Kap's Corner

A Look at Zambrano and Lackey

It's amazing to see the reaction anytime I write about Carlos Zambrano and his performance as the ace of the Cubs rotation. If I point out anything negative about Big Z his supporters come rushing to his defense. If I say something nice about "Z" those who don't like him become very vocal.

Yesterday, I talked about free agent starter John Lackey of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and his credentials which should earn him a huge contract this winter. I immediately heard from the Zambrano fan club who think that if I point out Z's shortcomings I must have a vendetta against him.

Look, I am not a Zambrano fan because he is lazy and he doesn't get the most out of his abilities. However, I agree that he is a tremendously talented guy who should be a staff ace if he could ever learn to control his emotions and would report to spring training in shape and would work hard enough during the season to stay that way.

Let's compare the statistics in a handful of key categories between Zambrano and Lackey since Z signed his 91.5 million dollar extension on August 17, 2007. The rankings are for all starting pitchers who are regular members of a rotation in either league.

                              Zambrano                                                Lackey
Innings pitched          406.1 (47th)                                              402.1 (52nd)       
Strikeouts                 320 (T-38th)                                              322 (T-37th)
Complete Games       2  (T-39th)                                                5 (T-8th)
K/BB Ratio                1.84 (115th)                                              3.35 (23rd)
Baserunners/9 IP        12.49 (85th)                                             11.57 (37th)

So in the categories of innings pitched and strikeouts the two pitchers are just about even but in the all important stats of strikeouts to walks and base runners per 9 innings pitched Lackey is far superior. Does that mean he is worth 12-15 million dollars a year? Probably not, but he will probably sign a deal somewhere in that range. Is he a true #1 starter? Again, probably not but his big game experience and tenacity does intrigue a number of teams and that should create a solid market for his services.

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95 Comments

chicago180 said:

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I certainly would say John Lackey is a #1 starter. He will also get 12-15 million dollars per year easily because he is the top free agent pitcher this offseason.

tom said:

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While you are at it get rid of the other future nutcase Carlos Marmol.2 Carlos's great talents,both immature and neither will reach their true potential

joeydafish said:

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Kap....nice work with making your point. IF Zambrano were to ever step up and LEAD in a mature way he may be the dominate ace most people think he CAN be. But I believe you, me and many others see the EVEN chances of him NOT maturing and leading like we would hope. It has nothing to do with disputing his TRALENT. It all comes down to this: Since Hendry has a tendency to OVERPAY most every free agent he signs I would be happier with him overpaying Lackey than Zambrano knowing the CONSISTENT use of his talent vs. the ALWAYS inconsistent use of Zambrano's talent. It's not every year we wonder "which" Zambrano will show up...it's EVERY GAME.

joeydafish said:

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Allright, I know...what's TRALENT? (oops)

Max Power said:

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So your reason the other day was a five inning start in 2002. Now, you use stats from a date in the middle of a month in 2007. All while ignoring everything in between. No, no you're not biased. Not at all.

David Kaplan said:

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Max: The date is when Zambrano signed his 91.5 million dollar contract extension. We have to evaluate him on what he is doing from that point. His performance has been sub par and he has not lived up to the contract. You may not agree but you cannot dispute the numbers. Zambrano is an under achiever.

Karry Ling said:

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I'm confused about the stats you didn't compare between the two pitchers.

Since August 17, 2007 Zambrano is 27-17 with a 3.89 ERA and Lackey is 27-16 with a 3.65. If you adjust for the league Lackey's ERA is more impressive. One key in Zambrano's favor is that he's three years younger than Lackey.

However, every stat points to the fact that Zambrano and Lackey are a pretty good comparison, which, I'm sure is why Wax Paper Beer Cup compared them.

We know you don't like Carlos and that you enjoy beating a point into and through the ground like nobody else.

But my question is why would the Cubs spend more money on their starting rotation? The Cubs posted the fifth best ERA in the National League, and they were the only team in the NL with five starters making 25 starts and four of them posting sub four ERAs.

Their problem was the bullpen, and paying Lackey the $14-15 million he's going to get on the open market just doesn't make much sense.

The Braves top five had a great year with only Derrek Lowe over four (4.67), but Tommy Hanson only started 21 games.

Like the Cubs, the Braves need to spend this offseason fixing their bullpen and their offense. Not signing John Lackey.

David Kaplan said:

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Karry: Don't you think that the Cubs rotation is tenuous at best? They have a question mark in Ted Lilly, Dempster had an okay season but certainly not great and Wells is unproven. Zambrano is talented but he certainly has had his struggles. Add in the fact that Harden is gone (and probably will not be offered arbitration) and you have a very shaky starting rotation on paper.

IvyChatChuck said:

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Yes. The rotation is tenuous at best. So is the offense. In fact, it's unreasonable to think that the offense will be worse next year than this year. Lee will be hard pressed to do as well. With a tapped out payroll and $20 million in interest payments, there will be no free agent capable of hitting like Bradley was supposed to do. Middle infield will be lacking. A Ram and Soto may be the only place where it would be reasonable to expect improvement.

So, given all these issues, spending money on starting pitching, 30+ year old starting pitching, seems rather dumb.

joeydafish said:

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It would make as much sense as spending over 91 million on Zambrano. Also, a couple of reasons to spend on the starting rotation by acuiring somebody of Lackey's talent would be that we don't know how Wells will perform his sophomore year, not enough track record yet on him. Lilly is coming off surgery and may not be ready in April let alone pitch at the same level. Dempster, like Zambrano is pretty much hot or cold, a lack of consistent "ace" like performances. It's a fact the Cubs must spend to improve their bullpen, no doubt but if Hendry wants to "blow" more of his employer's money on Lackey...why not?

David Kaplan said:

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Karry: I am also not saying that they will sign John Lackey because I know that they won't with their payroll issues. However, wouldn't you at least add someone from the outside to the rotation?

