Cubs Exchange Arbitration Figures with Prior and Z

The Cubs proposed $11.025 million and Carlos Zambrano had $15.5 in mind. This one is going to take some work. Will this be Hendry's first arbitration case? My guess is that Hendry would like to speed up the extension talk and get Z under contract for the next 5-6 years, avoid the arbitration case and make up whatever differences between the two sides over the course of a long-term deal. Mark Prior had the audacity to ask for a raise at $3.875 million. The Cubs have offered $3.4 million. Prior made $3.65 million last season. They might as well just agree to meet in the middle and keep him at the same money he was at last year.


15.5M? That's insane.

"Sammy seems hungry and somewhat humbled by the last two years," Rangers GM Jon Daniels said in an e-mail to "This is about giving a second chance to a guy who did a lot for the game, and who wants an opportunity to prove he can contribute. We're not setting expectations, and he's not asking for anything other than a chance to compete."

...well damn.

speaking of Sammy, if by some miracle the voters put him in the Hall, how do you think the Cubs will handle it? That would be fun....

Why hasn't anyone pointed out that Z's 2006 was his worst as a starter? As much as I love him, he's not worth anything near 15.5M. Probably 10M, but he's more in the 9-12 area, especially since this is arbitration, not the FA market.

Wow, Z allowed 10 (!) unearned runs last season.

$15.5 does seem ridiculous. The guy is something like 64-42 for his career. Other than pitchers coming over from professional ball in Japan, has there ever been a pitcher in MLB with only 64 wins who has gotten a contract that was worth even $10 million per year?

"Other than pitchers coming over from professional ball in Japan, has there ever been a pitcher in MLB with only 64 wins who has gotten a contract that was worth even $10 million per year?"

A.J. Burnett, last offseason.

I updated the post but Prior asked for 3.875, Cubs offered 3.4. He made 3.65 last year.

As much as I love Z, I'm starting to think he's the most overrated player on the team. (*Ducking*). He keeps giving up more homers, less groundballs and more walks.

I haven't quite reached that conclusion yet, but he really needs to show some improvement soon, he's been backtracking since 2003.

And that will go down as the most unpopular comment I've ever written...

If a 1-6, 7.21 ERA performance calls for a 225K raise, I'm going to try out for the Cubs. I'm sure I can throw 40 innings of 9 ERA ball!

"And that will go down as the most unpopular comment I’ve ever written…"

Sorry, but I beat you to it... comment #4 should break the dam.

everyone likes Z...but who likes him enough to commit 10+% of the payroll to him for the next 3-5 years?

especially given what the 08/09 payrolls already look like...

should be interesting...even if he is signed longterm it should be interesting...

9- Gil Meche?

He's not worth it, but he got it.

The reason Carlos Zambrano will get so much is based off his experience and how young he is.

He is a veteran pitcher with 4 seasons pitching over 200 innings and a career 3.29 ERA at the age of 25. And he hasn't even hit the supposed "peak" years yet. He has at least 10 years of similar numbers left in his arm, and any team with cash to spend would love to pencil him in on a nice 7+ year contract and sit back and enjoy.

He is a staff ace, he is dependable and he is young. He is worth every dime he will get paid.

"The reason Carlos Zambrano will get so much is based off his experience and how young he is."

I thought arbitrators looked at other pitchers his age and made a weighted mean of all their salaries to determine what the player will earn the next season...

Ok, let's see what a quick review of ESPN's sortable stats says:

8th among qualifying MLB pitchers in ERA.

Tied 8th in Wins

Fifth in total strikeouts

Third in K/9. His K/9 rate has increased for four years straight

Fifth in winning percentage

from Baseball-reference, since 2003 he's started 32, 31,33 and 33 games and pitched 213, 209, 223 and 214 innings

his ERA+ has been 136, 165, 131, 136 (Rob - how in the world is any of this indicating that he's been backsliding since 2003? If anything, he's only backsliding from a truly sensational 2004, and in some ways, last year was an improvement over 2005)

There is really only one single cause for alarm, and that is that his walk rate increased last year. Indeed, Z was a bit lucky (his DIPS era was 4.12, giving him a very high DIPS %, only 5 pitchers having a higher one), but he compensated for this in part by striking even more people out.

