Kap's Corner

Wow, the Zambrano Defenders are Up In Arms!

Earlier today I posted an article on my thoughts about Carlos Zambrano and my belief that he is very overpaid and overrated. Since then I have received a ton of e-mail from Zambrano fans who are furious at me for questioning Big Z.

Well, let's look at the numbers. E-mailer Shawn Goldman has some interesting numbers to back up his argument. He uses numbers from Baseballreference.com to support his argument. Check out his thoughts on the comments section of my Zambrano article. In addition, another post lists wins from 2003-2008:

2003-2008 MLB Wins
98 Johan Santana
96 Roy Oswalt
94 Roy Halladay
91 Carlos Zambrano
88 Mike Mussina
87 Andy Pettitte
87 C.C. Sabathia
87 Brandon Webb
85 Derek Lowe
84 Jon Garland
83 Mark Buehrle
82 Tim Hudson
82 John Lackey
82 Greg Maddux
82 Jamie Moyer
81 Josh Beckett
81 Ted Lilly
80 Jake Peavy

Let's look at some of the guys on this list. Johan Santana has won the Cy Young Award twice. He has won the pitching version of the Triple Crown (ERA, K's, and wins) and he has never had the emotional issues that Zambrano does.

Roy Oswalt has had back to back 20 win seasons and back to back seasons with a sub 3.00 ERA. He was the NLCS MVP and he is considered a leader in his clubhouse.

Roy Halladay has won the Cy Young, is considered by many active players to be the best starter in baseball, has won 20 games twice, and has 45 complete games in his career. Three times he has had a solid sub 3.00 ERA and his ERA this season is well under 3.00 as well.

Josh Beckett has been a World Series MVP, he has won 2 World Titles, he was the NLCS MVP, and he is considered one of the best big game pitchers currently pitching.

Andy Pettite has won multiple World Series rings, he has multiple 20 win seasons, he is a tremendous big game pitcher, and he was the ALCS MVP. Obviously, he is at the tail end of his career.

I understand that Carlos has exceptional talent but unfortunately he does not get the most out of his abilities. When the Cubs stepped up and paid him 18 million a season on a long term deal the expectation was that he would mature, pitch like a #1 starter should, and lead a Cubs staff. Instead, we hear about him melting down, having some of the craziest injuries in the game from hand cramping from too many Red Bulls, to back spasms from batting practice, to suspension for a run in with an umpire.

There are a ton of pitchers who would be taken ahead of Z if you polled current baseball general managers on who they would like to have. Sadly, very few have Carlos Zambrano's skills but unless he matures and harnesses his incredible physical gifts he will never achieve all that he could have. And that is a real shame.

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43 Comments

BillyGoat45 said:

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Overpaid and overrated Big Z makes $ 18,750,000 a year. Albert Pujols makes $ 14,427,326 a year. Whom would you rather have?

Madlarkin said:

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First, why does his contract matter that much to you? Second, comparing Zambrano to the best player in baseball is absurd. Z is getting paid what the market demands for a pitcher of his caliber.

Eddie said:

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So Zambrano is overpaid because Albert Pujols was signed to an absurdly below market extension? My rebuttal:

A straw man argument is a rhetorical device that is meant to easily prove that one’s position or argument is superior to an opposing argument. However, the straw man argument is regarded as a logical fallacy, because at its core, the person using the device misrepresents the other person's argument.

Madlarkin said:

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I understand that Carlos has exceptional talent but unfortunately he does not get the most out of his abilities. When the Cubs stepped up and paid him 18 million a season on a long term deal the expectation was that he would mature, pitch like a #1 starter should, and lead a Cubs staff. Instead, we hear about him melting down, having some of the craziest injuries in the game from hand cramping from too many Red Bulls, to back spasms from batting practice, to suspension for a run in with an umpire.

There are a ton of pitchers who would be taken ahead of Z if you polled current baseball general managers on who they would like to have. Sadly, very few have Carlos Zambrano's skills but unless he matures and harnesses his incredible physical gifts he will never achieve all that he could have. And that is a real shame.


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Where to begin, where to begin...

So Carlos Zambrano, instead of being ONLY being the 43rd best pitcher of all time and the 9th best pitcher in baseball since his career started, he could be the best pitcher in history of baseball? I'd say the 43rd best pitcher of all time is worth "Ace" like money.

