Carlos Zambrano Blows Another Gasket

Looks like our annual Carlos Zambrano meltdown has taken place, only a little later in the season than usual. Three years ago Zambrano got into a fight in the dugout with catcher Michael Barrett. Last year, Big Z was ejected for bumping an umpire and beating up a gatorade cooler. This year, Zambrano went ape in the dugout after the first inning against the White Sox. He was upset that Derrek Lee had missed a ground ball by Juan Pierre that turned into a double and led to a four-run first for the White Sox. Here’s the Carlos Zambrano meltdown video. It’s another classic:

Typically I’d like to defend Zambrano, but man, anyone can tell by watching that video that the dude is a nutjob. He was talking to himself, yelling at anyone in sight, and acting like an all-around jerk. I know that fiery edge makes him good but it also makes him volatile and it was not in a good way this time.

Video Credit: YouTube user Bcreger5150

Josh Beckett the Latest of Many Pitchers to Hurt Themselves While Swinging

In MLB, there is one main difference between the American League and the National League. In the AL, designated hitters are allowed but in the NL they’re not. That means pitchers don’t have to bat in the AL so their only job is to pitch. In the NL, more is asked of the pitchers because they have to bat too. Does the AL have it right? Should pitchers only be concerned about throwing the ball and not hitting it?

This idea has been debated for years and has been sparked by the injury to Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett who was placed on the DL because of a back injury. Beckett of course hurt his back while swinging in preparation for interleague play where he’d be forced to hit. Now if this isn’t downright pathetic, I’m not quite sure what is. When you play baseball at a professional level, you should have a certain level of athleticism. Unfortunately Beckett isn’t the only pitcher who’s been hurt swinging a bat (or trying to) over the last few years. Let’s take a look at some of the pitchers who need to stay on the mound and out of the batter’s box:

American League

1. Josh Beckett, Boston Red Sox – Beckett injured himself before the start of May 10th’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays by taking practice swings. Let’s examine this a little more closely shall we? Beckett was swinging the bat before a game against who? The Blue Jays? Ah, another American League team that he doesn’t have to hit against anyways. This makes my head hurt. The Red Sox said this was because the pitchers are getting ready for interleague play. The Red Sox’s first interleague game is on Sunday at Philadelphia. So, Beckett was practice swinging for a game that was 13 days away at that point? And now he’s on the DL. That is just plain dumb.

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Cubs are Hurting Zambrano by Sending him to Bullpen

The Chicago Cubs announced Wednesday that pitcher Carlos Zambrano would no longer be in their starting rotation. Instead, Big Z will be placed in the bullpen as an eighth inning pitcher, an area that the Cubs have greatly struggled with this season. Prior to Wednesday’s game, the bullpen had already blown four of seven saves this year.

The Cubs were pressed to make a move because starter Ted Lilly is coming off the disabled list Saturday. Instead of moving Carlos Silva into the bullpen, which was the expected move, Cubs’ manager Lou Piniella decided Big Z would be the better fit. I’m not too sure this was the right move. Zambrano has been a hot head in the past, and I think that even though he has kept his cool so far it won’t be long till explodes once again.

Some Cubs fans have already been celebrating the news that Zambrano, who disappointed them last year and so far this year, would no longer be in the starting rotation. But I don’t think this was a good move. For one, Zambrano always gets off to a slow start. If he is only going to be pitching as the eighth inning guy, he doesn’t really have much room for error. This will inevitably lead to Cubs fans hating him more than they already do. Second, Zambrano is used to working on a starter’s schedule and having four days off between starts. Now he’s got to be ready to pitch everyday, although it’s unlikely Piniella will use him that frequently. Lastly, the Cubs are diminishing the value of Zambrano. As of right now he has a huge contract ($91.5 million, $17.9 of which is for 2010) and if the Cubs can convince Zambrano to waive his no trade clause, there is no team in their right mind that will pick up and eighth inning guy for that type of money.

Either way, Zambrano is the one who will suffer for this move. His value is greatly diminished by sitting him in the bullpen, and the Cubs fans will eat him alive if he starts to suck in that setup spot too. Zambrano ended his press conference by saying “I will be back.” I don’t know about that Big Z, if you blow this one, you might want to get far away from the Windy City.

Cubs Move Carlos Zambrano to Bullpen [Chicago Breaking Sports]

Carlos Zambrano Planning Retirement, Giving Gatorade Machines a Break

Question: When you’re 28-years-old, in the second year of a $91.5 million contract, and you just won your 100th game in the majors, how do you celebrate? If you’re Carlos Zambrano, you do it by announcing your retirement plans. In his first game back from a six-game suspension for throwing an on-field fit that included busting up a gatorade machine, Carlos Zambrano held the Reds to two hits and homered in a 2-1 win on Friday night. The horse is a third of the way to Randy Johnson who just reached the 300-win mark but says he’s not going to try to make it into that club:

“Three hundred? Me?” Zambrano said. “No, I’ll be out of here in five years.”

“After this contract, I’m done. 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. I want to stay home and see my daughters grow up and hang out with my family more. Do you know how many Mother’s Days I spend with my mother? Do you know how many things I’ve lost in my life? It’s good to be here, it’s good to play baseball — don’t get me wrong, but five years, four years, whatever I have left in my contract, I will retire. That’s it.”

Zambrano only has three more seasons left on his current deal, and there is a vesting option for a fourth year depending on how well Carlos pitches in his final two seasons of the contract. If he does indeed walk away from the game after this contract, he’ll be in his young 30s with plenty of money saved up (hopefully) and lots of years in front of him. His retirement would inspire more comeback offers than Roger Clemens received. I’m not sure if this is some sort of negotiating ploy (I think that would be too smart for Big Z) but this is a brilliant scheme to gain some leverage for his next deal.

(via Fark)

Carlos Zambrano Ejected After Bumping Umpire, Beats Up Gatorade

Carlos Zambrano has a well-deserved reputation as a hot head. The fiery character was in typical form on Wednesday afternoon during the Cubs/Pirates game. With the Cubs leading 2-1 in the Top 7th, Zambrano threw a wild pitch that allowed Nyjer Morgan to score the game-tying run. Zambrano felt that he had covered the plate to prevent Morgan from scoring, but Nyjer was called safe. Carlos was pretty pissed about the call and started going at it with the umpire, even bumping him. That’s when hilarity ensued:

Yes, that’s Zambrano chucking the ump from the game! I’m guessing Zambrano’s going to receive a hearty suspension for this one. No surprise Zambrano received support from Milton Bradley who says Zambrano was just reacting and that the actions weren’t personal. Gotta love it.

Lou Piniella Screwed Up Yet Again; Mismanaged Playoff Rotation

Last year at this time I was criticizing Cubs manager Lou Piniella for his decision to yank Carlos Zambrano after six innings in Game 1 of the NLDS with the score tied 1-1, while Arizona elected to stick with ace Brandon Webb for another inning. At the time I criticized Piniella before the series ended, saying he was wrong for getting ahead of himself; he wanted Zambrano to be rested for Game 4, forgetting you must win a game in order to get to Game 4. Well, it struck me that the same mentality in this year’s playoffs doomed the Cubs yet again. It all would have been worked out had they listened to me last year when I said such a move was a fireable offense.

Anyway, Piniella ordered his rotation for the NLDS against the Dodgers to go Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano, and Rich Harden. Now I’m not about to blame Piniella for his team booting the ball around the infield and not hitting for a few games, but I will blame him for not throwing his top two aces in games 1 and 2. To me, it is ABSOLUTELY INEXCUSABLE to not throw Carlos Zambrano in Game 1 of a playoff series if you’re the Cubs. Plain and simple, end of story, no questions asked — you ALWAYS throw your ace in Game 1 of a playoff series whenever possible (and it was possible). Secondly, if your number two pitcher happens to be Rich Harden, who is filthier than Zambrano but just not as much of a “Cub” as Big Z, you have to throw him in Game 2. No questions asked once again. I don’t care how amazing Ryan Dempster was this year, I don’t care what his home splits were at Wrigley Field. If you have Carlos Zambrano and Rich Harden in your rotation, you throw them in Games 1 and 2 of the playoffs respectively, unless your three other starters happen to be named Josh Beckett, Johan Santana, and Tim Lincecum. Last time I checked Lou’s other options were Dempster, Lilly, and Marquis.

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Cubs Emotions Boil Over: Zambrano and Barrett Get into a Dugout Fight

I was utterly shocked — stunned and equally flabbergasted. There it was, clear as day. Right in the middle of the dugout. One of the worst on-field fights I’ve ever seen. Between a pair of teammates no less, not opponents. Check out my post at FanHouse for all the details. And man, is this the culmination of a crappy Cubs season or what?

What will this do for the team? I really thought they had a chance to get over the hump. Which way will this send the team, plummeting, or skyrocketing? Or nowhere — there bullpen’s too horrendous to overcome? But as they said in Major League, for the first time all year, the Cubs are showing some signs of life! And that my friends, is a good thing.