Liotta: Sabean’s praise not fooling anyone

Hey, Giants. You’re bad. Just admit it and your fans can get on with hoping for more progress.

A quarter of the way through 2008 and the Giants are acting as if we’ve all forgotten what good baseball looks like. Maybe the team hasn’t been as bad as expected, but what has transpired so far in 2008 hasn’t been the pile of roses team officials have been shoveling lately.

Like first applauding Barry Zito for going five decent innings and losing to the Pittsburgh Pirates, then hailing a quality start — and the fact that he didn’t lose — from Barry against the Houston Astros like we’re finally seeing what the Giants have been expecting all along.

Let’s be honest, based on what they’re paying him, the Giants have every right to expect Zito to be a 20-game winner and contend for Cy Young Awards. In all honesty, if Zito didn’t have that contract, he not only would not be in the Giants’ starting rotation, he would have been designated for assignment.

There were, going into Friday night’s action, 55 National League pitchers who have thrown at least 40 innings this season — Zito has thrown 39²/³ — and not one of them has pitched as badly as Zito. Colorado’s Jeff Francis is 0-4 and Washington’s Matt Chico is 0-5, but Zito has those two beat at 0-7. And Zito’s 6.58 ERA is flat-out the worst of the group.

Not a bad guy, just not a good pitcher.

And for Brian Sabean to say this week that this team has “a lot to be proud of” is a bit of an insult, isn’t it? They’re 17-25. What were his aspirations for this team on opening day? It sounds as if he didn’t give them a chance?

Sabean says he’s seen progress. I’ll give him that, but the Giants have scored fewer runs than all but one team and have stamped themselves a non-factor when it comes to postseason play. The fact that they haven’t been blown out simply serves as evidence that the National League West is the worst division in baseball and that the Rockies and San Diego Padres have even more to apologize for.

If the Giants and the New York Mets were to merge, and be asked to field 25 players, only Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Aaron Rowand and Bengie Molina from the Giants would make the team.

The Giants should quit trying to shovel praise on this team. Their fans know their favorite team is going through a bad time. Team officials should just admit it, and get back to work trying to fix the situation.

I don’t think one Giants fan would have a problem with that.

One random thought:

» All of a sudden I can’t tell who’s having a worse season, Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens.

Tim Liotta is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to The Examiner.

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