Big Z & the moon
There was a full moon over Great American Ball Park Friday night, but that had nothing to do with Carlos Zambrano’s post-game revelation that he will retire from baseball at the end of his current contract. Zambrano had just won his 100th game, and was asked if he could see himself staying in baseball to win 300, a milestone Randy Johnson achieved on Thursday.
“Three hundred? Me?” Zambrano said. “No, I’ll be out of here in five years.”
How does he know?
“After this contract, I’m done,” said Zambrano, who is signed through 2012 with a vesting option for 2013. “I’m serious. I don’t want to play. I want to help this team, I want to do everything possible to win with this team, but after five years or four years, or whatever I have left on my contract, I just don’t want to play.”
Big Z even bet one of the Chicago reporters $100 that he will leave the game when his deal is done. When Zambrano signed the $91.5 million contract in August 2007, he opted to stay in Chicago rather than test the free agent market.
“Not everything is about money,” Zambrano said at the time of his new deal. “I feel comfortable here, I feel good here, my family feels good here, my wife. This is my town, my home, my city. I love Chicago, I love the Cubs. Jim’s known me since I was 16 years old. I’d like to stay here. Thank God, I can stay here a longer time.”
Jim is Jim Hendry, the Cubs general manager, who is not on this trip. Imagine his surprise when told that Zambrano, who turned 28 last Monday, is done after 2012. Actually, we’re not sure if Z meant he was going to retire at the end of the deal or if he would wait until after the option year, 2013.
In order for the option year to vest, Zambrano has to finish in first or second place in the Cy Young voting in the fourth year of the contract (2011) or finish 1-2-3-4 in the Cy Young voting in the fifth year of the contract. If either situation happens, the option kicks in and Zambrano then has the choice as to whether he wants to accept or reject the sixth year. There also is a stipulation that he has to be healthy after the fifth year.
Shocking? Surprised? C’mon. This is a guy whose mood swings can soar or dive to unprecedented levels. No, it wasn’t the moon. It’s just Z being Z.
– Carrie Muskat