Tag:Carlos Zambrano
Posted on: May 28, 2011 10:29 pm
Edited on: May 28, 2011 10:36 pm

Zambrano's stiff neck caused by watching TV

By Matt Snyder

Friday morning, I wrote about how much I enjoy watching Carlos Zambrano swing the bat. One thing I neglected to mention is that he still seems like a kid in the candy store when at the plate. Well, in many ways he's still a bit of a kid.

Remember, we're talking about a guy who has had cramps in his forearm in the past because he spends too much time in chat rooms on his computer. Now, he's suffering from a stiff neck that was caused by his watching TV late at night. You see, he watches TV as he lays in bed before falling asleep, and apparently he is doing it wrong.

"I watch TV with my head on the pillow and the chiropractor told me to sit on my back and not my shoulder," Zambrano said. (Chicago Tribune)

As a TV-in-bed viewer myself, I have to echo the sentiment of Big Z's chiropractor. It's far to easy to end up in the wrong position unless you're just laying normally on your back. Wait, are we really talking about this on a baseball blog?

That's what happens when Carlos Zambrano's the topic of conversation. You never know where it will lead. On a serious note, Zambrano is expected to make his next start. I'm sure manager Mike Quade and the rest of the Cubs would just assume Zambrano keeps the TV off the night before.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: May 27, 2011 11:27 am
Edited on: May 27, 2011 11:50 am

Enjoying Big Z's big bat

By Matt Snyder

Cubs starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano has long been one of the best hitting pitchers in baseball. He has 22 career home runs in 686 plate appearances. His career batting average of .241 could be acceptable for a good defensive catcher. He's really locked in this season, though, as he's hitting .375 with a .583 slugging percentage through 26 plate appearances.

It got me thinking, how does he compare to other hitters around baseball? Granted, it's a much smaller sample, but this is just supposed to be a fun look. If you're gonna get all serious and freak out about any "comparison" -- because I'm not comparing Zambrano as a hitter to any of these hitters -- you might want to stop reading. Or at least take a deep breath and lighten up.

Zambrano's .958 OPS is most like ... Matt Kemp (.956). It's better than: Adrian Gonzalez, Prince Fielder and Kevin Youkilis.

Zambrano's .583 slugging percentage is most like ... Ryan Braun (.575). It's better than: Mike Stanton, Matt Holliday, Jay Bruce, Carlos Quentin and Miguel Cabrera.

I'll again reiterate these are guys with about seven times as many at-bats as Big Z, are far superior hitters and there's little chance he can keep up this pace. It's just a fun look at how well he's swung the bat early in the season on the heels of a 3-3 game with a double and an RBI.

Earlier this week, Cubs manager Mike Quade used Zambrano as a pinch hitter and it drew some ire from curmudgeons who need to complain about everything under the sun. Zambrano came through with a bases-loaded, two-RBI single to center. But, of course, he was put at an injury risk, according to the complainers. Quade had a good response:

‘‘He’s probably healthier than most of the guys on this club,’’ Quade said. ‘‘Given the situation we were in at that point, it really only made sense to me to get him down there and let him stretch and get loose and get an at-bat. . . . If I was concerned at all, I wouldn’t have done it.’’ (Chicago Sun-Times)

It is amazing to me how much of an injury risk some people think swinging a baseball bat is.

The other backlash we're bound to hear is that he's paid to pitch, not hit. That's false, because he's actually paid to play baseball. Like it or not, National League pitchers use the bat. Zambrano's ability to swing the bat actually increases his overall value to the team. Instead of an automatic out, he's actually a productive member of the lineup. That's a boost. Sure, he's still overpaid, but that has nothing to do with his bat. And he hasn't been bad on the hill, either. He's 5-2 with a 4.59 ERA and 1.31 WHIP with 46 strikeouts. Certainly not great, or even good, but he's healthy and the Cubs have won eight of his 11 starts. If you want to give some credit to run support, well, we're back to talking about him helping himself with the bat.

It's high time we just sit back and enjoy watching Carlos Zambrano enjoy hitting the baseball. Remember, we originally became baseball fans because it was fun. He likes hitting, so we need to just like watching him hit.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: May 27, 2011 12:42 am

3 Up, 3 Down: Pitchers can hit too

Cliff Lee

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Ciff Lee, Phillies -- The day after Wilson Valdez showed position players could pitch, Cliff Lee showed pitchers can hit. Lee hit a single and double, driving in three runs in the Phillies' 10-4 victory over the Reds. While Lee wasn't especially sharp (by his standards) on the mound, he did what was most important for his team, stay on the mound. Following the 19-inning affair on Wednesday, Lee saved the team's bullpen by going eight innings on Thursday, despite giving up 10 hits and four runs. He did strike out eight batters and walked one.

