Kap's Corner

Zambrano May Be the Most Overpaid Player in the Game

I am so sick of hearing that Carlos Zambrano is the "ace" of the Cubs staff and that he is considered one of the best starters in the baseball. That is such a pile of garbage and it is about time people start to call this guy what he really is, a fraud.

Zambrano is not a big game pitcher, he is not an ace, and if the Cubs can, I believe they will look to move him and his bloated contract out of Chicago as soon as possible. What qualities does a #1 starter have? How about piling up wins? Zambrano has averaged 14 wins a season since he became a full time starter in 2003. Does he play the role of leader on the club? Don't make me laugh. He is immature, doesn't work as hard as the Cubs would like, and he is not what one would consider a big game pitcher. Many times Zambrano has had a chance to stop a losing streak or to win a big game and he has failed a majority of those times.
zambrano vs an umpire.jpg

It's time for the Cubs to find a way to move Carlos Zambrano and his antics out of Chicago and find a #1 starter who actually is an ace.


The facts don't lie. The Cubs are paying for top flight performance from a pitcher who has the skills to be a big winner. However, Zambrano's performance does not warrant such a big contract and his 18 million dollar annual salary is one of the deals that is limiting financial flexibility for the front office. Talk to the scouts that attend every game the Cubs play and they all bemoan his incredible physical talents and lack of productivity for a guy whose reputation  is that of a superstar.

Zambrano has won all of 7 games this season. That's it. He has had incidents with a Gatorade machine, been suspended for his outburst towards a home plate umpire, and  has had two stints on the disabled list. Seven wins for 18 million dollars and enough headaches for management to drive them crazy.

Check out Zambrano's contract terms
and you will see that the Cubs have done their part in paying him to be a star. He has not lived up to his end of the bargain though and he has no one to blame but himself. He cannot control his temper and those who observe his antics on a day to day basis know he is far from the superstar pitcher that some believe he is.
 
Perhaps his back is injured this time. Maybe he truly needs to be on the DL and will be gone for an extended period of time. That may be true but it still does not explain his lack of emotional control and his startlingly poor productivity in big games. In four post season series Zambrano is 0-2 with an ERA of 4.34. He has won 18 games once (18-13 in 2007) and 16 twice. That's it. No 20 win seasons, no Cy Young Awards, a grand total of 8 complete games in 9 total seasons in the big leagues. He may be a #2-3 starter on a good team but to pay him as a #1 is ridiculous.

It is time for the Cubs to find a taker for the antics and the talents of Carlos Zambrano. I know that he has a no trade clause but perhaps Zambrano would also like a fresh start in a new city. He may have a golden arm but we have seen far too many other "qualities" from the man they call "Big Z" to call him an ace or a reliable starter on a team with championship aspirations. Pack your bags Carlos, it's time to take your act to another team. We've tired of you and your immaturity.

Recommended

[?]

Recent Posts

Subscribe

Leave a comment

73 Comments

macirish said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

Zambrano has the tools to be a great pitcher, but much like Mark Prior, he is his own worst enemy. Everyone know Zambrano "could" be one of the best pitchers in the Major Leagues but he just cannot get past himself. As a Cub fan, I wish I could have faith in him, but I simply do not. I do not look at Zambrano to stop a losing streak... thats Ted Lilly. A rookie is out pitching Zambrano this year... I would not be upset to see Zambrano leave.

shawndgoldman said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

Comparing Mark Prior and Carlos Zambrano is like comparing a White Castle cheeseburger to a Lawry's Prime Rib. I'm a fan of both, but they're not in the same class as each other and comparing them is absurd.

Mark Prior started 19, 30, 21, 27, and 9 games in his 5 seasons in Chicago. Carlos Zambrano averaged 30.4 starts in his 7 seasons as a full-time SP. The year in which he had the fewest starts was last year, when he still had 30. So Zambrano's least-durable season had the same number of starts as Prior's most-durable season.

shawndgoldman said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

To correct myself, the 30.4 starts/year includes this year, so his number is even better than that. Z has averaged 32 starts per season. His average year is better than Prior's best in terms of durability.

berselius said:

user-pic

I wish I could un-recommend this. Carlos Zambrano is the best pitcher on this team not named Rich Harden. Want to do a side-by-side comparison?