Maybe ask Larry Rothschild if he works hard on pitching as he has only been the only major league pitching coach Z has ever had. Again, you're just asserting things without any evidence. When evidence is brought up to counter your point you don't address it, you just pass it off, ignore it, and restate your case. Your seriously making real sour grapes over the fact that Z isn't the most dominant pitcher ever.

Alright, lets see if we can get an honest answer out of you. I would like you to explain why pitcher wins, postseason MVP awards, and world series titles are good metrics to evaluate an individual baseball players value. I would much appreciate a response in the comments so we can continue this debate.

Madlarkin said:

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Just to clear something up. I'm not strictly a "Zambrano defender", instead I think that this is incredibly unfair.

If you, let's say, went after Ryno Theriot for being a bad defensive shortstop, a terrible clubhouse presence, an unclutch player, a lazy player who can't live up to his contract, and a terrible base runner (O.K. I have to admit I wouldn't argue with you about that) I would react the same way.
Why are you spending all this time on Zambrano and Bradley when Fontenot, Reed Johnson, and Rich Harden are performing substantially worse? Fontenot took over for your beloved DeRosa, why aren't you spewing nonesense about him 24/7? Z has been the Cubs best pitcher this year with Lilly a close second.

MLBCUBS1 said:

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Kap wont attack anyone that is a guest onhis show, ie Theriot, and as for the bradley rumor, i think he needs to distance himself from Stone. After that story, I now know why Steve stone will never be a bseball executive, and it seems that those in baseball know what he is all about. Just a story telling broadcaster.

fan said:

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Well done.
Kap's all upset because Z hurt his back. This whole thing is stupid and smells as bad as the dumb Bradley to Detriot post Kap made. Makes the blog a must miss piece of garbage.

john.c said:

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Whoah...I missed something...Zambrano is now the 43rd Best Pitcher of All Time! Wow. That is some computer you have, Madlarkin!

Please come back to planet Earth. All the new metrics are really fascinating, and I am not being facetious. It is really amazing to the WARs lineup and where Z falls among many of the accepted Aces of the last decade.

BUT...I believe that these kinds of number match-ups are exactly the proof of Kaplan's arguement, which BTW is one I have been making for a year. Though wins are a meaningless stat to the metric-heads, unfortunately it is the ONLY stat that really matters when you are talking about Champions and all the rest. The fact that Z matches up so favorably to his contemporaries (and I now understand to every pitcher every to play the game)but has not delivered in the big games is exactly what make Zambrano not an Ace, and why some of us get so mad at him.

Aces are not simply pitchers with the best stuff. They are team leaders, slump enders, the guy the whole team depends on for the best chance to win every 5th day. NOT the guy who skips the team plane because the fine doesn't mean anything to him. Not the guy that is perennial out of shape and lazy. Not the guy that fights with umpires and generally acts like a teenager when things don't go his way. When a teammate commits an error behind Z he storms around and rolls his eyes and gets upset and comes unglued. An Ace picks up his teammates, bear down, focuses and get the strikeout or double play and take resposibility.

See, there are no metrics for being an Ace. No one here has every argued that Z is not immensely talented. The reason many of us are dissappointed is because with his talent he should be winning more and leading this team to the promised land.

cubfan2323 said:

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I stated the same point in my response to his last post- you cannot use world series, or even playoff stats to analyze one individual's performance. Blame the cubs org. for not putting together a good enough team to compete.

cubfan2323 said:

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And Kap, use some REAL numbers to measure his performance, not just wins. Can someone quickly post some in-depth stats for this guy that show Carlos' true value? thanks.

*dan bradley said:

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there are plenty of in depth stats in the last post and in the last comments about this.

Madlarkin said:

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btw Roy Halladay has never led his team to the playoffs. Clearly, not an ace.

wv23 said:

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You all just need to stop right now. You know Mr. Kaplan's opinions are valid based on the many famous people he's had his picture taken with.

IrishYeti said:

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wv23 said:

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Kosuke Fukudome has been an All-Star in half of his seasons. Do you really want to use that as a proof point, David?

jman said:

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cramping from red bull is soooo much worse than not using the stairs and breaking your toe. We never hear about Dempster and how his freakish injury has cost the Cubs...only when Z goes all out in BP.
The cherry-picking, straw-man theories thrown out as defense against Z being over-paid are absurd.

wv23 said:

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I only read eight names on this list before Z.

Being off by 11% That shouldn't cut it for ChicagoNow.