Carlos Zambrano, Cubs -- Zambrano isn't your ordinary pitcher when he steps up to the plate, the guy knows what to do with the bat in his hand. Wednesday he went 3 for 3 with an RBI and a double. He'd also pinch-hit Tuesday night, driving in two, so he finished the series against New York 4 for 4 with three RBI. Oh, and he pitched six innings, allowing six hits and two runs, just one earned, while striking out five and walking two.

Carl Crawford, Red Sox -- Still worried about Crawford? Maybe not, especially after his last two days when he was 8 for 9 with two doubles, two triples and a home run. He was a triple shy of the cycle on Wednesday when he went 4 for 4, but made up for it with two triples on Thursday while going 4 for 5 with three RBI against the Indians. He entered May hitting .204/.227/.431 and is up to .277/.368/.645. Crawford's gonna be just fine.

Joel Piniero, Angels -- At least he's consistent. And honestly, he wasn't so bad. He went 6 1/3 innings and allowed four runs on 11 hits with no walks. In his last outing, he went 6 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on 11 hits with no walks. He did strike out one more batter than he did five days ago, three instead of two. The bad part is he lost both games.

Adam Dunn, White Sox -- Dunn took another collar on Thursday, striking out in all four of his plate appearances, including a K to end the eighth inning with a runner on third in a tie game. Dunn struck out three times against Toronto starter Brandon Morrow and then once against lefty Marc Rzepczynski. Dunn is now 0 for 33 with 15 strikeouts in 39 plate appearances against left-handers this season. Ozzie Guillen has said he'll move Dunn to seventh in Chicago's lineup on Friday.

Marc Rzepczynski, Blue Jays -- And speaking of Rzepczynski, the Jays left-hander may have gotten Dunn to end the eighth, but he picked up the loss with his work in the ninth. After third baseman John McDonald's error allowed Alex Rios to reach base and advance to second, Rzepczynski uncorked a wild pitch putting the go-ahead run on third. He followed that by hitting Gordon Beckham, setting the table for Juan Pierre. Pierre hit one down the line to first baseman Juan Rivera, who fielded the ball, but Rzepczynski wasn't able to beat Pierre to the bag. Rios scored easily on Pierre's grounder, but Beckham scored when Rivera's throw bounced off of the pitcher. 

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Posted on: May 16, 2011 11:43 pm
Edited on: May 16, 2011 11:54 pm

Quade fumes after Cubs blow game

By Matt Snyder

Things were going pretty well for the Cubs through 5 1/2 innings Monday night in Cincinnati. Carlos Pena had just hit a two-run home run -- his fourth in the past 11 games -- to put the Cubs on top 4-0. Starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano had only allowed one hit through his five shutout innings and really only needed to get through one more before handing the ball to Sean Marshall, Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol.

Instead, things came unraveled. The Reds tagged the Cubs for a seven-spot in the sixth, en route to a 7-4 victory. After the game, Cubs manager Mike Quade reportedly let loose on his ballclub behind closed doors before seeing the media and venting his frustration.

"That was embarrassing and that [expletive] has got to stop," he said.

"Nothing's [expletive] easy up here. We're not good enough to coast at all in any aspect of the game," he continued. (CSNChicago.com via Twitter)

Quade also reportedly noted that he was including himself and that everyone needed to get better.

For whatever it's worth, Quade's tirade didn't seem to fall on deaf ears. Marlon Byrd told reporters he was sick of it and he starts with himself in terms of where improvement is needed. Zambrano also took the full burden of the blame.

"It was all my fault ... disappointed in myself," he said, also adding that he was sad to have let down his teammates. (Paul Sullivan via Twitter)

In the sixth inning, there were a number of factors that contributed to the Reds' seven runs. Zambrano walked Edgar Renteria with one on and Joey Votto on deck. Alfonso Soriano was nothing short of a debacle as he backpedaled on Scott Rolen's game-tying, RBI double (I'm not sure he could have caught it, but an average left fielder would have). Marcos Mateo threw a wild pitch on his first offering and it allowed Jay Bruce to score the Reds' go-ahead run. Mateo then gave Jonny Gomes a fastball on a silver platter that resulted in a two-run homer. Defensively, things could have been sharper from Aramis Ramirez and Kosuke Fukudome on separate occasions.