Chris Carpenter, 162 game avg.: 33 GS, 217 IP, 219 H, 96 ER, 24 HR, 64 BB, 166 K, 3.97 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 114 ERA+

Roy Halladay, 162 game avg.: 32 GS, 231 IP, 224 H, 88 ER, 19 HR, 52 BB, 167 K, 3.45 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 133 ERA+

Carlos Zambrano 162 game avg.: 33 GS, 213 IP, 180 H, 82 ER, 18 HR, 96 BB, 181 K, 3.48 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 128 ERA+

Dan Haren, 162 game avg.: 33 GS, 217 IP, 207 H, 85 ER, 24 HR, 48 BB, 182 K, 3.52 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 125 ERA+

Jake Peavy 162 game avg.: 34 GS, 215 IP, 186 H, 79 ER, 22 HR, 70 BB, 216 K, 3.29 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 119 ERA+

So yes, I do feel comfortable in saying that Z is in company with aces

berselius said:

user-pic

And as far as immaturity goes, Z was the ONLY one who kept it together in game 2 of the NLDS last year when his defense gave up the game.

shawndgoldman said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

Wow. This article is the worst assessment of talent I have read in some time. Stupidity, thy name is David Kaplan.

David Kaplan said:

user-pic

So, what is in the article that is incorrect? Carlos hasn't averaged 14 wins per season? Aces are guys like Roy Halladay, CC Sabathia, Cole Hamels, Chris Carpenter, Johan Santana, Josh Beckett. Those guys are all far superior to Zambrano. It is laughable if you think he is in a class with those guys. Halladay is a superstar. Sabathia is a superstar. Hamels, Carpenter and Beckett all have World series rings on their fingers. Santana has ace written all over him. If you think Zambrano is in their class you need help.

shawndgoldman said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

Incorrect? Nothing is factually wrong in terms of the numbers that you posted. However, your analysis is still unbelievably bad. A better metric than wins would be WAR, which stands for "Wins Above Replacement player." It is a measure of how well a player has done compared to someone you could pick up for free of the waiver wire (like the 30 year-old Phil Rogers said the Cubs should trade Z for). Zambrano has been the best pitcher on the Cubs this year:
http://www.fangraphs.com/winss.aspx?team=Cubs&pos=all&stats=pit&qual=0&type=6&season=2009&month=0

Now if WAR is too complicated a concept for you, then I'd point you to the following post:
http://wrigleyville23.com/2009/07/in-defense-of-carlos-zambrano.html

Quoting from there:
----
Over the last seven seasons, there are nine pitchers who have won 90 or more games (wins being a statistic the angry hordes can understand and usually cling to): Johan Santana (107), Roy Halladay (104), Roy Oswalt (100), Carlos Zambrano (95), Andy Pettitte (94), CC Sabathia (94), Derek Lowe (92), Josh Beckett (90) and Mark Buehrle (90).

Of those, only Sabathia is younger than the just turned 28-year-old Zambrano - by 50 days.

Of those, only Lowe (218) and Buehrle (214) have started more games than Zambrano (206).

Of those, only Santana (2.88), Halladay (3.18) and Oswalt (3.26) have a lower ERA than Zambrano (3.41).

Of those, only Santana (1,462) and Sabathia (1,151) have more strikeouts than Zambrano (1,141).

Of those, only Santana (.217) has a lower batting average against than Zambrano (.228).

Of those, none have a lower slugging percentage against than Zambrano (.351).

----

So let's see. By wins -- the metric you lean on for your analysis, Zambrano is a top-10 pitcher over the last 7 years. And of those 10 pitchers, Z is one of the youngest and is one of the best by just about every other metric -- strikeouts, batting average against, slugging against, ERA, and strikeouts.

Your analysis is really shocking. I can't understand how someone could come to the conclusions that you do above. Being a starting pitcher is not easy on the body, and that's why pitchers get hurt so often. The fact that you are posting this in the aftermath of one of the most durable starting pitchers in the game getting injured is mind-boggling.

In all honesty, I struggle to comprehend how someone could come to the conclusions that you do. The only way it's possible is if one doesn't look at the context for the data presented. Clearly, this is precisely what you have done.

poodski said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

Who cares about seven years though? You go so far back that not only do you go back and account for not only Zambrano's better years but you eliminate anyone who came around the last four years.

You leave out most of the best pitchers in the game now. Regardless if you go by last 3 years Zambrano falls all the way to 34th in terms of WAR, and if you only go the past 2 yeas he falls to 37th. Basically Zambrano is along the lines of Paul Maholm and Kevin Millwood. Do you consider them aces as well?

Zambrano just isnt that good anymore. If you are using fangraphs you can obviously see that the last time he was worth his paycheck was 2006, and he is going to need to pitch well when he comes back to be worth it this year.

Zambrano has been helped by the very good defense the Cubs have had over the last few years, not so much his great pitching.

Is Zambrano the most overpaid player in the game? Not a chance when you have players like Barry Zito and Vernon Wells in the game, but he isnt a top ten pitcher. Hell he isn't even a top 30 pitcher anymore.

VinMan said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

Because that is the criteria Kaplan used when he decided to use, as he put it, numbers "since he became a full time starter in 2003"

wv23 said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

"Who cares about seven years though?"

As the author of the referenced post, seven years was selected because Z was a member of the rotation for the full year beginning in 2003 - the start of the seven years.

