Thursday, January 5, 2012

So Long, Carlos.

So Carlos Zambrano is gone.  Traded to the Miami Marlins.  And Cubs fans feel…how???
I’m picking up on a whole lot of “Good Riddance” style comments.  Really?  Maybe we are talking about two different guys, but the Carlos Zambrano I watched for parts of eleven seasons in a Cubs uniform was easily one of my all time favorites.  I was there when Carlos made his big league debut against the Milwaukee Brewers in 2001.  I could see then that he was different, and that he had a true love for the game.  He was young and fired up.  He was impressive.
Carlos Zambrano is a talented pitcher.  Outside of Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins, and Cooperstown bound Greg Maddux, you’d be hard pressed to find a more effective Cubs pitcher in our lifetime.  His passion for his team, the Chicago Cubs, was unparalleled.  He wanted what we wanted, and he wanted it as badly as we did.  He wanted the Cubs to win.  He was driven and he was honest; honest to a fault.  He didn’t always think before he responded.  He didn’t always take the best approach.  He didn’t always make the right choices and yes, he had a ridiculously bad temper.  But what was it that ignited his fury?  One thing: Cubs losses!  I feel his pain. 
I’ll say this.  At least he cared!  His methods were out of line, no question.  But was he wrong about that which infuriated him?  In an era where baseball players, who are making more money in a month than most of us can imagine in a lifetime can just show up and run through the motions, Carlos Zambrano wanted to earn his keep.  When he didn’t play up to his own standards, he was enraged.  He was mad at himself!  I’m not going
to list his career numbers, but if you doubt for one minute that he was anything less than one of baseball’s best over the last decade, you can look it up.
I do understand that the new regime is moving in a different direction, and I am confident in their abilities.  I guess I’m just having a difficult time understanding  how trading a quality pitcher, who is only 30 years old, and still more than serviceable, for Chris Volstad.  I realize that his salary is hefty, and if this were simply a salary dump, I would find this easier to digest, but to pay virtually all of the money to have him pitch in Miami does not make sense to me in any form.  For the Marlins, it’s a WIN WIN WIN!!!  Zambrano is in the final year of his
contract.  If Miami finds themselves out of the race, Carlos can then become a very attractive trading chip that yields legitimate prospects in return.   Something the non-contending Cubs could use come July.  Why not keep the guy you are paying, and then trade him when he might actually be able to command something significant in return? 
On a personal note, I found Zambrano to be very cordial and accommodating.  Any occasion when I was given the opportunity to speak with him; be it before a game or at the Cubs convention, he was happy to give me a minute or two of his time, when many on the field found my antics to be ridiculous (and for the record, they pretty much are) ran the other way, Carlos not only participated, but understood what we were trying to accomplish,
demonstrated a sense of humor and genuine warmth. 
I wish him well.  He will always be on my roster of all time favorite Cubs.  I refuse to celebrate this in any way shape or form.
I’ll celebrate when the Cubs win. 

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