Tanner said:

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Big Z is WELL OVERPAID!

wv23 said:

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Tanner=Determiner of what the market will bear.

demonopie said:

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"he has never had the emotional issues that Zambrano does".Cheap shot,is Stone writing this stuff for you now?

Tanner said:

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Some of the best pitchers are underpaid.

shawndgoldman said:

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I'd honestly like to know two things:
1.) How would you define an ace?
2.) How many aces are there in the game at any one time?

shawndgoldman said:

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And I'd like to think of myself as a defender of common sense and reason more than a "Zambrano defender." In this case, the two causes just happen to be the same.

Calling Zambrano "the most overpaid player in the game" has absolutely no basis in player valuation, the workings of baseball economics, or reality.

I understand why you say such unsupportable things: it brings ears to the radio and eyeballs to the TV and this blog. But having a reason for an action doesn't make it right, nor does it give your arguments any more weight. Good luck with the same marketing strategy employed by Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.

*dan bradley said:

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Shawngoldman:

i am imagining you are somebody in your underpants in your parents' basement taking breaks from World of Warcraft to berate people on the blogs of analysts you actually dislike; you read the blogs to make yourself feel superior because you have failed in every other aspect of life, including women; you have no friends, and going outside to buy more mountain dew "game fuel" makes your palms sweat because the lady at the grocery store gives you a funny look as you walk in with your "i haven't showered in five days but sprayed some Axe on before i came here" stench; but i should tie this up because your mom is calling and it's meatloaf night.. you could never move out, on your own, away from meatloaf night, and your creepy dungeon in mama's basement where you have pictures of young, redheaded anime girls posted up on the walls, now, could you?

..C'mon.. how close am i? Did i analyze YOU correctly?

dat cubfan daver said:

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Hey, great strategy, BBD. Ignore all the valid data and strong points Shawn has brought up and attack him personally. Clearly, you're the voice this discussion has been lacking all along. Go back to watching your VHS tapes of hockey games and please stay out of this.

wv23 said:

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BBD - I'm not sure it's healthy for you to be imagining Shawn in his underwear. But to each his own.

shawndgoldman said:

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LOL. No one wants to see that.

shawndgoldman said:

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You're pretty close. Let's see... I live in a basement, but it's not my parents' basement but just a place where I can afford the rent. I am in my underpants, but I'm also thankfully wearing much more than that. I'd like to think I've been reasonably successful in life: I have a Ph.D., am happily married, and love my job. I don't drink "game fuel," think Axe is ridiculous, and make my own meatloaf (which is damn good). Oh, and I don't like anime. You'd probably be surprised to hear that I started on my collegiate water polo team that beat Army, won the state title and finished in the top-10 in the men's club nationals tourney.

This is why I don't hide behind a handle when I attack someone. If you want to know who I am, the information is out there. Normally I don't like puffing my chest up, but hey... you asked. If it makes you feel better, you can just pretend my parody of a profile over at Another Cubs Blog is real.

tom said:

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It's sad.Carlos Zambrano has the talent to be one of the best if not the best pitcher in baseball.It will never happen though.He is too immature to capitalize on his ability.He loses it when things don't go his way.The Cubs should have traded him when his value was much higher.Keep an eye on the other Carlos too.Marmol is starting to show the same traits as Zambrano in his earlier days.Great talent can't control his emotions.Two great talent but neither will reach their potential,at least not with the Cubs.Maybe the Cubs could get quite a bit of talent back in a Carlos package deal.Might sound crazy but it just might work.

Kurt Evans said:

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Rebutted on GROTA /link whoring

dat cubfan daver said:

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Kap, I just want to say that I enjoy your radio show and generally respect your ideas and opinions about the Cubs - even when I don't agree with them. But your anti-Zambrano rant was one of the most irrational, emotional and quite frankly embarrassing things I've read from a mainstream media analyst in a long time. (And I usually read Phil Rogers column on Sunday.)

Carlos Zambrano has given the Chicago Cubs over 1,500 innings in his major league career. He's started 230 games for the team and won 103 of them (though, as Shawn has pointed out, judging a starting pitching on wins and losses is archaic and ridiculous). His career ERA+ is 128 - that means he's well, well above league average in limiting opponents’ earned runs.