IrishYeti said:

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I'm fine with resigning Harden and allowing Marshall, Gorz, or Shark to deal with that 5th spot

joeydafish said:

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COUNTING ON Marshall, Wells, Gorz...would not be a very responsable way to aspire to a World Series appearance.
I'm just saying if Hendry is going to continue throwing money around, which is doubtfull like Kap says about the payroll issues (thanks Jim!) go ahead and throw it at Lackey
and let Marshall, Wells and Gorz fall with the chips. Too much pitching?? No way.

IrishYeti said:

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Just read Karry's comment.

joeydafish said:

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Kap, you weave a tangled web my friend. Love it.
Gotta keep the offseason interesting and hot stove HOT!
Keep the fodder coming...

melissa said:

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Kap has the old cherry picker out again to "prove" Lackey is "far superior" to Zambrano. What a joke. Kap uses arbitrary numbers to try and back up his biased opinions. It's normally much better to look at the data then form an opinion, at least for those of us that don't rely on Steve Stone to tell us what to think.

Max Power provided the info quite nicely the other day and now Kap is trying to dispute the big picture by using limited numbers over a limited time frame. It's just sad that fans pick up on this kind of skewed analysis from media members that have an axe to grind with Zambrano.

joeydafish said:

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Aside from any axe to grind...just being a Cubs fan I am very dissapointed with Carlos Zambrano as I am with ANY Cub that performs poorly (Soriano, Bradley, Miles, Gregg...sigh..). What compounds my dissapointment is thinking how good Big Z can be yet never seems to put it all together. Do I want to dump him like I do Soriano? No way.
Do I want Lackey on the team? Of course. It's all about making the team better and if Hendry signs Lackey the team will be better. Hendry threw money at Big Z, let him throw it Lackey, at least in both cases Hendry can be cut some slack because both "risks" make a hell of a lot more sensed than Soriano's EIGHT YEAR CONTRACT, Bradley's THREE YEAR contract, Miles ANY YEAR CONTRACT...

David Kaplan said:

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You know what's sad? That someone like you can't handle the fact that you are proven wrong. I talk to scouts who are way more knowledgeable than you are yet you don't like their analysis because it doesn't praise your favorite player. Then i provide you numbers since the day your favorite player signed his ridiculous contract extension and those don't favor him either. I am not providing limited info. Give me some stats that back up your argument.

IrishYeti said:

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That Bill James interview was really productive, wasn't it?

David Kaplan said:

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It was. However, my post was not about Carlos being bad. It was simply comparing him to the #1 free agent arm this off season. No, I am not a Carlos Zambrano fan but I did say several times how talented I think he is. You really need to pay attention and not just run off with your emotions. Your baseball knowledge is admirable but your willingness to not even consider the other side of the argument is laughable.

Perkins said:

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When the other side of the argument is laughable, his unwillingness to consider it is laudable.

Perkins said:

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Or "her" if you were responding to melissa.

joeydafish said:

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Let the games begin!! Atta boy Kapper, Big Z's contract was ridiculous but not so much when comparing to Soriano's 8 year deal?? With Soriano, we all know he's NOT getting better at the plate or in the field (horrid defense). I would be the last to defend Big Z's contract but at least there is a glimmer of hope that he gets locked in, considering his age...right?

melissa said:

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Kap, Just a day ago Max Power pointed out to you that Zambrano has a better ERA, ERA+ and winning percentage than Lackey along with the fact that Z is 3 years younger. Now, the fact that scouts have told you they don't like Z's attitude doesn't prove that Lackey is by far the superior pitcher like you have claimed. Zambrano isn't my favorite player he's just a very productive pitcher on the team I root for, a team that would have been much worse without him.

It's also unfortunate that you fail to recognize that Zambrano received the contract he did based upon what his performance had been up until that point and it was widely believed at the time he would have received more money had he went on the free agent market. If you look at Z's value in dollars based upon his career WAR with the Cubs he has provided them with $101.2 MM of production, thus far they have paid him around $55 MM for that production.

Zambrano wants to pitch for the Cubs and every time he takes the mound he does everything he can to help his team get a victory. Unfortunately, due to his personality many in Chicago don't appreciate how much he has contributed to the Cubs thus far in his career.

David Kaplan said:

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You make some interesting points but if you think Z has given the Cubs 101.2 million dollars of production on this current contract you are out of your mind. Let me ask you this question: If you were the Cubs GM and knowing what you know now you could go back to the day he signed this current big money deal (91.5 million) would you still do it? If you say yes you are blinded by your loyalty to Carlos. He has been a HUGE disappointment and to say he hasn't is insane. does he have the ability to win 20 next season? Yes, he absolutely does but he has to grow up and show he can do it.

Perkins said:

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You're missing the point. Any time someone signs a free agent contract, he's being paid for what he has already done. Very few players actually provide equal production to the money they earn in free agency.

Zambrano has played for the Cubs his entire career. The first few of those years were cost-controlled. Over the course of his career, he has provided over $100 MM of production while being paid around $55 MM. That will almost certainly become closer to even as he gets older, but the fact remains that Carlos Zambrano has far outperformed his paycheck over the duration of his career.

And the question of his winning 20 games is a red herring. Zambrano pitched better in 2009, winning 9 games, than he did in 2007, when he won 18. Seriously. This isn't rocket science. Cherry-picking stats and citing opinions formed by pop-psychology in order to defend your conclusions merely proves your own ignorance.

melissa said:

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Kap, I may be insane, I'm trying to talk logic to irrational bias here. Fangraphs shows anyone willing to look that Zambrano has provide the Cubs $101.2 MM worth of production in his career. That's not my opinion and has nothing to do with my personal view of Zambrano or my relative sanity. It's probably an insult to the insane to compare Cubs fans to them if you want to get technical.

Jim Hendry made the decision to re-sign Zambrano based upon the evidence available to him at the time, it was a good decision then and nothing has happened since then for me to change my opinion on it. In fact, the Cubs have won 2 division titles in 3 opportunities since Z was re-signed.

