With the off-season rumor mill already swirling, (our off-season startedÂ mid-summer unfortunately), I am disappointed not to hear more about the Mets pursuit of Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano.Â While it’s true Big Z is coming off a down year, I see him being a perfect fit here in Queens.Â
After 3 seasons of stellar numbers including ’06 in which he led the league in wins and was 4th in strikeouts, Zambrano got the contract he was looking for.Â The Cubs signed him to a 5 year $91.5 mill deal, with a player option for 2012.Â 2007 and 2008 were solid seasons, but Big Z’s eccentic field antics were growing old and as the Cubs’Â playoff runsÂ fell short each yearÂ the trade rumors started flying. Â Last year Zambrano was only 9-7Â with a 3.77 ERA whileÂ back spasms forced him to the DL for a few weeks.Â The CubsÂ fell out of the playoff pictureÂ much earlier than expected and Zambrano and his monster contract were an easy scapegoat.Â
The numbers last year weren’t as bad as they seemed.Â Zambrano let up 3 earned runs or less in 22 out of his 28 starts while receiving little to no run support.Â He probably should have had at least 13 or 14 wins.Â Regardless, Cubs management seem to be through with him now, and this would be a golden time to step in and make an offer.Â Zambrano’s a gritty pitcher who loves the spotlight.Â He threw a no hitter in ’08 down in Houston, something Met fans have never experienced.Â Yes his antics are a bit odd at times, but as a fan I see it as enthusiasm and desire.Â So will the Queens Faithful.Â There weren’t any complaints coming out of Chi-town the first few years when Zambrano and the Cubs were rolling.Â Instead, the crowd embraced the energy they saw out of Big Z,Â and with a team and fan base desperate for some new vivacity here in Queens he’d fit perfectly.
Zambrano could be that #2 we are looking for behind Johan.Â He is the only pitcher in the league under 30 with over 100 wins.Â He can throw a complete game shutout on any given night.Â But, how about the way he handles the bat?Â He’s hit 20 career homeruns and has batted .300 twice!Â Wouldn’t it be nice to have a pitcher who can hit the ball in the Met’s lineup for once?Â Can anyone remember the last Mets pitcher who actually posed a threat at the plate?Â (Mike Hampton doesn’t count).Â How about the affect it might even have on the #8 hitter who might actually see a pitch or two for a change?
Zambrano’s a head case there’s no doubt about it,but maybe the guy just needs a change in scenery.Â Is it worth taking on the $18 mill/year?Â It just might be.