Results tagged ‘ Carlos Zambrano ’

1/5 Cubs deal Big Z to Marlins

The Cubs knew they were committed to spending $18 million in 2012 on Carlos Zambrano one way or another, but Theo Epstein wasn’t convinced the right-hander could win back the trust of his teammates.

“The calculus for us was would we rather spend that $18 million on one year of Carlos and try to make it work with him here,” Epstein said. “Best case scenario is that if it did work, he’d be leaving as a free agent at the end of the year.

“Or, if we had to spend that money anyways as a sunk cost, would we rather spend it on a 25-year-old who we can put in our rotation and control for three seasons?” he said. “That made a lot more sense.”

On Thursday, the Cubs’ roller coaster ride with Zambrano came to an end when the team dealt the volatile right-hander to the Marlins for pitcher Chris Volstad. Zambrano, 30, waived his no-trade clause and also the $19.25 million option for 2013 to join good friend and Venezuelan countryman Ozzie Guillen, the new Marlins manager, who will try to keep the pitcher’s emotions in check.

Epstein was unable to find a trade partner until three days ago. Zambrano did not want to even discuss a trade during a face to face meeting with Epstein in November in Chicago. But Epstein, who took over as Cubs president of baseball operations in late October, discovered a recurring theme in conversations with players and front office executives regarding Zambrano. None of them trusted the mercurial pitcher to change his ways. Epstein had outlined steps Zambrano needed to take to earn his way back with the Cubs but said he was skeptical it could happen.

“Every player who I talked to articulated to me that Carlos had violated their trust,” Epstein said. “When you’re talking about physical altercations with teammates repeatedly, when you’re talking about physically walking out on the team, it’s very hard to have that player come back into the clubhouse and be trusted.

“I think to be a good teammate there has to be a certain degree of trust and accountability,” he said. “Do I believe in second chances? Yes. Do I believe in third chances? Yes, in come cases — even fourth chances. I think you have to be realistic about it and recognize that players don’t dictate decisions like this but you’re trying to establish a certain sense of unity in the clubhouse and a certain sense of purpose, you have to have accountability and trust between the players.”

The risk of having Zambrano become a distraction again was too high, and his departure ends a tumultuous 11-year career in Chicago.

Pitcher Kerry Wood did wish Zambrano well with a tweet on Thursday, saying: “Best of luck to Big Z in Miami. Played together for 9 seasons. Wish him all the best!”

Now, Big Z will get a fresh start in Miami.

“We’re glad for him that he has a chance for a new start and a place where he can build new relationships and establish a new reputation for himself,” Epstein said of Zambrano. “We think he has the chance to do that in Miami.”

– Carrie Muskat

1/4 Big Z headed to Marlins

He threw a no-hitter in 2008, yet threw more than his share of tantrums. He was a Cy Young waiting to happen, but could aso be a distraction. Carlos Zambrano was a volatile, emotional pitcher, and now appears headed to Miami. The Cubs and Marlins have reportedly agreed to a deal which would send Zambrano to Miami in exchange for Chris Volstad. The Cubs would pick up $15-16 million of the $18 million owed Zambrano next season. Volstad is a first-year arbitration eligible player.

FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal first reported the deal, and said it is done pending approval by the commissioner’s office. The two teams also need to exchange medical records. Neither Cubs nor Marlins officials would comment on the reports.

If the Cubs do move Zambrano, it would end a roller coaster ride in Chicago. Zambrano, 30, had to waive his no-trade clause for such a deal to be completed, and given the chance to join Ozzie Guillen in Miami, he did so. Big Z is coming off a 9-7 season which ended abruptly Aug. 12. He served up five home runs to the Braves that day, then was ejected for throwing inside to Chipper Jones, and left Turner Field early. Zambrano told teammates he was retiring, and later recanted. He was subsequently placed on the disqualified list and did not pitch again for the Cubs.

This offseason, Zambrano made five starts for Caribes in the Venezuelan Winter League, and last pitched Dec. 27, giving up one run over 4 1/3 innings.

On Wednesday during a fan question and answer session, Epstein talked about how Zambrano has to change to fit into what the Cubs are trying to do.

“The Carlos Zambrano of 2011 and years previous can’t fit into the culture that we have here,” Epstein said. “Change needs to happen and change will happen. Either he’ll change and buy in and fit into this culture — and I understand there are a lot of skeptics around about that, and I understand that, and frankly, I’m skeptical as well.

“He needs to prove to us that he can change and be part of this culture,” Epstein said, “or we’ll change the personnel and move forward with people who are proud to be Cubs and treat their teammates with respect, treat the fans with respect and can be part of a winning culture in the Cubs’ clubhouse.”

