Tag:Carlos Zambrano
Posted on: October 15, 2010 6:03 pm
 

R.I.P. Cubs: More meltdowns, more problems

RIP As the sports world waits for the crowning of a champion, 22 other teams are busy preparing for spring training. What went wrong for these teams, and what does 2011 hold? MLB Facts and Rumors here at CBS Sports will be answering those questions through all of October. The lovable losers everyone knows as the Chicago Cubs are up next.

In the last season of Lou Pineilla's managerial career, the Cubs stumbled out of the gate and never got on track although the team responded under the leadership of interim manager Mike Quade.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Give the Cubs credit: they got the losing out of the way in the first half so fans weren't crushed by a late-season swoon.

Carlos Zambrano Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez, the two big boppers who were expected to anchor the order, must have thought they were retired. After all, when your 3-4 combo combines for an OPS under .700, you know things went wrong. Lee finished at .233/.329/.366 in 371 plate appearances while Ramirez one-upped him (or is it one-downed?) with a .207/.268/.380 mark in 261 PA.

That wasn't even the story that got national attention. What did was Carlos Zambrano's season from hell. He began the year as Cubs ace, found himself in the bullpen before the end of April, then was moved back only to have a meltdown while pitching against the White Sox on July 25. Big Z (pictured, left) and Lee had to be separated in the dugout and the right-hander was suspended. He returned days later to the bullpen before moving back to the rotation where he ended the year on a roll with a 1.41 ERA in 11 starts. The strong finish wasn't enough to wipe the puckered lips from Cubbie fans -- especially with Z due just under $36 million the next two seasons.

And to cap it all off, rookie sensation Tyler Colvin had his lung impaled by a shard of a broken bat. Nice.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

If Zambrano's turnaround didn't do it, then Aramis Ramirez' own turnaround helped. As soon as Ramirez got a three-day respite in mid-July, he came back strong, cranking 15 homers the rest of the way for a .276/.321/.526 line. While the second half saw veterans such as Lee and Ted Lilly traded, the play of new blood plus a 24-13 finish under Quade turned frowns into half-smiles, dreaming of what could be in 2011. (Stop it, Cubs fans! Stop it right now. These are the Cubs.)

One thing Chicago did have going for them was a dominant closer and setup man. Carlos Marmol struck out a wicked 138 batters in just 77 2/3 innings, making his 52 walks irrelevant as he posted a 2.55 ERA and nailed down 38 saves. He was joined by converted starter Sean Marshall, and the lefty appeared in 80 games en route to a 2.65 ERA.

Former Rookie of the Year catcher Geovany Soto shook off a dismal 2009 to provide the Cubbies with a .280/.393/.497 line in 387 PA with 17 home runs. That's incredibly rare production out of catcher, but he kept inexplicably losing playing time to Koyie Hill. And one wonders why the Cubs lost almost 90 games.
 
HELP ON THE WAY

The Cubs introduced plenty of youngsters to the team, none more than on pitching where Casey Coleman, Thomas Diamond, James Russell and Andrew Cashner saw extensive playing time. Cashner has a spot locked up in the bullpen and Coleman has a good shot of opening the year in the rotation.

Tyler Colvin and Starlin Castro also made impressive debuts as rookies, but unfortunately for Chicago, there is not much behind these names that will be ready for 2011. However, there's a host of candidates that could see major-league time in 2011 in advance of major contributions in 2012. Those include outfielder Brett Jackson, third baseman Josh Vitters, infielder Ryan Flaherty, starter Chris Carpenter and starter Jay Jackson, who could step in the rotation in case of injury.

EXPECTATIONS FOR 2011

The Cubs have enough horses that contention isn't impossible, but too much has to break right. So while the Cubs will talk up a good PR game, privately they'll take a third-place finish behind the Cardinals and Reds in some form. All that may require is a .500 finish, although Chicago should expect to win a few more than 81.

SUGGESTIONS FOR 2011

Tyler Colvin The Cubs won't have much money to play with as quite a few of their valued players are in arbitration. The good news is that payroll drops precipitously after 2011 and off a cliff after 2012. Unfortunately, until then, the Cubs are essentially locked into near every position, but there's still room to improve. They will have an open first base spot (unless Tyler Colvin moves to first) and second base (unless the team keeps Blake DeWitt as a starter). The bullpen could also use some reinforcements.

