Requiem for a Zombie
My acquaintance with Carlos Zambrano goes back to his teenage days when he would sit near our seats behind the plate charting pitches between starts for the I-Cubs. He wore stiff new jeans and his hair was oiled to a sheen. Over the years he exhibited an almost womanly fussiness about his hairstyle, as unsure apparently about that particular aspect of himself as he was about the whole.
In those days he routinely signed autographs there in the stands for kids, including mine, who had no idea, either of who he was or who he would become. Neither, really, did Carlos.
I was there the night he couldn’t hold a 4-0 lead in Game One of the 2003 NLCS. That stage was too much too soon. He was barely old enough to buy himself a drink in Chicago then. The thinking was that he would grow into maybe the stoutest #3 starter in baseball behind the twin bell cows of Prior and Wood. Instead he ascended to the role of ace through attrition and was paid accordingly though, to my mind, he never earned an ace’s salary.
That’s not to say he wasn’t ever worth the rising prices of admission. I remember a game I attended with my two sons in 2006 when Zambrano was facing the Mets. After reaching first in a scoreless game by beating out an infield hit with nobody on and two out in the bottom of the fifth, he stole second practically standing up. At the last possible instant he fell back into a graceless slide that looked to have broken his ankle. When he got to his feet and dusted himself off we were sure we could see him grinning from hundreds of feet away. It was the only stolen base of his career to date. Juan Pierre grounded out to end the inning but Zambrano eventually beat Tom Glavine that day to run his record to 9-3 for a team that was 35-55 at the time.
Years later my eldest was in the bleachers the day when Zombie, as we liked to call him, got ejected and retaliated by ejecting his ejector and trying to throw the ball clear into the left field seats. I was listening on the radio and as soon as the phone rang I knew who it was.
My feelings about the trade to the Marlins are mixed. I’m glad the Cubs are rid of the tantrums and the declining performance (he hasn’t thrown 200 innings since 2007) but I will miss the buffoon too, I must confess. I will not be surprised if he wins the NL Comeback Player of the Year award in 2012, but I would have been if he won it pitching for the Cubs. The Ozzie y Carlos Show should be lively in Miami. Let’s face it, we and the Cubs have neither seen nor heard the last of the mercurial man-child. He may have lost a step on the base paths along with a few MPH on the fastball, but when he makes his return to Wrigley, if he gets on they better hold him close.
2nd in defensive WAR, NL.
6th in NL in RBI
Go complain about something else, like, "they never play good against the good teams", or some other shit.
Addy really has trouble breaking through .250 BA -- after his hot streak got him to .251, he has gone 1-for-17.
Thank goodness for Jansen's 2 WP on Friday -- otherwise this would have been a sweep.
There seems to be a direct correlation with overconfidence in the Cubs offense against mediocre/young pitchers and really poor offense against mediocre/young pitchers. So, let's fear the Pirate pitchers!
Rizzo due for a power surge -- one HR in August so far. He truly does hit them in bunches.
Sometimes I'm not as supportive of Cahill as maybe I should be. There, I said it.
Rough 8th inning all around -- HBP, Cahill error, Javy's poor decision.
Oh well - given that the Cubs didn't look like they were going to score, it's better to lose in 9 innings, save the bullpen and get changed for the PJ trip home.
Baez still learning
heyward with his 3rd multi-hit game since the all-star break (all in august)...2nd in the past 3 games during his 7 game hitting streak.
he's gone from flirting with a sub-.300 ob% to nearing .310 ob% in 3 games (1 game was just a 1 for 1 pinch hit appearance). all 5 hits in the past 3 games have come in a row...neat.
stewart with 7Ks through 3ip...of course.
that 10-13 mph difference in his fastball/change is working today...and they're swinging at his crappy slider.
brock stewart...steven brault...fun times for the cubs hitters vs allegedly competitive teams...maybe.
Maddon would have started three lefties against the Dodgers, Montgomery, Zastryzny and Lester, except that he doesn't have the juice to do that. No manager does. Maddon has a boss, Epstein (and probably Hoyer, too), who gave him a starting rotation of five guys including Hammel. Maddon was asked yesterday about the starting group for next year and basically said, Not my call, that's why I drive away in my RV in the summer and occasionally check in, etc.
video of Maddon.
always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.
#Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs
Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled out...as he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.
Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.
Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.
I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.