Tag:Carlos Zambrano
Posted on: December 14, 2011 1:23 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2011 1:28 pm
 

Zambrano climbing mountains, running on beaches



By Matt Snyder


Carlos Zambrano has long been one of the most mercurial players in the bigs. We've all seen his meltdowns and heard his excuses afterward. This past summer, when he skipped out on his teammates and uttered some words about retirement, he was placed on the restricted list by the Cubs. The thought was that he'd never play for the Cubs again, but that's now looking like a possibility.

Zambrano recently told reporters he is -- for what, the seventh time? -- a new man. From MLBTradeRumors.com:
"I'm preparing like when I was a rookie, climbing mountains, running on the beach, and exercising hard so that I can arrive at Spring Training in optimal shape," he said, as relayed by Joiner Martinez at Líder en Deportes. "I want to stay in Chicago for the two seasons I still have with the team. I'm not a coward who would take the back door out of the majors."
Climbing mountains and running on the beach ... uh, has he been watching the Rocky movies as inspiration? I wonder what name he yells when he gets to the top of the mountain? Maybe Michael Barrett's.

And I'm not quite sure "coward" is the right choice of words there. Only a complete and utter fool would leave the $19 million on the table Zambrano is owed in 2012. The cowardly act would have been to storm out of the locker room and leave his teammates hanging. Oh, wait ...

Zambrano Saga
For stretches, when Zambrano could remain healthy and sane, he produced as a frontline starting pitcher. He's a three-time All-Star who finished exactly fifth three times in NL Cy Young voting. After anger management sessions midseason in 2010, he closed the season in lights-out fashion, going 8-0 with a 1.24 ERA. But then Bad Z showed his face again in 2011 and it looked like the Cubs had seen enough. Then-general manager Jim Hendry basically kicked Zambrano off the team.

The problem, of course, is that Hendry also inked Zambrano to a huge contract -- five years, $91.5 million -- that began before the 2008 season. The second season Zambrano mentioned in the above quote, where he said he wants to stay in Chicago for two seasons? Good luck with that. There's a vesting option for 2013 that is guaranteed if Zambrano finishes in the top four of Cy Young voting this coming season.

It does seem that he'll at least get his chance, though. New Cubs president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer are giving every indication Zambrano is allowed back as long as he's on his best behavior. History indicates that won't last very long, but there's no reason to not give him a fresh start for a fresh administration, considering that untradeable contract.

One thing is for sure, the conclusion of Zambrano's time in Chicago is not going to be boring.

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Posted on: November 27, 2011 11:28 am
Edited on: November 27, 2011 12:28 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Chicago Cubs



By Matt Snyder


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule of this feature, click here.

When we discuss the Chicago Cubs, no baseball fan is lacking an opinion -- specifically, everyone seems to have some pet theory as to why the Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908. I've long argued with the people who believe the streak has something to do with a stupid "curse" or somehow now has something to do with playing so many more day games than everyone else. No, the real problem is they've never put a top-to-bottom management system in place that has done the job consistently for more than a small handful of seasons. It's possible current Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts has done so with Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, et al (in fact, I'd argue it's likely), but that's a different discussion for a different forum.

For now, we're left looking at one of the worst Homegrown Teams in our series.

Lineup

1. Kosuke Fukudome, RF
2. Darwin Barney, 2B
3. Starlin Castro, SS
4. Tyler Colvin, LF
5. Casey McGehee, 3B
6. Eric Hinske, 1B
7. Geovany Soto, C
8. Sam Fuld, CF

Starting Rotation

1. Ricky Nolasco
2. Kyle Lohse
3. Andrew Cashner*
4. Carlos Zambrano
5. Randy Wells
* - if Cashner fell injured like he did in the real 2011 season, the options would be: Jon Garland, Dontrelle Willis and Casey Coleman.

Bullpen

Closer - Kyle Farnsworth
Set up - Kerry Wood, Sean Marshall, Carlos Marmol, Al Alburquerque, Juan Cruz, Michael Wuertz
Long - Jeff Samardzija, Rich Hill, Sergio Mitre

Notable Bench Players

Robinson Chirinos, Ryan Theriot, Ronny Cedeno, Brandon Guyer, Corey Patterson, Felix Pie, Tony Campana, Lou Montanez. In fact, feel free to grab any of these guys, plug them in the lineup and play around with it. There's really no wrong answer, because it's one marquee player (and he's only 21) amidst a heap of mediocrity at this point. Maybe Guyer proves a good player, McGehee bounces back and/or Colvin becomes a good everyday player, but we have to go on what we've seen up to this point.

