Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

Is Big Z a bona fide ace?

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You want to know what the Cubs got for their $91.5 million when they signed Big Z to that five-year extension two summers ago?

Then watch his starts Friday night in New York and next week in Pittsburgh.

Zambrano hasn't won since July 22 and hasn't pitched well since July 27, his last start before his back problems limited him to three innings in Florida and eventually forced him to the DL - and started the dominoes falling the wrong way toward the Cubs' August swoon.

In two starts since returning from the DL, he had his two worst starts of the season. And complained about media scrutiny.

Scouts from other teams wondered during the just-concluded homestand whether he has quit on what looks like a lost season for him and the team.

Anything short of a strong finish for him - starting tonight in New York - will increase the volume and bandwidth on those questions going into an off-season sure to include a lot of change.

``Let's hope his two starts on the road are a little better than his two starts at home,'' Piniella said.

If not, the Cubs might want to shift their hope to Zambrano waiving his no-trade clause, and then look for another ace.

Until then, Piniella and the Cubs will watch closely at how Big Z handles a stretch run that could quickly lose all relevance, depending how this road trip goes. What's certain is that any last-month surge the Cubs put together will have to include Zambrano, if not start with him.

Piniella pointed out, optimistically, that Z's road splits are better than his home splits this season, perhaps boding well for the trip (perhaps also offering insight into his frame of mind when the home heat intensifies):

Home: 11 starts, 2-4, 4.64
Road: 11 starts, 5-2, 3.17

``Let's see what happens,'' Piniella said. ``He needs to step it up.''

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8 Comments

BIG "Z" is big in size and name but little in productivity. His potential has not not been realized. After a big contract you must live up to the "ace" moniker and he simply hasn't. It's time to dump him on some dreamer GM and get a quality ace who can leader on the filed and in the club house. Let's pay Harden and sign him for 2 years with a 3rd option year. Stop doing 4 to 5 year deals. They just don't work!

Yes. Anyone can have a tough streak of poor performance, but Zambrano is still capable of totally shutting down any team he faces.I think it will only be a year or two before he wins that coveted best pitcher in the leagus award.Perhaps that will also be the year the Cubs finally win the World Series.

Frankly, I hope they ship Zambrano elsewhere. He's never going to realize his potential, because he's never going to grow up.

As for how he's been playing lately, I think his back is still bothering him.

An ace...hee ...heeheee....ha ha ha ho ho howl guffaw,,,,gasping rolling on floor....ha ha ha ha...snort: NO An a**: YOU BETCHA

Big Z should be referred to as Big Me. He's more concerned about hitting 500 foot home runs than working on his craft. A million dollar arm with a ten cent head. He will never realize his potential and will remain a 10 to 15 win, middle of the rotation guy. Not the ace Hendry thought he locked up for $91 million. Let's hope he waives the no-trade clause.

Neck down = Sam McDowell

Above neck = Son of Sam

In a NUTshell

Not even close. He was over-hyped and over-paid from the onset. Very immature and extremely unreliable when the chips are down. Does he have great talent? Absolutely! He just doesn't have the composure or discipline to compliment the talent he has.

Big Z stands for Big Zit. He's a lazy, smug, arrogant, flabby slob. Baseball is a job not a joke. He's disruptive to the team and a lot of people are tired of management catering to this ungrateful, overpaid under-achiever. Trade him while he still has some value.

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This page contains a single entry by Gordon Wittenmyer published on September 3, 2009 11:43 PM.

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