So if you argue that the last seven years account for "Zambrano's better years" then you concede that he's had nothing but "better years."

As for "Zambrano just isn't that good anymore," I'll bite:

His ERA is 3.47 this year. His ERA+ is 131 this year. Take away the last game (with the injury) and he pitches into the 7th (on average).

poodski said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

He is having a good year this year, but still not ace like. In fact he is 40th among pitchers in WAR.

Weapon X said:

user-pic

Is that among starting pitchers or are you also including relievers?

macirish said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

You did a very nice job crunching numbers over the last seven years... now lets look at the last three... Zambrano wins less and less games (Career best 18 wins) fewer and fewer strikeouts all the while the Cubs as a whole have won 2 divisional titles including a year that posted 90+ wins... Big Z was responsible for just 14 of them while being considered the team Ace... again... I wouldn't be upset to see him leave.

Weapon X said:

user-pic

This is an all around factually misleading comment. Focusing on the wins here (since that's what you're doing), you said the Cubs have won 2 division titles and had a 90+ win season... and yet Z was "responsible" for just 14. That is asinine.

Last year (2008, when they won 97 games) Z did have 14 wins. He also had just 6 losses. That leaves 10 games with a no-decision. The Cubs went 6-4 in those games. Team wins are the goal, right? Zambrano started 30 games last year and the Cubs won 20 of those games. 2 out of every 3. A .667 winning percentage which comes out to a hell of a lot better than they did in all the other games since their season total win percentage was 'only' .602.

You also said let's "look at the last three [years]" and claim Z has been getting worse. His career high of 18 wins (which you mention) falls within the last three years, btw. That was in 2007 when Zambrano started 34 games. His record was 18-13. Remarkably, he only had 3 no-decisions, and the Cubs lost all 3 of those games. That means the Cubs went 18-16 in games started by Zambrano. We just took a look at how the Cubs won 20 out of 30 games started by Zambrano last year. 20 seems better than 18 to me, and the Cubs winning percentage in his starts is considerably better last year than in 2007. So, in other words, better, not worse.

This year? Z is 7-4 and has started 20 games. The Cubs in those 20 games are 14-6. That means the Cubs have won 70% of Z's starts. That = astonishingly good. Also, that would be the best winning percentage for the Cubs with Z on the mound in any year. Once again, more wins and higher winning percentage = better, not worse.

On the other hand, you're correct in that his strikeouts did go down significantly last year from previous years. I'd rather have the wins, though. Also, his strikeout rate this year is the same as it was in 2007 so it's more likely that last year was a fluke and he'll post better K numbers this year than last.

Next time, you should look a little closer at how the team has done with a particular starter. Try: http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/z/zambrca01-pitch.shtml

Tanner said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

I agree with what you are saying. If ANYBODY comes to the Cubs in the offseason for a trade, I HOPE the cubs will listen and act on it.

shawndgoldman said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

I take it back, what you said is not factually correct.

Zambrano has averaged over 15 wins per season since he became a full time starter. He's averaged 14 wins a season if you include this year as a full season, which is not yet finished.

So the "14 wins a season" is a horribly misleading statistic. Whether it is due to ignorance on Kaplan's part, or if it is intentional I cannot say.

Madlarkin said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

Look Mr. Kaplan, all you've been able to prove is that Zambrano doesn't have a world series ring. I suppose the '04 collapse, the '05 mediocrity, the downright atrocity of '06, and the playoff collapse of '07(Where he was, you know, the only good pitcher in the playoffs for the Cubs), and the '08 debacle where, amongst other things, your boy Mark DeRosa Jesus Christ himself and lovable white scrappy short stop Ryan Theriot booted balls all over the infield (DeRosa also was fond of grounding into double plays in the playoffs if I recall correctly) is all Carlos Zambrano's fault? The fact that Hammels, Carpenter, and Beckett have rings due to the fact that they play on good teams. They were on really good teams (Phils, Cards, Marlins/Sawks) and had a lot of offensive help in the playoffs when they went there. Z got jack in terms of run support in '07 and '08.

You just assert, without any evidence, that Z doesn't stop losing streaks, isn't a big game pitcher, and isn't a clubhouse leader. It is a logical fallacy to reach conclusions your premises do not support. Your problem: YOUR ARGUMENT HAS NO PREMISES!! It's simply a list of conclusions drawn out of nothing. Your argument about big games is incomplete, you show a postseason record and ERA (by using ERA you factor in the defense which was notably atrocious behind Z in '08, so that ERA is not entirely on Z), but don't talk about any "big games" he may or may not have won in the regular season. You don't actually point to any instances where he's failed to "stop losing streaks". Do you have any quotes or people that are willing to say Z isn't a good clubhouse presence because otherwise you're just asserting a baseless conclusion? I would really like to hear who on the team thinks Z is terrible in the clubhouse.

