2009 Player Previews - Carlos Zambrano
Note: It's only fitting that Carlos have the most quick links of any Cub written about so far this year. Because of the multitude, I'm moving them to the bottom of this post. Actually I might move all quick links to the bottom from here on out ... In fact, feel free to give me your feedback on where the Quick Links should go or if you even want us to continue supplying them
Carlos Zambrano is so tough that the kind of Kryptonite powerful enough to immediately kill Superman is typically called "Carlos Zambrano."
What Carlos isn't, however, is consistent. At least not last fall. Between bouts with injury and inconsistency he may have tossed a no-hitter, but Lou had such doubts about Zambrano's ability to git'er done that he actually turned to a Cannuck to throw the first game of a playoff series last October. Carlos has had tendinitis. He's had cortisone shots. Multiple MRI's. What he hasn't had is arm surgery and the doctors keep telling us that his shoulder is clean and strong, although those same doctors were previously seen standing on the rooftops of Bagdad telling the world that the American infidels were surrendering at the gates. So what is Carlos's problem?
Carlos Zambrano is so tough that the Rambo movies were actually based on his adventures as a boy in the Venezuelan jungles.
His problem seems to be mechanics. Now I'm no doctor (although I play one on the subway during emergencies) but Carlos has the tendency to use his upper body more than he uses his legs. When he throws - rather than pitches - his velocity dips and he gets his ass handed to him. This is also probably why his arm gets sore. When Carlos has buckled down and actually listened to his coaches, he's gotten his velocity back up and has succeeded in being effective. But when his mechanics have been screwy he's gotten lit up, he's lost his cool, and he's missed time with inflamation.
Carlos Zambrano is so tough that he has regularly spoken out against Vladamir Putin in the Russian media and yet Carlos still lives.
So, what happens now? Carlos is in only the second year of a massive contract extension. History has shown us that the modern pitcher who signs huge deals tends to spend most of them wearing casts on their arms. Carlos has shown signs that he won't make it through the contract healthy. He may not even make it through 2009. After watching him last August and September, it's possible that surgery is inevitable. With the long history of bad luck the Cubs have had with their starters, it seems certain that their misfortune will continue with Carlos. Doom, gloom, etc. Have I mentioned that I'm not worried? Do you know why?
Because Carlos Zambrano is so tough that he would pitch with a knife sticking out of his shoulder if he had to.
He's not invincible, though. We've learned that. But if anybody is willing to pitch through pain, it's Carlos Zambrano. And if he can continue to develop that brain of his, to follow the instructions of Lou and Larry, to use his legs when he trys to burn fastballs past opposing hitters, then I believe Carlos will be just fine. Maybe he won't be a Cy Young Winner, ever. Then again, maybe this is the year where he finally puts it all together and wins more than 20. With the offense behind him, if he can put past the durability problems that plagued him last year, then this just might be his year. And more importantly, he remains the best Big Game Pitcher the Cubs have. Hopefully Lou won't forget that, no matter what happens this September.
A First Hand View of the No Hitter (featuring pictures by DB)
Shutterbug Frenzy (featuring more pictures of the no-no by DB)
My Big Z no-hit experience (by Goat Reader dberryhill9)
2008 Season Recap: Carlos Zambrano
Carlos Zambrano - Still the Zambino
Carlos Zambrano is a friggin' beast!