Zambrano would likely be the fourth or fifth starter for the Marlins, joining a rotation of Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Anibal Sanchez, and Ricky Nolasco.

Volstad, 25, was 5-13 with a 4.89 ERA in 29 starts last season with the Marlins, striking out 117 over 165 2/3 innings. In 103 games over four seasons in Florida, he was 32-39 with a 4.59 ERA. Volstad earned $445,000 last season; he will not be a free agent until after the 2014 season. He would join a Cubs rotation that includes Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster, Travis Wood and Randy Wells.

– Carrie Muskat

1/4 Epstein on Z, Marshall, first base & more

During a question and answer session with Theo Epstein on WGN Radio on Wednesday, the Cubs president of baseball operations touched on a variety of topics:

* On Carlos Zambrano and changing the culture:

Epstein said changing the culture involves players being accountable to the Cubs, their fans and each other. How does Zambrano fit in?

“The Carlos Zambrano of 2011 and years previous can’t fit into the culture that we have here,” Epstein said. “Change needs to happen and change will happen. Either he’ll change and buy in and fit into this culture — and I understand there are a lot of skeptics around about that, and I understand that, and frankly, I’m skeptical as well. He needs to prove to us that he can change and be part of this culture or we’ll change the personnel and move forward with people who are proud to be Cubs and treat their teammates with respect, treat the fans with respect and can be part of a winning culture in the Cubs’ clubhouse.”

* On the Sean Marshall deal:

Epstein said Marshall is the type of pitcher an organization wants but that the Cubs needed to look at the bigger picture. Marshall had one year left of club control. He would become a free agent after the 2012 season and, under the new basic agreement, could leave with the Cubs not receiving any compensation.

“With what we’re trying to accomplish, which is not just win the World Series in 2012 but build something bigger and more sustainable for the long-term, what’s more valuable to us?” Epstein said. “One season worth of Sean Marshall or five seasons worth of a 25-year-old left-handed starting pitcher who can go into our starting rotation … and two prospects we like a lot.”

He noted the other players acquired from the Reds will be under club control for a longer period of time.

* On dealing with players and large contracts:

Epstein didn’t name Alfonso Soriano’s deal or any others specifically, but did say a team has three options on how to handle players with large contracts that appear to be more of a burden than a benefit. One, a team can be creative and make a deal and eat part of the salary. Two, the best move may be to walk away from a player. Or, the third option is to get to know a player better, understand what makes him tick, and provide an infrastructure in which he can improve.

“There’s no one way to handle these things,” Epstein said. “I think you need to approach it with an open mind, with hard work and creativity and understand it’s a game played by human beings and the ability to bounce back is very real.”

* On re-signing Kerry Wood:

Epstein said Wood is “exactly the type of guy we want to build a winning culture here in Chicago.” The Cubs are negotiating with Wood’s agent about a new contract.

“You have a team that really respects a player, wants him back desperately, and you have a player who loves the city, is a huge part of the community here with his family and his foundation and wants to be back,” Epstein said. “If we can’t work this out, we’re doing something wrong.”

* On first base:

Epstein said the Cubs’ first baseman heading into 2012 is Bryan LaHair.

“I think hitters hit no matter where they are and this kid has hit,” Epstein said of LaHair. “He’s hit everywhere he’s ever been. You can’t dominate the Triple-A level more than he did this year.”

Some players are labeled “4A” hitters in that they’re not able to succeed in the Majors, but Epstein doesn’t buy into that.

“It’s the right time for an organization like us to give him the opportunity,” Epstein said.

* On new Cubs manager Dale Sveum:

Epstein said Sveum is “authentic and genuine.”

“He is who he is,” Epstein said. “He knows himself, he never tries to be something that he’s not. He’s perfectly genuine, never tries to put on facades or airs and show players he’s something he’s not.”

Epstein said that’s important because managers can’t “fake it” with players. He said managers are sometimes categorized as either a players’ manager or a disciplinarian. Sveum is both.

“What I like about Dale is he’s firmly in both camps,” Epstein said. “He holds the players to really high standards. This team will have a lot of discipline on the field, off the field. Players will be accountable to Dale, they’ll be accountable to each other. There will be no loafing, no excuse for lack of preparation, lack of aggressiveness, lack of hard work.

“But he’s also going to be extremely well liked because he’s a down to earth guy who doesn’t try to be something that he’s not,” Epstein said.

* On compensation with the Red Sox:

Epstein said it has yet to be resolved.

“It’s still on the table,” Epstein said. “We’ll get it resolved. I think both clubs are approaching it in good faith. We need to find a resolution that both parties are happy with.”