Unfortunately, this kind of journalism is what makes honest and credible journalists like Joe Posnanski look bad. Maybe you and Buzz Bissinger can go worship at the alter of Scrappiness, Small ball, and LaRussa.

shawndgoldman said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

One of two things is going on here: 1.) "Kap" is so bad at assessing the value of MLB players that a monkey could do a better job by randomly picking opinions out of a hat... or 2.) "Kap" is just positing totally unreasonable yet incendiary positions because they'll be controversial and draw listeners/readers.

Either way, Carlos Zambrano is much, much better at baseball than David Kaplan is at analyzing it. Come to think of it, Aaron Miles is much better at baseball than David Kaplan is at analyzing it.

FiveOutsToGo said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

So how much of this did post did Steve Stone tell you to write?

Corms said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

You've reached a new nadir of nincompoopery you nattering nabob of negativism. Truly you calling anyone a fraud is hypocrisy taken to it's laughable extreme.

berselius said:

user-pic

More on Z being an ace:

Among active pitchers who have thrown at least 1000 innings and at least 90% of their appearances have been starts, only Brandon Webb (142), Roy Oswalt (137), Randy Johnson (136) and Roy Halladay (132) have a higher ERA+ than Carlos Zambrano (128). Tim Hudson (126), Danny Haren (125), Mark Beurhle (122), CC Sabathia (120), and Jake Peavy (119) round out the top 10.

The Retrosheet era is 1954-present. Among starting pitchers with at least 1450 innings in that 53 year span, only Roger Clemens (143), Roy Oswalt (137), Randy Johnson (136), Roy Halladay (132) and Greg Maddux (132) have a higher ERA+ than Zambrano. Zambrano’s career ERA+ is better than that of Bob Gibson, Tom Seaver and Kevin Brown (all 127). It’s better than Tim Hudson, Bret Saberhagen, and Jim Palmer (126). It’s better than John Tudor (124). Juan Marichal and Mike Mussina are at 123. Dave Stieb, Mark Buerhle, Don Drysdale, David Cone and CC Sabathia are between 120 and 122. Bert Blyleven (118), Tom Glavine (118), Gary Nolan (117), and Steve Rogers (116) round out the top 25 ERA+ since 1954.

Here’s a list of some other pitchers who have a lower ERA+ than Zambrano (you may have heard of some of these guys): Andy Pettitte, Steve Carlton, Chris Carpenter, Rick Reuschel, Orel Hershieser, Nolan Ryan, Dwight Gooden, Vida Blue, Don Sutton, the Cubs “current ace” Ted Lilly (106), the 375 year old Jamie Moyer.

shawndgoldman said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

And just to be clear: a lower ERA+ is a worse ERA+. So that means Zambrano has been better in that department than that list of pitchers.

Max Power said:

user-pic

Dude, don't even try to convince him, he doesn't have a clue about any relevant stats. He likes to stick to wins, batting average, and rbi. He's stuck in the 70s with the bitter, pathetic, hoplessly clueless Steve Stone.

Plus, name droping Dave and penny pinching Steve like to throw out the unprovables like "chemistry" and "clubhouse presence" as if they were every teammates with the guy. And of course, the prefered way to judge players by Kap and Steve is, if they don't like you on a personal level, you are bad. True professionalism there.

JeffK. said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

Uh, you have some factual errors in your own post here, son:

"The Retrosheet era is 1954-present. Among starting pitchers with at least 1450 innings in that 53 year span, only Roger Clemens (143), Roy Oswalt (137), Randy Johnson (136), Roy Halladay (132) and Greg Maddux (132) have a higher ERA+ than Zambrano."

I imagine Whitey Ford will be interested to know his 2851 IP of 132 don't count. Ditto Koufax's 2324 IP of 131. Ditto Johan Santana's 1543 IP prior to this year at 144. And ditto Pedro F'ing Martinez with 2800 IP of 154.

There are 9 guys, and you got 5 of them. I don't think you should be casting stones at other's accuracy. And of course, this all ignores the fact that ERA+ is a rate stat (adjusted or not) and Zambrano has yet to have his decline phase. He may also have yet to have his peak, which is why career ERA+ is not a good choice for barometer.

The underlying point of Kaplan's article is stupid, but you might want to apologize for the aspersions you cast.

Weapon X said:

user-pic

You're correct, of course, Jeff. But I believe that the comparison was being made against other pitchers who were almost exclusively starters and that the cutoff was pitchers who started at least 90% of their games. And 1954-present would exclude anything Whitey Ford did before 1954.

Your point about accuracy is valid since he forgot to mention that, but I don't think it hurts the validity of the arguments that berselius, Shawn and MB were making.

shawndgoldman said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

The facts don't lie, do they berselius? Unfortunately David Kaplan doesn't understand them.