Given the remarkably high and remarkably stable level of performance he has demonstrated over the last four years, and given the state of the market for pitching as it stands today Zambrano is easily worth 15 million on an open market, probably closer to 20 million. You might not LIKE the state of the market today, but "it is what it is", and somebody is going to pay Zambrano a fortune.

Given that there is a grand total of ONE blinking yellow light, his walk rate, and that everything else looks great, and has looked great for four years, he is about as good of an investment at the premium-talent level of players that you're going to find.

Z can only be compared to pitcher with 5 years service time and their deals in recent years.

certainly, for arbitration purposes 15 million is aiming high. But from Z's perspective, why not? He's going to look good in any comparison, and walks into it knowing he can't make less than 11 million.

My objection here is to any notion that Z either is regressing or is not in principle worth 15 million. By any measure, he's an absolute elite-level pitcher.

the numbers I'm speaking of are...

G/F since 2003

BB rate since 2003

HR rate since 2003

he's ERA has also risen the last two years. But 2003 was a bit off, more like 2004, but still there's stuff in those peripherals that worry me. Yes, he's still getting the job done but how many guys are succesful walking 100 guys a year? Hopefully it's just a blip but he should be walking less guys as he gets older and go back to using that two-seamer religiously to force groundball instead of going for the K every time.

It's not like I hate him or anything or don't think we should resign him, I'd feel a lot better though if he getting better at this age like he should be, not worse, which I feel he is....

"There is really only one single cause for alarm"

I think there are at least two. His GB/FB ratio last season was a paltry (for his standards) 1.24; his worst by forty points, and well below his career line of 1.69. That might or might not be a fluke, but if that doesn't revert, a homerun ballpark like Wrigley won't be helping his ERA in the next few years.

Of course, I grant the reality of the walk rate, and the GB/FB rate, those are problems, and they're getting worse.

But when considered with his regularly increasing K rate, and that even now he's league average (if I recollect off the top of my head) in HR/9, and his history of being able to succeed while having relatively high walk rates, and I'm not especially worried. In fact, given the K rate and the ERA scores, and there's real ground for arguing that overall, he's getting better.

At some point, an increasing walk rate will become untennable, but there's no reason to assume either that last year's spike in walks is an actual trend, or that it's a spike that has moved him into the zone where he's at risk of not being a dominating pitcher

In fact, given the K rate and the ERA scores, and there’s real ground for arguing that overall, he’s getting better.

How is he getting better?

ERA+ the last 4 years

his K rate has gotten better and that's all well and good but it's been at the expense of other things getting worse. At his age, you just can't risk losing him of course, but you can't say there aren't danger signs.

And now I'm going to postulate something really wild:

By most defensive metrics, the Cubs had an outstanding defensive outfield last year (noodle-arms notwithstanding). Are infield defense was, well, not strong: it featured Cedeno's struggles at SS, Lee missing most of the year, and the talented but erratic fielding of Ramirez.

Isn't it at least plausible that Z altered his pitching strategy to adjust for the defense behind him? Pitch more for fly balls? The sabrmetrician in me knows that GBs generally are preferable to FBs, but there's some possibility Z looked at his D, and concluded that on days where wind wasn't a factor, he felt better playing more towards his OF Defense?

Like I said, a bit of a wild speculation, but not implausible.

I never said there weren't danger signs.

His K rate improved significantly, his ERA+ improved modestly.

"Like I said, a bit of a wild speculation, but not implausible."

It definitely isn't implausible, especially because, as noted by most of the people at Parachat, he wasn't using his sinker nearly as much as he did in 2003-2005.

ah yeah, duh: in that case, I'm even less worried, as Z can simply choose to go back to the sinker if he comes to feel it's necessary.

Which, I believe, is also generally easier to throw for strikes than the four-seamer. I'm going to have faith that Z knows what he is doing on his pitch selection. Lord knows I don't have faith in Barrett or Rothschild on that one.....

Z's fangraph page just for fun. Nothing new but interesting way to look at his progression or lack thereof.

I really need to make more use of fangraph, that's just awsome.

they have a player linker too by the way....

Keep in mind Z and his agent knows that Hendry likes to use this year to negotiate long term deals for arb eligible players. So this number might also just be part of the negotiating. But that being said, Z is not worth $15.5 million this next year, even in this market. I think he should get a long term deal like Oswalt got (5/73). But Hendry has little choice but to sign Z for long term and going to arbitration might hurt those chances, so it will be interesting as to how Hendry handles this.

