Posted on 01 December 2011 by Lou
In addition to Cubs President Theo Epstein being open to Carlos Zambrano’s return to the Cubs clubhouse, it looks like veteran reliever Kerry Wood would also be open assuming it is done the “right way”. Wood spoke with ESPN Radio 1000’s Carmen, Jurko and Harry show yesterday and had this to say about Big Z: “I think it’s something that he’s going to have a lot of new teammates that haven’t been through the history with him. I think Z has got to worry more about the guys he’s done this to a few times. He can have a better impression on the new teammates. The ultimate result is we need him to be a part of this team and help us win. He can be a big part of that… It’s going to be something he’s going to have to address when he comes in and talks to guys and obviously we go from there. But if he wants to be a part of this team and help us win, if he can do it the right way, guys will be willing to have him back in there.”
I think Theo & Co. realize that they are going to have to eat a HUGE chunk of his salary just to “get rid of him”. At this point, even though he’s already had a ton of chances, why not give him another shot and see if he can earn some respect and pitch well at the beginning of the season. Big Z had some great starts in the first part of the season, but GM Jim Hendry missed the boat in moving him when his stock was high. Something tells me that that won’t happen on Theo’s watch. If he has a good April or May, and shows that he can keep his head on straight, then Theo & Co can potentially make a move where you bring in a few young players from a playoff contender that is dealing with a starting pitcher injury issue. At that point, the “buying” club might even be able to take on a little more of his salary too.
Essentially, it’s a lose-lose situation for the Cubs, but if you give him a little more leash into April/May, it may simply become a less of a “lose-lose” situation. I guess we’ll know more about what Theo & Co. intend to do with Big Z after next week’s GM meetings…
Posted on 28 November 2011 by Lou
Looks like I didn’t miss too much while I was on vacation last week – the Cubs offered Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena arbitration before the required deadline – yippee!
Ramirez is clearly gone, so I guess it is a good move. Ramirez is a Type B Free Agent, so if he signs with a different team this winter, the Cubs will get a sandwich pick in the June amateur draft from the team that signs him. There is little to no chance that Ramirez accepts arbitration before the December 7th deadline since he is the top 3rd baseman free agent on the market, so it looks like the Cubs will get a sandwich pick next year. If for some odd reason he did go to arbitration he would likely get somewhere around $17-18 million for the season.
Pena, on the other hand, is a little bit trickier. The Cubs paid Pena $10 million for his services in 2011. Pena led the team with 28 home runs, and while he is looking for a long-term deal like Ramirez, there may not be too many clubs out there looking to sign the 33-year old long-term. Pena could go to St. Louis or Milwaukee if Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder depart for greener pastures. The Cubs will likely be in the mix for Fielder, especially with about $50 million coming off the books with the departures of Ramirez, Pena, Carlos Silva, Kosuke Fukudome and John Grabow and a potential trade of Carlos Zambrano which will free up cash after the 2012 MLB season ends.
The Cubs did not offer arbitration to Kerry Wood, Reed Johnson, Ramon Ortiz, Rodrigo Lopez or Grabow. I bet Wood comes back on a one-year basis for as long as he wants to pitch. Not so sure about any of the other guys, but I doubt it given the new management in place.
Let’s hope Theo, Jed and Dale are all hunkered down figuring out the next step in the process…
Posted on 09 November 2011 by Lou
The Chicago Cubs interviewed candidate #3 – Mike Maddux – today at Wrigley Field. His “family concerns” might put him at a disadvantage (he dropped out of the Red Sox job earlier this week but decided to interview with the Cubs despite acknowledging that moving his family another time is a big concern of his). Maddux was honored to be considered by the Cubs and was up for the challenge – “It’s kind of cool to be considered. I enjoyed it, man. Pretty neat. Something I’ve never done before, so it was a learning experience on both ends. I think I got to know them and they got to know me, see what our values are. We share a lot of values, share passion. We share the inner drive to win.” Maddux also went on to say that if Carlos Zambrano were still on the Cubs roster come spring training, he might “pick him up and just burp him” – good luck with that one, Mike.
Maddux also said that you have to put your players in the right position to win and remember that it is all still a game – “Maybe it’s a message, maybe it’s giving guys the opportunity to perform, maybe giving them opportunity to fail. Maybe that’s it too. You don’t put the weight of the world on your shoulders. You encourage guys. It’s not life or death. It’s win or lose, but it’s not life or death. And keep it that way.”
It seems like he may have been a little over his head to be considered for the managerial post, but he is clearly a smart guy and will likely manage at some point in his career. But based on what I’ve heard, I like the sound of Pete Mackanin or Dale Sveum right now to lead the Cubs in 2012…
Posted on 03 October 2011 by Lou
It’s probably just a pipe dream, but could Carlos Zambrano end up playing for good friend Manager Ozzie Guillen with the Marlins in Miami? How great would that be, even if the Cubs had to eat a good chunk (50%) of the $18.5 million owed to him for the 2012 MLB season?!