JeffK. said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

They do in that post.

fan said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

Jeez Kap, this sounds like you are your little buddy, Slimy Stone, wroter this together.
You sound just as bitter and stupid as Slimy Stone does.
If you want over-rated, just look at Stone, the one NO ONE in baseball respects and NO ONE will hire. He's just a bitter little nothing.

Tanner said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

I agree 100% on this guy. He is not an ace. An ace is somebody who the the team can look at in the eye and know that he will give his all and can stop a loosing streak, and Z is NOT him.

wv23 said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

You're looking for a Big Brother. Or a Boy Scout leader.

And what is a "loosing streak"?

Tanner said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

Maybe the Cubs could play a hand in where Halladay goes. I would trade Z for a handful of players and send those guys north of the border and bring in Halladay. Halladay, Lilly, Dempster, Wells would be a good 1-4 lineup.

shawndgoldman said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

So is Halladay an ace? If so, you're essentially calling Zambrano one, as well. If you propose trading Z for players, and then trading those players for Halladay, you're giving them equivalent value.

Thanks for supporting our argument that Z is an ace!

Tanner said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

How am i supporting a immature player? Yes, Halladay is an ace, he is 12-5 with 2.73 ERA. I am saying trade Z for prospects and send them with some other Cubs prospects to Toronto. Do you understand of do i need to draw a picture?

shawndgoldman said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

Actually, that's not what you said. It may have been what you meant, but it's not what you said.

hjb4971 said:

user-pic

I love Kap, but this is a bit over the top.

I agree that Big Z is underperforming, and like Aramis Ramierez, seems to have an afinity for sitting out with "injuries." However, Soriano makes the same money and is performing no better. This team needs a Leo Durocher and start fining people for stupid or unprofessional plays. I don't mean $100 fines, either. With the money these guys make, stupid play, lack of hussle, losing track of how many outs there are, etc ought to get $20,000--50,000 fines. Santo, Banks, and Williams received $100 fines with frequency from Leo while making $80-120,000. Factor that against $18 million and you are looking at $20,000 today.

Bradley, Soriano, and Zambrano all should have received some serious fines this year and the money donated to Cubs Care or The Juvenile Diabetes Association.

If MLB's unions won't allow contracts that pay for performance, baseball needs to start penalizing lack of performance. So far this year Zambrano should have been fined for his suspension and for his Gatorade debacle, and both Bradley and Soriano should have joined him in writing some checks. Let's not forget that Soriano and Zambrano are paid more per GAME ($110,000) than 90% of Americans make per year.

Maybe the Cubs do want to get rid of these guys, but if they do we need to get back establiished players who can and have produced similar results in past years, not three prospects.

As much as I love Kaplan, there really is not a starting pitcher on this year's team that has played up to his potential except Wells. Dempster's been hurt, Lily's been hurt, Harden's been hurt, and Zambrano's been hurt and suspended. If we are going to dump every underperformer the list looks like this: Soriano, Zambrano, Bradley, Fontenot, Johnson, Ramierez, Harden, Lily, Gregg, Marmol and Soto. That's 11 of 25 players. Right now only Lee, Theriot, Grabow and Gorselani are playing up to their potential, and a bunch of young kids like Fox are fillig the gaps.

shawndgoldman said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

How many "aces" are there in Major League Baseball? If you take the term "ace" to be the number-one starter on a team that would lead you to the conclusion that there are 30 in the league. By the career ERA+ metric (which adjusts for the era a player pitches in), Zambrano is the 43rd-best pitcher of all time... including relievers. Out of active pitchers, he's the 9th-best in the league and the 7th-best starting pitcher. If you prefer run-of-the-mill career ERA as your metric, Zambrano is the 11th-best pitcher and 9th-best starter.

So by almost any conceivable definition of "ace" Zambrano qualifies. He's even one of the 50-best starting pitchers of all time according to ERA+ and by almost every metric one of the 10-best in the time since he emerged as a starting pitcher.

All the data I present in this comment are from Baseball Reference:
http://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/

poodski said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

ERA and ERA+ are just such bad bad stats.

You all want to use stats from so long ago, who cares how well Z pitched in 2004? This isnt 2004, Zambrano isnt nearly as good as he was in 2004. Hell in 2007, he was nearly below average according to FIP.

Z was good from 2003-2006 when he was above a 3.9 WAR every year, but he has been at 2.8 the last two years. Thats just not ace material. Zambrano was an ace, but then again so was Pedro Martinez. Do you consider him an ace as well?

shawndgoldman said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

It's not about using stats from "so long ago" as from his entire career. In that sense, I'd argue you're using more selective endpoints than I am.

