The Clock is Ticking on Z

Hidden deep within the bowels of this story about the Chicago Cubs and Prior agreeing to a deal yesterday, Bruce Miles gives us this sobering thought:
Prior’s settlement leaves the Cubs with one arbitration case pending, and all indications are that it will go to a hearing. Star pitcher Carlos Zambrano is looking to up his salary from $6.5 million last year to $15.5 million. The Cubs are holding firm at $11.025 million. Zambrano, who went 16-7 with a 3.41 ERA in 33 starts in 2006, won’t be a free agent until next fall, but Cubs insiders apparently believe Zambrano and his agents are approaching this year as if he already is on the open market. For that reason, the Cubs likely will not want to settle at the midpoint between the two figures. An arbitration hearing is set for Feb. 20, and things could get interesting if it gets that far because teams generally put forth negative statistics in their argument for the arbitrator, who must pick one figure or the other.
Ugh, first we get the revelation that Zambrano doesn't seem to inclined to go along with the Hendry plan of we'll sign you long-term the year before you hit the open market. Hey Z, it's a good plan, it works, no reason to mess it up now. Second, if they do make it to arbitration, the chances of Z sticking around go down dramatically. Those cases can get ugly as the team basically has to berate its own player and Z seems like a proud hombre that won't take kindly to that sort of talk. Of course, I think the Cubs have a solid case, I don't know of any pitchers going into their sixth year of service time who got anywhere near $15 million. Hendry still has a few weeks to fix this one and he's got a good track record on signing his own players, but we're getting dangerously close to panic time.
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Comments

Do the players usually sit in on the cases?

I thought only the agent went.

Hmm, I think they have the option to go, but I'm sure whatever is said would get back to him anyway if he didn't go.

AFAIK, there are five people involved in an arbitration hearing: the judge; the player and his agent; the team's general manager and the team's legal representative.

I could be mistaken, though.

Well that would depend on the agent giving him the story.

And since he fired Boras, I don't know what Z is thinking.

BTW, didn't Bruce Miles say that, last year, there was a 99% possibility that Ohman's case would go to a hearing?

I bet it gets settled before the deadline.

I wasn't right:

"After an arbitration hearing begins, the three-man panel then must choose one of the two offers presented."

I guess it's agent, judge, GM.

that can't be right, it's just one arbitrator and the three-man panel wouldn't decide, the single arbitrator would...

Sorry, forgot to post the important part:

"but if the proposals don't match, both sides prepare for a hearing before an arbitration panel made up of the player's representative, the team's representative, and the neutral arbitrator."

This is from www.thesportseconomist.com:

"If a case goes to arbitration, then both the player and his team go to what amounts to a hearing where they present their "final offers" to a panel of arbitrators (3 of them) and each side presents a case to the panel. Within 24 hours, the panel chooses one of the two offers as the binding settlement."

Looks like there could be 7 people there: player, player's agent, Team GM, Team lawyer, 3 person arbitration panel.

thnx for the info, I always though it was only one arbitrator, good to know.

Yep, Manny's got it. The CBA that expired in 2001 included language gradually transitioning from a single arbitrator to a panel of three arbitrators. The three arbitrator panel has been in place since then, and as far as I know, it continues under the new CBA.

The arbitrators are professional independent arbitrators recommended by the American Arbitration Association and agreed upon by the MLBPA and the MLB Labor Relations Department.

Another interesting fact is that, just like in a divorce hearing, at any point in the process the sides can "reconcile" and reach an agreement before the one/three arbitrators rule.

When the agents talk about Z's durability does the Cubs rep pull out a computer mouse and use it as Exhibit A?

Back in 2003, Jim Hendry traded 2B Bobby Hill and two others to the Pirates for 3B Aramis Ramirez and CF Kenny Lofton, a deal that likely pushed the Cubs over-the-top to the N. L. Central crown. And as we all know, things did not ultimately work out quite as well as us Cubs fans had hoped they would.

But Bobby Hill's career did not turn out exactly as planned, either. After spending two seasons as a back-up infielder with the Pirates, Hill was traded to SD last March, after which he spent the 2006 season toiling in AAA. But now we can add Bobby Hill to the list of contenders for the last spot on the Cubs bench in 2007.

The Cubs signed Hill to a minor league contract last Friday, and although no announcement has been made to confirm that he will get an NRI to ST, I would expect that he will get one, and that he will have an opportunity to compete with Angel Pagan, Tomas Perez, and Mike Kinkade for a bench gig, what will essentially be the "Last Seat on the Bench."

Although he never developed into the everyday player he was expected to become, one thing B-Hill absolutely positively CAN do is pinch-hit (275/362/396 in 100+ career MLB PA as a PH). So if Ryan Theriot proves in ST that he can play CF (in addition to SS-2B), it's entirely possible that Bobby Hill--who can play 2B or 3B in a pinch--could claim the fifth and final spot on the bench, thereby giving the Cubs two back-up infielders instead of just one.

With Daryle Ward and Bobby Hill on their bench in 2007, the Cubs would have two of THE best PHs in baseball available for duty in the late innings, Hill for when a PH is needed to instigate a rally by leading off an inning, and Ward for when a PH is needed to provide a knock with runners on base.

wow, that flew under the radar. BOBBY HILL!!!!

Bobby Hill the SAVIOR!!!!!!

Print up those playoff tickets BABY!!

How far behind can Choi be? I think he signed with the Orioles. I can't believe Hill was still floating around out there at this late date. I don't know what he did in the minors in 2006, but he still has a career .262 ba and .343 ob, is switch hitter, can play a couple positions and as Arizona Phil points out, is a good pinch hitter. I'd take him over Tomas Perez.

ARIZONA PHIL:
I think career pinch hit lines are worthless. It's just another situation (ala BAVG/w2out+2on and BAVG/RISP) that the hitter can't control -- that said, I like the Hill signing.

TJ:
Choi signed with the Devil Rays.

Z seems determined to test the FA market in order to determine his value, and after this winter's feeding frenzy, who can blame him?

And if 2007 is designed by Z's agent to position Z for a FA-inspired multi-year deal, it would seem that he has little to lose by having the arbitrator decide between $15 million and $11 million. Even if he loses, he still gets a 100% raise from 2006, and the $4 million lost will be spare change in the ensuing $100 million + deal next winter.

Hendry has a real battle on his hands, some of which he created himself by the Lilly and Marquis deals.

Kearns 17.5/3 years with Nationals. An awful lot of money for a guy with one full season under his belt.

Of all the X-Pirates, I wish they'd bring back Randall Simon.

Tomas Perez is the only legit backup SS candidate if Theriot gets the CF gig.

The Transaction Guy — February 1, 2007 @ 4:26 pm
ARIZONA PHIL:
I think career pinch hit lines are worthless. It’s just another situation (ala BAVG/w2out+2on and BAVG/RISP) that the hitter can’t control

========================

CARLOS: I disagree. Some guys can hit cold off the bench, other guys can't.

About the MLB/DirecTV deal:

From: XXXXXX
To: Brosnan, Tim
Sent: Mon Jan 22 16:30:13 2007
Subject: MLB's deal with DISH Network

Is this a joke? You have to be kidding me.

Shutting out fans from your product has got to be one of the worst business decisions I've ever heard of in my life.

Brosnan's response:

Thanks for the note. You need to get your facts straight. I also appreciate your business advice.
--------------------------
Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld

Quoted from www.noMaas.org

Seamhead — February 1, 2007 @ 4:32 pm
Tomas Perez is the only legit backup SS candidate if Theriot gets the CF gig.

================================

SEAMHEAD: Barring an injury and some really weird trifecta, I don't think Theriot gets the Cubs '07 starting gig in CF. But if Theriot can prove in ST that he can play CF, then Angel Pagan's value is much less, and that's probably the only way (other than an injury) where Bobby Hill (or Kinkade, T. Perez, or anybody else) can get a spot a bench.

Tomas Perez is the only legit backup SS candidate if Theriot gets the CF gig.

if you think Tomas Perez is a "legit" anything other than minor league roster filler, than Cedeno is just as legit.

I don't see one good reason to have a backup SS just for his glove on the 25-man roster. Not one. You obviously don't replace Izturis late in a game for a defensive replacement and if you want to pinch-hit for Izturis, you can certainly get away with Theriot or Derosa there for a couple of innings. If he gets hurt, Iowa's not very far away.

Yeah, Bryan, I liked Simon, too. He swung at a lot of bad pitches but he had a knack for creaming those balls, even pitches at his eye level. He also seemed like a good guy to have in the clubhouse, very positive and enthusiastic. I wished we had kept him for 2004. The spirit or mood of that team just seemed much more down or flat than the chemistry in 2003.

The Transaction Guy — February 1, 2007 @ 4:30 pm
Kearns 17.5/3 years with Nationals. An awful lot of money for a guy with one full season under his belt.

===========================

CARLOS: What you say is misleading. While Austin Kearns has only one full (complete) season where he spent no time in the minor leagues during that season (and that was 2006, although the only reason he spent time in the minors in 2003 and 2004 was to partake in three separate injury rehab assignments), he also has played in 515 MLB games (more than three full seasons worth) and has 4+145 total MLB service time 2002-06, and he has 2000+ PA (again, more than three full seasons worth) under his belt.

No, I have never written _ this year, last year or any year _ that it was a 99 percent possibility that Ohman would go to arbitration. He nearly went last year. He came to his senses early enough this year. The reason Zambrano is likely to go _ and neither side is denying it _ is that the Cubs don't feel they're at a pair of numbers that would yield a suitable midpoint. In other words, they feel Zambrano has filed way too high.

One more thing: My thanks to Rob for posting the link. I appreciate.

ARIZONA PHIL:
"TRANS GUY: I disagree. Some guys can hit cold off the bench, other guys can’t."

Just as some guys are thought to be able to hit with RISP and some aren't; in my opinion it's all a clear matter of luck -- and while I acknowledge that coming off the bench to hit in a mid-pressure situation must take some sort of a skill, the outcome clearly dismisses that thought: take a "proven" pinch hitter like Todd Hollandsworth, who sports a shiny .276, 7 HR 29 RBI career line as a PH -- he only hit .182/.229/.333 as a pinch hitter in 2006 (30+ ABs). He hit .233/.283/.349 in 2005 in that role (40+ ABs); in 2004? .563/.611/1.063.

"Proven" pinch hitters' lines vary each year. In my opinion, I insist, it's purely a matter of luck, quality of the player (of course that if you pinch hit with Albert Pujols you're more likely to get a "clutch" hit than with Deivi Cruz) and other circumstances like whether the pitcher is a September callup or Roger Clemens.

Retaking my BAVG/RISP comparison, another random outcome situation, I present you the following examples:

Alfonso Soriano hit .231/.411/.462 in that situation last year. The year before, he hit .235/.275/.458. 2004? .253/.301/.404; it's not that Soriano can't hit with RISP, it's just that he wasn't fortunate enough to get hits (or extra base hits) in that situation in certain years like 2004; same goes for Todd Hollandsworth when pinch hitting. In 2004, he was fortunate enough that he hit like Babe Ruth in the limited pinch hitting duty time he had -- but in 2006, he just failed to get a hit in most of his at bats as a pinch hitter, a role in which (if his career averages are any indication) he should excel.

It's pure luck, not a mindset.

BRUCE MILES:

"No, I have never written _ this year, last year or any year _ that it was a 99 percent possibility that Ohman would go to arbitration. He nearly went last year. He came to his senses early enough this year. The reason Zambrano is likely to go _ and neither side is denying it _ is that the Cubs don’t feel they’re at a pair of numbers that would yield a suitable midpoint. In other words, they feel Zambrano has filed way too high."

Sorry, I must be thinking of someone else. Thanks for the clarification.

"CARLOS: What you say is misleading. While Austin Kearns has only one full (complete) season where he spent no time in the minor leagues during that season..."

I meant injury-free season. I wish there was an edit button.

Then all of hitting is just luck, right?

JD, TOO:
"Then all of hitting is just luck, right?"

No. Obviously, skill is the superlative factor. I'm just stating that when you isolate events (RISP, 2/outs+2on, PH) luck is the biggest factor. Exempli gratia, a .330/.400/.560 player could have a .100/.100/.100 line as a pinch hitter, if he just couldn't get a ball out of the infield in the 20 at bats he received as a pinch hitter.

this is a game where if you do something right at the plate 30% at a time at the plate you better play some killer D in a rare position and/or hit homers or you're gonna be unemployed.

its also a game where doing something right 40% of the time can pretty much get you in the hall of fame if you do it long enough.

most of the time we're dealing with 30-35% success as a working range of bad-to-good...and its pretty polarized plus agreed that 30% is bad and 35% is good. very few would say otherwise (discounting the possible glove/power concerns).

amazing 20-30 more hits or walks than another player can do to his value.

CARLOS: I absolutely disagree with you about pinch-hitting, and what it takes to be a successful PH. Not all PHs can do it forever. Some have the skills to do it for a year or two, while others can do it consistently from year-to-year. In the case of Todd Hollandsworth, his entire career has gone progressively down the toilet over the last three years.

Some athletes can function well coming into a game "cold" off the bench, while others can't. Some individuals relax under pressure, while others don't and (for whatever reason) can't.

Being a good hitter is not luck. It takes talent/aptitude and practice. Being a good pinch-hitter requires an additional skill, and that is walking up to the plate after sitting on the bench for a couple of hours and hitting against the league's best relief pitchers. Some players don't handle lack of playing time well, because they don't know how to stay sharp. Others can function well that way.

Now, if you're saying Bobby Hill is no longer the same hitter he he was in 2004-05 when he put up quality PH numbers, that's fine. Maybe he is, maybe he's not. We'll find that out in Spring Training. But in those two seasons (2003-04) he did consistently produce as a PH. It's not just a matter of luck.

Do not endure the wrath of Bruce Miles, Carlos (aka Transaction Guy), we want him on TCR's side. :)

Thanks for dropping by Bruce, as always, excellent work. And please feel free to drop by anytime, we're sponges for Cubs news.

"Do not endure the wrath of Bruce Miles, Carlos (aka Transaction Guy), we want him on TCR’s side."

Wasn't my intention. I recall a Chicago-area writer saying that it was a lock that Ohman's case last year would go to arbitration. My mistake, though, was quoting Miles. As a fellow (albeit future) journalist, I'm sorry.

Or maybe we take things too seriously. I need a coffee.

I should also add that one thing that seems to make a good PH is the ability to be patient and work a count and still be able to drive the ball with two strikes. That type of hitter gets to adjust to the "cold" situation by seeing more pitches in the AB, and you force the pitcher to throw strikes, which helps a PH to be successful, too. While that's true for any hitter in any inning in any situation, it's especially important for a PH to be able to do that.

I think Carlos's point and one I tend to agree with, is that the more opportunities you give a player in a specified situation (i.e. Pinch-hitting, RISP, leading off), the more their numbers will look like their career numbers in all other situations.

And yeah, there's been plenty of studies on it as well that all lead to that same general conclusion.

Just bring back Glenallen Hill. All our problems will be solved. As a side note, does anyone ever remember seeing him smile? I love the guy, but I can never remember seeing anything but the most serious face on him at every moment, even after hitting a sure home run.

Hey does anybody know when they start offering season tickets to the people on the wait list?

No problem at all, Transaction Guy. And no wrath emanates from here. I did think it likely Ohman would go this year, based on last year, but cooler heads prevailed. With Zambrano, I fear it's a different story based on recent developments. Fortunately for all, there are still about three weeks until the hearing. Maybe that'll give cooler heads here a chance to prevail. Thanks for having me. Great site.

Hellfrozeover, Glenallen Hill was one of the nicest and most interesting guys I've met. He did have a menacing scowl, but beneath it all, he's a pretty gentle guy. I interviewed him once, and he thanked me for doing so. He's into coaching now, and I hope he gets to the big leagues. He often talked about respecting the game.

Let's hope Hill had a better Spring Training than last time he was in a Cubs uniform:

.154 AVG (8-52), .274 OBP, .173 SLG, .447 OPS. He had 1 SB and 3 CS, 1 extra base hit, and hit into 4 DP's. UGH!!!!!!!!

Simon always made contact and put the ball in play. Now, unless he GIDP, then I count that better than a K any day. I hope none of these bench guys/possible late-innning PH's went to the Korey Patterson hitting school...

When did Bruce Miles start posting here?

When did Bruce Miles start posting here?

apparently today....

My understanding is that Glenallen was widely regarded as a Genuinely Good Guy. Puts a smile on my face to hear that he's still involved in the game.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Gle...

I think he's the first base coach now for the Rockies actually...

Bill K — February 1, 2007 @ 6:24 pm
Hey does anybody know when they start offering season tickets to the people on the wait list?

I would like to know the answer to this also. I am about 3200 on the list. Where are you at, Bill?

http://colorado.rockies.mlb.com/news/article....

that was actually the link I meant to paste, hired as 1b coach in November last year, was managing one of their affiliates before that.

I fear it’s a different story based on recent developments.

Bruce,

Care to elaborate on those recent developments? Or is just what you mentioned in the paper today?

You'd be amazed who can post when you don't require registration.

HOLY CRAP! First Bruce Miles now Carrie Muskat? Who's next? Oh please be Jerome Holtzman!!

Chad:
"When did Bruce Miles start posting here?"

If that is truly him and not some impostor. Not like that has ever happened at TCR.

sure WPZ, but I'm about 99.9% sure that's Bruce Miles.

I would say being jerks about it wouldn't really encourage Bruce to keep posting here, don't you think?

As for the questions about the season ticket waiting list, from what I have heard at the Cubs Convention and based on what I have received, correspondence wise, from the Cubs, people will start being contacted this month, but that there won't be many openings.

I got a letter from the Cubs dated January 23, 2007 saying that payment was due two weeks ago and if you have not paid in full, "any account unpaid can be voided immediately and locations released for resale. We have a waiting list over 7,000 people wishing to purchase locations."

the "alleged" wifebeater got 3/25.75 from the Phils

Seems like this happens every year with someone who the Cub's don't want to lose... and they end up signing long-term by April... and everything ends up hunky-dorie. I'm not worried about this until the trading deadline hits and Z still isn't extended.

I'm at 17,883 on the waiting list.... hopefully I'll be close by the time retirement rolls around.

I started posting here today. Got a nice e-mail from Rob telling me about the new site, so I thought I'd visit. He posted a link to my story, and one thing led to another. Everything I know about the Z situation is in my story. I see this heading for a hearing, but, as I said, there's time.

I see no reason, nor excuse, for Hendry to pay $300 million plus this offseason and not come up with a contract for Z. Yes, it takes two to tango, but just like Ramirez, Hendry is just going to have to pay the piper.

he'll come up with a contract, but it'd be interesting to know how much flexibility they got to add a 15m+ player for 08+ when 08/09 is already pretty top-heavy in money committed.

wonder what kinda roadmap the organization is on right now...

well, i mean, he'll come up with a contract for his year.

i didnt really expect the whole soriano thing to come about when the focus seemed to be heavy on making sure some guys who can eat innings consistently come aboard.

the Z thing shouldnt have snuck up on anyone there when hendry and co. were out cutting checks and years.

Didn't Hendry say something this offseason regarding not being willing to sign pitchers to big bucks / long term contracts?

If so, I can't blame him. When was the last time a big $$ pitcher performed according to expectations? Not Pedro, Randy Johnson, Darren Dreifort, Kevin Brown or Mike Hampton, that's certain.

Don't worry folks. Carlos Zambrano is going to get his dough in 2007. And he is also going to get a very lucrative long-term deal eventually. And it will be the Cubs doing the paying, no matter the eventual $ figure.

I am NOT fat and I don't like doughnuts as much as everyone here thinks. ;)

crunch:

wonder what kinda roadmap the organization is on right now…

lol... roadmap...

I think the roadmap is currently buried under several lines of coke.

If so, I can’t blame him. When was the last time a big $$ pitcher performed according to expectations? Not Pedro, Randy Johnson, Darren Dreifort, Kevin Brown or Mike Hampton, that’s certain.

Why are you lumping Pedro, Johnson and Kevin Brown in with Dreifort and Hampton?

Pedro, Johnson, and Brown all have had long periods of great success under big money contracts for their respective teams. They may have slowed down as they approached 40 and got the normal aging injuries but you can't slap that label on them because they didn't maintain that success into old age.

Z is 25 years old. Someone is going to throw 7+ years at him whether it be the Cubs or someone else and it will be over 15 million a year. By the time his contract is up he will be 32ish. Right at the perfect time to sign another long term deal.

I wish that Carrie Muscat would stop chasing me around as a secret admirer :)

Anyways, I was happy after reading the postings because I didn't see any idiots immediately proclaiming that the Cubs should just ante up and pay Zambrano whatever he wants for the next 10 years. This payroll is absolutely huge and they have to work a fair, yet manageable deal with Carlos for long term. I'm not saying that he should give the Cubs some sort of amazing discount, but he can't break the bank either. The Cubs have a track record of rewarding good performance with dollars. I'm sure that if Carlos wants to stay a Cub, he'll get a great salary for long term. If he wants to be the highest paid pitcher in the league or some such, then the Cubs will sign him for the one year and he can walk next season as a free agent.

So Sayeth the God of WAR!

p.s. Carrie, I'm not available.

Zambrano is going to lose that one, and it won't take much debate if they let the arbiter decide. Zito who had a Cy Young award under his belt made $8.5 million last year. How Zambrano and his agent came to $15 million, is beyond me. The Cubs have often split the difference in the past, but I don't think there's any chance they will go beyond $12.5. At this point there is no risk they lose arbitration.

As for what to do about him long term? The chances are extremely small that Zambrano is going to be healthy and effective over the life of a 7 year contract. If Ramirez's quad explodes, and Soriano tears his hamstring, I don't have any problem with the Cubs getting a 'king's ransom' for him at the trading deadline. If a Yankees-Sox bidding war could land us a Hughes type prospect, I would be quite happy. I don't have any problem with them re-signing him either, but I don't think he is the next Greg Maddux. Pitchers get hurt, plain and simple, and his weight and back issues are already setting off warning flags, at least in my mind.

anybody else seen this baloney?
found it while looking into the sosa to yokohama stuff (i know, old news)

here's the link:
www.cuckthefubs.com

That's nice to hear about Glenallen. I always like it when you find out that an athlete or actor or some public figure/celebrity you really like actually turns out to be a really good person and not fake. We really could use a heavy-hitting, power threat off the bench like Hill used to provide. Who knows, maybe Floyd will be it.

The Real Neal:
"Zito who had a Cy Young award under his belt made $8.5 million last year. How Zambrano and his agent came to $15 million, is beyond me."

That money was part of a contract signed back in 2002. Zito was not arbitration eligible last year.

Was Glenallen Hill the guy who hit a home run onto the roof of a building across the street from Wrigley, like 8 or so years ago? I remember he had been pissed about something, maybe a bad call in the previous inning, and he said he took it out on the ball.

Would Z really have any trade value at all this year? I doubt it. Look, Z wants to be a free agent. So if he were to be traded during the season, the team obtaining him would have to know that it would be no lock that Z would re-sign with the team. So what would be the likelihood that the team would be willing to part with cherished prospects for Z during this season. I would think the chances would be Zero.

Arbitration could get double ugly.

The Cubs would have to show why Carlos isn't worth the money, which will hurt his pride and tick him off.

Then, if Carlos loses, he would be doubly wounded, and he could drag a lousy mindset into the season.

I wonder if there's any data on how players who lost arbitration have performed versus those who have won.

But, as Henry Blake said on M*A*S*H -- "Let' s not panic until it's absolutely necessary."

Not Pedro, Randy Johnson, Darren Dreifort, Kevin Brown or Mike Hampton, that’s certain.

Pedro was FA signing with Red Sox and won, and Randy Johnson was FA signing with DBacks and won.

Manny Trillo,

|That money was part of a contract signed back in 2002. Zito was not arbitration eligible last year. |

That's great Manny, but he is going to get compared to salaries of 6th year pitchers with similar track records. The manner in which those 6th year pitchers arrived at their contracts is salaries is immaterial.

ARM,

You're right. Probably the Cubs would have to pay most of Zambrano's salary to get the Red Sox to give us a mid level prospect for him. As long as the mid level prospect is like the guy Larry Anderson or Mark Langston fetched when they were traded during their FA seasons, I think the Cubs may get by alright.

Neal, I disagree that Zambrano is not a good long-term investment. In fact, I was thinking that this would be a good opportunity for the Cubs to violate the rule about long-term contracts for pitchers, and offer him less money over a longer term. He's a guy I would latch onto for ten years (or longer).

I say this in spite of not really enjoying watching him pitch. His mind tends to wander, and then so do his pitches. Then he gets visibly mad at himself. A real soap opera.

Give me a guy who pitches efficiently, like Maddux--or Rich Hill!

But Zambrano will mature, and physically he's a horse.
If he had any physical infirmities at all, Dusty would have found them. Plus, he's a hugely enjoyable character.

Sign Z to 7/17, and forget about it.

I think a likely scenario is that the Cubs and Zambrano go to arbitration, the Cubs win (and I think that's a virtual "lock"), Zambrano gets pissed off and decides he won't talk to Hendry again until after the season, Z goes out and pitches the best baseball of his career and wins the N. L. Cy Young or comes close, files for free-agency, negotiates with about 15 or 20 teams, and then re-signs with the Cubs. At least that's what I envisioned after my morning hit of peyote.

Z can do pretty much nothing to increase his current value in 08 given that he's the only young pitcher worth a damn with ace status and only a small handfull of under-30 pitching, period.

the biggest loss could be either losing the opportunity to pay him top value for many years or signing him now and risking him getting injured in 07...or losing him altogether in 08+ depending on how you feel.

there's no real financial incentive to sign him longterm now unless the Cubs have identified him as "the man"...

its not like they can go get another "the man" somewhere else next offseason, though, unless prior/r.hill become "the man" (or weirdness like marquis/lilly/thekids stepping up above and beyond).

Phil, the Cubs have to sign Zambrano very soon, because otherwise they can't leverage the fact that they're the only team that can indemnify Zambrano against injury this year.

I don't think we'll see a repeat of the Aramis scenario. The Cubs let Ramirez start the season without a new contract because he wasn't really in the last year of the old one; and when he struggled the first few months, they might actually have started entertaining the thought that Scott Moore might be their third baseman of the future. Zambrano is irreplaceable.

"Wasn’t my intention. I recall a Chicago-area writer saying that it was a lock that Ohman’s case last year would go to arbitration..."

Well WHO was it Carlos?It is BS that you try to come off as a know-it-all sometimes and then you basically misquote an established and respected REAL journalist.

You may think of yourself as "all that" because you write for a Cubs blog with moderate local exposure, but you really may want to consider posting things that are not fact or - just plainly add words like - "my opinion", or "I think" or "I believe" or "perhaps another so and so said...".

There is a big difference.

Hopefully you learned something here.

Virginia Phil,

Though I understand the point that Zambrano is a big workhorse type pitcher, here are his top 10 comprabables at BR (I am too poor to pay for BP anymore, if someone wants to look him up, I think they include things like height and weight which makes their comps better).

Ramon Martinez (966) - Last 30 start season at 27
Dave Boswell (962) - Done at 26
Jim Maloney (957) - Last 30 start season at 29
Pedro Martinez (953) - HoFer, but only 2X200 IP seasons in last 6 years
Ismael Valdez (949) - last 200 IP season age 25, done by 31
Jim Nash (947) Done by 27
Dan Petry (946) Last 200 IP season 26, done by 32
Jake Peavy (944) - I'll take the under on him
Andy Benes (943) - Last 200 IP season 30, done by 34
Steve Barber (942) - Last 200 IP season, 27

That's why you don't sign pitchers to 7 year deals, no matter how good or healthy they've been.

Well WHO was it Carlos?It is BS that you try to come off as a know-it-all sometimes and then you basically misquote an established and respected REAL journalist.

Wow...someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. Why the wrath against Carlos? And he didn't state something as a fact - he asked a question.

And Carlos writes for a Cubs blog? Where?

Just my opinion, but I bet that Z will sign a 1 year deal during or before spring training, and then sign a long term deal at some point early in the season. This seems to be the way that Hendry works. And, as I remember, there was a lot of doom and gloom when DLee was re-uped too.

"BTW, didn’t Bruce Miles say that, last year, there was a 99% possibility that Ohman’s case would go to a hearing?"

Well - it is a "question" in a misleading kind of way in my opinion, trying to confirm an assertion. I suppose a blurred line.

My bad- -but a good outcome in any case when the "source" of "said information" brings the true facts forth.

It is not really a blurred line - he simply asked a question.

And I still want to know what Cubs blog Carlos writes for...

Carlos is "The Transaction Guy"

http://mvn.com/mlb-transactions/

that's not a Cubs blog...relax with the vitriol there E-man, Carlos is a good guy and knows his stuff. I don't recall any writer saying "99.9%" myself, but there were plenty of stories about Ohman and the Cubs being pretty far apart. I think they ended up agreeing the day of arbitration or something like that....

let's just blame phil rogers...right or wrong he probably deserves it.

ha.

Interesting list (#90) of Zambrano comparables, Neal, but I'm a little puzzled by it. It's a little confusing to compare a guy who's 25-26 with guys who played longer and retired, so let's look at a list involving people whose careers are over, or nearly over.

I looked at a list of Roger Clemens's comparables. Why Clemens? Oh, I don't know, kind of a burly guy, a power pitcher, a great competitor, with a mean streak, etc. Sort of like Zambrano, to my mind, at least.

I'm not saying that Zambrano and Clemens should be on the same list. I am saying that there's actually no way they could be, and I'm not sure why. Nearly every one of Clemens's comparables is a hall of famer. That's fine, but if you click on 25, the numbers change but the list doesn't. Early Wynn and Clemens are still comparables, even though at 25 Wynn had more losses than wins and more walks than strikeouts.

So there seems to be something wrong with the program. The comparables should change when you select a different age. Otherwise there doesn't seem to be a way for Zambrano to make the same list as a guy who had a long career.

Virginia Phil,

The list I listed for Zambrano are those pitchers who are most comparable to him at age 25, not for their careers. The career list supposes that Zambrano is retired. I don't believe the same list is available for Clemens, only Jim Maloney who was done at age 31.

There's no point in looking at the career list (the one on the left) for a 25 year old. With Clemens, all of his list for the most part are hall of famers, because if you pitch as many seasons and have as many wins as he does, you go into the Hall of Fame - there's no real causation there.

RobG: you owe Bruce (if this isn't all some big elaborate hoax) a beer, for stopping by and becoming the puck in the daily TCR face-off.

Can we work up some sort of online security validation button thingie to reassure us when we're not being scammed? if people tuned in and saw Real Sources here, I bet we'd be on track to morph into a real subscription service blog.

As they say, "I'd pay to see that."

Thanks Rob G.

I think my point, as they say, is proven. You give a 7 year contract to one of the guys on the BR list, you have a 11% chance of good payoff. Even less on the BP list (I didn't check every one, but I don't see a HoF'er on there other than Drysdale, done by 32 and maybe Smoltz who missed an entire year).

you owe Bruce (if this isn’t all some big elaborate hoax) a beer, for stopping by and becoming the puck in the daily TCR face-off.

it was definitely Bruce Miles, I've written him a few times and he's been as nice as can be on all occasions. This isn't the first Cubs blogs/fansite he's visited or commented on, so it's hardly out of character for him.

The last time I wrote him was to mention the Ron Santo articles and let him know we moved sites. I wrote all the Cubs beat writers about the Santo articles and only him and Deluca wrote me back.

Plus, it's a lot easier for me now to check IP addresses and verify who is who with the new software, so before we berate a guy, just ask me next time. Because I would certainly like Bruce to stop by more often and "set us straight". :)

Swearing is not nice, Cards fans. I thought Cardinal fans were supposed to be the nicest, smartest, swellest bunch of people in the gosh darned world.
Fuck the Cardinals.
How much money do you think Hendry should give Z? Z wants "Barry Zito money," but unlike Mr. Zito, Zambrano hasn't won a Cy Young......yet. I happen to love El Hombre Loco and hope we keep him.

Re #75 and 104: I'll say it. Morans.

Regarding the season tickets. I am 4,430 on the list. I talked to someone at the ticket office today who stated that they would begin offering tickets when they received cancellations and currently they have received 0.

Considering their own website states you have to renew and send in money by January 15th if you want your previously owned tickets, I am guessing this is just the same disgruntled Cubs ticket office person I get everytime I have called for anything over the past 10 years.

By the way, the "pitchers in despair" photo motif on the site the past few days is filling me with dread instead of joy at the prospect of Spring Training. Let's see some smiling pitchers or something!

The Cubs need to raise the roof at Wrigley and build a third deck. The whole upperdeck is falling apart anyway and needs to be replaced. 2008 would be a good time to do it. Get the Cubbies out of jinxed Wrigley in their centennial year of ineptitude and see if they can win in another ballpark.