The Chicago White Sox and Manager Ozzie Guillen “amicably” parted ways on the 3rd to last game of the 2011 season last week in Chicago. Guillen jumped ship with 1 year remaining on his contract to take over the reins of the Florida Marlins in a new 4-year deal. Several players would love to play for Ozzie and it looks like good friend Carlos Zambrano is one of them. Guillen and Zambrano have always been good friends. When Zambrano started a fight with Derek Lee and Aramis Ramirez in the Cubs dugout after 1 disastrous inning of a game against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field in 2010, the Cubs asked Zambrano to take a leave from the team and undergo anger management treatment. Later that night after the game, Zambrano wasn’t seen out at a Chicago restaurant with any members of the Cubs organization – instead, he was out to dinner with Ozzie to discuss his state of mind and get some much-needed advice from someone he trusted as a close friend.
Zambrano angered Cubs brass and teammates again this season when he walked out of the clubhouse mid-game in Atlanta during a bad outing. He did not tell anyone that he was leaving and he later threatened retirement. That final outburst forced the Cubs to place Zambrano on the disqualified list where he was not paid for the rest of the season. It is clear that he won’t be back with the Cubs in 2012, but the Cubs need to find someone willing to take on their basket case. The Marlins do need starting pitching, but they will only take someone like Zambrano if the Cubs eat a big chunk of his salary. Ozzie and Zambrano have talked about the move and both men seemed very interested in the opportunity.
Zambrano is 30-years old and he made 24 starts for the Cubs this past season. He went 9-7 with a 4.82 ERA in 145+ innings pitched.
Moving Zambrano somewhere will be a top priority for the Cubs new General Manager…
Posted on 22 July 2011 by Lou
They did it! The Cubs beat the worst team in baseball 4-2 on a perfect day at Wrigley Field on Friday. With the heat and humidity finally gone for the most part, Carlos Zambrano labored through 6 innings, but kept the feisty Astros at bay. Despite allowing 9 hits and 1 walk in his outing, Big Z minimized the damage to just 2 ER. He had 3 K’s and he improved to 7-5 on the season.
The Cubs scored in only one inning but they made it count. They plated 4 runs in the 5th inning. Alfonso Soriano hit his 15th HR of the year as he put the Cubs on the board with a leadoff solo home run. Darwin Barney and Zambrano each reached base. After Barney stole 3rd base, he came home on Starlin Castro’s important sac fly which tied the game at 2. And then Aramis Ramirez put the Cubs ahead for good with his 2-run HR, his 18th of the season.
The bullpen even looked good. After James Russell allowed a lead-off single in the 7th inning, Jeff Samardzija, John Grabow, Carlos Marmol and Sean Marshall retired the final 9 batters to preserve the Cubs win. Marshall picked up his 3rd save.
Yippee!!! The Cubs are now 40-60 while the Astros are 33-66. Ah some breathing room…
Posted on 11 July 2011 by Lou
What a joke – after losing 7 of their last 10 games heading into the break, the Cubs finished with the 2nd worst record in all of baseball at 37-55. Ouch…
The Cubs trail the Brewers and Cardinals by 12 games in the race for 1st place in the NL Central. The Cubs trail the Braves by a whopping 17 games for the wild card spot. Only the Houston Astros (30-62) have a worse record than the Cubs in all of baseball.
Starlin Castro has been the Cubs best and most consistent hitter all season – .307 batting average, 49 runs scored and 39 RBI’s. Aramis Ramirez put together a phenomenal close to the 1st half to help his numbers look more like his career average numbers – .298 batting average, 15 HR’s and 51 RBI’s. Carlos Pena leads the team with 19 HR’s after not hitting a single home run in the entire month of April. And despite a stint on the DL, Alfonso Soriano has put up decent numbers – 14 HR’s and 41 RBI’s.
The pitching stats are not pretty. Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster are tied for the team lead in wins with 6. Matt garza has the best starter ERA at 4.26. Dempster leads the team with 102 K’s while Garza is right on his heels with 99.
Let’s go Cubs — at least it can’t get much worse than what we’ve seen in the 1st half, right?!?!
Posted on 24 June 2011 by Lou
The Cubs used the scheduled Thursday off-day to plan for the weekend series against the Royals as well as for the future…
Manager Mike Quade opted to re-jigger the Cubs rotation after consulting with pitching coach Mark Riggins. Ryan Dempster will start tonight, while the Cubs will go with Carlos Zambrano on his regular 5 days rest on Saturday. That move pushes Randy Wells’ start back an extra day to Sunday. Matt Garza will make his next start on schedule on Monday against the Colorado Rockies at Wrigley Field.