Would you agree that Z has pitched like an ace over the course of his career -- just not over the past season and a half?

poodski said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

2003-2006 yes he might have been ace, but since 2007 he has not been anywhere near an ace. He isnt a top 30 pitcher in the game anymore. He probably was never a top 10 pitcher in the game, but due to the Cubs defense and having generally a good offense his ERA and wins were nice. ERA and wins though are just horrible ways to look at a pitcher. Defense and offense just have way to high of an effect on those two stats. If you put Zambrano on the Nationals he would probably have an ERA above 5, and maybe only 3 wins despite pitching the same.

This is the best Z has looked since 2006, but its still not "ace-like"

As for your question its hard to decide. He's had a nice career, but he seems to be falling off. I guess you could consider him an ace for his career but every year that passes the more and more he looks more like a 3 than a 1.

shawndgoldman said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

I agree that he's overpaid. But I also think you're underrating him. Hitting is a part of a pitcher's job in the NL, and when you add that into the equation he's produced like an ace even over the last few years.

I also believe that you and I are closer in opinion on Z's production level than either of us are to Kap. He's certainly not the most overpaid player in baseball, and probably not even one of the 3 most overpaid on the team.

jwb said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

I don't know why you'd want to use wins, a statistic greatly influenced by factors other than a pitcher's performance, but here ya go:

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

Between Kap and Zambrano, one of them is doing his job well.

fan said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

Excellent!

Corms said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

That list can't be accurate. According to your list Zambrano has averaged 15.2 wins, but Kap said that Zambrano has only averaged 14 wins a year since becoming a full time starter in 2003. Therefor your list must be fake because we know Kap would never mislead us by adding in this season's 7 wins at the 2/3 mark and counting that as a full season.

Tanner said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

If it was up to me, i would trade almost the whole da** team.

Corms said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

If it were up to me I would trade almost the whole da** media and fan base.

Madlarkin said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

Why trade them? They aren't worth anything. Can't we just DFA them all along with Aaron Miles?

Perkins said:

user-pic

Mr. Kaplan should remember that while people have a right to their opinions, they are not entitled to be taken seriously.

Madlarkin said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

Mr. Kaplan I would just like ask a question that I don't believe is unreasonable at all. How long did you spend preparing this entry? It seems like it was either thrown together rant or the work of someone who clearly didn't care what he wrote.

If your goal is to get readers than yes, in the short term you have. Some people will come to protest inanity, but that only lasts for a small while. People grow tired of dealing with the inanity and just stop reading. That is why newspapers are dying, people just aren't interested in reading the stuff that columnists write. They aren't getting things they can't get from other sources.

With your access to players and potentially the clubhouse, this was the best you could do for a blog entry? I find that really, really hard to believe.

Perkins said:

user-pic

Well, it's a hell of a lot more accurate measure of a pitcher's performance than wins. Hell, Bob Howry got a win on May 19th 2007 after giving up a HR to Paul Konerko that put the Sox ahead. By sheer dumb luck, he got the win because Lee hit a grand slam in the bottom of the inning.

If you think wins are a good measure of how a pitcher has done, then you're not a very good evaluator of talent. But we already knew that about you.

Perkins said:

user-pic

That's like saying all you need to know you learned in kindergarten. Prove me wrong.

fan said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

When you spew out BS don't surprised when you are called on it. Tell me, which scout says his team wouldn't want him? I know, NONE.
If you want to head up a most overpaid list- I nominate Barry Zito. Top that deal. What dows stoeny think, oh wait, he's only an expert on the Cubs-LOL!!!!!!!!!

poodski said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

These are just off the top of my head:

I got these numbers using Salary minus worth(2007-2008):
Zambrano: -4.1 million
Barry Zito: -10.8 million
Derek Jeter: -11.1 million
Vernon Wells: -3.8 million (but he is worth -4.3 million this year not even including his salary)

Is he overpaid? Yes. Is he an ace? No. Is he the most overpaid player in the game? No.

Madlarkin said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

Point is defining anyone as an "ace" is ridiculous in the first place. To use that against a pitcher who has been so good in his career is even more ridiculous. His ERA+ is better than Peavy, Haren, Oswalt, and Carpenter (and yes ERA+ is one of the best evaluation statistics for pitchers because it takes into account both era and park factor, i.e. home ballpark)

And actually Z has been underpaid in terms of market value.
http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=305&position=P#value
His production would mandate he should have been paid 95.6 million over his career, he's only made 39.5 million in his career. The last few years Z has been overpaid a little bit, but with someone that good you need to overpay to keep him.