He is still good friends with the Red Sox staff, and admitted to using an office at Fenway Park for a conference call to announce the Marshall trade with the Reds.

– Carrie Muskat 

1/1 Happy new year

Best wishes to Cubs fans for a safe, prosperous, healthy, and winning new year in 2012. Here’s hoping the Cubs’ resolutions include doing the little things, avoiding distractions, letting the kids play, and finishing above .500 (the last time they had back to back 90-loss seasons was 1999-2000). Opening Day is April 5 vs. the Nationals. How about Matt Garza vs. Stephen Strasburg? Or, will it be Ryan Dempster vs. Strasburg, with Garza wearing another uniform? Plenty of time for Theo & Co. to make changes before pitchers and catchers report to Mesa, Ariz.

And congrats (I think) to joeydafish, who led all the world in 2011 by posting 481 comments on the blog. Next up, Petrey10 with 96. Hustlelikereed was third with 60 comments.

– Carrie Muskat 

12/28 Winter league update

Carlos Zambrano gave up one run on six hits and three walks over 4 1/3 innings Tuesday night in Caribes’ 2-1 win over Zulia in Venezuelan Winter League play. Zambrano struck out two of the 20 batters he faced. In five starts, he has struck out 15 and walked 10 over 22 innings, and given up six earned runs on 17 hits.

Bryan LaHair went 1-for-2 with two walks in Magallanes’ 6-1 loss to LaGuaira in Venezuela.

– Carrie Muskat

12/14 Zambrano starts for Caribes

Carlos Zambrano, making his first start since taking a line drive off his face, threw four shutout innings Wednesday night for Caribes de Anzoategui. Zambrano, who was injured Nov. 18 and needed 16 stitches, walked one and struck out one in a Venezuelan Winter League game against Tigres de Aragua. He faced 13 batters, and got eight groundouts.

– Carrie Muskat

12/13 Zambrano is a hit

Carlos Zambrano tuned up for the regular season by taking part in a home run derby in Caracas, Venezuela, on Monday night. Seattle Minor Leaguer Luis Jimenez won the event. Zambrano did connect, but did not qualify for the second round. As for his pitching, Zambrano may be back on the mound Wednesday for Caribes to make his fourth start in the Venezuelan Winter League. He has not pitched since Nov. 18 when he took a line drive off his face that required 16 stitches.

Zambrano told Joiner Martinez at Lider en Deportes: “I’m preparing like when I was a rookie, climbing mountains, running on the beach, and exercising hard so that I can arrive at Spring Training in optimal shape. I want to stay in Chicago for two seasons I still have with the team. I’m not a coward who would take the back door out of the Majors.”

– Carrie Muskat

12/11 Winter league update

Bryan LaHair drew two walks and singled in Magallanes’ 4-2 win over Lara Saturday in Venezuelan Winter League play. On Friday, Cubs prospect Austin Bibens-Dirkx gave up three hits over seven innings but did not get a decision in Caracas’ 3-0 win over Zulia. Bibens-Dirkx struck out one and walked two for Zulia.

* Carlos Zambrano was expected to return to the mound this week in Venezuela and could start on Wednesday. Zambrano has been sidelined after taking a line drive off his face on Nov. 18 while pitching for Caribes.

– Carrie Muskat

12/6 Ozzie: Big Z will win 16 games for Cubs

New Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen says he talks to Carlos Zambrano nearly every day, and predicts the right-hander will win 16 games this season for the Cubs. Zambrano could return to the mound in Venezuela next week. He’s been recovering from a cut lip, which required 16 stitches.

– Carrie Muskat

12/5 Cubs notebook

Carlos Zambrano could pitch this weekend for Magallanes in the Venezuelan Winter League. Zambrano is healing after taking a line drive off his face that required 16 stitches. He’s made three starts in Venezuela.

* Theo Epstein says they are still adding to the front office and interviewing people at the Winter Meetings for scouting and player development positions. This time at the Hilton Anatole also gives him the chance to meet some of the staff.

“This is a good opportunity to have face to face conversations with guys I haven’t met before and haven’t worked with before,” Epstein said. “It’s a nice chance to do that instead of being in isolation at Wrigley all the time.”

* Although he did not know him well, Epstein said he was moved by the outpouring of emotion for late Cubs third baseman Ron Santo, who was elected into the Hall of Fame on Monday.

“What a beloved figure by everyone,” Epstein said. “People couldn’t be happier for him and his family and the organization and our fans. It’s long overdue and well deserved. It’s a great day for everyone’s who come across Ron Santo.”

– Carrie Muskat

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