Do the Cub's lose a draft pick or something if they don't offer Prior arbitration? If not, I say just let him go... screw him. He's not worth $1 mil.

And extend Z... give him whatever he wants, within reason. In this pitching market he's worth a ton of money... Just pay him. Whatever he's signed for will seem like a bargain next year.


Keep in mind Z and his agent knows that Hendry likes to use this year to negotiate long term deals for arb eligible players.

Last I heard Z fired his agent, who is his agent now?

From the not so SHOCKING news department...JJ will now not be attending the Cubs Convention this weekend.

And who do you replace Z with?

Sign him he's young, he's durable with a great upside.

In five years he will be a bargain.

if mark prior can turn in 200ip of 4.00era ball he'll make his "value" of the past 2 seasons in 1 season.

hell, kip wells and joel pinero are gonna make 4m this year and a lotta guys are getting 6-8+m this year based solely on the fact they can throw 200ip.

i'll take the upside gamble, myself...especially in this weird ass market.

...and as of now there's w.miller/cotts/guzman/marshall/mateo/marmol/ryu backing it all up...every one with mlb experience at least so there wont be the "awe factor" of bus-to-plane culture. are so right. What is wrong with you guys who talk about letting him go...if junk like Marquis is worth $7 and Zito his money--Z is a must sign. 5 years makes sense. Given that he is a cub, working with Rothchild, and being under Dusty...he could well break down,...but it will be money exceptionally well spent. Prior is an absolute wuss...a nutjob...the anti-Rex Grossman (in terms of mental toughness--when he is paying attention) boo from the fans and prior will pretend to be hurt for 3 months...but I digress.

You don't screw up a Z. Maddux is obivbously better, but you sure as hell don't let a guy who might win a Cy Young get away. Who will replace him? Jose Guzman.

BTW, if Z breaks down...I hope he and Russ Ortiz and Jason Schmidt and others sue the crap outta of Dusty. THey will have a strong civil case against that ------ (family blog afterall)...they can sue for pain and suffering, destruction of their careers (or set backs), malpractice...

Z might have hurt his arm on the internet or have a weak back, but you sign him. It would be the most important signing of them all. Tell me, folks, if want to spend all that time reading stats and looking for anything to justify why he doesn't deserve the money...who the hell will replace him? Bobby Brownlie? Russ Ortiz? MY 92 yearold grandmother?

The market might be way outta wack, but those are the breaks. The money is out there and Z deserves it. It would be beyond idiocy to let him go after spending $21 on Marquis.

If that happens, I will drive Jim Hendry and the gang to the border (canada or mexico) so they don't get killed in the U.S.


"And who do you replace Z with?"

i believe Z is the only guy out there who could be a FA next year that's an ace under 30...and he's not exactly 29.5 in october.

he's gonna cost...big.

i wouldnt mind seeing the 1-year arb or a 3-5+ year deal...dunno which will surface but its hard to argue against either.

"BTW, if Z breaks down…I hope he and Russ Ortiz and Jason Schmidt and others sue the crap outta of Dusty."

jason schmidt was injured in PITT and you might as well blame bobby cox for ortiz's issues as much as dusty...both used him exactly the same.

dusty has a small list of pitchers that developed medical problems due to their wear/tear, but none of them are uniquely his issue or his doing.

Here is the updated payroll situation by my count adfter the Ohman and Cotts signings:

Michael Barrett - $4.93MM ($4.8MM base + $130K prorated signing bonus)
Henry Blanco - $2.15MM ($1.4MM base + $750K signing bonus)
Neal Cotts - $825K
Ryan Dempster - $5.0MM
Mark DeRosa - $4.33MM (Guesstimate)
Scott Eyre - $3.5MM
Bobby Howry - $4.0MM
Cesar Izturis - $4.15MM
Jacque Jones - $5.33MM ($4.0MM base + $1.33MM prorated signing bonus)
Derrek Lee - $13.0MM
Ted Lilly - $9.0MM ($5.0MM base + $4.0MM signing bonus)
Jason Marquis - $4.75MM
Wade Miller - $1.5MM
Will Ohman - $900K
Aramis Ramirez - $13.0MM
Glendon Rusch - $3.25MM
Alfonso Soriano - $17.0MM
Daryl Ward - $1.05MM
Kerry Wood - $1.75MM
TOTAL (19) - $99.415MM