Why his contract matters so much to you is beyond me. To get anyone of equal talent to Zambrano you'd have to pay essentially the same going rate. Trading him would do no good.

jwb said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

80+ GAME WINNERS 2003-2008, $/WIN
1,007,181 Mike Mussina
852,000 Andy Pettitte
722,835 Greg Maddux
598,388 Roy Halladay
552,419 Tim Hudson
522,539 Derek Lowe
503,322 Mark Buehrle
496,428 Roy Oswalt
490,522 Jamie Moyer
467,760 Johan Santana
435,287 Carlos Zambrano
423,551 Jon Garland
421,287 C.C. Sabathia
330,774 Josh Beckett
290,824 Ted Lilly
221,818 John Lackey
195,642 Jake Peavy
161,123 Brandon Webb

This isn't really satisfying because all of the pitchers at the top of this list were on free agent contracts for the entire range of years and most of the ones at the bottom were near minimum or arbitration guys. How about contract status (years and AAV) going forward?

cubfan2323 said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

So you are measuring the success of 1 individual player by an entire tema's success? That is not fair. The Cubs organization is the one to blame for the team not reaching the world series, NOT Carlos Zambrano. Plus his win totals are as good as anyone's in baseball. Maybe you should find another number by which to measure his success. Good lord, what a horrible article.

wv23 said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

Mr. Kaplan -

How long must a losing streak be for it to count as "stopping a losing streak"? Once you provide that definition, can you please show your work in demonstrating that Z has "failed a majority of those times"?

Fargo said:

user-pic

Kap-I will probably get nailed for saying I'm a huge Z fan, but your posts, Stoney's posts etc. sound more about whether you like him as a person more than the stats imply. That's o.k. I can respect that. I get annoyed when Zambrano doesn't act more mature-but to be honest, at this point-who cares? The entire team is underperforming and except for his last start, he'd been pitching pretty good. There are so many bad-fits on this team that to point out just him is a specious argument. If the team was doing well I don't know that you would be saying anything about him. But your provocative headline to your post did what you intended-you got people who were willing to blog back at you.

Still a fan,

Carol

jwb said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

Contract Statuses of 80+ Win Pitchers, 2003-2008
5/20 Johan Santana
3/18 Roy Oswalt
2/15 Roy Halladay
4/18 Carlos Zambrano
Retd Mike Mussina
1/6 Andy Pettitte
7/23 C.C. Sabathia
1/8 Brandon Webb
4/15 Derek Lowe
1/7 Jon Garland
3/14 Mark Buehrle
1/14 Tim Hudson
1/9 John Lackey
Retd Greg Maddux
2/7 Jamie Moyer
1/12 Josh Beckett
2/12 Ted Lilly
4/15 Jake Peavy

These are AAVs remaining, including all of 2009. Signing bonuses are not included unless they are being paid in 2009 or in years in the future. I'm assuming that all options will be bought out and nobody gets performance bonuses or escalators. Performance bonuses usually don't show up when you're counting by millions anyway.

Zambrano has been an elite pitcher and is being paid about the same as most of his comparables. I think his contract is no more or less likely to turn into a millstone than Santana's or Oswalt's and less likely than Sabathia's.

If you want to talk about the value and injury risk of large pitchers with back problems (like say, David wells) going forward, then you may have a point. I'm not in a position to debate that issue because the number of elite, overweight pitchers is too small to draw any useful conclusions and I don't know of an injury database that goes back more than a few years.

jwb said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

Oh, and if you want to talk about pitchers with elite contracts who haven't performed like elite pitchers over the last few years, there's always Zito, Schmidt, Hampton, Pavano. . .

jwb said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

If Carlos Zambrano wins 2 more games over the next 3+ year on his contract, it will have been a better deal than Denny Neagle's. That's without adjusting for inflation.

JeffK. said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

I can't get this to post inline, so in response to berselius...

Uh, you have some factual errors in your own post here, son:

"The Retrosheet era is 1954-present. Among starting pitchers with at least 1450 innings in that 53 year span, only Roger Clemens (143), Roy Oswalt (137), Randy Johnson (136), Roy Halladay (132) and Greg Maddux (132) have a higher ERA+ than Zambrano."

I imagine Whitey Ford will be interested to know his 2851 IP of 132 don't count. Ditto Koufax's 2324 IP of 131. Ditto Johan Santana's 1543 IP prior to this year at 144. And ditto Pedro F'ing Martinez with 2800 IP of 154.

There are 9 guys, and you got 5 of them. I don't think you should be casting stones at other's accuracy. And of course, this all ignores the fact that ERA+ is a rate stat (adjusted or not) and Zambrano has yet to have his decline phase. He may also have yet to have his peak, which is why career ERA+ is not a good choice for barometer.

The underlying point of Kaplan's article is stupid, but you might want to apologize for the aspersions you cast.

Weapon X said:

user-pic

You're correct, of course, Jeff. But I believe that the comparison was being made against other pitchers who were almost exclusively starters and that the cutoff was pitchers who started at least 90% of their games. And 1954-present would exclude anything Whitey Ford did before 1954.

Your point about accuracy is valid since he forgot to mention that, but I don't think it hurts the validity of the arguments that berselius, Shawn and MB were making.

