Lost in any optimism about manager Ozzie Guillen being able to keep Carlos Zambrano’s freakouts to a minimum with the Marlins this season is that the right-hander simply doesn’t throw as hard as he used to and still can’t consistently get the ball over the plate with the diminished raw stuff.
Zambrano walked seven batters yesterday, giving him 21 total walks in 21.2 innings this spring, and his ERA stands at 6.23.
Now, in fairness spring training numbers are somewhere between worthless and marginally useful, but given how Zambrano’s performance has declined in recent years whatever miracles Guillen can work on him as a person can only pay off so much if he’s throwing in the high-90s and walking everyone.
Zambrano has averaged 4.1 walks per nine innings for his career, but made up for that terrible control by typically striking out more than 8.0 per nine innings and limiting homers. However, last season his strikeouts fell to a career-low 6.2 per nine innings, his homers allowed rose to a career-high 1.2 per nine innings, and his average fastball clocked in at 90.2 miles per hour. In other words, Zambrano’s personality and behavior are only part of the problem at this point.