Posted on: June 27, 2010 1:59 pm
Edited on: June 27, 2010 2:04 pm

Zambrano Watch: Day 3

Carlos Zambrano Another day, another day full of Carlos Zambrano drama.

The short history for you if you've missed it all: Zambrano stunk against the White Sox, continued his tired baby act in the dugout, was pulled from the game, got in a screaming match with Derrek Lee, got sent to the clubhouse, then sent home, was suspended indefinitely by the team, ruffled feathers by going out to dinner with White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen that night and then manager Lou Piniella said if the Cubs re-instate Zambrano, he'll be headed to the bullpen. And that's as short as I can make the roundup.

So, what's up today? First off, Major League Baseball and the Players Association are expected to meet today about the suspension.

"It's really kind of a day or two away from knowing any more than that," general manager Jim Hendry tells the Chicago Tribune 's Paul Sullivan .

The Cubs would like to replace Zambrano on the roster, but are now playing with 24 men until the Zambrano situation is resolved.

Secondly, Piniella said nobody in team management has talked to Zambrano since Friday's outburst.

Thirdly, the Chicago Sun-Times ' Gordon Wittenmyer has talked to a friend of Zambrano who gives his side of the story.

Here's what Wittenmyer wrote:

And Zambrano already is calling his actions Friday ''completely misunderstood'' and blaming Derrek Lee for turning it into a big deal by confronting him during his ranting and raving after the White Sox' four-run first inning.

''All he wanted to do was pump the team up. It was completely misunderstood,'' a source close to Zambrano said, adding that Lee ''took it personal'' and told Zambrano to ''shut the f--- up.''

Yet team sources say Zambrano's rant -- much of which was in Spanish -- included yelling, ''This team is horse s----!''

That's when Lee is caught on camera intervening and telling Zambrano to shut up.

They had to be separated.

So, about Zambrano's version?

''That's not the way we see it,'' said Alfonso Soriano, who planned to call Zambrano on Saturday night. ''If he explains, maybe we can see it the way his friend sees it. But what he said wasn't right.''

As one Cub put it, ''Anybody who believes [Zambrano's version] must be smoking something.''

Asked if teammates could forgive Zambrano, Soriano said, ''I don't know.'' 


Wittenmyer also adds that pitcher Carlos Silva, in his first year with the club, is Zambrano's "only" friend on the club and the rest of the club is hoping Zambrano isn't a Cub much longer.

There's little doubt this story will end in typical Cub fashion -- neither well, nor soon.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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

Posted on: June 26, 2010 6:57 pm

Guillen/Zambrano dinner stirs reactions

Hours after being suspended by the Cubs, Carlos Zambrano was out enjoying dinner with Ozzie Guillen, the manager of the White Sox, whom the Cubs were playing when Zambrano lost his cool.

That didn't sit well with Cubs assistant general manager Randy Bush.

"I would've thought that with the events of yesterday that Carlos would've went home and spent some time reflecting on what happened, thought about his career and his teammates and maybe where he was at and what had happened," Bush told reporters Saturday. "I'm disappointed to hear he was out yukking it up at dinner."

Manager Lou Piniella agreed.

"I would've hoped he'd stayed in private and reflected on this, but that's just my thought," Piniella said.

Even under ordinary circumstances, a manager socializing with a player from an opposing team during a series would be considered bad form. But White Sox GM Ken Williams said in a radio interview that he didn't have a problem with it in this case.

"In an ordinary situation, yes, I might feel compelled to pick up the phone and call the opposing general manager," Williams said, as reported by the Chicago Tribune. "But [Cubs GM Jim Hendry] is very well aware of the relationship that those two gentlemen have, and I think is also aware of the positive influence that Ozzie can have on his friend. It's not about baseball, it's about his friend."

The Tribune also reports that the Cubs held a 10-minute team meeting before Saturday's game. Piniella said that if Zambrano's suspension is lifted, he would go to the bullpen. Tom Gorzelanny will take his spot in the rotation.

The Cubs are playing with a 24-man roster with Zambrano suspended. The team sent a letter to Major League Baseball inquiring about how long they could suspend the pitcher and what happens with the roster.

-- David Andriesen

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

Category: MLB
Posted on: June 26, 2010 5:49 pm
Edited on: June 26, 2010 7:39 pm

Zambrano mess: What now?

Carlos Zambrano Carlos Zambrano dropped a big ol' mess in the Cubs' laps Friday with his latest tirade, which gave the team no choice but to suspend him indefinitely.

