You must be strong. You must be resolute. The temptations are very real. You know better.
See, if we bray about spring performances not meaning a whole lot -- if we make of of a certain organization for putting too much stock into them -- then we can't subjectively pick and choose which spring performances we're going to acknowledge.
It's tough. Most of the lessons we pretend to take away from the Cactus League are just exercises in cognitive bias: If we think Brandon Belt is a good hitter, his strong spring is evidence; if he were to have a lousy spring, we'd calmly remind ourselves that spring training doesn't mean anything.
So Barry Zito. Some folks expect him to be bad in the regular season. He has been bad in March. This is considered mounting evidence to the case against Barry Zito, and we're a little panicky because we're still scheduled to watch this trial for the next two years. But it's just spring, baby. We can't ignore Angel Pagan (who really should be fine) just to hop aboard the Zito hatewagon. Spring training.
Of course, there's something to the idea that it doesn't take a scouting savant to see that Zito isn't very good right now. We're talking 83 m.p.h. fastballs that are poorly located. Again. This isn't a new development. That's a little scary. No one who watched Aaron Rowand this spring went away saying, "Bah! It's only spring!" Ozzie Guillen would have sanded his mustache off to keep Rowand around, but even he cringed and backed away slowly because the swings were so bad.
That's kind of how it is with Zito. Just because you pretend that spring is wholly meaningless doesn't mean that it's easy to see a clear path to just how he'll be good this year. That's ... hard to see. Maybe he'll just get totally BABIP lucky! We can hope.
I'm not going to make rash statements yet, though, like Zito should be released, or that Zito should be re-signed after he's released and then released again just to make sure. Not yet. Check back in April. When we'll surely be completely sick of Zito. And his pitching. Especially his pitching. Man, I'm not looking forward to this.
Until then: Ppfffffft. It's just spring, dummy. This stuff doesn't mean anything! I hope.