I'd ask you a couple of questions:

1. Do you want good baseball players on the Chicago Cubs? If the answer is "yes," then stop complaining about his contract! Baseball players and their agents negotiate contracts based on what the market will bear at the time of those negotiations. If you get caught up in hoping/expecting a player to produce at a level commensurate to his (usually outrageous) salary, you will almost always be disappointed. For your own peace of mind, I’d respectfully suggest letting go of the money angle and focusing on the LARGE AMOUNTS OF GOOD that Carlos Zambrano has done for this team on the playing field (as Shawn Goldman has detailed).

2. Is Carlos failing to live up to "his" expectations - or yours? Because Z can only be the person that he truly is. As annoying and embarrassing as his emotional outbursts may be, they're really only static amongst a very impressive and relatively consistent pitching career. Maybe he would be a better pitcher if he calmed down, but he'd probably only be marginally better. Would a meltdown-free season really turn him into Nolan Ryan circa '73? No, it wouldn't. And if he mellowed out entirely, wouldn't he lose the competitive drive that makes him a very good pitcher in the first place? You can't have it both ways.

The problem with many well-intentioned but ultimately misguided Cubs fans (of which you, apparently, are one) is that you're waiting around for Z to become something he’s not. LET IT GO and accept him for what he is – a very good pitcher who can’t always control his emotions. I'd rather have that than a rotation full of dead fish who end the season with ERAs over 4.5 but play the game "the right way." And if you REALLY think other teams - the Mets, for instance - wouldn't leap at a chance to add Carlos to their rotations were it contractually/financially feasible, you are sadly mistaken.

You’re frustrated that Z is injured. I’m frustrated that Z is injured. You’re frustrated with how the Cubs have struggled this season. So am I. But calling for the release/trade of one of the better pitchers in the National League would only hurt the Cubs at a time when they need all the help they can get.

JibbaJabba said:

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Hear that sound? It's Cubs fans laughing at Kaplan. It's quite loud. There is finger pointing involved too.

china423 said:

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ya no shit. i think its funny kap and his buddy Stonepony just posted the same thing on his twitter. did he tell you to post this?

ryanj said:

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Anyone ever notice the common bond between Kaplan's favorites and Kaplan's hated players?

melissa said:

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Just because Theriot, Johnson and Fuld are under 5'5" it doesn't mean David favors them. Soriano, Zambrano, and Bradley aren't just taller and tanner than David they're all more highly paid. I'm sure there are innumerable GMs, unnamed sources and at least one Former Playgirl Model that agree with David.

RetiredCPD said:

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Kap I have watched every game and every CTL this season and I cannot agree with you more with your comments about Zambrano & Soriano. With Zambrano's temper tantrums and Soriano's lack of hustle neither of them deserve the money they're getting. I have always believed that players should be paid a base salary, the amount depending on seniority and then paid for performance that year in all sports instead of these huge contracts which after getting them some players lay down but that's another story.

I absolutely "Cringe" every time Len Kasper refers to Zambrano as "The Ace of the Staff",,Pleease??

Put Zambrano on "Waivers",,,I like it!!!

Keep it up Kap maybe someday they'll see the mistakes they made and then changes will come.

CubbieButch said:

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Once again...putting big Z on waivers really shows you know nothing about baseball. Period.

Faltermeyer said:

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Why does everybody care what a player is making? We're not paying it. And I know people will point to ticket prices - none of that goes to a player's salary.

Jimmy Greenfield said:

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It matters because it plays a role in which other players can be brought in or retained. Well, for everyone except the Yankees.

JobbaJibba said:

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Jimbo, I believe Faltermeyer is referring to assuming a team having little restraint in payroll...ala NY. Which, the Cubs COULD and SHOULD be able to spend that much money.

Cubz99 said:

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Once again, if you are mad at the salary, you should be placing the blame with the GM. Its just easier for Kap to blame Big Z than hurt his friendship with Hendry.

Royal Flush said:

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Jeez who cares how much he's getting paid anyway no one here is paying him.

By the way, Zambrano's ERA since June is 2.84. Next time you want to call out a Cubs player, make sure it's an offensive player because the Cubs rotation has been one of the best in the league and without Z they aren't anywhere near up there.

Zambrano has had little chance to succeed in the postseason due to his team's offensive and defensive failures. Zambrano was 22 at the time of the 2003 playoffs, where they went the farthest. He wasn't the ace back then. You give me Z's passion and fire in the NLCS or WS and I bet he'll succeed. Z's been one of the only few to step up in the postseason the last few years.

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