Carlos Zambrano has been my favorite player on the Cubs since at least 2003. I remember Steve Stone talking about Zambrano and how at such a young age he could work himself out of trouble that he put himself in. He was energetic. He wore his emotions on his sleeve. He was one of the fiercest competitors the Cubs have had in my lifetime. Losing was unacceptable to Zambrano.
He was everything that I wanted this organization to be. He was also everything most Cubs fans wanted the organization to be, but they wanted that energetic, passionate, and emotional pitcher to be energetic, passionate and emotional at only the right times. There are two Cubs players I associate not with the Cubs way of losing, but with breaking free of that tradition: Sammy Sosa and Carlos Zambrano. Neither player accepted losing. Sammy demaded the team get better or trade him. Zambrano would call his teammates out on the field and off the field. Both players are hated by a fan base that is supposedly sick and tired of losing. It’s odd.
Zambrano is officially gone, but he’d been unofficially gone since last summer. His departure was only a matter of time and as much as I’ve enjoyed Zambrano, it was time. He’s no longer the productive pitcher he once was. His behavior, while acceptable when putting up 4 to 5 WAR seasons, is no longer acceptable when you’re average or worse. It doesn’t change the fantastic memories I have of Zambrano and nothing ever will. I’ll be sure to check out a few of his starts in 2012 and maybe more than that. Good luck.
Below is a list of the 10 best Zambrano starts using 3 different metrics.