If you go to baseball-reference you will see that among all active pitchers including relievers Z has the 9th best adjusted ERA+, Lackey 19th. Z has the 13th best win-loss percentage, Lackey 18th. Z has the 12th best ERA and Lackey is 20th. Since you love to judge pitchers on wins Z has 105 and Lackey has 102. Sorry I didn't use selective end points here which I know you prefer.

John Dewan from baseball info solutions has some interesting selective end point data for you, Kap. After the 2008 season Dewan shared with us that from 2004-2008 among pitchers with at least 100 starts Carlos Zambrano held opponents to a lower slugging percentage than any other pitcher in baseball. That's what I call insane, insanely good. During that same time period Z held opposing batters to the 6th lowest OPS, I'm not sure where Lackey ranked as Dewan only listed the top 10.

As far as showing what he can do, Zambrano has shown that he has been one of the best pitchers in baseball over his career. It's not Z's fault if some people are so blinded by their own ignorance and bias that they fail to realize how good he has been.

David Kaplan said:

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Again, you are not listening to me. I am not arguing that prior to signing his contract extension that Zambrano was a very good pitcher. However, my argument is that since he signed his new deal he had been very mediocre at best. His numbers since he signed the deal are ridiculous. And for some people who comment here (not you because you do show baseball knowledge even though we will agree to disagree on certain topics) who seem tyo think that Zambrano works hard that me be the biggest joke of all. He is late to side sessions which EVERY pitcher is required to participate in, he is lazy on his conditioning, and he is a candidate for a meltdown every time he pitches.

Yes, he pitched well earlier in his career and earned his extension but since then he has been below average and is far under performing the money that he is paid. To deny that is just ridiculous.

melissa said:

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Kap, I've been "listening" to your arguments even though you keep changing them. In your post you claim that Z is lazy and doesn't get the most of his ability. After looking at the career numbers he has, how can you continue to claim this? Wait, I know you pick only a few individual stats over a short period of time. This guy has been one of the top 10 pitchers in baseball over the last 6 years, was he supposed to be the absolute best? You said he received a "ridiculous contract extension," I've shown he has provided the Cubs with more value than he's been paid so you soften your stance to say he's been "mediocre" since he signed the deal. You claimed Lackey was "far superior" the numbers indicate otherwise so you change the argument to one of work ethic.

Just like anyone else who isn't Carlos Zambrano, I don't know if he has been capable of working harder, only he knows. I'll say one more thing about his work ethic, he's been a hell of a pitcher considering how lazy you claim him to be.

Kap, I don't know if you remember but before the 2009 season Don Cooper and Ozzie Guillen were criticizing Buehrle for his off-season workout routine. They want him to work more diligently and he flat out said he isn't going to do more. Do we hear every talking head in Chicago telling the world that Buehrle should be in better shape and he's lazy? They didn't just say he needed to up his ab work they said he needs a more rigorous routine entirely and he told them to forget it. Does this make him lazy and selfish? Please don't tell us that Buehrle has been far superior to Z because he hasn't. Maybe Buehrle hasn't worked hard enough either but we certainly don't hear him crucified for it. Nope, he's a good old boy from Mizzou that loves to spend his time huntin' in the off-season and that's just great. Carlos, of course, is the hot-headed lazy latin that underachieves.

*dan bradley said:

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Sorry, I've read this whole thing and Kap hasn't changed his point. You just haven't listened to it.

Perkins said:

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No, the point is that Kaplan's point is founded on unsound principles. Which, if you've ever studied logic, makes his argument invalid.

melissa said:

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Did you have a point Bandwagon or are you just here to be Kap's cheerleader?

JobbaJibba said:

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Melissa,
What Kap is saying and Bandwagon is claiming you're not listening to is as follows: Kap claims if you can see in the future from a certain point in time, you would change your decisions. Kudos to Kap. For pointing out the absolute F'n obvious. You know what else? If I took that almanac in Back To The Future II away from Biff, i'd be a damn millionaire 20 times over. Nice work Kap!

Perkins said:

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One of David Kaplan and Carlos Zambrano is good at his job. In case anyone was wondering, it's the one whose job involves throwing baseballs.

David Kaplan said:

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Yep, he's been great. Look how productive he has been. Where do you buy the rose colored glasses you watch Carlos pitch in?

Perkins said:

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I said good at his job, not great. Carlos Zambrano has been a very good pitcher over his career, and 2009 (3.6 WAR) was his best season since 2006 (3.9 WAR). That he's not Pedro Martinez is no reason to claim that he's not a good pitcher or somehow disappointing. 3.6 WAR is quite good in a season shortened by injuries.

Hell, even if Zambrano is merely good at his job, he has a leg (or two) up on you, Kaplan. You're not even adequate as a journalist, unless you started writing for the National Enquirer.

*dan bradley said:

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Then why are you here, Perkins?

Perkins said:

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Let's just say I have a vested interest in pointing out ignorance and stupidity, particularly within groups of which I'm a member (in this case, Cubs fans).

Huny said:

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Once again Kap I am amazed on the stupidity of the people who post on this blog. How many times does Zambrano have to miss when his team needs him to know that he is another cedric benson or Tyrus Thomas waiting to happen. His attitude is the worst I have ever seen and his lack of respect for his teammates makes me want to puk!! Since he signed the big contract he has become ineffective at best and by his own admission he does his teammates a diservice by not working during the season. Lets face it, he bailed on this team last year when they needed him most and for me I say good riddence!

Perkins said:

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Miss when his team needs him...like in 2007 and 2008, when he was pretty much the only one to show up for the playoffs (especially 2008, when every infielder committed an error in the same inning)? Or like when he threw a no-hitter? Or like how he takes extra batting and fielding practice and is arguably the most well-rounded pitcher in MLB? Like that?

The only thing Zambrano said regarding his workouts is that he could stand to work his abs more. He also mentioned that he works the hell out of a lot of other muscle groups. I guarantee he works harder at his job than you do at yours.