Rich Hill - $380K
Matt Murton - $380K
Angel Pagan - $380K
Ryan Theriot - $380K
Michael Weurtz - $380K
TOTAL (5) - $1.9MM

ARBITRATION (Guesstimates):
Mark Prior - $3.7MM
Carlos Zambrano - $13.0MM
TOTAL (2) - $16.7MM

TOTAL PAYROLL (26) - $118.015MM

***These figures do not count any possible incentive/performance bonuses & does not count the $3.0MM buyout of Kerry Wood contract***

signing bonuses do not count toward the full payroll.

for those that are asigning a true meaning to the payroll figures above.

they are broken out (and in some cases paid out) over the course of the contract evenly as far as mlb's bookkeeping goes.

Crunch, you can count it the way you like, make your own list, have fun...weeee!!

I don't think Z is worth $15.5 mil but it's probably pretty close. With the inflation in the market, he's probably a $13-13.5 mil pitcher. Let's face it, the Oswalt deal is outdated now and Carp took a big pay cut to stay at home with Duncan. I think the Cubs are going to have to offer right around 5-6 years for $100 mil or so to even sit down and talk things out with Z. Especially when you're paying $21 mil over 3 years to Jason F'ing Marquis.

If the Cubs want to have any hope though of even competing for a playoff spot this year, they need to give Z what he wants. He's our ace, for better or worse, and arguably our best player, for better or worse. Even if you hate to overpay him, he's worth it to keep him around.

As for Prior, I agree he's definitely not worth $3.5 mil or so. But with his upside, and with the lack of pitching talent on our staff, I agree that keeping him around one more year to see what he can do isn't the end of the world. While he's obviously been a huge disappointment, he's still got talent, and maybe he's able to stay healthy long enough to put things together this year. Maybe pigs will fly come April, too, but I don't think the Cubs have many other options than hoping. Ironic, I know.

To me, it sounds crazy to give $10 mil per to Ted Lilly for four years, and then try and sign Big Z at $11 per for 5. I know it's the lowball offer to meet in the middle, but it'd bother me if I were Carlos or his agent.

"Crunch, you can count it the way you like, make your own list, have fun…weeee!!"

when someone asks you why the list you posted is 5+m more than stated or calculated by other media outlets it saves a little "wtf?" factor to it.

you pro-rate some bonuses and lump others together...its not even being evenly applied. besides, very few multi-million bonuses are paid outright and depending on organization, drawn from an entirely separate pool of operational funds.

I apply the bonuses based on media reports I have read and other salary websites, like word is Lilly is getting his bonus paid in a lump sum this month, while Prior had his old bonus spread out for a few years.

Nothing scientific here, nor was I claiming it to be. You, nor I, nor anyone here is privy to how the Cubs apply their salary or bonuses in general or for an individual player. Again, my listing of the salaries is just a guide, not exact I am sure.

But in the future I will put in a little note letting everyone know you think the bonuses should be applied differently, just to save you some time...:)

This is my theory on Z last year. I think it is kind of similar to what happened with Brandon Webb. Webb has outstanding control but 3 years ago he walked 119 people. The reason for this was a lousy infield defense and Webb over pitching trying to strike out people instead of doing what he does best. So the D'backs went and got back Craig Counsell and traded for Orlando Hudson.

However Z isn't an extreme ground ball pitcher, he certainly leans more to the ground ball side though. Plus he walks his share of batters anyways, at around 80 or so a year, compared to Webb who is more around 50-60. Z is a better strikeout pitcher than Webb.

Anyways our infield defense wasn't all that great last year. SS, 2nd, and 1b certainly we not playing above average defense. So if your defense is shaky, a pitcher tends to over pitch which leads to a higher walk rate.

I have no idea how good DeRosa is at 2nd, but Izturis and Lee should instill more confidence, in not only Z but the rest of the staff, to just put the ball in play more. If DeRosa fails and Theriot breaks onto the scene again you get some great defense at 2nd base now.

I think your gonna see Z's walk totals go back down with a more solid infield defense behind him this year. Just a hunch, though.