What's Good?

The bullpen is really strong. It's well-rounded with righties and lefties, depth, power pitchers and specialists. Of course, there could be an issue with the lack of a reliable closer when it comes to either Farnsworth or Marmol, but a new-age manager might just abandon that idea and use whoever makes the most sense in the ninth.

What's Not?

The starting rotation doesn't have a true ace (or No. 2, for that matter). The infield defense sorely lacks range and the outfield isn't great either. The team speed is minimal, there isn't a good option at leadoff (or in the two-hole, or cleanup, or fifth ... you get the point) and who is the best power hitter? Colvin? Soto? Basically, everything other than the bullpen and Starlin Castro is lackluster.

Comparison to real 2011

You have to give former general manager Jim Hendry credit for scraping together a team good enough to win three division titles in six years, considering this bunch. Then again, he was in charge as the organization was assembling nothing more than a mediocre foundation (Baseball Prospectus now says the minor-league system is "not bad" but is more "depth than starpower."). Let's leave out the excuses, because there are far more bad picks (Montanez at third overall as a shortstop, for example) than there are instances of bad luck (Mark Prior, for example).

The amazing thing is that the 2011 Cubs were 71-91 and I actually think that team was better than this Homegrown unit. When we do the Homegrown rankings in mid-December, expect to see the Cubs toward the bottom. That probably changes in five years, but we're doing this exercise in the present. And this team would probably win somewhere in the ballpark of 65 games. Maybe fewer.

Up Next: Seattle Mariners

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Posted on: November 19, 2011 11:02 am
Edited on: November 19, 2011 3:25 pm
 

Carlos Zambrano OK after line drive to the face

Carlos ZambranoBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Cubs right-hander Carlos Zambrano told friends he was fine after leaving Friday night's game for Caribes de Anzoategui in Venezuela after being hit in the face with a line drive, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Related stories

Zambrano left Friday's game against Navegantes del Magallanes in the sixth inning when he was nailed by a liner. He reportedly needed 10 stitches to close the wound.

"He's a bull," Caribes general manager Sam Moscatel told the Tribune. "He's OK. We spoke (Friday) night after he had the surgery, and he said he wants to make his next start on Friday."

ESPNChicago.com reports Zambrano suffered "soft tissue damage," and needed 18 stitches. The report says Zambrano will undergo more tests in the next couple of days. 

Zambrano met with new Cubs general manager Theo Epstein last week to discuss his status with the team. Zambrano left the team earlier this season after being ejected from a game in Atlanta and didn't pitch the rest of the season. Zambrano told Epstein at the meeting he wanted to remain a Cub.

The Cubs still owe Zambrano $18 million for 2012.

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Posted on: November 17, 2011 3:46 pm
 

Kershaw latest youngster to dazzle

Clayton Kershaw

By C. Trent Rosecrans

When it comes to young pitchers and dominating seasons, many of us think back to Dwight Gooden in 1985 and Roger Clemens in 1986 -- but both of those seasons were before 2011 National League Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw was born. Kershaw is the youngest Cy Young winner since Gooden in 1985, but he isn't the only player of his age to dominate baseball since Gooden and Clemens.

So, which pitchers age 23 or younger have put together the best pitching seasons since Kershaw was born on March 19, 1988?

• Mark Prior, 2003: In his second season and just 22, Prior went 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA with an amazing 245 strikeouts for the Cubs. He not only threw 211 1/3 innings during the regular season, he also threw 23 1/3 innings in the postseason, including the infamous Game 6 of the NLCS against the Marlins. Prior finished third in the Cy Young voting behind runaway-winer Eric Gagne, who finished with 55 saves, and San Francisco's Jason Schmidt (17-5, 2.34 ERA). The 2003 season would prove to be the best season of Prior's career. He went just 18-17 with a 4.27 ERA over the next three seasons and has battled injuries and minor leaguers since then.

Felix Hernandez, 2009: The year before winning the Cy Young with a 13-12 record, a 23-year-old Hernandez led the American League with a 19-5 record and also put up a 2.49 ERA. Hernandez finished second in the Cy Young voting in 2009, losing to the Royals' Zack Greinke. Hernandez went 13-12 with a 2.27 ERA as a 24-year-old in 2010. "King" Felix was 14-14 with a 3.47 ERA in 2011, but is still one of baseball's best pitchers.

