Well the big bad Zambrano has finally been traded away from the Cubs. Paul Sullivan and far too many Cubs fans may bust a hip at the grave dancing party. While I understand the move from the Cubs perspective, it's unfortunate that a player with such a great Cubs career had to end his Cubbie days like this. He may have been off his mental rocker, but he was damn good on the pitching mound and at the plate over 11 seasons to a tune of 125-81, an ERA+ of 122 and 3 Silver Slugger awards. The more recent down years, injury hiccups and temper tantrums may burn the brightest in our memories, but Z was doing the heavy lifting all those years the Cubs were waiting for Prior and Wood to get healthy. Could he have been better these last few years? Maybe, but I'm not gonna preach from the safety of my Internet connection on how an adult should behave himself so that it satiates my moral compass. He was what he was and part of what infuriated us, may be the same parts that helped him be so good on a baseball field. I for one will greatly miss watching him play, because it was clear he was having a lot of fun out there.
But his time with the Cubs has passed, if for no other reason that JedStein wants to start fresh and it did seem that his last episode not only pissed off the fans, but even his teammates. His days of a 200 innings a season have faded with the memories of 2007 along with the velocity on his fastball. I certainly could see him still putting up some decent seasons, but a fresh start with a new club and a new manager is probably the best setting for a career rejuvenation at the moment.
If you were following the Z drama through the papers or through our comments, you would have noticed the healthy amount of spin his agent Barry Praver was putting on the situation, because there is nothing worse for an agent than losing out on the 10% commission of the $24M or so he's still owed. It went something along the lines of, he said nothing about retiring, wait, yes he did, but it was not meant for public consumption. He came back Friday and returned his stuff, no I meant Saturday...he never punched Michael Barrett, Michael Barrett fell on his fist, etc, etc...
Kapman today scored the first interview with Z and it appears they finally found the narrative they plan to go forward with. Essentially, yes Z did make comments about retiring, but they were all intended to be private (counterpoint: Cubs claim to have text messages saying "good-bye and thanks" from Z). He also tried to return to the team Saturday with his belongings, but was not allowed and naturally, does not agree with the Cubs punishment. They intend to file a grievance by the end of the day.
Anyway, the idea of Z gifting the Cubs $18M next year seems out the window, but give credit to the Cubs for seizing the opportunity to save $3M or so this year by putting him on the disqualified list. Him leaving early means nothing to me, but obviously it rubbed many of his teammates the wrong way and in the end he gets a longer vacation and Cubs fans get Casey Coleman.
Big Z: "I received text messages of support from Sosa, Byrd, Ozzie, Jason Giambi, Pena, and Soriano." Also said he and Soriano are cool.
Surprised Derrek Bell didn't think to drop him a note...
Since this will be the talk of the weekend comments, let's recap tonight's festivities...
Carlos Zambrano started the game, he gave up five home runs in 4.1 IP and 8 ER, then decided he didn't want to wait for Q-Ball to take him out and just threw at Chipper Jones. At least he had the deceny to not throw at his head. With the calmness of a serial killer, he walked off the mound, seemed to say a few words to someone on the bench and then proceeded to pack up his locker, go home and apparently told a few folks he's retiring.
There's even a silver lining in the Cubs 2011 cloud.
Because if he retires, he saves the Cubs $18M next year, not to mention the roughly $4.5M he's owed for the rest of this year.
Jim Hendry's comment from Tennessee where he was watching the Smokies play was, ""We will respect his wishes and honor them and move forward."
(Ominous drum hits)
Reader dcf (he of the Ron Santo for the Hall pieces from a few years back) stops by with a guest column on the Lee-Ramirez-Zambrano years
The August 18th trade of Derrek Lee to the Braves for three minor league pitching prospects represents not only the end of an era, but also the end (and to some extent the failure) of a long term strategy. For some time, the Cubs have built their team around three core players, Lee, Zambranoand Ramirez, allocating a large percentage of their available salary dollars to these players in long term contracts. This strategy has not yielded the results anyone would have hoped for.
— A season-high crowd of nearly 13,000—more than 5,000 above than the I-Cubs' average—was on hand for Carlos Zambrano's rehab appearance last night in Des Moines.
Zambrano threw a bumpy but scoreless inning in which he got 10 of 15 pitches over the plate, but allowed two singles and was saved from a third hit by Sam Fuld's catch against the center-field wall. (See Mike Wellman's full account here.)
Current plans are for Zambrano to pitch in Round Rock over the weekend and then in Albuquerque on Tuesday before rejoining the big club in Colorado.
Carlos Zambrano got into his first game action since his infamous dugout meltdown at U. S. Cellular Field on June 25th, throwing a perfect 1-2-3 second inning (12 pitches - 10 strikes) at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa tonight.
The AZL Cubs lost the game 2-1, as the AZL Royals scored two runs in the top of the 6th off RHP Luis Liria (4 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 6/4 GO/FO, 58 pitches - 37 strikes) to overcome a 1-0 deficit.
Iowa Cubs RHP Jeff Gray (groin strain) got the start for the AZL Cubs, throwing one inning (12 pitches - 9 strikes) in what was his second rehab outing in three days (he threw an inning for the AZL Cubs this past Saturday night also). Gray struck out Cameron Connor (swinging) to lead-off the game, before surrendering a one-out single to Daniel Mateo. Gray then got out of the inning when Michael Antonio grounded into a room-service 6-4-3 DP. Gray has been on the I-Cubs DL since May 31st, and looks to be about ready to return to Des Moines.
There wasn't much Cubs offense tonight, as Royals pitchers limited the Cubs to just one run on four hits, retiring 10 of the last 11 Cub hitters. The Cubs scored their lone run in the bottom of the 4th when Albert Hernandez and Ryan Cuneo singled, advanced a base a piece on a well-executed double-steal, before Hernandez scored on a WP.
Here is Zambrano's inning, pitch-by-pitch:
Phillies lineup v. Ted Lilly (3-8, 4.08; 1-4, 6.43 all-time v. Phillies)
Rollins 6, Victorino 8, Werth 9, Howard 3, Francisco 7, Ransom 5, Ruiz 2, Valdez 4, Blanton 1
Cubs lineup v. Joe Blanton (3-5, 6.41; 0-0, 2.75 all-time v. Cubs)
Theriot 4, Colvin 9, Lee 3, Ramirez 5, Byrd 8, Soriano 7, Castro 6, Soto 2, Lilly 1
— According to Bruce Levine, Carlos Zambrano had a 25-pitch throwing session in Mesa, following the completion of his anger-management counseling. Zambrano and the Cubs are supposed to decide next week where Zambrano will be headed for his rehab stint.
— Paul Sullivan wrote that Jim Hendry and Ted Lilly got together before last night's game to discuss Lilly's future. Lilly, who will start this afternoon's game against the Phillies' Joe Blanton, was awful in his last two starts before the break, against the Reds and Dodgers—5 homers, 18 hits and 14 ER allowed in just 10 1/3 innings.
Before tonight's game against the Pirates, the Cubs announced that Carlos Zambrano will not be back with the club until after the All-Star break. He is going to be placed on the restricted list and will undergo treatment for "his anger issues," as Sullivan wrote in the Tribune.
After Carlos Zambrano returns to the Cubs following his suspension—the Cubs are trying to find out from MLB how long they can be suspend him and whether they'll have to play with 24 men for the duration—he'll be returning to the bullpen. Tom Gorzelanny is returning to the starting rotation.