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Carlos Zambrano: Is He Worth The Risk?

Carlos Zambrano is a Major League Baseball pitcher who can be described as either a “character” – for those who like him – or a “cancer in the clubhouse” – for those who despise him. The fiery pitcher put up some great seasons with the Chicago Cubs, but he also made headlines for his anger issues.

Zambrano on a new team

Now the Venezuelan-born starter is with the Miami Marlins, playing under Ozzie Guillen, a fellow Venezuelan.  The fact that he is playing for a fiery person himself in Guillen has led to speculation that the two would clash, but Zambrano’s time with the Marlins has been relatively controversy-free so far.

Of course, it didn’t start out that way. Zambrano may have had a 125-81 record with the Cubs, with a 3.60 ERA, but his teammates and the team’s management grew tired of his temper tantrums over the years. Zambrano once got into a brawl with teammate Michael Barrett in the Cubs dugout. In 2010, after a tirade in the dugout against teammate Derrek Lee, Zambrano was ordered to go to anger management sessions.

Cubs were tired of Zambrano

Finally, the Cubs had enough of Zambrano in August 2011 after he cleaned out his locker and threatened to retire after an umpire ejected him from a game for throwing that the Atlanta Braves’ Chipper Jones. The team ended up suspending him for 30 days, and then announced that he would not pitch for the rest of the year.

After the Cubs disciplined Zambrano, there was speculation that his major league career may have been over, even though he was owed $18 million in 2012. He seemed to be too big a risk for any team to take a chance on him. But the Marlins decided Zambrano was worth taking a flier on, in no small part due to the Cubs paying $15.5 million of the $18 million he is owed in 2012.

So far,  Zambrano has been okay to mediocre as a Marlins starter, with a 4-6 record and a 4.14 ERA at press time. For the most part, his starts are either very good or very bad. This season, he has given up no more than three runs in games he won, while in games he lost, he has given up seven runs twice. Zambrano does have the potential to be better, though – he is still only 31 years old.

What’s next for Zambrano?

Should you pick Zambrano for your fantasy baseball league? He may be worth a try, if you are looking for a pitcher, and hoping for a sleeper pick, although the chances of that are pretty slim. However, keep in mind that while he has been relatively quiet this year, you never know when he might be headed for another meltdown.

Lisa Swan writes about Fantasy Baseball at Draftstreet.


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