I’ve seen the future for Barry Zito and it involves pompoms and a skirt

I found it rather fascinating to read that the Giants are considering moving reliever Dan Runzler to the rotation because they don’t believe they need an extra lefthander in the bullpen with Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez in the fold.

The natural question is where does that leave $126 million man Barry Zito because the team says it has no plans to trade him.  But let’s face it, they could spend all their time planning to deal him and still be stuck with Zito because no one running another team is as stupid brilliant as general manager Brian Sabean.

I know exactly what they should do with Z.  Keep him inactive all year and dress him up in one of these so he can do what he does best, play the role of cheerleader.

I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for Z because of the amazing years he had with the A’s* but I have to wonder how he’s going to feel when he gets his World Series ring on Opening Day next year knowing that he had nothing to do with the playoff run because the Giants didn’t want him getting anywhere near a game that counts.

I’m sure he can rationalize that he played a role in the team winning the division which is absolutely true but it has to be a major blow to an athlete’s pride as a competitor when a team makes it perfectly clear that it thinks its better off without you and backs it up by winning a world title.

Zito will show up to spring training with a spot in the starting rotation waiting for him and we’ll probably read the usual stories about how he’s worked hard in the offseason, is focused on becoming a great pitcher again, he’s going to attack the zone … blah, blah, blah.

The sad truth is that he’s the team’s highest paid player but he’s barely hanging on as an inning-eating No. 5 starter.

If there’s one good thing I can say for Zito it’s that he’s taken all this in stride and handled the playoff demotion with class.   What else can he do?  He can’t throw a fit and demand a trade because his declining performance and escalating salary make him an immovable object on the trade market.

Zito and the Giants have to find some way to make a broken relationship work for the next 3 years of his comical contract.

Fortunately there’ll be a new, crisp looking championship flag waving above the outfield at AT&T Park to distract everyone from Zito’s steady descent into irrelevance.

* In case anyone has forgotten — and it seems like almost everyone has — there’s a team with 4 World Series trophies and an amazing young starting rotation in Oakland.

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