There isn't much in the way of first base prospects, so the Cubs might be better served to see what Colvin (pictured, right) can do at first base. That would leave Kosuke Fukudome manning right, but since the Japanese import can't hit lefties, Jeff Francouer could come in and serve as a platoon partner and serve as fourth outfielder.

At this point in DeWitt's career, he is essentially a backup so the Cubs have to go and get another player. Inking Bill Hall could pay major dividends if his comeback in Boston was for real and should be available for short years and reasonable dollars. The Cubs can then stack the bullpen with an arrangement of solid relievers that don't break the bank and use the savings for two things: signing bonuses in the draft and getting rid of players with no future in town. That includes Ramirez and Fukudome as well as the all-but-untradeable Alfonso Soriano.

2011 PREDICTION

The Cubs will have some growing pains in 2011 as the team shakes free of the old regime and begins a new one in town with plenty of cash to sign upcoming free agents. Not only are the Cubs in too transitional of a stage to play heavily in the free-agent market this offseason, the market is poor as well. Next season will have some strong free agents that the Cubs could jump at. Look for Chicago to finish around 85 losses.

Check out the rest of the R.I.P. reports here .

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed .
Posted on: October 4, 2010 3:51 pm
 

Zambrano crashes car leaving Wrigley

Sometimes metaphors become real --the 2010 Cubs, with the highest payroll in the National League, crashed their nice car into a garbage truck.

From Chicago TV and radio host David Kaplan (@thekapman ):



-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed .


Category: MLB
Posted on: September 16, 2010 1:29 am
 

Zambrano retiring ... eventually

Carlos Zambrano
Carlos Zambrano is like the anti-Brett Favre. He keeps announcing his retirement when a) it's not time to decide; and b) nobody asked.

The Cubs pitcher once again pre-retired after winning for the sixth straight time Wednesday, saying he will walk away after the expiration of his current contract. He's locked in for 2011 and 2012 and has a 2013 option that vests if he figures high in Cy Young voting the next couple of years. So it's not exactly time to grease up the 29-year-old's rocking chair.

"Because I told you the other day, or last year, or this year, whatever, that this will be my last contract," he told the Chicago Tribune. "So I don't think I will be playing any more... Life is short. Believe me. And sometimes you miss things with your family ... Believe me, baseball takes a lot of time from us. So I think, depending on what happens in my career, I think this will be the last contract."

Zambrano said the same thing after his 100th career win last season. Apparently when things are going well, his idea of savoring the moment is looking toward his future retirement. Say what you want about Zambrano, but he's definitely an interesting character.

-- David Andriesen

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Category: MLB
Posted on: September 4, 2010 8:46 pm
 

Some positives for Cubs

Carlos Zambrano There have been few positives for the Cubs this season, but Saturday provided two reasons for optimism.

Although there are plenty of unknowns for the Cubs in 2011, the team may have reason for cautious optimism (is there any other kind for the Cubs?) for the top of the rotation.

First, Carlos Zambrano once again pitched like a guy signed to a $91.5 million contract. In six starts since returning from his suspension, Zambrano has gone 4-0 with a 1.98 ERA. He allowed two runs on four hits and two walks in seven innings on Saturday.

He also flashed something that has long been absent on the field -- maturity. The Cubs gave up a run when rookie Starlin Castro didn't get the tag down on a steal attempt following a strikeout.

"Of course you get upset at an easy double play like that, but then you realize the kid is still learning," Zambrano told the Chicago Tribune .

That's far from the guy who would get in a fight with a catcher or first baseman for a perceived missed play.

"Believe me, when I feel good and all my pitchers are working and I'm able to have the confidence to get anybody out," Zambrano said. "It's easier, because I know I have the pitches to dominate.

"When I don't have that confidence, it's tough. Because then I'm mad and I lose the confidence. Thank God lately I've been in control of the game and enjoying the game. That's the key, enjoying the game."

