I'm only watching Barry Zito in the sense that you can't always avert your eyes from a train wreck while it's happening.
Here on Sunday afternoon against the Reds, Zito just gave up 6 earned runs in the first inning on 5 hits and a walk. That ups his season ERA to 7.42 and while you could argue 26 2/3 IP is a small sample, reports of diminished velocity give credence to the theory that Zito is toast.
Here are some quick data points:
A. Barry Zito 2007 ERA: 4.53
B. Average 2007 National League ERA: 4.44
C. Years and dollars remaining on Barry Zito's contract: 6 years, $116 million*
Zito made $10 million last year as a league average pitcher - in the first year of a 7 year, $126 million contract (plus option). He looks to be much worse this year but gets a raise anyway, to $14.5 million. And then at the end of this season they'll still owe him over $100 million.
Ugh. What a disaster. Avert your eyes before you become transfixed.
*Zito's deal includes a $7 million buyout on $18 million team option for 2014. The option vests automatically if any one of three things happens: 1) Zito pitches 200 innings in '13, 2) he pitches a combined 400 innings in '12-'13, or 3) he pitches a combined 600 innings in '11-'12'-'13. They're on the hook for at least $116 million and very possibly $127 million.