Also, while Zambrano hasn't yet entered his decline, we've been arguing over his performance to date. I don't think he will even be significantly into decline by his contract end date, that will most likely cover the length of his next contract. Based on his performance to date, he's one of the best pitchers in all of baseball and has been for his entire career.

*dan bradley said:

user-pic

Holy hell,

Do you guys really need to attack one another so personally? Analyzing facts as best you see them is just part of the game guys, c'mon.

Shawngoldman seems pretty smug for somebody who spends so much time in front of a computer.

I agree with Kap. AND Stone.

shawndgoldman said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

Hey there, pot.

Armando said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

Simply put, ZAMBRANO IS THE MOST OVERRATED PLAYER IN BASEBALL! I must admit, I was Zambrano's biggest fan a few years ago when he showed the ability to be our ace for the next ten years. Right now, I can't stand this guy, I'm so tired of all the BS we have to put up with, and hope the Cubs trade this guy ASAP. Cubs fans deserve so much better than to watch a grown man act like a seven year old baby cry. Plus, he will NEVER reach his potential. TRADE ZAMBRANO.........NOW!

jwb said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

Complaining about somebody whining using all caps does no service to your argument, Armando.

Overrated by whom? Zambrano is one of the winningest pitchers in MLB over the last few years; he is being paid accordingly. Were you expecting more? "Not living up to your expectations" and "Overrated" may be different things.

went-to-WS05-gm1 said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

Kap beng hyperbolic? Cubs fans hyperventilating? What new?

Zambrano is a fine athlete, a very good pitcher, a bit of a knucklehead, and not the Cubs' biggest problem. Certainly not deserving of this little diatribe. Reminds me of when Kap said in '05 that he'd take the Cubs rotation over the Sox "on potential." Please. It's sad to see someone either moving further out on the ledge or just stirring the pot as a shtick.

Through desperation, the Cubs overpaid most of the team in an effort to appease the fans and either win right away or at least dispel the thought that they are too cheap. How they can spend in excess of $130 million (3rd highest in MLB) and still have no 2nd baseman, no depth, and an iffy bullpen is beyond me. But the biggest problem is no real leadership among the players, no one who takes charge and carries the team when it needs it.

It is fair to expect that of Zambrano as the "ace" and one of the highest paid players. But to single him out as the sole or even primary culprit is unfair, since that failing is shared by many of the current players.

abty7 said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

Um, Barry Zito, Vernon Wells, Carlos Silva, Gary Matthews Jr., Hideki Matsui, etc. all are FAR AND AWAY more overpriced- here's the litmus test- how much would Zambrano command on the open market next off season? At least 4 years and 65M- what does he have left on his deal? 3/54 - accordingly, it's impossible to label him as overpaid if the market for him would be close to what he is currently making... Kap, put your emotions away and think with that lump 3 feet above your @$$...

Cubz99 said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

I enjoy listening to Sports Central, but this is one of the dumbest things I have heard Kaplan say. Z not a #1 starter? Who would you rather have? Looking at the NL Central I don't see any better #1's than Big Z. Carpenter is always hurt, Oswalt has been hurt.....

Z is definitely a #1 starter, it seems like after reading Kaplan's post that he is blaming Z for taking the money the Cub's offered him. If anything the blame should be put on Hendry for signing him to the ridiculous contract. Stop sucking up to Hendry and place the blame squarely where it belongs.

hendrystinks said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

The only one to blame is Hendry. Hendry overpaid Z when his value was the highest and gave him a No trade clause. Ditto, for Soriano, Fukudome, Lilly. Luckily Lilly is earning his money. Hendry gets a free pass in this town. he should be run out of town and finally this year he is getting some of it. Hendry beleived Pie would be our CF for years, he thought barrett and izturis could play in 2007 (start). He thought Fontenot and Miles would hold down 2B this year. Gregg could close on a big market team? He was wrong about Bradley, but i never thought he could be this bad. Abrue signed for 1 year 6m. Hendry cannot evaluate talent, pure and simple. He thought Corey Patterson, Pie, Rich Hill were studs, but Randy Wells (lost to toronto in Rule 5 last year), Theriot (was slotted as utility player in 2007 behind izturis), Jason Kendall was better than Soto (in 2007), weren't good enough. Lets not get into the shambles that the farm system is in right now, and the reason we couldnt trade for any top players. He bombed on draft picks from 2000-2005 in the 1st round (minus Prior). When hendry is fired, it would be a great day for the cubs franchise. but a mess to clean up.

David Kaplan said:

user-pic

Hey Shawngoldman....Still in Big Z's corner????

Hawkeyefan said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

Wow...bitter much, "Kappy"?

Leave a Comment?

Some HTML is permitted: a, strong, em

What your comment will look like:

said:

what will you say?

Most Active Pages Right Now

ChicagoNow.com on Facebook