i took the mighty drinkin zambrano in all three of my leagues this year, opting to make him a draft option.
i used my mark prior logic: prior had good #s in the 2nd half of 02... he only won something like 7 games, but i remember seeing a stat near the end of 02 that he was barely 2nd in K/9 to schill.
prior was a 2ndroundpick for me last year, and he was like 18-6 2.43 with the Ks and the low whip, a bonafide #1 pitcher from a guy who everyone knew was good, just not how good how fast.
carlos had a solid year last year, and i remember him picking up steam after the allstar break. he was a paltry 13-11 with a 3.11 ERA, 214 IP and a key stat here: 188 hits... he walked 94 and struck out 168.
so i took a guess that the cubs offense would be improved with a full year of aramis ramirez, derrek lee, a bench with quality like hollandsworth, and sosa/alou and i even figured patterson would be .275/20/75/20... knowing that the cubs offense could potentially be good, i figured that zambrano would be cheaper than prior was going into 2003, and well, who knew what his upside was. if he didnt walk 94 people, his stuff was well below a hit an inning,
i figured he'd be good, you know, by now he'd be like 4-2 with a 3.65 ERA and like 30K in 45 innings. instead, he's been utterly brilliant short of one terrible outing in arizona where he gave up 7 runs. he'd have #s that make clemens look old, despite his being 7-0 with a 2.something ERA.
he'd have a sickening ERA of like .50 or something by now... he's onlyt 4-1 but he should be like 6-1 (his first start in ATL and that game where he shutout the cardinals for ~8 innings are my other two wins) and he's got like 46K and 13 BB. his K/BB this year is 3.54, whereas last year it was 1.79. he's given up 32 hits in 49 1/3 innings. so basically, last year was indeed indicative of what he could do, and this year he looks to be much more than a .500 pitcher with a damn good shot at 20, hell, maybe evne an outside chance at 25 if he pitches even 3/4 as good as he has til this point for the rest of the season.
i think he's going to take his licks with a few shellings this year, and i think you have to watch out for serious ar mproblems, as he went from 108.1 UP in 2002 (granted that he had minor league games, for sure) to 214.0, this year he looks like he could go 250. maybe he's the rare specimen who doesnt get injured, but many of us chicagoans thought tha twas prior, and look now.
but yeah, as of right now, it looks like carlos zambrano might be the best pitcher on the cubs. and every inning he throws this season will be thrown for my fantasy squads across the board.
btw, in terms of where i drafted him.. i have one priv8 league of all active friends-of-friends and tw opubleagues which i autodrafted with ym own custom rankings.
in the friends league i got him in the 9th round, in both of the publeagues he went in round 8. so i might have technically overpaid in the draft, and i know people from here all the way to the friends of friends didnt count on zambrano to be the cornerstone of a fantasy pitching staff, but suffice tos ay, he's been all that and more since the season began.