Now the Cubs have to decide what's next.

Manager Lou Piniella said Zambrano would have to "at least" apologize to his teammates before he could return to the team, and just for easy reference the Chicago Tribune has compiled a list of notable past Zambrano apologies.

The fact that he has done so many things that require apologizing points to the bigger question: Should the Cubs bring him back at all?

Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times says no, that enough is enough. A lot of Cubs fans agree with him.

At this point, the one and only reason to keep him is financial. It would cost $45 million to make this problem go away, and while it's easy for fans to say "good riddance," it's a tougher proposition when the money is yours.

Is Zambrano going to give the Cubs $45 million in baseball value if he stays? Probably not. He's not winning games now, and he's not likely to return to the form that made him an 18-game winner in 2007. At the moment, he's not even one of the Cubs' top five starting pitchers.

Is the absence of Zambrano going to save the Cubs $45 million in headaches? That's impossible to quantify.

The bottom line is that the $45 million is irrelevant to the question of whether to allow Zambrano to wear a Cubs uniform again. It's a sunk cost. They're going to be writing Zambrano checks for a long time, whether he's pitching for them or not. The money is spent, and it's difficult to picture a scenario in which the five-year contract they gave him in 2007 will go down as anything but a mistake. Next time they are tempted to pledge $91.5 million to a guy they know has the emotional maturity of a toddler, the Cubs will probably think twice.

The team can try to trade him, and as long as Chicago is paying the freight someone would probably be be desperate enough to take him off their hands. Zambrano has a full no-trade clause, but at this point you have to think he'd waive it to get a fresh start.

If I'm Cubs GM Jim Hendry, I'm doing everything in my power to convince ownership that it's not worth letting the bad apple continue to spoil the bunch. 

-- David Andriesen

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

Category: MLB
Posted on: June 26, 2010 12:21 am

Guillen, Zambrano dine

Despite the drama of the day, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen and Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano went through with their planned dinner, according to Guillen's Twitter account .

Guillen tweeted: "Having dinner whit carlos and his family. Great dinner a lot fun and talk"

I'm sure Zambrano does a killer Lou Piniella impression that Guillen finds hillarious.

Zambrano was suspended indefinitely following his on-field blowup earlier in the day and Guillen's red-hit White Sox eased past Zambrano and the "dead-ass" Cubs.

After the game, Guillen was asked about his countryman and if he could manage him, he said he could.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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

Posted on: June 25, 2010 8:08 pm

Cubs suspend Zambrano

Carlos Zambrano has been suspended indefinitely by the Cubs following his meltdown on the Southside of Chicago earlier on Friday.

General manager Jim Hendry made the announcement after the gamma, saying Zambrano's behavior in the team's dugout was "not acceptable."

"His actions toward his teammates and staff were not acceptable," Hendry said. "He will not be at the ballpark tomorrow. We'll play with 24. We'll play with 24 before we tolerate that kind of behavior."

Hendry said he "wouldn't rule it out" that Zambrano would pitch for the Cubs again. As previously discussed, his contract is an albatross. He is owned more than $40 million through the 2012 season.

Manager Lou Piniella said Zambrano's actions were "unacceptable" and Derrek Lee, who also shouted at Zambrano during the incident, declined comment after the game.

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen told reporters after the game he could manager Zambrano.

"Yes I can, yes I can, why not?" Guillen said. "This is not tampering either. He asked me a question and I answered it. I can manage anybody. I can. Why not? You go about your stuff, you believe in yourself, you believe in respect. I'm not afraid [to manage] any player in baseball because I'm going to give them all the respect I can to perform for me."

The problem, though, is Zambrano has repeatedly shown little respect for his teammates. Guillen and Zambrano have become fans and were scheduled to have dinner together Friday night, the Chicago Sun-Times ' Joe Cowley reported .-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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

Posted on: June 25, 2010 5:34 pm
Edited on: June 25, 2010 6:26 pm

Zambrano blows up again

Carlos Zambrano The Cubs were able to unload Milton Bradley this offseason, but they may have a bigger, more expensive problem on their hands in Carlos Zambrano, and it's beyond his ineffectiveness on the mound.

Friday, Zambrano blew up once again after allowing four runs in the first inning. Zambrano got A.J. Pierzynski to ground out to first to end the inning, and after Derrek Lee tossed the ball to a covering Zambrano, Big Z stomped on the bag.

