Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Carlos Zambrano: The Most Overpaid Player in Baseball?

Sometimes you run across an article that is so ludicrous that it makes your head spin. This was one of them.

Sometimes you run across an article that you can tell will be terrible just from the headline. This was one of them.

As soon as I saw this headline, I knew I was in trouble:

"Zambrano May Be the Most Overpaid Player in the Game "

Oh, boy. Here we go. This guy has obviously never heard of Barry Zito or Vernon Wells:
The facts don't lie. The Cubs are paying for top flight performance from a
pitcher who has the skills to be a big winner. However, Zambrano's performance does not warrant such a big contract and his 18 million dollar annual salary is one
of the deals that is limiting financial flexibility for the front office. Talk to the scouts that attend every game the Cubs play and they all bemoan his incredible physical talents and lack of productivity for a guy whose reputation is that of a superstar.

Zambrano has won all of 7 games this season. That's it. He has had incidents with a Gatorade machine, been suspended for his outburst towards a home plate umpire, and has had two stints on the disabled list. Seven wins for 18 million dollars and enough headaches for management to drive them crazy.

Check out Zambrano's contract terms and you will see that the Cubs have done their part in paying him to be a star. He has not lived up to his end of the bargain though and he has no one to blame but himself. He cannot control his temper and those who observe his antics on a day to day basis know he is far from the superstar pitcher that some believe he is.

Now look, I understand that this season hasn't been exactly easy for Cubs fans. I'm a Met fan, so in many ways, I feel your pain. So many guys who the Cubs depended on to come through big this season have been disappointments, and as a result, the Cubs have not pulled away from the rest of the pack like they should have.

And blaming Carlos Zambrano is a very easy thing to do. Kaplan mentions all of Zambrano's transgressions this season: the stints on the DL, the incident with the Gatorade cooler, and the eruption towards the home plate umpire. Obviously, this has been a rough season for Zambrano for a multitude of reasons.

However, is Carlos Zambrano the most overpaid player in baseball? Absolutely not. We all know that....all of us besides Kaplan.

We can all admit that Zambrano's 2009 season has been a disappointment. But at the same time, if you look at the numbers, you'll see that when Zambrano has been the field, he's been quite good this season. Sure Zambrano only has seven wins this season, but his ERA is a very respectable 3.35, his strikeout rate his up, and his ERA+ is a solid 131. The downside with Zambrano is clear: his WHIP is up, he's walking too many, and most importantly, he's not staying on the field.

But the bottom line: his performance has been good. If you don't think his performance is "ace caliber" that's fine, but Zambrano's 2009 numbers still make him one of the Cubs best pitchers this season.

Would Kaplan consider Jake Peavy one of the most overpaid players in baseball because he's dealt with injuries this season? I don't think so.

Or how about Roy Oswalt? Here is a guy who is getting paid over $15 million this season and only has six wins? Absolutely not.

The bottom line is that you cannot say the Carlos Zambrano is the most overpaid player in baseball because his performance is still well above average. It's frustrating that Zambrano's been unable to stay healthy this season, but calling him "the most overpaid" based on wins and other incidents is foolish.

Update: Iar from wezen-ball.com made a great point in the comments about Zambrano not even being the most overpaid player ON THE CUBS. Check it out:

"I think the real question is, how can someone covering the Cubs say that Zambrano is most overpaid player in baseball when he's not even the most overpaid player on his team? Ask anyone whose contract they'd rather have, Zambrano or Soriano, and I'd put some good money down that it's Zambrano by a mile..."

Update #2: Bill from The Daily Something.com chimes in with even more evidence to suggest that Carlos Zambrano is not even close to being the most overpaid player in baseball.

"Wow, that's terrible. Great find. This guy has absolutely no clue what he's talking about. According to FanGraphs (and I don't really trust this part of it, but whatever), Zambrano has been worth between (approximately) $12 and $15M every year for the last five years, and is on pace for about $14M this year. So, overpaid, sure, but I bet there are 50 guys in the majors right now who are more grossly overpaid than that (yes, like Soriano. Or Bradley, at least in percentage terms)."

Excellent, excellent points, guys. Keep the great comments coming!

15 comments:

lar said...

I think the real question is, how can someone covering the Cubs say that Zambrano is most overpaid player in baseball when he's not even the most overpaid player on his team? Ask anyone whose contract they'd rather have, Zambrano or Soriano, and I'd put some good money down that it's Zambrano by a mile...

Bill said...

Wow, that's terrible. Great find. This guy has absolutely no clue what he's talking about.
According to FanGraphs (and I don't really trust this part of it, but whatever), Zambrano has been worth between (approximately) $12 and $15M every year for the last five years, and is on pace for about $14M this year. So, overpaid, sure, but I bet there are 50 guys in the majors right now who are more grossly overpaid than that (yes, like Soriano. Or Bradley, at least in percentage terms).

Anthony said...

There are some atrocious contracts in the MLB, but Zambrano is not one of them. As you look around the league, you see guys like Vernon Wells, who is overpaid at least 20 million dollars a year; Barry Zito, Alfonso Soriano, Gary Matthews Jr., etc... Is Zambrano overpaid? Yes by maybe 2-6 million a year, but that is no where near the atrocities I stated before.

Anonymous said...

Obviously he has never heard of Carlos Silva.

koz said...

Maybe I am bias because I am a White Sox fan, but living in Chicago, you would think that for the last 5 years Zambrano has won 3 or 4 cy young's. Most overpaid in all of baseball? Not by a longshot. Overpaid, definitely. Has the stuff, but can't get over himself long enough to have it translate. It's not just this year either, he's always been a nuisance. Starts a fight with the catcher, and they trade the catcher and don't even discipleine Zambrano! Guy is a joke.

Jorge Says No! said...

Carlos Silva is far and away the worse signing at this point.

Jorge Says No! said...

It must be difficult for the Cubs to have a player who is so volitile and unpredictable. Or if you've come to expect this sort of behavior from Zambrano, then I guess it's quite predictable.

Floatinginspace said...

Bill hall and jeff suppan take exception to this claim.

Anonymous said...

Big Z also hits a ton of dingers, that has to be worth something.

Jeff said...

"It must be difficult for the Cubs to have a player who is so volitile and unpredictable. Or if you've come to expect this sort of behavior from Zambrano, then I guess it's quite predictable."

I think this is pretty much it. Z is just who he is, and I don't think that he'll suddenly be a better pitcher if he took an anger management class.

One important thing to point out is that Z pitched well in both of his postseason games in 2007 and 2008, and it was the infield defense that failed last year. Who stayed calm and collected on the mound? Zambrano.

Jorge Says No! said...

Great points, guys. I love watching zambrano hit..almost as oliver perez

Jon said...

I have to say worst long term contract is zito, worst short term has to be andruw jones. 18 mil to play for another team.

Bad Kermit said...

As someone who has been personally yelled at via e-mail by Kaplan for pointing out his idiocy, I can assure you that this is par for the course when it comes to his Cub "analysis." He's terrible.

Anonymous said...

i agree that kaplan is completely wrong on this subject. first off, who cares if zambrano has only 7 wins this season? if zambrano leaves the game in the seventh with the lead and the bullpen blows it or he leaves and we are tied and our no show offense doesnt score then he doesnt get a win. a pitcher should not be looked at for wins and losses but era tells more on what the pitcher did. would anyone say cliff lee is bad cuz he has only 9 wins? no he was on a team that wouldnt support his good outings. peavy last year finished under .500 i believe. but he had an era under 3. i would hardly say peavy had a bad year, but the padres did. just one of the many reasons why kaplans article is WRONG

Minnesota Twins Tickets said...

I think everyone is in agreement that a pitcher who only wins 7 games shouldn't be paid this amount of money. At the same time, the team that was willing to pay him this amount should have known they were taking a risk. You can't blame the player or team.