Then again, your basic inability to spell and use proper grammar, in addition to the logical fallacies present in your writing, leads me to believe that either you are not an adult, or you simply lack the intelligence to speak with adults. Perhaps you should go play with a shiny object or something.

David Kaplan said:

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Perkins, you are embarrassing yourself with your ridiculous comments. You think Z works hard? Try coming around the clubhouse and finding out the real truth. You have no idea what you are talking about. Zambrano drives the Cubs crazy because they never know what they are going to get. He is routinely late to side sessions and does not take care of himself like he should. We'll see if he dedicates himself this off season because he has the ability to win and win big but since he got his big contract extension he has not been 100% committed to be the best he can be.

Perkins said:

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Only one of us is embarrassing himself, Kap, and it's the one with the day-glo skin. You're arguing based on circular logic, selective endpoints, pop-psychology, and opinions. Anyone here defending Zambrano (myself included) is using hard evidence, because that's what's actually available. When one of us proves an argument ridiculous, you shift the goalpoasts. This is clear as day to anyone with a modicum of intelligence, which I understand not to be you.

The reason Carlos Zambrano drives many Cubs fans crazy is that many Cubs fans aren't very smart. At least about baseball. These are the same people who fellate Mark DeRosa for having a career year and love baserunning-out-machine Ryan Theriot. They think that because Sam Fuld and Reed Johnson make diving catches on occasion, they're better players than Milton Bradley, Alfonso Soriano, or Kosuke Fukudome. These are people who say the Cubs should trade players like Zambrano without a thought to whom the Cubs would get to replace such players, especially given that the Cubs would have to eat a decent part of any large contract to facilitate a trade in the first place. Frankly, if I'm in disagreement with most Cubs fans (or at least the ones whose voices are regularly heard), I'll count that as a victory.

If I could go into the Cubs clubhouse, I would. I'd thank Zambrano for being a very good baseball player and managing to deal with the kind of disingenuous nonsense that people like you, Paul Sullivan, Steve Rosenbloom, Carol Slezak, and Phil Rogers spout off on a regular basis. I don't know if Zambrano killed your pets, or fucked your sisters, or you all need to generate copy, or you're all just not very good writers (though I have my suspicions as to which are true), but seriously, slag off. Zambrano is one of the best pitchers in the history of the Cubs franchise. In a couple of years, his numbers with the Cubs will be better than those of Maddux with the Cubs (keeping in mind that Maddux was still a far better pitcher for his career). You're missing the forest for the trees. Zambrano is a very good pitcher, one of the best fielding pitchers in the league, and the best hitting pitcher in the league (except for maybe Micah Owings). He's animated on the mound, and he's a lot of fun to watch. Sure he has meltdowns on occasion. It happens to just about any pitcher not named Mariano Rivera. Big fucking deal.

*dan bradley said:

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Zambrano's batting is overrated. He takes extra practice in order to hit HR's and then swings at three straight pitches.

Futher proving the argument- YES, he's talented.. but unfortunately YES, he's an idiot.

Perkins said:

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lol, your statement proves nothing. The only reason even more isn't made of Zambrano's hitting is that WAR for pitchers doesn't yet include batting runs. Zambrano's hitting, relative to replacement level hitting for a pitcher, is worth another 1.5 wins or more. In that case, he's about a 5 WAR pitcher.

Teams pay about $4.4 MM for a win. Multiplied by 5, that comes out to $22MM, quite a bit more than Zambrano is making. So no, his batting is not overrated.

Huny said:

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While I'm at it if you really want to improve this team here is a list of other anchors weighing this team down that needs to go and use their salary to get production:
Neil Cotts -Done
Chad Fox - never should have been signed to start with!
Kevin Gregg- may as well kept Woodie!
Aaron (JOKE) Heilmann - no more need said
Jeff Samardzija- should be catching passes from Cutler!
Carlos Zambrano- 90 million dollars of dead weight who won't do situps!
Mike Fontenot- Thanks for coming, goodnight
Aaron Miles- Do I see a pattern here. Another washed up Cardinal the Cubs paid big bucks for!
Milton Bradley- I'm not even going there!
Alfonso Soriano- Adh playing in the National League!
10 pieces of dead weight on our current active roster! How much money would they free up Kap?

Perkins said:

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Well, the ones who actually make decent money wouldn't free up any money, since pretty much no GM would take on such large contracts in their entirety without offloading a similarly large contract. If you mean releasing a player, that would save appproximately $400,000 per player per season, as the team acquiring said player would pay him the league minimum. The Cubs would pick up the remainder of the salary. In essentials, they would be paying players to pay for another team. Which is why that idea is retarded.

Perkins said:

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Should read "paying players to play for another team."

joeydafish said:

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Huny, you are spot on.

TracyT said:

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This is what it is: Zambrano has incredible talent but very little between the ears. And everybody knows that baseball is a mental game.

The new ownership should send the message down that everyone will be held accountable for their performance, and if they don't live up to that expectation then they should start looking elsewhere to work.

I doubt Zambrano will ever live up to his contract or to his talents.

Perkins said:

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This meme is tired and has been since 2003. It's also patently false. For one, Zambrano had his best season since 2006, despite a steadily declining fastball velocity over the past few years. Lo and behold, he used his fastball less this season, and relied more heavily than before on his cutter and splitter. The result was an uptick in K/9 and K/BB ratios. That's at least one indicator that Zambrano in fact has "something between the ears." He's a pitcher, not a thrower, and he's a damn good pitcher at that. He's also a very good fielder and an excellent hitter (for a pitcher). He's one of the most complete ballplayers around.

As to your assertion that baseball is a mental game, the mental aspect is important, but it is primarily a physical game. You or I may understand how to play it, but that doesn't mean either of us would crack a rookie league roster, let alone MLB, owing to our lack of the physical talent necessary to play at a high level. Zambrano has both, and uses them well.

