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Carlos Zambrano, anyone? Anyone?
One of the latest rumors circulating is that the Marlins have made Carlos Zambrano available.
The way the Marlins do business, this comes as little surprise. This is the same team that sent Jose Reyes, Mark Buerhle, Josh Johnson, John Buck and Emilio Bonifacio to the Blue Jays for Yuniel Escobar, Henderson Alvarez and a quartet of prospects who may or may not ever play major league baseball.
One almost gets the impression that the Marlins’ next move would to bring Jeff Conine out of retirement with a one-year, $12 million contract, and then trade him to the Rangers for Lance Berkman.
In the meantime, let’s take a look at whatever a potential suitor for Zambrano is in for:
At 31, Zambrano would seem to have a lot of mileage left in his right arm. In 12 seasons, the first 11 with some up and down Cubs teams, Big Z has compiled a career mark of 132-91 with an ERA of 3.66 and a WHIP of 1.331. He’s averaged 31 starts and 203 innings per year lifetime, but the last three seasons, he’s averaged only 22 starts, and the last time he threw more than 200 innings was 2007.
For six straight years, he was the Cubs’ opening-day starter. Also for six straight years, he won between 13 and 18 games, three of those times finishing in the top five in Cy Young Award voting. On September 14, 2008, he no-hit the Houston Astros.
He’s one of the best hitting pitchers in the game, with career numbers of .238, 24 home runs and 71 RBI, including three seasons hitting over .300
And then there’s the not so great stuff:
Twice he’s led the league in walks and once in hit batsmen. His career strikeouts-to-walks ratio is only 1.88:1.
So much for the empiricals. What teams really have to worry about is Zambrano’s head. He’s the major league version of the problem child who, after constantly getting in trouble, promises his parents, “I’ll never do it again.”
Best to handle this chronologically:
2005 – Zambrano complains of tennis elbow, but it’s later discovered that he really has tendinitis as a result of Internet overuse while keeping in touch with relatives in Venezuela.
June 1, 2007 – He and catcher Michael Barrett get into an altercation in the Cubs dugout. Apparently, Zambrano was pissed off at his battery mate committing a passed ball and making a bad throw on the same play in the previous inning, and wanted to let him know right then and there. Unfortunately, Zambrano fell apart after that, allowing six earned runs and 13 hits in five innings.
May 27, 2009 – After getting ejected from a game against the Pirates, Zambrano threw the ball into left field (the best pitch he made all game), tossed his glove way, and punched out a defenseless Gatorade dispenser in the dugout. Major League Baseball fined him $3,000 and suspended him six games. Big Z didn’t help his cause by missing the team’s post-game flight to Atlanta.
June 25, 2010 – Zambrano gave an encore performance of his Barrett tirade, only this time getting in the face of first baseman Derrek Lee, who made the fatal mistake of failing to get to a sharply-hit ball down the line off Juan Pierre, resulting in a lead-off double. Once more, Zambrano suffered a meltdown on the mound, giving up four runs in the inning. Coaches had to separate the pair in the dugout, and Manager Lou Piniella decided that his starter was done for the day. General Manager Jim Hendry went one step further, suspending Big Z indefinitely. When Zambrano finally returned, Piniella sent him to the bullpen.
The team sent him to anger management.
August 12, 2011 – The anger management apparently didn’t take. After surrendering five home runs to the Braves, Zambrano was ejected after throwing too far inside twice to Chipper Jones. The 30-year old responded by cleaning out his locker and telling the Cubs he was retiring. The next day, he was placed on the suspended list for 30 days.
So there it is. Whoever ends up with him, be it the Marlins or some other team, should make sure the door to the manager’s office is always open.
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