Oh yeah, and the offense being down right putrid is another factor. A pitcher tends to think he needs to have perfect control in order to have a shot to win, which leads to walking more batters.

and just to be clear, of course the Cubs have to extend Z, his stuff is too good and he's too young. But at least so far, he's not the "ace material" everyone thinks he is and his peripherals are going the wrong way (except his K rate)

here are some "ace" examples with their ERA+ the last 4 seasons:
Oswalt: 149, 123, 141, 152
Clemens: 112, 145, 221, 197
Johan: 151, 182, 153, 161
Halladay: 145, 116, 184, 147
Pedro: 212, 125, 148, 96
Carpenter: 85, 121, 151, 143
Sheets: 98, 154, 127, 118
Webb: 165, 124, 124, 154
Z: 136, 165,131,136

Hopefully Z does what Webb did after 2004 where his walk rate skyocketed (119 that season otherwise he's in the 50/60 range) and last year was just a blip.

Z's just got some work to do before he reaches elite status and I think some people think he's already there.

I am sorry but what is ERA+? Is that like New and Improved Coca Cola?

I am just not down with these new fangled stats.

What's the 4 year ERA+ of those pitchers? I'd do it, but I don't know how to figure up averages. Just at a glance, though, and it looks like Z matches up pretty well with most of them.

Yeah, that's right......Z isn't worth $15.5M a year. Since when were baseball contracts equal to what a player is worth? It's a free market economy, and the market right now says a steaming pile of horse dung named Gil Meche is worth $10M a year for 4 years. It says a fly ball pitcher with an ERA above 3.6 (Zito) is worth 7 yrs at $126M. Seriously, you don't think someone (and it better be the Cubs) won't give a 25 year old with Z's numbers $15-16M a year for 6-8 years this winter? Sure, we can let him go because Westbrook is a FA next much is he going to go for? $12-14M a year for 5-6 years. And that's right, the Cubs have who ready to step into next years rotation out of AA/AAA? Marmol, Guzman, Gallagher, Veal? Give me a break............Will everyone stop worrying about the Cubs payroll in 2008/2009. Let the Tribune spend the money they should have been spending for the last 10-15 years. What are we waiting for........another 100 years before a pennant, much less a world championship. Believe me, whoever is lining up to buy the Cubs from the Trib knows exactly how much they'll owe on the books and it won't stop their offer to buy the team.

Bottom line: take out your checkbook, Jimbo, and write $96M or $112M to Carlos. And thank whoever you pray to that the team has at least 1 quality starter.

"Will everyone stop worrying about the Cubs payroll in 2008/2009. Let the Tribune spend the money they should have been spending for the last 10-15 years."

well who's to say they are spending the money they should?

who's to say the 08/09 payroll isnt gonna go back to 100m in 08/09? (no, i dont think that will happen)

we don't know any of this, but we do know little things like the cliff floyd signing might be linked to jones being traded. if a 3-5m signing is a hold up in 07, how about the contracts being signed that kick in serious loot after 07...well...that's an example of a possible concern.

until the trib states or proves theyre gonna be a 120+m team or they're gonna spend what they need consistantly...there is a reason to believe payroll concerns are in play, not a blank check.

that said...everyone and their mother AND this market knows that this year's and next year's FA starting pitching market is pure crap. zito got a lotta money based on health and age just as much as his tallent/tools when he signed his deal.

the cubs arent in the dark on this issue and the club has to have some kind of battle plan for what they want out of Z and how much they're willing to pay.

...add kyle loshe to the 4m pitchers...reds picked him up...wild wild market. kip wells, joel pinero, and kyle

and someone gave marquis 7m a year for 3 years...oh wait...

rothschild put his balls on the table on that marquis thing...and hendry is financing the experiment...

if you'r going to sign d-bags like marquis to way more money that they deserve, might as well do it for the guys that don't suck.

ERA+ is a pitcher's ERA to the league average since the environment can change from year to year. Z went from 3.26 to 3.41 but his ERA+ was better last year because the league ERA went from 4.27 to 4.63. Also a better way to compare between NL and AL. I believe it also takes into account park factors.

It's on each players BR page, 100 is average, north of 100 is above average, south is below average. Z's up there no doubt but he needs more 2004's or at least get in the 140-150 range more consistently if he wants to be a true ace.