Very few free agents live up to their contracts, and the ones who do aren't the superstars who get massive paydays. As melissa pointed out, Zambrano has provided over $100 million in value over the course of his career while being paid around $55 million. Those are facts. Saying something like "Zambrano has incredible talent but very little between the ears" is an opinion, and an ignorant one at that.

joeydafish said:

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EVERYONE...including Hendry of course!

joeydafish said:

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Listen, I think we all would be fooling ourselves by saying no other team would want Zambrano on their staff. The Cubs have him and he at best can only help because it has nothing to do with him being "worth" his contract (Hendry has to sleep at night, not us fans)just if he is GOOD ENOUGH TO HELP HIS TEAM WIN GAMES. He is. However we would all be fooling ourselves by claiming Big Z is a dominant, feared, ACE pitcher LEADING the Cubs' staff, he is not. And I think that is the point being made by Kap, which I agree with. Based on talent and expectations alone, Zambrano dissapoints, NOT to the point of a Milton Bradley, in other words he is an "acceptable" free agent signing by Hendry. But I ask: where (who?) are Hendry's "exceptional" free agent signings?
The last one being DeRosa?? And he trades him??

Perkins said:

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Zambrano is a very good pitcher. Pretty much any other team in MLB would love to have him on its staff. They wouldn't trade for him without the Cubs incurring a large portion of his contract, because teams generally don't like adding a ton of payroll in trades. Moreover, the Cubs would be unlikely to get equal value for Zambrano for the same reason. There's a world of difference between being unable to trade a player and that player's being undesirable to other teams.

Perkins said:

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And Hendry traded DeRosa after a career year. In case you didn't notice, he wasn't nearly that good in 2009; in fact, he was only marginally more valuable than Milton Bradley...in the worst season of Bradley's career. The DeRosa signing was a good one, but trading him was also the right thing to do. He's a career utility player on the wrong side of 30.

*dan bradley said:

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We could have used another utility player. That and you couldn't have predicted the injuries which lead to his inconsistent hitting in 09. Judge the man on a full year. You should know that.

*dan bradley said:

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A trip to the DL, then another, then a seat on the bench after two years of starting (and whether or not you say he's a career utility player, his starting for two straight years DID HAPPEN). This all leads to an uninspiring year for critics like you to feed on.

So if you know so much about baseball, Perkins, why do you not know that consistency breeds success?

Perkins said:

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You're spouting cliches. What I'm pointing out is that DeRosa is a solid player, but not great. He had a career year in 2008, after which Hendry sold high. What makes him a career utility player (yes, even with the Cubs) is that he plays multiple positions. The reason he plays multiple positions is that he's not quite good enough to stick at one.

If consistency breeds success, then all players simply need more playing time to be successful. That's not the case, since every player has a different true talent level, and some simply won't be good enough to stay in MLB. Many will not be good enough to have a starting job.

One other thing I'd like to point out is that DeRosa was a career utility player who suddenly posted numbers well above his career norms after the age of 30. Funny how nobody in Chicago mentions the possibility of his using PEDs.

joeydafish said:

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Hendry traded DeRosa...why? The point I'm trying to make is there was no impending deadline to trading DeRosa. Sure he's not the greatest player and maybe he has seen more time as a "utility" player than as a "regular" that just validates my point that Hendry trading him was stupid and if he or you (perkins) or anybody thought that Hendry did the right thing by getting players in return for DeRosa while the gettin' was good there were other players that fit the bill better than DeRosa. FOR THE 2009 SEASON'S ATTEMPT AT A WORLD SERIES RUN, IT MADE MORE SENSE TO KEEP DEROSA THAN MOVE HIM BEFORE HE BECOMES A FREE AGENT. DUH. Sure he had down year in 2010 but it would have made more logic to predict (which everybody could have done except Hendry) THE BAD AND BAGGAGE that would come with BRADLEY than predicting a down year for one of the more productive, versatle players on the roster from 2008. After all Hendry signed Soriano to AN EIGHT YEAR DEAL, how hard is it to predict how many years Soriano will be butchering left field and clogging player development...ON THE WRONG SIDE OF 30????

melissa said:

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What is "clogging player development?"

Are you trying to tell us that Soriano is keeping budding superstars like Sam Fuld and Jake Fox off the field?

Yeah, Hendry was really "stupid" for thinking that Bradley who led the AL in OPS in 08 would give the team more value than a utility player like DeRosa. DeRosa's performance in 09 proved that Hendry was wise to trade him for 3 pitching prospects. The 09 Cubs wouldn't have made a run at the World Series with DeRosa because he wouldn't have prevented Aramis and Soriano from getting hurt.

joeydafish said:

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No, not superstars like Fuld and Fox, thanks for overexagerating though I appreciate your barbed with. What I meant was anybody of Soriano's deficiancy in the outfield and at the plaet signed for EIGHT FREAKIN' YEARS to a NATIONAL LEAGUE club is clogging up the system. And Yes, you got it right, Hendry was real stupid for signing MILTON THE HEADCASE BRADLEY and his better from the right side than the left side batting prowess to ANY contract let alone a 3 year deal. Uhh... or why is he the position of tryint to dump...oops...I mean TRADE Bradley already? Not to mention suspending him. Yeah, THAT signing had brilliant written all over it.

melissa said:

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Please tell me, who in particularly Soriano is preventing from becoming a star on the major league team? You claim he is "clogging up the system," so please tell us who is being pushed back by his presence? Back up your statements, if he has clogged the system then who in particular has been left in the drain? I know one thing, Soriano's signing led to 2 division titles, back to back and this franchise hadn't done that in 100 years. Would it help you to answer my questions if I randomly capitalized words? If so, I can do that too.

joeydafish said:

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I wouldn't be so PRESUMPTUOUS to PREDICT who would become a STAR but Hendry CLOGGED up his OWN system BY HANDICAPPING himself...HE'S STUCK with SORIANO and thereby IS HARDPRESSED to replace him WITH ANYONE that at LEAST has A chance OF becoming a STAR let alone AN all AROUND contributor.
PLEASE excuse THE randomly TYPED all CAPS...OR not.