Off the field, GM Jim Hendry met with his scouts and executives to figure out the direction of the team as the July 31 trading deadline approaches. Hendry and the Cubs could entertain offers for Carlos Zambrano and Alfonso Soriano who have both said that they would like to continue to play in Chicago but that they would waive their no-trade clause if a suitable trade offer comes along. Aramis Ramirez, on the other hand, has already told the Cubs that he will not waive his no trade clause. Guess we’ll see how it all shakes out…
Posted on 21 June 2011 by Lou
WOW – I thought this one was over after 1, but Carlos Zambrano proved that maybe he has “changed” in the Cubs 6-3 win over the Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on Monday night. Zambrano allowed 3 of the first 4 batters he faced to score as Carlos Quentin delivered an RBI single and Paul Konerko delivered a 2-run home run in the 1st inning. Big Z could have cashed it in and given in to his demons (just a year ago, he got into an altercation with teammates in the dugout of this same cross-town classic rivalry and was suspended by the Cubs for his actions). Instead, Zambrano re-gained his focus during the break and went on to pitch 8 outstanding innings to give his club a chance to win an important game. Zambrano allowed 2 White Sox hitters to reach base only once more during the game. That was in the 5th inning when he put himself in a 1st and 3rd 1-out jam facing the middle of the lineup. But he battled and got Carlos Quentin to fly out and Paul Konerko to strike out to keep the Cubs trailing by just 1 run.
Starlin Castro was the other Cub player who stepped up big in the win. Castro’s 2-run single cut the White Sox lead to 3-2 in the 3rd inning. And after Big Z’s heroics in the 5th inning, Castro led of the 6th inning with a game-tying solo home run to deep left field. Gavin Floyd seemed shaken by the HR – he then surrendered a single to Blake DeWitt and a walk to Aramis Ramirez. Then it was time for Carlos Pena to deliver the game-changing 3-run bomb to deep right center field that gave the Cubs a 6-3 lead. And that’s how it stood the rest of the way.
Carlos Marmol made it interesting in the 9th inning – he gave up 1-out singles to A.J. Pierzynski and Alex Rios to bring the tying run to the plate. But marmol got Mark Teahen to line out to right field and Juan Pierre to ground out to 2nd base to preserve the 6-3 Cubs win. It was Marmol’s 15th save and it also gave Big Z his 6th win of the season.
Matt Garza and Mark Buehrle battle it out in game 2 of the cross-town classic series tonight at U.S. Cellular Field…
Posted on 16 June 2011 by Lou
Carlos Zambrano struggled for the 2nd straight start since calling out closer Carlos Marmol for blowing a save in which Big Z stood to get the win back on June 5th against the Cardinals. Since then, Zambrano has given up 12 ER on 16 hits and 9 walks to the Phillies and Brewers, both games which the Cubs have lost. After having some impressive outings earlier this season, Big Z has been a mess of late with his ERA rising to 4.59. So much for trading him when the iron was hot.
On a side note – maybe we’ll see Prince Fielder in a Cubs uni next year?!?!
Jeff Baker homered in the 1st to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead and Reed Johnson cut the Brewers 5-1 lead to 5-4 with his 3-run bomb in the 4th inning, but it wasn’t enough. Johnson, Blake DeWitt and DJ Lemahieu each had 2 hits in the loss. The Cubs committed an error for what seems like the 50th game in a row. It led to 2 unearned runs off of James Russell in the 7th inning that increased the Brewers lead to 7-4.
News Flash – Cubs defeated the Brewers today 12-7 to take 3 of 4 from the Brewers this week at Wrigley…
Posted on 11 June 2011 by Lou
The Cubs 2-game winning streak ended with a frustrating 7-5 loss to the Phillies on Friday night. Carlos Zambrano did his best to keep his team in the game against the dominant Roy Halladay, but he ran out of steam in the 7th inning after throwing 128 pitches. But was Manager Mike Quade to blame for the loss. Why was Big Z still in there after throwing over 100 pitches in only 6 innings. The game was still close at 3-0, but when Zambrano served up Placido Polanco’s grand slam, the 3-run deficit quickly became a 7-run deficit. But the big question is why was Zambrano even still in the game? Big Z walked lead off hitter Jimmy Rollins. After a sacrifice bunt moved Rollins to 2nd base, the Cubs opted to walk Chase Utley intentionally to bring up slugger Ryan Howard. The move backfired as Zambrano walked Howard to load the bases. At this point, Big Z was over 120 pitches. Where is the bullpen help? Sure they used guys in the extra innings game the night before, but it was clear that Big Z had nothing left. That became obvious when Polanco crushed the grand slam to deep left.
Now I know there are a lot of factors to go into Quade’s decision. Sure Big Z had had success against Howard. And let’s say Big Z or a reliever gets the Cubs out of trouble and the lead is still 3-0, the Phillies probably bring Halladay back out for the 8th inning, instead of pulling him after 107 pitches in 7 innings. If they do that, then maybe the Cubs don’t rally for 5 runs off Halladay and the bullpen in the 8th inning. But you have to put your team in the best position to win. And leaving Big Z in the game and intentionally walking Utley to get to Howard when Big Z was clearly struggling just didn’t make sense to me.
In any event, Kosuke Fukudome and Starlin Castro each had 2 hits in the loss. Darwin Barney went 0 for 4 and hasn’t gotten a hit in 14 at-bats. When Reed Johnson and Jeff Baker come back off the DL next week, look for Barney to get more days off with Blake DeWitt and Baker getting more time at 2nd base.
Matt Garza goes against Cliff Lee in what should be a good pitching match-up this afternoon. Let’s hope the Cubs can steal today’s game or tomorrow’s game against Roy Oswalt before they return home for a nice 7-game homestand against the Brewers and Yankees.