Indeed

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This is following up on the heels of Phil Rodgers's column which suggests that the Cubs waive Zambrano.

I know that Zambrano is crazypants and kind of a jerk (per Rodgers, he was clearly trying to hit DeWayne Wise), but... chill. Let's do some comparisons.

Carlos Zambrano
Year / W-L / ERA / IP / WHIP / K9
2007 / 18-13 / 3.95 / 216.1 / 1.33 / 7.4
2008 / 14-6 / 3.91 / 188.2 / 1.29 / 6.2
2009 / 4-3 / 3.69 / 83 / 120 / 1.33 / 7.2

2009 salary: $18M

Mark Buehrle
Year / W-L / ERA / IP / WHIP / K9
2007 / 10-9 / 3.63 / 201 / 1.26 / 5.1
2008 / 15-12 / 3.79 / 218 / 1.34 / 5.8
2009 / 7-2 / 3.26 / 99.1 / 1.16 / 5.5

2009 salary: $14M

Here's another way to look at it: IP leaders, since Big Z is famously reliable. Z is 28, and 49th in the list of active pitchers in career IP with 1465. Some pitchers within 2 years of his age, who have pitched 200 IP at least twice (Zambrano broke 200 IP five years in a row, and pitched 188 last year):

Mark Buehrle, 30, 1947, $14M, 3.26 ERA.

CC Sabathia, 28, 1768, $18M, 3.55 ERA

Jon Garland, 29, 1714, $6.25M, 5.04 ERA

Johan Santana, 30, 1639, $18.9M, 3.08 ERA

Carlos Zambrano, 28, 1465, $18M, 3.69 ERA

Kyle Loshe, 30, 1420, $7.4M, 3.99 ERA, DL

John Lackey, 30, 1378, $10M, 5.04 ERA

Josh Beckett, 30, 1287, $11.2M, 3.48 ERA

Brett Myers, 28, 1177, $12M, 4.66 ERA, DL (technically hasn't pitched 200 IP twice, but has done so once and has pitched 190 three times)

The pitcher who compares most unfavorably to Zambrano is Dan Haren, who is the same age, has pitched 200+ IP for the past four years, has a 2.25 ERA, and is making $7.5M this year. But those who've acquired Haren have had to pay a steep price in talent (if you count Mark Mulder, of course).

Is Zambrano overpaid? Compared to Buehrle, Santana, Sabathia, and Haren, of course. But how overpaid? For a maniac, he's amazingly consistent - he's never had an ERA over 4.00 while starting no less than 30 games since the age of 22. In Baseball Prospectus's subscribers-only section, they describe him as basically somewhere between a subpar ace and a very good #2 starter, which seems fair, and would make him overpriced. But the Cubs overpaid for a very reliable (for good and ill) investment - a known quantity. Perhaps not the best decision, but not worth this week's freakout.

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