Perkins said:

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Soriano is a star player...he played on an injured knee from the end of April until the Cubs shut him down. There's no reason to believe he'll be as bad in 2010 as he was in 2009.

And he plays LF. If you're concerned about his blocking the meager outfield prospects the Cubs have, there are two other spots in the outfield and first base, whose players are signed to shorter contracts.

arch21002 said:

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I find it amazing that you find it amazing. When you speak of Zambrano you speak the obvious that he isn't a "true #1", whatever the hell that even means anymore I don't know. You seem to ignore that his statistics by age 27 is one of the most consistent and best by anyone of his age in the modern era. Steve Stone is so much in your following head that you can't just take Z for what he is.....which is a 14-15 game winner, 200 IP, 3.30-3.90 ERA and a damn good bat. Is he overpaid? Yes. However, if a guy like Dempster gets 13 million per year for having one good season as a starter, then Zambrano at age 27 is going to get 15-18 million...THAT IS WHAT THE MARKET WOULD GIVE HIM AT THE TIME HE SIGNED THAT CONTRACT. Instead of bellyaching all the time that he isn't Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Chris Carpenter or Tim Lincecum...how about you just shut and stop your whining? He isn't one of the elite pitchers, everyone has known this for quite sometime captain obvious. I don't know why you have to throw a fit about that every time you go on the air.

I think I know why though, because your baseball god...Steve Stone....says that Zambrano should be winning 20-25 games a year with the best "stuff" in baseball. For one if you actually watch baseball you would know Zambrano doesn't have the best stuff in baseball and that is a ridiculous statement. Secondly, no one wins 20-25 games in baseball anymore. 15 wins is the new 18-20 type winner. How many pitchers had 20 wins this year? It doesn't happen. Now Zambrano had a really down year considering his two DL stints, horrible run support. The thing that made him so solid was that he wouldn't go on the DL, and would pitch well over 200 innings. That is something YOU SIR take for granted. I agree though that if he continues his recent trend of finding himself on the DL he isn't really valuable. He needs to get back to "horse" status more than your ridiculous "ace" status that means nothing. Plus IMO "ace" status is a guy who you can rely upon as your #1 in the postseason, not a guy who doesn't throw a dominant game against the Astros on May 4th and then you get your panties in a bunch screaming ...."WAH WAH WAH HE ISN"T AN ACE....WAH WAH WAH". Well no kidding, he hasn't earned that right to be called that for multiple reasons, but he is still a damn solid all-star type starter if he can get back to his "horse" status.

*dan bradley said:

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You typed all that to still not listen to the basic points that 1) he hasn't earned is money and 2) he still COULD earn his money if he wanted to work for it.

melissa said:

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You are absolutely incorrect, Zambrano has provided more production than what the Cubs have paid him. Since you don't seem to believe Carlos has given the Cubs $101.2 MM of production why don't you share your method for evaluating the dollar value of a player's performance. I would imagine your method has something to do with your gut and what you've heard from moronic talking heads.

arch21002 said:

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I like how everyone knows that Zambrano doesn't want to work for it like they are in his head. Maybe he just isn't that elite of a pitcher to begin with. Maybe YOU have unrealistic expectations for his "stuff" that Steve Stone raves about even though it is pretty apparent he doesn't have the "best stuff in baseball".

I again will take my chances with a 30+ 200 IP version of Carlos Zambrano than many around the game. His #1 asset was his durability. Now three DL stints since he signed that extension is more concerning to me then what he actually does on the mound. Given his track record, if he is healthy they are fine with him as a top of the rotation starter.....no reason to bitch about the obvious like Kap and his followers seem to do all the time.

arch21002 said:

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Zambrano isn't the reason the Cubs aren't as close to the world series. Fighting that battle is rather ridiculous. You can win with Zambrano in your rotation.

Plus Melissa, and Perkins STOP wearing those rose-colored glasses of pretty much full-proof fangraph statistics with no bias whatsoever. Only take the obnoxiously arrogant biased opinion of Steve Stone which bears ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Stone is no genius Kap. You and others have told him he is the smartest human to ever watch baseball so often that he actually has gone overboard with his arrogance. He spouts, and rambles on moronic diatribes that you soak up that mean nothing. If he is so genius why is he the color analyst of the Chicago White Sox instead of being a GM? Pitching coach? Manager? etc.

And also great job Perkins calling Mr. Kaplan out on his ridiculous love for the try-hard white player that is bad at baseball over the people who are actually talented at baseball. How many AB's did it take Mr. Fuld to get his 1st RBI this season? Reed Johnson is as mediocre as it gets, and Ryan Theriot should be a 3rd infielder on a team with aspirations of winning a title.

Edelweiss said:

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I have to be careful about what I say because I know someone in the Cubs organization, and don't want to blow that person's cover. What happened to Zambrano and several of his team mates in 2009, had nothing to do with Milton Bradley. One of the players had something terrible happen to him, emotionally, which was never reported in the media simply because this player is not a crybaby, and he did not tell management. He did go into a form of depression, but did not get time off for "Social anxiety disorder", as some major leaguers do. Some of his team mates consider him a good luck charm because of their cultural beliefs, and his unique physical characteristics. Those players stopped hitting, along with the affected player, and one of them got injured, although the team stayed around .500. Lou didn't know about the problem until August. In the meantime, Bradley, who was new, didn't understand what was going on, but felt the vibes, and reacted badly to them. The problem should not affect the team next year, and the players whose hitting slumped will most likely rebound.

joeydafish said:

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Whether talking about Zambrano's lack of maturity, being overpaid, an ace, not and ace, DeRosa being a utility player, starter, what the market will pay these players...I think there is an underlyng common theme to all of our comments and that is Hendry is not putting together the proper roster for a National crown let alone a Worl Series apperance. All the players we keep pointing out the pros and cons about may not even be worth our time anymore. It's all getting old. Of course it's not Zambrano's fault or Miles' fault or Gregg's fault or Bradley's fault that the 2009 season was such a FLOP or even so much worse than 2008...who decided to put all those players TOGETHER and thought they could go to the World Series??

melissa said:

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Hendry has put together a division winner 2 out of the last 3 seasons. The GM puts together a team that is capable of winning over 162 and then the team takes their chances in the playoffs. Hendry put together a team that was good enough to win in 09 also but due to injuries and under performance the players didn't produce. Was it Hendry's fault Aramis and Soriano, 2 or his top 3 hitters, were injured? Was Hendry supposed to anticipate his Rookie of the Year catcher having an inexplicably poor season? It's not Hendry's fault everything didn't go the Cubs way in 09.

joeydafish said:

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O.K. now I truly believe you are Jim Hendry.