I threw Sheets in there but he can't stay healthy, Peavy's another guy at 96, 177, 134, 103.

Pitchers and catchers report 4 weeks from today (Wednesday Feb 14th)!!!!!!!

Cubs and Z will settle at $12.25M and continue to negotiate a long-term (4-year) deal.

And I boldly predict that Ryan Theriot will be the Cubs' Opening Day CF, and will bat second behind Soriano. Tomas Perez will be the backup IF.

Theriot playing CF.. batting second. I like it! But Tomas Perez... he should be in Iowa. Cedeno should be the backup IF. I know playing backup won't help him improve his skills much, but hey, he's just not good enough to be a starter.

Z might have hurt his arm on the internet or have a weak back...

When did Z get a weak back?

(my "straightman" "/straightman" HTML brackets vanished from my post #59...)


"I am just not down with these new fangled stats."

Who do you think you are, me?

I'm surprised at the negative comments about Prior--prior to last season, he was every bit as good as Jason Marquis and Ted Lilly...and now that it appears Kerry Wood is going to the bullpen, locking up Prior for the long-term, once he proves he is healthy again, should be one of the Cubs' top priorities.

But, as a Brewers' fan, if you don't want him, we'll trade you Geoff Jenkins for him...even Derrick Turnbow.

When did Z get a weak back?

i think it was about a week back.

amen #51. if the cubs don't pony up the cash for z, the yanks or mets will. it ain't our money. let the trib and the cubs' future owners worry about the books. just buy us a good team.

1.)well who’s to say they are spending the money they should?

2.)who’s to say the 08/09 payroll isnt gonna go back to 100m in 08/09? (no, i dont think that will happen)

3.)until the trib states or proves theyre gonna be a 120+m team or they’re gonna spend what they need consistantly…there is a reason to believe payroll concerns are in play, not a blank check.

Crunch, I'm not picking on you because the comments over the past weeks have been similar from a lot of writers. But let me address:

1. Absolutely correct.........who knows what $120M will buy the Cubs in '07 let alone in '08 and beyond. If Hendry guessed wrong we'll have another new GM in 2008. But at least he put his you know what out there on the table for the first time ever and history is filled with examples of 'with big risk comes big rewards.'

2. Over the past 10 years (maybe more), has the Cubs payroll ever been cut intentionally? At least, has it been cut by nearly 20% (your number, not mine)? Sure a player(s) may be moved when they were out of contention and money earmarked for the trade deadline not spent. But when was the last time the Cubs cut payroll because they needed to save money? I would submit there's no legitimate evidence to believe it will be in 2008/09 or maybe ever.

3. What business (and God knows, the Trib is a business - and run like one), says yep, we're going to maintain or keep increasing our payroll every year? We have to look at the recent history (last 5-10 years) and assume the team payroll will continue to rise 5 to 10% a year. The luxury cap is something like $140M in '07 (which the Cubs won't come anywhere near). It continues to go up commersurate every year of the new MLBPA CBA with what the Cubs usually have as a player payroll budget.

Net, net..............please all Cubs fans, stop with the payroll worries. It's their money not ours. With the $$$ their getting in ticket prices, concessions, broadcast revenue, and MLB licensing they'll be OK.

Now whether Marquis is worth $7M a year for 3 yrs, I'll join the debate on that one.

We all know how Z's arbitration is going to go down with a good degree of certainty: Hendry and Z will shake hands at a figure that is in the middle of the two submitted, then continue on to work out a multi-year deal. Z will have his big fat contract before the season starts. I'm guessing 6 years/$17M per with this season's probably starting off at $9M.

David, well, first, I am not sure I would agree with you that, prior to last year, no pun intended, Mark was every bit as good as Lilly. At least not in '04 and '05. Prior was 17-11 those two years while Lilly was 22-11. Those numbers may look similar to you but remember that Lilly pitched in the American League and much has been said lately about it being more difficult to pitch in the American League than the National League, with the DH. Also, I think some of the reason for the negative attitude about Prior, deserved or not, is the reputation he has gotten for being a bit on the "soft" side when it comes to pitching with any discomfort. Yes, some of his injuries have been things we can understand but sometimes he seems like a bit of a wuss, too. Add to that the personality of a robot and, well, there you have it.

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