Cubs: Carlos Zambrano brought a little bit of everything to the table

(Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
(Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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Carlos Zambrano / Chicago Cubs
(Photo By Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: Effectively wild, Carlos Zambrano made his mark with the team

Control – both over pitches and his emotions – often eluded Zambrano. In 2004, arguably one of the best years of his career, he turned in a 2.75 ERA in 31 starts, but also led the league, hitting 20 batters.  Still, he earned the first All-Star selection of his career, even as the Cubs failed to build off their 2003 run, missing the postseason entirely.

Chicago finished below .500 in both 2005 and 2006, but that didn’t stop Zambrano from going out and doing his thing. Over that two-year stretch, he racked up nearly 440 innings of work, earning his first Silver Slugger and second All-Star nod in ’06, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young voting. Thankfully, the Cubs’ mediocrity was short-lived, with the club returning to the postseason in each of the next two years.

In Aug. 2007, Zambrano inked a massive extension to stay on the North Side. But the story of his performance in 2007 was wildness. There were altercations with teammates, maddening inconsistency on the mound and, for the second-straight year, a league-high in free passes. Despite it all, he won 18 games that season and, again, finished fifth in NL Cy Young balloting.

2008 was a special year for the veteran. Of course, he threw that no-hitter against Houston (a team he always seemed to dominate), but he did it all that year:

  • 3.91 ERA in 188 2/3 innings of work
  • No-hitter against Houston at Miller Park
  • Slashed .337/.337/.554 in 85 PA, hitting 4 HR and driving in 14 runs

For his exploits, he picked up the second Silver Slugger of his career and was one of seven Cubs named to the NL All-Star team. However, while he was still a key piece for the club, he began to lose some steam in his final years in Chicago.