Note: If you have any complaints about this being a MiLB board, then STFU and GTFO. I know that. It's still a baseball topic, and this being my favorite baseball board I want to discuss it here. I'm pretty sure no one will be injured if they read this thread and reply.
Second Note: I've made this post before, mostly in the offseason on different forums.
Z is our best pitcher by far right now, but that does not mean he is flawless.
He is charismatic, he is a friggin bull, he's young, he's got great stuff...but he has alot of flaws.
One thing we worry about is his pitch counts. He's shown he can handle them and will be 26 next year and finally (still I worry) out of the typical injury nexus for a young pitcher. He averaged 110 pitches per start, and alot of the time was out there in the 8th/9th unnecessarily.
One thing that is both a result and a cause of that, he walks a TON of guys. He has worse control than Wood did when he was healthy, and he puts ALOT of guys on base for free because of that. He walked 115 guys in 215, thats almost 5 guys per 9. Thats disturbingly high for a future ace, and like we saw in Wood it jumped his pitch counts, put strain on his arm, and only because of his raw stuff did he remain a very good starting pitcher.
To top it off, Z gains weight very easily, and admits himself that he slacks off on training sometimes. Combine that with back problems, and is it really worth the big money? Back problems tend to stick around, and get worse as people get older.
Z's control has gone down the drain, and his fly ball rate is heading up. His HR rate is staying decent, but this is not the improvements I like to see in my young pitcher. Not to mention his physique and poor mechanics. He could be the second coming of Bartolo Colon.
I'm hoping Z stays healthy and pitches like this his whole career, but I have never considered myself the fan who sees Z as an automatic win. After a starter I'll check his line and this year there was a whole lot of 8 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 8 K's, 4-6 BBs. A guy who consistently gets himself into and out of trouble is good, but eventually those guys see their luck run out.
I half don't what to sugges this, but trading Z while his value is high could net us huge value. He's going to get expensive fast, and there are alot of red flags up there. This season (2007 - heres my one new line in this post), he's walked 16 (17?) guys in 22 (23?) IP again.
Not that I count on the Cubs to be that ballsy or foward thinking. My guess is that they throw lots of years and lots of money at Z.