Friday, September 14, 2007

Return of the Email Elbow?

As many of you know, it was reported on Aug 17 that the Chicago Cubs and Carlos Zambrano reached a 5 year / $91.5 million deal. With an average salary of $18.3 million / year, Zambrano has the highest average salary / year for all pitchers with a multi-year deal.

Only 26, the fiery Zambrano is already a veteran of the MLB, with 2007 being his 5th full season in the bigs and 5th strait season with 200+ IP. $90+ million is a lot of money for any player, let alone a pitcher, but the Cubs have secured one of the best pitchers in the NL for his ages 27-31. It's not hard to imagine that the Cubs would have had to contend with 6 and 7 year offers for $20 million / year from the likes of the Yanks, Mets, Red Sox and Angels. Taking all that into account, it looks like the Cubs made a smart move.

Or did they? In last 30 days, Zambrano sports a 1-3 record with an ERA of 7.36 and a WHIP of 1.77. Although he's been healthy throughout his career, in the spring of 2005 Zambrano was told to reduce the amount of time he spent on the computer, as it was feared to be causing the pain he was experiencing in his pitching elbow.

With the talent pool in this off-season's free agent class being extremely dry, Zambrano and his agent surely knew that by waiting till the off-season, they could get an even bigger contract - from the Cubs or another suitor. So why wouldn't he wait? Could the last month of lousy pitching be related to an injury that Zambrano is hiding? Was he worried that a trip to the DL or a pre-signing physical would scare other clubs away?

It's possible, but not probable. I think the most likely reason is that Zambrano wanted to remain a Cub, and wanted a deal locked up now. But stirring the pot can be fun, especially when this site is co-authored by a Cub fan. And I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for any news of health issues with the big right-hander, including tonight as I'll be attending the showdown between Zambrano and Wainwright at Busch.

A question to ponder: who would you least like go up to bat against, an angry Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, or Carlos Zambrano? Someone else?

No comments: