Let’s take a look at the Cubs starting rotation – despite the awful, disappointing season, the Cubs pitching staff actually performed very well. The quartet of Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly and Rich Harden pitched well despite injuries and rookie Randy Wells rounded out the rotation once he was called up to replace Zambrano after his 1st injury problem.
Carlos Zambrano – 2009 Report Card Grade – C.
Carlos Zambrano was a major disappointment for the Cubs during the 2009 MLB schedule.
2009 stats – 169 1/3 innings in 28 starts; 9-7 record with a 3.77 ERA and 1.38 WHIP; 152 K’s; 78 walks; .246 opponents’ batting average.
2008 stats – 188 2/3 innings in 30 starts; 14-6 record with a 3.91 ERA and 1.29 WHIP; 130 K’s; 72 walks; .241 opponents’ batting average.
Big Z’s numbers do not justify his status as the ace of the Cubs starting pitching staff or the money he will be paid during the next 3 seasons. He is scheduled to make $18.875 million in 2010 and 2011 and then $19 million in 2012. When your ace can’t even get double-digit wins, you have a problem. Zambrano suffered 2 injuries during 2009 – a hamstring injury while trying to beat out a bunt that cost him 3 weeks in May and then a back injury triggered from over-aggressive swinging that cost him another 3 weeks in August. This cannot happen. Zambrano needs to takle better care of himself and he needs to report in better shape at the start of spring training in 2010. He will be 29 in June 2010 and he can’t rely on the excuse that he is still growing and maturing. Big Z is a veteran major league pitcher with 8 years of starting major league experience. He needs to show that on the field. While he has cut down on his walks in each of the last 2 seasons (he was over 100 walks in both 2006 and 2007), he needs to work on cutting down on the number of hits he is allowing. The .241 and .246 batting averages against in each of the last 2 seasons are the highest of his career.
Let’s hope that Big Z can right the ship in 2010. 2009 should be in the rear view mirror for all Cubs players at this point. It just wasn’t meant to be, and now it’s time to focus on getting back in shape and ready for the grind in 2010. Zambrano had his moments in 2009 and if he can channel that confidence and pitch more consistently (like a Ted Lilly), he will be a better pitcher, and he will make the rest of the staff that much more effective. He has the ability to do it, not it’s just up to the coaching staff and Big Z to translate that ability into game day action.
Despite his hot-head reputation, Big Z is still a fan favorite at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field. If Zambrano can put together a 15-20 win season in 2010, he will be that much more loved on the north side of Chicago for years to come…