• Jake Peavy, 2004: Peavy won an ERA title in his third year in the majors, going 15-6 with a 2.27 ERA as a 23-year-old in 2004. That didn't garner him any Cy Young votes -- Roger Clemens claimed his seventh, and final, Cy Young that year. Peavy would win the Cy Young in 2007. 

• Joe Magrane, 1988: As a 23-year-old, Magrane led the National League with a 2.18 ERA, but had just a 5-0 record in 24 starts. The left-hander didn't receive any votes for the Cy Young, but did finish fourth (behind Mark Davis, Mike Scott, Greg Maddux and tied with Orel Hershiser) the next season when he went 18-9. Magrane was never the same after an elbow injury in 1990 and retired in 1996 at 32.

• Carlos Zambrano, 2004: With a 16-8 record and 2.75 ERA, the right-hander finished fifth in Cy Young voting, striking out 188 batters in 209 2/3 innings. Zambrano didn't lead the league in any categories other than hit batters (20), but was otherwise very good. Since then he's had a roller-coaster career, but from age 22-27 he was 91-51 with a 3.39 ERA, making at least 30 starts in each year from 2003-2008.

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Posted on: November 15, 2011 12:19 am
 

Epstein: Zambrano can earn his way back to Cubs

Carlos ZambranoBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Carlos Zambrano's Cubs career may not be over quite yet -- new president Theo Epstein told reporters he met with Zambrano and didn't close the door on a return to Wrigley Field for the volatile right-hander.

"We told him we would give him the right to earn his way back to being a Cub, that nothing would be given to him," Epstein told reporters (via the Chicago Tribune) on Monday after meeting with Zambrano, agent Barry Praver and Cubs farm director Oneri Fleita.

"He could earn his way back through very hard work this winter, through rebuilding relationship man-to-man with all his teammates and through other steps we discussed," Epstein said. 

Zambrano was suspended by the team after he left during a game in Atlanta on Aug. 12 following an ejection for throwing at Chipper Jones. Epstein described Zambrano as "contrite" in their meeting.

"He expressed a strong desire to be a Cub and an even stronger desire to have a real good 2012 season," Epstein said (via the Chicago Sun-Times). "He's in great shape, working real hard."

Zambrano also encountered controversy in 2010 when he started a fight in the dugout during a game. The 30-year-old is in the final year of a five-year, $91.5 million contract. He went 9-7 with a 4.82 ERA last season and is 125-81 with a 3.60 ERA in his 11 seasons with the Cubs. He is currently playing winter ball in his native Venezuela.

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Posted on: November 8, 2011 12:58 pm
Edited on: November 8, 2011 3:53 pm
 

Royals interested in Carlos Zambrano?

By Matt Snyder

Mercurial starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano's 2011 season ended August 12 when he departed the Cubs' locker room early and told some people he was retiring. The fallout: The Cubs basically suspended him for the season and are now likely ready to part ways with him for pretty much anything in return. But he does have talent, despite a ridiculously high salary (he's due $19 million in 2012), so it shouldn't come as a surprise that some general managers believe he may be worth the risk. Count Royals' GM Dayton Moore as one of them.

"We would have to be interested. We would have to explore it because that's what you should do. You should explore every opportunity. Carlos Zambrano is a heckuva competitor," said Moore (CSNChicago.com). "Carlos Zambrano has had a lot of success in the major leagues. Carlos Zambrano is actually a very pleasant, easy going, classy person off the field. Sometimes, as with all of us the competitiveness takes over and brings out qualities in us that we are not proud of. Obviously the Cubs grew tired of some of his outbursts but I believe in our coaching staff and we'll always take a chance and a risk on certain players. We'll see how that particular situation unfolds."

Hot Stove Season
Zambrano, 30, is a three-time All-Star who has thrice finished fifth in Cy Young voting. Only one season in his career was his ERA below league average -- of course, it was 2011 -- and his career 125-81 record is certainly appealing to those who go with the "a pitcher's job is to win" mantra. But his constant emotional meltdowns teamed with a noticeable regression in nearly every stat category and a high price tag have destroyed his value.

Moore also pointed out that Zambrano's contract would be an issue, but the Cubs have made no secret about the fact that they could eat some of the money to rid themselves of Zambrano. We do know the Royals are seeking starting pitching, and probably aren't content with simply trading for Jonathan Sanchez.

