Let's take a walk down memory lane for Carlos Zambrano. He was a top-notch right-handed pitching prospect for the Chicago Cubs, fireballer and tough competitor that battled for 27 outs a night. Yes, that was Carlos Zambrano back in the day. To further explain how good Zambrano was, take a look at these stats '04-06.
2004: 16-8, 2.75 ERA, 188 K, 81 BB
2005: 14-6, 3.26 ERA, 202 K, 86 BB
2006: 16-7, 3.41 ERA, 210 K, 115BB
Carlos was also an all-star in 2004, 2006 and 2008. He was dominant on the mound with a fastball of upwards to 95-98, a devastating slider and a pretty good change-up.Hitters feared him, his teammates believed in him and he was the talk of the town on the north side. To cap off his great career, Zambrano threw a no-hitter against the Houston Astros on September 15, 2008. He had come back after an eleven day lay-off due to shoulder soreness. However, Big Z was as dominant as ever that day and shut down a red-hot Astros lineup.
That was then though. Since that time, Big Z has had episode after episode of anger problems, throwing teammates and managers under the bus and absolute childishness on the mound. Big Z has not looked like an ace in a long time and his recent actions show he should not even be playing big league baseball. Really, who takes off their jersey and cleans out their locker after giving up 5 long-balls and throwing at Chipper Jones? It is just downright wrong. As Tim McCarver put it today on Fox Saturday Baseball, "Zambrano has been given chance after chance and still has not learned".
The Cubs move to place the righty on the the disqualified list without pay for the next 30 days is long overdue. He has acted like a child on the mound and should have been let go long before now. Hopefully, they are done with giving him more chances and his time in the Windy City might be up by now. One thing has been constant in the midst of the Zambrano saga, more Cubs loses and the continuation of the longest World Series drought in baseball.
Baseball has had it's share of hot heads in the past (John Rocker, Lloyd McClendon, Lou Pinella, Bobby Cox), but none recently have been as bad as Zambrano. His actions are uncalled for and until he gets his act together, baseball is better off without him. His downfall might be tragic but he has himself to blame for it. Every time he takes the mound at Wrigley, it is more of a drama show than a baseball game. The fans don't deserve it, the Cubs don't and neither does baseball. For now, it is best if Big Z uses the next 30 days not to fight the Cubs on their decision but to figure out what kind of man he wants to be. Forget baseball player, right now Big Z is a coward and a disgrace to all who strive to succeed at baseball.
*Stats provided by Baseball America