During his last few years with the Chicago Cubs, new Miami Marlins starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano made headlines for his temper tantrums more than his work on the mound, but the change of scenery will bring Big Z back to relevancy in 2012.
Zambrano is an interesting name for fantasy managers every season. On one hand, he knows how to strike batters out and is a solid veteran; on the other hand, he can be a monster headache with all his random outbursts and foot-in-mouth type of comments.
That being said, the Marlins didn't go out and acquire the former Cubs hurler without thinking they can control the big man. Who better to control Big Z than manager Ozzie Guillen, right? Exactly.
While I don't expect Zambrano to pull any more of his usual outbursts during his first year on a new team, if he tries that stuff with Guillen, he's going to get an earful and then some. There's no way the new Marlins skipper is going to put up with temper tantrums from anyone but himself.
Zambrano had his worst season in MLB in 2011, and he still posted a 6.2 strikeouts-per-nine-innings ratio. The native Venezuelan is a proven strikeout producer, and he's a guy I've seen go either in the last round of drafts or undrafted in many fantasy leagues.
The newest Miami Marlin is only two seasons removed from a double-digit win year in 2010. Oh, and over his 11 seasons in the big leagues, Big Z strikes out an average of almost eight batters per nine innings.
If you're sitting there questioning whether or not this former Cubbie is motivated, he's actually spent the offseason working out according to the Miami Herald. Yes, you read that right: Carlos Zambrano has been working out!
The Herald stated that Zambrano has dropped an estimated two or three pants sizes since we last saw him take the mound. In fact, Big Z told reporter Clark Spencer that the only reason he didn't keep shedding the weight was because his wife said he was beginning to look ill.
"She says I don't look good, like I have cancer" the starting pitcher told Spencer.
I'm sure there have been plenty of managers who have been burned by this guy in recent seasons, but you can't write off a proven veteran who boasts a career average of almost 200 Ks a year.
While I wouldn't advocate drafting Big Z in, say, the 14th round of your draft or anything, he'll be available in the final round most likely, and that's a steal.
Now your league mates aren't going to pat you on the back or scold you for taking their potential pick when you draft Zambrano, but you'll have them kicking themselves later in the year when the Marlins hurler becomes one of your biggest strikeout producers.
While the congratulations are nice, it's much more fun to watch your fellow managers wonder why they didn't pick Big Z when they had the chance.