Perkins said:

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She's not Jim Hendry; she's just capable of analyzing data and forming intelligent conclusions without emotion or opinion clouding her judgment. Hendry has done a damn good job since 2006, and much of the time before that as well. 2009 was a perfect storm of injuries and underperformance. That the Cubs still finished above .500 is a testament to the depth Hendry gave the team.

joeydafish said:

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Ohhh...I see, you're Jim Hendry.
(like you didn't see that coming...)

MB21 said:

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Lots of evidence has been supplied in this post and unfortunately none of it was by the person who wrote it or the people who are agreeing with the people who wrote it.

I'm guessing Kaplan believes that global warming is just propaganda. After all, it was cooler this year than last so there's no such thing as global warming, right?

That is exactly what you're doing here on this blog, Kaplan. You ignore facts. Actually, you don't really ignore them, you admitted you see facts as merely opinions awhile back. The fact you are unable to figure out the difference between facts and opinions tells us a lot about your level of education. Did you even bother to get your GED after you dropped out?

MB21 said:

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I firmly believe that Kaplan and many of the commenters here are retarded. Some Cubs blogs make me embarrassed to be Cubs fans, but this one makes me embarrassed to be a human being.

MB21 said:

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Since 2007 Zambrano has been worth $40.6 million PLUS his value as a hitter. In that time he's been worth about 2.5 WAR as a hitter so that's another $10 million. $50 million since 2007. Those aren't opinions. They're facts. Over those 3 years he's been $43.4 million.

Facts. They help people not look so stupid. You should check them out sometime, Kap.

Edelweiss said:

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I doubt that Kaplan is stupid or uneducated. His problem is that he doesn't really have any more information than the average fan, and it shows in his comments, especially on the air. He has such a big ego, and relies on people for information, who feed that ego, but don't really give him information. This is especially true about the Cubs. He flatters Ryan Theriot, who tells him what he wants to hear, but has anyone noticed that Theriot stopped checking in with him sometime in July? Kaplan seems to target certain players with insults that have nothing to do with their performance. The players are not as naive as Kap thimks they are, and he can't really get close to any of them - he just thinks he does. If I were he, I would try to be a little more respectful of the Cubs players, and, perhaps I might get more useful information from some of them. Trust me, this has been said over and over again in the Cubs clubhouse. Kap's credibility is on the line.

MB21 said:

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I know Kaplan is stupid and I just hope that's a result of his education level. I'd hate to think that an educated man or woman could be as dumb as he is.

David Kaplan said:

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You are keeping me laughing as I am reading your comedy on vacation! Keep it coming. You are showing your idiocy on a regular basis. Maybe we should get you your own blog so you can prove to the people just how sad you really are.

Perkins said:

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He does have his own blog. And it's quite a bit better than this one. Mainly because we like to use facts over there.

MB21 said:

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At least you can laugh about it. A lot of people are really embarrassed about their lack of education. I'm glad you're able to laugh at your own expense. That's important in life.

David Kaplan said:

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Really? Hmmm, that must be an impostor who is on the Ryan Theriot Show every week with me on WGN Radio. You really don't have a clue about much do you? I just have one question for you. If the information is no good then why do you keep clicking on the blog?

MB21 said:

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I click on the blog because I'm a cruel bastard who enjoys making fun of the less intelligent among us.

Max Power said:

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Well, that explains why you are trying to figure out ways to keep a guy with an ops of .712 (ops+ of 84) and is a terrible baserunner in the lineup. I didn't think it was for on the field performance.

melissa said:

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Edelweiss, I tend to agree with you except where you say Kap "can't really get close to any of them," in regards to the athletes. If you look at Kap's header he has had his picture taken with numerous pro athletes. See these guys really like Kap, he's their buddy, at least the ones that smile for the camera. I wouldn't think they really regard Kap as a journalist seeing how he requests to have his picture taken with them.

arch21002 said:

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I really don't see the point of piling on Kap the way some of you are in here. I don't dislike Kaplan, I like his passion for the Cubs and respect that he calls players out when need be. The problem I have is that he takes everything a "scout" tells him, or his "god" Steve Stone has rock solid gold. Stone lost me when he said Zambrano should be winning 22 games a year and how he only averages 14 wins per year since his ROOKIE YEAR! One he used wins as the stat of choice, and second he acts as though there are a dozen guys who wins 20 or more games a year. 14 wins per year on AVERAGE since he was a rookie is pretty damn good in toady's era.

And how bad is it that the #1 team in town, one of the biggest fanbases in all of sports, can't get serious INTELLIGENT baseball conversation in this city? I find it rather pathetic. The Sox have WSCR, the Cubs have Kaplan getting overly emotional on CTL. Become a fanbgraphs fan Kap, become a big time Prospectus fan....and stop being SOOOOOO overly emotional about this team on air. I hope Ricketts gets his own network someday with some baseball "geeks" that want to talk serious baseball about the Cubs. The only Cubs discussion we hear is...."oh this guy is overpaid, this guy sucks, 101 years, billy goat, wins for pitchers, look at his batting average...crap. There is a reason why Cubs fans are stupid, and I think it is because of the coverage of the team does the fans no favors. It is embarrassing.

AndCounting said:

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Look at the business of it, though. The Cubs don't draw more fans than other teams because it's smarter to cheer for the Cubs. They draw more fans because they have, for whatever reason, been able to establish an emotional connection with their fans. In essence, most fan allegiance for any team, sport, music, whatever, is emotional. So it makes perfect business sense for media outlets to cater to fans' emotions more than their intellect.