I spent all my money Bears paraphernalia, can someone get us the jist of Gammons/Insider article about starting pitching on ESPN.com today?

My fellow cheapskates and I thank you.

Pay Z, he's worth it.
Pay Lance Briggs.
Go Bears

Word.

"I think my point, as they say, is proven." (#102)

I love when people prove things to me, Neal. I have a friend who has proven to me several times that Bush and Cheney took down the WTC towers with explosives. It's physics, you have to really look at the numbers.

But it still doesn't pass the smell test.

Don Cardwell. Look at Don Cardwell's numbers and tell me what he possibly has to do with Zambrano. Cardwell was a .500 pitcher twice, his best year was 13-10. He wasn't a strikeout pitcher.

Maloney and McDowell, two power pitchers who never learned to change speeds, so naturally they hit a wall in their early thirties when they lost some mph on their fastballs. They may be relevant to a healthy Prior and Wood but we're talking about Zambrano, who changes speeds very well and in fact loves to throw goofy pitches.

Curt Schilling, why isn't he on the list? Because he started out as a reliever, didn't start games until he was 25. His first six years as a starter look a lot like Zambrano's. Schilling: 65 wins, 53 losses, 1098 innings, 1006 strikeouts, 278 walks, 3.27 ERA. Zambrano: 64 wins, 42 losses, 977 innings, 865 strikeouts, 447 walks, 3.29 ERA.

Schilling had more strikeouts and many fewer walks, but he was also older!

So now I'm comparing Zambrano to Clemens and Schilling. Wishful thinking?

Here's what's wishful thinking: that the Cubs can go to arbitration with Zambrano and count on other teams not looking at him as the next Schilling.

THE E-MAN:

There's a reason I apologized to mr. Miles, and yes, I did learn something. Thanks for my daily lesson. Keep in mind, though, that you're by no means the right person to judge me or my work, the way I talk or express my opinions -- leave that to my college professors.

"Well WHO was it Carlos?It is BS that you try to come off as a know-it-all sometimes and then you basically misquote an established and respected REAL journalist."

I have never tried to come off as that. I'm a nineteen year old student trying to learn something new every day -- I've never tried to show myself as a "know it all" just because of the fact that I "have" a blog about something as trivial as MLB transactions nor have I called myself a real journalist; that's why I'm studying my ass off to become one someday. I happen to think that writing professionally in a language that's not even my mother tongue helps me to further develop my natural expression skills.

Sorry if I offended you, the established journalists of America and/or Bruce Miles himself; I don't get, though, why you got offended by a comment that not even mr. Miles gave a lot of importance to.

Did Dave in Pittsburgh say beer? I like beer. A nice glass of red wine would be even better. Nobody "owes" me, but hell, I'll take one of whatever anybody is buying.

see...he is a journalist.

you're no better than a scout, man.

=p

Bruce,

Next time I'm in Chicago (or if you happen to make a trip to L.A.) the alcohol is on me, pick your poison.

Crunch:

Nicely played. But as I always say, all things in moderation...including moderation. And Rob, I'll take you up on that.

I've never wanted an $8 Old Stlye more. ST is so close I can smell it. Come Monday the countdown to Chicago baseball starts. The old beer and urine smell is starting to wear off of Wrigleyville, it is making me sad. Has there been an annoucement on the state of consession prices yet? I predict at least a $0.50 increase in malted beverages.

Devin Hester 30-1 for super bowl MVP=a great bet!

Virginia Phil,

You're using wishful thinking, by cherry picking pitchers you think he will become. I am being realistic, by using objective comparisons. I don't have any problem with wishful thinking, and I hope Zambrano doesn't miss significant time over the next 8 years (unless he signs with a rival, then screw him), but the fact remains that it's extremely unlikely that he will. Is it possible he stays relatively effective and healthy until he's 40? Sure. But just because you're sure the world is flat, and the spherical illusion of it as seen from space is because it's a coin spinning really fast, doesn't make it so.

Oh yeah, Clemens doesn't throw any soft stuff, was a college pitcher and had to learn a new trick pitch to regain his early career success. After Schilling's 2nd season as a starter it took him 4 more years to have a 200 inning season. That was his 27-29 years.

Not sure what you mean by "Clemens doesn't throw any soft stuff." A splitter is an off-speed pitch, as you seem to admit when you refer to his new trick pitch.

Anyway, in this market I think you have to sign a guy for eight years if you think he'll be great for five. Do I believe, a la Hendry, that "wrist hitters" like Soriano have greater longevity? Well, it didn't work for Banks. Do I care that he might be an expensive sub the last couple of years? Not really.

Arizona Phil,

I enjoy very much your informative comments, but don't you think you should just post them on the main page? after all you are a TCR writer.

luogo interessante, soddisfare interessante, buon!

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