Apr 21, 2010, 7:00 PM EST
There are nine active pitchers with at least 100 victories and a win-loss percentage better than .600:
1. Johan Santana
2. Roy Halladay
3. Roy Oswalt
4. Tim Hudson
5. Andy Pettitte
6. CC Sabathia
7. Chris Carpenter
8. Josh Beckett
9. Carlos Zambrano
This is just a guess, but I don’t think the teams that control any of the first eight are weighing conversions to relief.
Ever since he landed his big contract, we’ve been told Carlos Zambrano isn’t a winner.
The Cubs, though, have played .518 ball during Zambrano’s seven seasons as a full-time starting pitcher. Zambrano, over that stretch, has a 100-58 record, good for a .632 winning percentage. Subtracting Zambrano’s 158 decisions from the Cubs’ mark leaves the team, remarkably enough, 487-487.
Sticking Zambrano in the bullpen is really the most boneheaded move the Cubs could have made. Sticking him in left field would have made as much sense. Zambrano, after all, has 16 homers in 314 at-bats since the beginning of 2006. Alfonso Soriano has eight homers in his past 314 at-bats.
Zambrano’s stuff hasn’t gone anywhere. He got lit up on Opening Day, but then, he usually gets lit up on Opening Day. The Cubs knew that and started him anyway. Zambrano has a history of tensing up in big situations, making him a possible timebomb in a late-inning role. Maybe he’ll be great. Maybe he’ll be the terrific seventh- and eighth-inning guy the Cubs need.
But Zambrano was pretty much a lock to be an above average starter this year. Ryan Dempster is the only other one of those the Cubs have. Ted Lilly’s health remains in doubt. It’s possible I’ve underestimated Randy Wells, but I don’t like his middling fastball and strikeout rate. Carlos Silva is due for an eight-run first inning anytime now, and while I like Tom Gorzelanny, he’s not someone who can be counted on.
So, no, I don’t think it’s too early to write off the Cubs for 2010. Zambrano’s shift will probably prove temporary, but this is a team in disarray. The NL Central won’t be up for grabs unless the Cardinals hit a mess of injuries, and I doubt the Cubs will prove better than then second place teams from the NL East or West.
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