Zambrano, a known head-case, began a temper-tantrum when he got into the dugout. At some point Lou Piniella said something to Zambrano and then so did Lee. At that point, Zambrano started coming at Lee and yelling at him. Lee could be seen telling Zambrano his actions were "B.S." but he didn't use initials. After Zambrano threw down a water cooler, Lou Piniella got involved again and Zambrano went to the clubhouse. As Tom Gorzelanny warmed up in the bullpen, Zambrano came back into the dugout.

Whether the conflict was between the two players or just Lee sticking up for the other 23 men on the team was unclear. Juan Pierre did lead off the game with a grounder down the line by Lee, but it appeared to be a tough play as Lee was playing in to defend against the bunt. Zambrano was lifted after one inning, four hits and the four runs -- three off a home run by Carlos Quentin. Gorzelanny threw 3 1/3 innings, not allowing a hit until Gordon Beckham's solo homer in the fifth.

Lee was the first batter of the inning and struck out. After coming back to the dugout, he sat near Zambrano. In the several TV shots of the dugout, the two were not looking at each other.

Cubs announcer Bob Brenly unexplainably said it was "good to see some emotion" and that the Cubs have been a "dead-ass team."

The difference was who was showing emotion and what that emotion was. Zambrano has had several of these types of blow-ups in the past -- plunking White Sox players a year ago on the Southside, a fight in the dugout with Michael Barrett, a destroyed Gatorade machine and too many tantrums to count. Brenly's partner rightfully called him on it, as Len Casper noted emotion can be good, but with Zambrano it's a tired act.

It's no secret that opposing clubs like to get to Zambrano early because they all know he can be rattled and taken out of his game, leading to big innings and ineffectiveness. He's got a reputation in opposing clubhouses as a big, immature baby.

What's worse for the Cubs, who have already demoted Zambrano to the bullpen once this season, is that they're stuck with him. He signed a five-year, $91.5 million extension with the Cubs in August of 2007. Zambrano makes $17.875 million this season and next, $18 million in 2012 and there is a vesting player option for 2013, but he must finish first or second in the Cy Young vote in 2011 or in the top four in 2012 for that option to take effect.

The Cubs can't afford to release him and nobody will touch him on waivers, so they're stuck with him, cursing the team more than any goat.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

UPDATE: According to a Chicago Tribune tweet, Zambrano was filmed screaming obscenities at local cameramen on his way out of the ballpark. The Cubs are going to love seeing that on TV ad nauseum.

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

Posted on: June 25, 2010 4:32 pm
Edited on: June 25, 2010 5:48 pm

Piniella, Stone make nice

Unfortunately for those of us who were enjoying the feud, Cubs manager Lou Piniella and White Sox broadcaster Steve Stone are back on friendly terms.

On June 11, Piniella went ballistic after hearing that Stone had criticized his handling of rookie outfielder Tyler Colvin (never mind that a few days later, Piniella would end up doing exactly what Stone had suggested and making Colvin an everyday player). Stone replied with a few barbs of his own, but the men apparently managed to avoid each other during the first Cubs-White Sox series.

Friday the teams began another series, and Stone went to the Cubs' clubhouse at U.S. Cellular Field and sought out Piniella to hash out their issues.

"I felt because this is our ballpark, I should go down into his locker room," Stone told radio station WSCR, as reported by the Chicago Tribune. "He facetiously said, 'Do you think we should fight?' I said, "Nah, I think we're too old to do that.' And he said, 'Look, it was over when I was done with it,' and I said I felt the same way.

"We shook hands a number of different times. He wound up actually thanking me for coming down and putting this thing to bed, which it where it belongs."

"We closed the door and threw a few jabs ... verbally," Piniella told reporters.

Category: MLB
Posted on: June 25, 2010 12:20 pm
Edited on: June 25, 2010 1:51 pm

Roster move could cost Cubs player

Infielders Jeff Baker and Chad Tracy are in danger of being lost to the Cubs when Aramis Ramirez is activated from the disabled list prior to Friday's game, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

Both players are out of minor-league options, manager Lou Piniella said he's keeping the pitching staff at 12, and the club has said previously that rookie shortstop Starlin Castro was staying with the big-league club. That leaves either 29-year-old Baker (.250/.299/.417) or 30-year-old Tracy (.250/.327/.295) as odd man out to make room for Ramirez.

-- David Andriesen

UPDATE: Tracy was designated for assignment before Friday's game. The Cubs now have 10 days to trade, release or assign him to a minor league team (which would require him clearing irrevocable waivers).

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

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com