It was reported Quade was angry about "baserunning, defense and third base coach Ivan DeJesus' decision-making." (Chicago Tribune)

Quade and the Cubs could also be upset about back-to-back strikeouts by Soriano and Byrd to end the first inning after Homer Bailey had walked the bases loaded.

In related news, struggling outfielder Tyler Colvin has been optioned to Triple-A, which is absolutely the correct move. He's been awful at the plate this season (.113 with a .449 OPS) after a bit of a breakout last season (20 HRs in 358 at-bats), so he's in need of everyday at-bats to work through his issues.

The Cubs are 17-22 and six games out of first place in the NL Central.

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Posted on: May 16, 2011 4:13 pm
Edited on: May 16, 2011 10:12 pm

On Deck: Something's gotta give


By Matt Snyder

In a stat that may only interest me, Monday night features six games pitting teams against each other that have either won or lost at least two games, meaning even modest "streaks" are going to be broken. The Padres-Diamondbacks, for example, isn't overly exciting just because both teams have won two straight games. The Phillies-Cardinals game (Phils have dropped two straight, the Cardinals three) is a nice match, but not because of the modest losing streaks. The Yankees (lost five straight) and Rays (lost two straight) is a big series because they're the top two teams in the very tight AL East. There are, however, two pretty extreme "something's gotta give" examples -- one on each end of the spectrum.

STREAK-BREAKERS, WINNING EDITION: The Blue Jays have won five in a row. The only team with a longer current winning streak is the Tigers, their foe Monday night in Detroit. The Tigers bring in a seven-game winning streak that has brought them to within 3 1/2 games of the surprising Indians, who sport the best record in baseball. Taking the hill for the Tigers is Max Scherzer, who is 6-0 with a 3.20 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 50 2/3 innings thus far in 2011. He'll have the task of dealing with the hot-swinging Blue Jays' lineup, specifically Jose Bautista. Bautista is pretty clearly the best hitter in baseball right now, and it's not even close. He leads the majors in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, runs, walks and home runs. His .368 batting average is tops in the AL and his 284 OPS-plus is insane. His three-homer game Sunday was yet another exclamation point. Toronto at Detroit, WATCH LIVE SCORING.

STREAK-BREAKERS, LOSING EDITION: The Mariners have lost six games in a row. Fortunately for them, they don't have the longest streak of futility in the majors at present, because the Twins have lost eight straight. Late Monday night, the two last-place teams will square off in Safeco Field, and the good news is someone has to win. Surprisingly enough, it's actually a good pitching matchup. Scott Baker (2-2, 3.71) was roughed up last time out, but had a 1.59 ERA in his previous four starts and is striking out batters at a pretty high rate. Michael Pineda (4-2, 2.84) has been much better, though. He's struck out 45 in his 44 1/3 innings as a rookie and looks every bit the future ace he was projected to be. Considering the two offenses are the lowest scoring in the AL, this one could be a quickie. Minnesota at Seattle, WATCH LIVE SCORING.

UNDERRATED PITCHING MATCHUP: At first glance, Carlos Zambrano vs. Homer Bailey isn't an elite duel. Bailey (2-0, 0.69) brings in a hot start and is still young enough to be reaching a ceiling many thought was that of a top-of-the-line ace earlier in his development. Zambrano (4-1, 4.35) is actually 4-0 on the road this season and has a really good track record against the Reds and in Great American Ball Park. He owns Scott Rolen (.229 OBP in 48 plate appearances) and has had good success against Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce. Zambrano's career line at GABP is 9-2 with a 2.90 ERA with 73 strikeouts in 87 innings. Oh, he also has three home runs and an. 804 OPS in 39 career plate appearances at GABP. Chicago (NL) at Cincinnati, WATCH LIVE SCORING.

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Posted on: May 10, 2011 6:12 pm
Edited on: May 10, 2011 6:15 pm

On Deck: Aces Halladay, Johnson battle

Halladay, Johnson
On Deck

By Evan Brunell

BEST MATCHUP: Get excited. Tuesday night's best matchup pits Roy Halladay against Josh Johnson. In the earlier going, JJ has been the better pitcher with a 1.68 ERA, while Halladay will look to push his ERA under 2 from 2.19. Johnson is coming off a 7 1/3 inning, 5-run effort against the Cardinals in which he drew his first loss of the year while Halladay coughed up two in seven innings to beat the Nationals. Last season, Halladay's perfect game came against Johnson on May 29, and this is the first time Halladay will toe the mound in Miami since. There's a bit of a mentor-mentee relationship as Johnson has spoken at length about how much he looks up to Halladay and was able to watch one of Halladay's bullpen sessions last season. Phillies at Marlins, 7:10 p.m. ET (Watch live)

