a cross-section of that got blown out of proportion without (everyone) seeing the entire project.”
My favorite part of this story is that even a furious Barry Zito can only stop talking to reporters about his delivery for a few hours.
March 11, 2008
Zito has shortened his delivery and his timing is off
Zito made headlines on the first day of 2007 spring training when he arrived with a radical new delivery, which stunned the team brass and did not last long. On Monday, he unwrapped another new look, although the change is much more subtle. He has shortened his windup, keeping his hands low rather than bringing them over his head, in hopes of making his delivery “a little more controlled, fewer moving parts.”
Although he walked four batters with no strikeouts, the ultimate goal is to reduce his walks and improve his control.
Zito said the shorter windup feels more comfortable, but his timing is off, and implementing it will “take some work. I think the adjustment is going to be the right one.”
This is the point where Zito starts to sound delusional.
July 31, 2008
Zito throws batting practice to work on his delivery
Because what else would Zito be working on? (besides his music career. A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.)
Zito worked on slowing his delivery to the plate. He believes he has been too quick to the plate while trying to hold runners at first base, to the detriment of his control.
March 1, 2009
Zito enters comfort zone
Even before he pitched two hitless innings in his Cactus League debut against the Mariners on Saturday, Zito seemed comfortable on the mound. He changed a lot of things last year, including his delivery and pitch repertoire.
This spring, Zito seemed comfortable with the pitcher he has become the first moment he grabbed a ball.
“I feel great about it. We’re excited. He’s on the right track and I think he’s going to have a nice year, and I think he next few years of his career are going to go up. I believe that.” said Dave Righetti.
At the end of May, Barry Zito was 1-6, at which point he decided to completely retool his comfort zone.
March 5, 2010
Barry Zito adjusts his mindframe, but not his delivery
He knew he was trying too hard. So he tried to stop trying.
“I tried, and I tried, and I tried, and it didn’t work,” he said.Zito has only one explanation for the decline of his fastball. “Body tension,” he said. “It’s like a hitter going up to the plate, and he’s not loose, so he’s going to force things. It’s not going to work.”
Finally, in 2010, Zito refrained from tinkering with his windup, and tried to focus on a more relaxed mental approach. Perhaps he’d turned a corner, or perhaps he was taking things to an even greater level: he was reinventing his brain’s delivery.
Barry Zito returns from the disabled list - but only after tweaking his delivery
In his absence, Zito not only mended his foot, but also altered his mechanics, driving more toward the plate to end his delivery.
After this article, Zito finished the year 2-9.
In conclusion, Barry Zito messes with his delivery all the time. Maybe this year will be different! But actually it will be just the same as always. Because Barry Zito’s problem is not due to caring too much, or caring too little, or crouching too much like a turtle, or not enough like a Tasmanian devil. His problem is that he kind of sucks at baseball now.
But Barry Zito hasn’t given up. Every time he announces he’s rebuilding his delivery, he’s refusing to surrender to time and its detrimental effect on his fastball. Zito’s overpaid and the team left him off the roster for three rounds of the playoffs, but that doesn’t stop him from pulling his stirrup socks to his knees and going back to work in the spring. Because a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.