Basically, this could be a match, it's just a matter of hammering out a deal. Whether or not it ever comes to fruition remains to be seen.

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Posted on: November 7, 2011 3:00 pm
 

Monday trade sets stage for busy Hot Stove season



By Matt Snyder


Sure, Derek Lowe was dealt to the Indians in a salary dump and we've seen a few signings, but things have been pretty slow of late in Major League Baseball news. When the biggest name to sign a contract with a new team thus far is a backup first baseman/pinch-hitter (Jim Thome), it says everything you need to know about this past week in actual transactions. So forgive us for loving Melky Cabrera and Jonathan Sanchez swapping addresses. It's something, and it serves as a nice little unofficial start to the Hot Stove season.

With just one week to the general manager meetings in Milwaukee, it's time to focus on other potential trade candidates. Obviously rumors don't always come to fruition and we're shocked with non-rumored trades going down on occasion, but here are some names that either make sense or have been rumored to be on the move in the recent past.

• The White Sox's farm system is in absolute shambles and the major-league club doesn't appear ready to compete with the Tigers any time soon, so it's possible general manager Kenny Williams decides to rebuild. Since Adam Dunn and Alex Rios have no trade value, Gavin Floyd, John Danks and Carlos Quentin would be the parts most likely to move.

Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie is a free agent after the 2012 season and he could be a helpful four or five starter for a contender. He's thrown at least 190 innings in each of the past four seasons.

Hot Stove Season
• Do new Cubs executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer look to cut the sunk costs of Carlos Zambrano and Alfonso Soriano? They'd have to eat a significant portion of the remaining salaries (and for Soriano it's $54 million left on the deal), but the duo isn't helping the Cubs win in 2012. Also, Marlon Byrd only has one year left on his contract and prospect Brett Jackson will likely be ready to take over in center soon. The guess is Byrd has more value by the trade deadline in '12, though.

Rays center fielder B.J. Upton has long been rumored to be a trade candidate, and this winter it might finally happen with Desmond Jennings clearly ready to take over in center. Also, if the Rays are ready to deal a starting pitcher, Jeff Niemann is most likely.

Denard Span was rumored to be a trade candidate back in July, and the Twins could part with their center fielder to shore up the pitching staff.

We've already heard the rumors about Jair Jurrjens and Martin Prado from Atlanta, but it's possible since talks fizzled with the Royals that the Braves just hold both.

• Do the Angels try to shed Alberto Callaspo and/or Maicer Izturis and then land free agent Aramis Ramirez at third? They probably would need to shed more payroll in order to do so.

• Starting pitchers Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers could easily be on the move from Houston, but the guess is the ownership situation would need to be resolved first.

• After a disappointing 2011 season, the Rockies have plenty of trade candidates. Chris Iannetta probably stays put, but Huston Street, Ian Stewart, Seth Smith and Ty Wigginton all make sense in potential deals.

Dodgers first baseman James Loney finished 2011 with a bang, which might mean it's the Dodgers last chance to get something of value in return for him. There are a few small-market matches, too, including the Indians.

• Finally, as we've already noted, the A's have put basically the entire team on the block.

So fasten your seatbelts, the action has only just begun.

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Posted on: November 6, 2011 10:35 pm
 

Zambrano pitches in Venezuelan winter league

Carlos ZambranoBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Carlos Zambrano was back on the mound Sunday for the first time since walking out on his team in Atlanta in August, pitching 2 2/3 innings in his home country of Venezuela, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Pitching for Los Caribes de Anzategui, the Cubs right-hander allowed two runs on four hits, allowing a home run to Chicago's Bryan LaHair. Zambrano also had a throwing error walked two and hit a batter, but did strike out three batters.

Chicago's Theo Epstein told the Chicago Tribune's Paul Sullivan last week that he was OK with Zambrano pitching this winter because he needed the innings and "it could be good for his state of mind to get out there and perform."

Zambrano was 9-7 with a 4.82 ERA in 24 starts for the Cubs in 2011, throwing 145 2/3 innings, but was placed on the team's disqualified list in August after he left his team during a game against the Braves. He pitched in just 129 2/3 innings in 2010 after being suspended for an outburst in the dugout.

Still, the Cubs are on the hook for $18 million for Zambrano in 2012 and have to decide exactly what to do with him. Zambrano is expected to make nine starts by Christmas in Venezuela and then resting until spring training begins.

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