There's synchronicity with Alfonso Soriano and Barry Zito. They're going to be linked forever because they were both free agents at the same time, and they both signed mega-deals that made you think, "Boy, those sure aren't going to look pretty in 2012." And here we are in 2012, and those deals sure don't look pretty. Mail yourself a cookie back to 2006. You've earned it, you prescient thing.
The Giants were trying for Soriano before they signed Zito, too. They were going for the Face of the Franchise after Barry Bonds, and they figured the best way to do that is by getting another hitter. In the eight seasons before Soriano was a free agent, he walked 224 times -- eight fewer walks than Bonds took in 2004 -- so it wasn't going to be a seamless transition. But when they missed on Soriano, that's when they went after Zito. They had a coupon that expired, so they had to spend the money that offseason or lose it. The coupon got them a free order of breadsticks. The breadsticks were soggy.
But for the first six years of the Zito/Soriano deals, you were excused if you wished the Giants had Soriano instead. Certainly for the first two seasons, when Soriano was an All-Star and Zito was an instant disappointment. But even after that, the Giants could have used brainless power more than competent fifth-startering. The Giants couldn't hit, but they could pitch. If you had to overpay one of the two players, Soriano was probably the better fit. This is why Zito-for-Soriano has been a thing for a long time.
We just watched a bellwether game, then. This was the first game in which it was completely and totally obvious that the Giants are much, much better off with Barry Zito. I don't think there's much difference between the Zito who couldn't make the postseason roster and the Zito who pitched eight-plus shutout innings today. The slider is different, and it's been one of his better pitches this season, but for the most part, this isn't a "new" Zito. It's just the return of a player who used to be sneaky-valuable. You forgot what it looked like after last year and this spring.
This spring. Do you even remember that? Goodness, that was miserable. You didn't think Zito was going to get released ... but it wouldn't have surprised you that much, either.
I know Soriano is dealing with a knee problem right now, but he's the worst defender I can remember seeing. He's like Todd Hundley with a knee problem out there. When Pat Burrell came over, that's what I was expecting. Circuitous routes, general lumbering, and poor decisions. Turns out he wasn't nearly that bad. Soriano is worse. Again, he's hurt. That makes a difference. Still one of the worst defensive outfielders I can remember a team playing on purpose.
It's the end for quasi-wistfully thinking about Soriano in comparison to Zito. Not that anyone really wanted either of them in the first place, but there was always that "if I'm gonna get punched, at least make it the arm instead of the groin" feeling when it came to Zito and Soriano's contracts. The Soriano contract was a mistake, but the Zito contract seemed like a bigger mistake considering the Giants' rosters over the past six years.
But right now it's pretty clear that the Giants are much, much better off with Zito if they want to win in 2012. He looked fantastic today. When he has command and control of his breaking stuff, he usually does.
Alex Smith helped the Niners to the NFC Championship Game this year. Zito might make an All-Star team, or at least help the Giants win more than he has in the past. I think you can see where I'm going with this. Adonal Foyle needs to come back. Keeping the five-spot open for you, big fella. This all makes sense now.
No one likes their third-base coach. Seriously, there isn't a fan alive who is super-pumped about the guy waving people around. Because when they screw up, it stings. Stings hard. And every third-base coach going to screw up a lot, even if they're the best in the world. There are so many opportunities to screw up.
As someone who types out knee-jerk, poorly conceived reactions after almost every game, it occurs to me that I sure don't type Tim Flannery's name that much. I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned him, to be honest. But both runs today scored because Flannery made the right decision. The Blanco-from-first run was a fairly easy decision, but the decision to send Pagan in the fifth was much tougher. Flannery had to factor in Pagan's speed, Reed Johnson's arm, and the fact that Brandon Crawford was stinking up the joint against Travis Wood, and he had to do it in a two-second window.
Flannery will irritate you again. He'll irritate you early and often. That's what third-base coaches do. So when they don't screw up -- when they're actively a positive influence on the only two runs scored in a ballgame -- it's only fair to highlight him.
So have a beer and spin that Kris Kristofferson album as loud as you want in the clubhouse, Mr. Flannery. Heckuva job waving people in all willy-nilly today.
Cleanin' up someone else's mess. Not a problem. Just doin' my job, ma'am. Next time don't give your kid the keys to the tractor.
Gregor Blanco walked and scored from first on a single. I hope he wears a Giants cap when he makes the Hall. I'm completely enamored of this guy right now. He also played some fantastic right field.
I can't wait to see who the next random awesome guy is going to be next year. Brandon Wood? Steven Pearce? Jeff Clement? Probably all of them. Yeah, I'm going with all of them.