GONE STREAKING: Jacoby Ellsbury will look to push his hitting streak to 19 as the Red Sox hit the road with a trip to Toronto before the first Red Sox-Yankees series of the year will dominate the media. Meanwhile, Jon Lester looks to win his fifth straight start which will propel Boston to .500 for the first time all season. It will have been the latest in a season the Red Sox reach .500 since 1996, when it took until Aug. 22. Lester will be opposed by rookie Kyle Drabek. Red Sox at Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m. ET (Watch live)

BIG Z DOMINATION: Chris Carpenter has been one of the best pitchers in the game over the past decade, but he can't seem to solve Carlos Zambrano and the Cubs. The Cubs are 5-2 in Carpenter-Zambrano tilts and haven't lost a game since July 22, 2005, as the Chicago Tribune reports. Weird, right? That trend may very well continue Tuesday night as Big Z is 4-1 on the year with a 4.23 ERA while Carpenter is searching for his first win amid two losses and a 4.19 ERA. Oh, and Cardinals shortstop Ryan Theriot returns to his old stomping grounds after saying he was finally "on the right side of the rivalry" and being threatened with a knockdown pitch. Cardinals at Cubs, 8:05 p.m. ET (Watch live)

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Posted on: May 3, 2011 11:17 pm
Edited on: May 3, 2011 11:19 pm

Ethier extends streak to 29

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Andre EthierAndre Ethier singled in the fourth inning of Cubs starter Ryan Dempster, extending his hitting streak to 29 games.

Ethier had grounded into a double play in his first at-bat, in the first inning.

With the signle past Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney into right, Ethier tied Zack Wheat for the second-longest hitting streak in Dodgers history. Wheat hit in 29 games in 1916. The team record is 31, set by Willie Davis in 1969.

Ethier will go for 30 tomorrow in a day game against Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano. Ethier is hitting .444/.500/.500 in his career against Zambrano, with eight hits in 18 at-bats, with one double and two walks.

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Posted on: April 24, 2011 11:18 pm

3 up, 3 down: Clap clap, clap clap clap

Derek JeterBy C. Trent Rosecrans


Derek Jeter, Yankees -- I often wonder how long can you keep saying, "It's still early." I think when an everyday player can raise his average .046 points in one day, it's still early. That's what Jeter did on Sunday with his 4-for-6 performance against the Orioles. Jeter notched his second extra-base hit of the season, a second-inning double and added an RBI single in the 11th inning. He still doesn't look like the captain of old, and his .257/.317/.284 line isn't anywhere near looking like Minka Kelly, but it's better than the .221/.289/.235 line he brought to Sunday's dance. He also moved up the all-time hit list, past Frank Robinson for 30th overall with 2,945.

Red Sox pitching -- John Lackey's eight-inning performance was just the latest great start for Boston hurlers. Boston completed its sweep of the Angels with a 7-0 win in Anaheim on Sunday, marking the team's first back-to-back shutouts since June, 2007. Boston has now won eight of nine, with Red Sox starters going 7-1 with a 0.88 ERA during that string. The Angels' only runs off a Red Sox starter in the four games (and 30 innings by Red Sox starters) was Torii Hunter's seventh-inning homer off Josh Beckett on Thursday night.

Roy Halladay, Phillies -- As Matt pointed out the other day, the Padres didn't stand much of a chance against Halladay following his bad performance earlier in the week. While Wade LeBlanc performed well for the Padres, he couldn't match Halladay, who went 8 2/3 innings, allowed five hits and one run, matching his career-best with 14 strikeouts.


White Sox offense -- Chicago's lost 10 of 11 and scored three or fewer runs in all 11 games. In those 11 games, the White Sox are hitting just .193/.256/.282 with seven home runs, with more strikeouts (76) than hits (69). Adam Dunn is struggling as much as anyone, hitting .098/.213/.195 since coming back from his appendectomy.

Carlos Zambrano, Cubs -- The Cubs' right-hander allowed five runs in the first inning on Sunday and had his streak of 11 consecutive victories halted. However, on the positive side, Zambrano didn't blow up after a rough start as he has in the past, settling down and giving up just one more run in his remaining four innings.

Mariano Rivera, Yankees -- Rivera blew his second straight save opportunity -- and if not for a good defensive job by right fielder Nick Swisher, second baseman Robinson Cano and catcher Russell Martin, it would have lost the game. After a rain delay in extra innings, the Yankees were able to pick up Rivera and score three in the 11th for a victory.

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