The Cubs' other Carlos, Silva, will start on Tuesday. Silva hasn't pitched since  Aug. 1 when he was pulled after four batters because of an abnormal heart rate. He underwent a cardiac ablation and has since made two rehab starts.

Silva, obtained in a bad-contract swap with the Mariners for Milton Bradley, is 10-5 with a 3.92 ERA and shown signs of turning around his career.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed .

Category: MLB
Posted on: August 25, 2010 12:20 am
 

Zambrano heads to Venezuela after W

Carlos Zambrano What has been a very difficult year for Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano looks to have gotten even tougher. Zambrano left the team following his outing Tuesday night to be with his ill 11-year old nephew in Venezuela.

The son of his brother has been hospitalized with a bacterial infection and Zambrano flew home Tuesday night. He will return to the team this weekend in Cincinnati before making his next start, Monday at home against the Pirates, he told the Chicago Tribune .

Zambrano said he had a tough time getting through the first inning, telling himself "don't give up" even as he put two runners on in the inning before a double play ended it.
"But at the same time, I talked to my brother," he said. "And he told me (not to worry) and dedicate the game to his son.' In the first inning I was thinking about him, throwing all the pitches saying 'This is for my nephew.'

"It's bad. He's only 11 years old and being close to death is no fun. People should live until their old age, but God calls us home, and what can we do?"
Zambrano picked up his fifth win of the season, allowing one run on five hits in 7 1/3 innings.

Since coming back from his suspension, Zambrano has gone 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in 24 innings in seven games and four starts.

What was different on Tuesday was Zambrano's control. In his first six appearances, he'd walked 19 and struck out 11. Against the Nationals, he struck out eight and walked one.

The Cubs could certainly use a half-way decent Zambrano for their 2011 rotation. Because of his massive contract, he'll be near-impossible to move. But the way he's handled himself following his suspension should give the Cubs cautious optimism -- and when you're the Cubs, you should never have any other kind.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Category: MLB
Posted on: August 10, 2010 12:36 am
 

Zambrano wild in return to rotation


Carlos Zambrano Carlos Zambrano wasn't awful, and that's a start.

In his first start since the blow-up against the White Sox, Zambrano went five innings, allowed four hits and two runs against the Giants in San Francisco. But he did struggle with control -- they pitching kind, not the behavior kind -- walking seven, while striking out three.

The Chicago Tribune 's Paul Sullivan recalls Zambrano's last trip to San Francisco was his last dominant outing, with a two-hit shutout of the Giants last September. Zambrano also made some big boasts last year after that start.
"Look, this is the only season I haven't won 16 or 18 or 14 games," Zambrano told the Tribune at the time. "If it happens again next season, two seasons in a row, I'll quit. Believe me, I'll quit. I just have to put this behind me."

But 11 months and around $18 million later, Zambrano is not any closer to quitting than he was that day. He put 2009 behind him in the offseason, but Zambrano's 2010 season has been one long nightmare, from the Opening Day blowout in Atlanta to the bullpen switcheroo in New York to the dugout tantrum at U.S. Cellular Field to the anger management sessions that followed.

Now Zambrano is starting all over again, hoping to at least put a decent finish on an otherwise forgettable year.

The Cubs' team psychiatrist was with the club Monday, though it was unclear as to whether Zambrano's first start since returning from the restricted list had anything to do with his presence.
The Cubs would be ecstatic if Zambrano did retire, but don't look for him to give up the $35.875 million the Cubs owe him for the next two seasons.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.


Category: MLB
Posted on: August 4, 2010 12:38 pm
 

Zambrano back in Cubs' rotation

Carlos Zambrano Well, Carlos Zambrano's exile to the Cubs' bullpen didn't last long.

Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports via Twitter that the Cubs have announced that Zambrano will start Monday in San Francisco, his first start since his June 25 blowup with teammates that got him suspended. Manager Lou Piniella said Zambrano would be banished to the bullpen when he returned, and he has pitched in relief twice since coming back.

But the Cubs are in need of two starters right now, having traded away Ted Lilly and with Carlos Silva on the disabled list for a cardiac evaluation. Chicago has Ryan Dempster going Wednesday, Tom Gorzelanny on Friday after an off day, and Randy Wells on Saturday.