Obviously when it comes to analysis, intellectual depth is far more valuable. But if you want to engage as many people as possible (which is pretty much the bottom line in the media business) you make emotions a priority. Part of the success of the Cubs media-marketing machine has been a knack for reaching people emotionally, whether it's through people you love, people you hate, or people who frustrate the living bejeezus out of you. Smart people who explain the game well aren't always very popular, because a lot of people don't watch baseball to learn more about the game and the statistics that explain it.

That doesn't mean fans are dumb, it just means they don't take baseball seriously enough to want to understand it on a detailed level. They want to talk about it a little bit, cheer for the guys they like, and send the guys they don't like out of town. And there are various levels of intellectual investment along the way.

In the end, it might be smart to ignore the facts and watch the game. I'm sure it's less frustrating.

arch21002 said:

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Nothing wrong with being emotional at all if you can back up your arguments, and debates with statistical data that is relevant is all.

Of course Zambrano is maddening to Cubs fans, that is a given.....we are all frustrated with the guy, but I don't see the point of piling on him when he isn't really the reason the Cubs were bad. You can win with Zambrano as a top of the rotation type starter. We are soooo worried about character, chemistry, and "likability" when all I care about is wins. It seems that if Zambrano doesn't throw seven innings of one run ball every outing he is a joke, a hot-head, overpaid..etc. etc. It becomes overly unrealistic expectations for the man. What concerns me about him is his DL stints as of late. If he stays healthy and gives you 200+ innings, then he will produce 14-18 wins, 3.30-3.90 ERA, and albeit not the most important thing in the world...but he brings you a great bat when he plays. He gave himself a handful of his own wins last year due to a big hit he gave himself. He went through a stretch of games where he was great...then he had that Sox game where he "blew up" and it became overreaction city again with the Zambrano haters. Rodgers was ready to throw him out of town, and he was the discussion of the Cubs universe. Look at his splits before that game, then after that game.

He had several starts before and after that were excellent, yet because he had the "blow up" against the white sox we need to throw him outta town. It is ridiculous. I understand the frustration with the guy, but maybe I just take Z for what he is, and can appreciate that if he can get back to being a horse he can be an all-star type starter pitcher who probably never be in the Cy Young voting.

AndCounting said:

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Don't get me wrong, I think getting rid of Z would be nuts. On the irrational side, he's hilarious to watch, and I would hate to see him in any other uniform. On the rational side, he's a really good pitcher whose negatives simply manage to draw more attention than his positives, and I'd hate to see him in any other uniform.

My point is just that making irrational, incendiary comments (or heaping glowing praise on guys who don't deserve it) is better for ratings than well organized facts.

David Kaplan said:

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Arch, you make some valid points. I am on vacation but I am spending a lot of my reading time studying the statistical side of baseball. While I don't believe that it is the be all and end all of evaluating player moves and performances it certainly has taken the game to a whole new level. Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus is a good friend and a frequent guest on Sports Central and in the coming months you will be hearing more from him. We can all learn new things each and every day and I am striving to include more statistical analysis in my evaluations each and every day. However, people like MB21 and the impostor who was passing himself off as me earlier today before he was deleted add no value to the blog. They are pathetic and most people find it sad that they have nothing better going on their lives than to waste people's time with their ridiculous posts. Agreeing or disagreeing with an opinion and presenting facts that back up your argument is one thing. Personal BS and idiocy are entirely another. Thanks for your post. We may battle on opinions but at least you, most of the Desipio boys and most of the other posters here take the blog to a much higher level. Thanks for participating and don't hesitate to let me know if there is something you think we can do better. Kap

Wreckard said:

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"most of the other posters here take the blog to a much higher level."

To be fair though, it doesn't take much to raise the level of discourse around here.

"Personal BS and idiocy are entirely another"

Unless of course it's coming from you and is directed at the players you don't like.

joeydafish said:

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Kap, in your opinion albeit worthless to some according to some passionate comments posted lately...since I do believe you are at least a little closer to "knowing what's going on with the Cubs" than myself, I can't speak for all the others that know SO MUCH MORE THAN YOU...I digress, sorry,
what are the chances of Castro or Blanco becoming the starting SS in 2010? Surely, 2010 would be a great year to break in some youth since the payroll is tapped out and Hendry tied his hands with some ridiculous contracts??
Is Theriot being mentioned as moving to 2B?

arch21002 said:

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Will Carroll is solid. Baseball is the sport I follow the most....it's my thing, the Cubs are the team I grew up with and I really hate that Cubs fans are considered imbeciles who don't know anything about baseball. I've kinda just realized that the coverage of the team is sub-par for how big of a fanbase we have here. I really don't mind you for the most part Kap, I might disagree with some of your points....but I respect the passion you have for this team. I know you are friends with many of them, but the sports-writers in this town don't do any baseball fan favors if we want to learn anything about the team.

Edelweiss said:

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Cub fans are neither smarter nor dumber than other baseball fans. We are much more likely to hear from them, since this is Chicago. The same goes for what the players do. We follow the team, so we see all the blunders they make. If we were to follow another team, we would see the same things from their players. Watching the playoffs was very enlightening, as some of the best players are on those teams. For example, Chone Figgins, after whom many Cubs fans were lusting, had a dismal performance in the playoffs. What if the Cubs spent money to get him, and the same thing happened next year? Cubs fans think the grass is greener on the other side, but when they get there, they see how faded it really is. In defense of David Kaplan, he merely echoes the sentiments of some of the lesser Cubs fans. The Cubs are very circumspect about what they plan to do, and are doing, and even Paul Sullivan, who is embedded with the team is told very little. Kap has to play a guessing game, which is hard to do, and he is sent players who know how to shoot the breeze, and say very little, like Theriot. Ryan was told in July to keep his cards closer to his vest, so he has given Kap even less information since then.

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