If Carlos Zambrano wants to match what Randy Johnson did this week (winning his 300th game) before he retires, he's got his work cut out for him.
Zambrano announced his "retirement" after picking up his 100th win in a 2-1 triumph over the Cincinnati Reds. Big Z said he will call it quits after his contract expires in 2012, or 2013 depending on the player option. If he wants to hit the magic 300, he will need to average 40 wins in that span.
Thankfully, Z isn't going anywhere anytime soon because, of course, he was joking. Right? Either way, it proves the point I'm ready to make with this blog. Despite the sideshow, the antics and the overall batsh*t craziness, Zambrano proved in last night's win against Cincinnati why its OK to turn a blind eye to his antics at times. Because he can be that damn good.
Zambrano tossed 6.2 scoreless innings, punching out seven hitters and allowed only two hits in his best outing of the year.
On top of that, Big Z delivered the big hit of the night as he blasted a homer to center field which proved to be the decisive run. Zambrano has 18 homers since 2003, and that's the most among pitchers in the DH Era since Bob Gibson of the St. Louis Cardinals hit 24 in his Hall of Fame career.
To put things in perspective, he has more than double the second place hitting-pitcher in that time frame (Dontrelle Willis has 8) and has two more career homers than teammate Aaron Miles.
Makes me wonder if Big Z can handle third base in Aramis Ramirez's stead, or right field while Milton Bradley is out with a/an (injury/suspension/mental health day).
Other than Micah Hoffpauir (and maybe Jake Fox?), Zambrano is the cubs most potent bat off the bench ... if only because he can pinch hit from both sides and do so with power. And with his footspeed, Zambrano might be the best threat as a pinch runner.
If Zambrano could ever get his head on straight, he could be one of baseball's elite players. Notice that I didn't just say pitchers.
See, guys like him don't come around these parts often. These days, pitchers only care about their golden arms and contracts, so as they develop, they spend less and less time around the batting cage or in the field working on their all around game. It is why pitchers cannot field their position, move runners over or run the bases without making an adventure out of it.
With that said, I will (try) to enjoy Zambrano's presence on the North Side Nine because they surely don't make 'em how they used to.