Zambrano hasn't found much success as a starter this season. He's 3-5 with a 6.12 ERA with batters putting up an .844 OPS against him. But the Cubs are desperate and have an experienced starter sitting in their bullpen, so Zambrano will get his chance.

The Giants currently line up to have Madison Bumgarner starting opposite Zambrano on Monday.

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.


Posted on: August 1, 2010 10:28 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:28 pm
 

Trade market still open


Adam Dunn Everyone refers to the last day of July as the "trade deadline" even if it's not exactly accurate. It's officially the "non-waiver trade deadline" and that first part may not roll off the tongue, but it's important. It's the reason why one of the most speculated-about players at the deadline, Adam Dunn, told me July 31 "doesn't mean [anything]" to him.

Dunn should know, in the last year of a two-year deal, Dunn's movement will be speculated upon throughout the next month. He also knows from experience, two years ago the Reds traded him to Arizona after the non-waiver trade deadline.

Waivers are certainly a complication, but deals still get done until the end of the month, when a player has to be on the roster to be eligible for the postseason. So how does it work?

First, most teams put most -- if not all -- their players through the waiver process since you don't have to give up a player who is claimed, you can just pull him off waivers.

Unclaimed players can be traded to any team. Claimed players can be kept, traded or just handed over to the claiming team for nothing but salary relief. That's what happened last year when the Blue Jays put him on waivers, the White Sox claimed him and Toronto was happy to shed his remaining five years for $59.7 million on his contract. So, if some team wanted to claim Carlos Zambrano or Kosuke Fukudome or Alfonso Soriano, the Cubs would likely dance for joy. But that's unlikely to happen (even though I would have said the same thing a year ago about Rios).

Now, if just one team claims a player, he can be dealt only to that team. If more than one team claims a player, he can be traded to the team with the worst record in his league that claims him. If no team in the same league claims the player, but more than one team in the other league claims him, he can be traded to the team with the worst record.

So now with the process out of the way, it's good to keep in mind that this isn't an unusual process. Last season Scott Kazmir, Jim Thome, Carl Pavano, Alex Gonzalez, Brad Penny, Aubrey Huff, Billy Wagner, Jon Garland and Ivan Rodriguez. So who could that be this year?

Obviously, Dunn is still out there. He realizes the real trade deadline is at the end of this month, not the beginning. If the Nationals can't agree to an extension, the Nationals need to get something for Dunn. Based on many of the rumors that were out there, it was hardly surprising he wasn't dealt. Nationals GM Mike Rizzo was asking for the moon and nobody was willing to spend the money to get there. White Sox GM Kenny Williams hasn't exactly hidden his desire for Dunn, and a little thing like waivers won't stop him. However, he'll have to hope nearly the rest of the teams pass on the big man, and that's not likely.

The biggest name that could move would be Manny Ramirez. The Dodgers don't know what they're going to get out of him and could shed roughly $7 million. As CBSSports.com senior writer Scott Miller notes , Ramirez has a full no-trade clause, but would likely waive that to go to the American League and DH. If the White Sox can't get Dunn, Ramirez may be a solid backup option -- albeit a bit expensive.

Andy LaRoche Diamondbacks first baseman Adam LaRoche has a mutual option for 2011 that increases to $9.5 million if he's traded, though the buyout remains at $1.5 million. Kelly Johnson may not get through waivers, but could still be traded. He's arbitration eligible after the season.

The Royals would certainly love for another team to take Jose Guillen and what's left of the $12 million salary for this season. Guillen is a free agent after the season.

Mike Lowell is still -- sorta -- with the Red Sox, but would likely sail through waivers because he's owed the remainder of his $12 million salary this season and nobody's quite sure what they'll get out of him.

The reliever market didn't see much action on Saturday, but Toronto's Kevin Gregg, Seattle's David Aardsma and Colorado's Joe Beimel could be moved before the end of this month.

As for starters, Colorado's Aaron Cook is signed for $9.25 million next season with a mutual option of $11 million in 2012 and a $0.5 million buyout. His annual salary increases by $1 million for each season.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

 
 
 
 
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