Yeah, I know that headline ends with a preposition. If it’s good enough for Winston Churchill, it’s good enough for me. (When upbraided by a woman for ending sentences with prepositions, Sir Winston shot back: “Madam, your insolence is something up with which I will not put.” So there you go.)
Anyway, if the Cubs are indeed “shopping” Carlos Zambrano (and people in the Cubs’ baseball operations department say that information is not coming from them), they better be thinking things through.
First off, why would you want to trade Zambrano? Sure, he’s a knucklehead, but he’s been a pretty effective knucklehead over the years, and we’ll look at some of the starts he lost or got a no-decision in this year that he could have or should have won.
Second, will he waive his no-trade clause, the one he took millions less from the Cubs to get?
Third, what are you going to get for Zambrano, especially if anybody in your organization is running down his value?
Fourth, who replaces him?
Perceptions are a funny thing. All year long, we’ve heard people lament how poor old Randy Wells should have a much better record than his 10-8 with a 2.96 ERA. And it’s true, he could well have a better record.
Guess what? So could Big Z. We talked about this a few weeks ago, but we’ll run some numbers past you again here. These are the starts this year, all quality starts, in which Big Z could have gotten a victory, but ended up with a loss or a no-decision:
April 11: ND, 6 IP, 3 ER
April 23: L, 7 IP, 3 ER
May 27: ND, 6 IP, 1 ER
June 10: ND, 8 IP, 1ER
June 18: ND, 7 IP, 3 ER
June 23: ND, 7 IP, 3 ER
July 3: ND, 7 IP, 1 ER
July 7: L 6 IP, 2 ER
July 27: ND, 7 IP, 1ER
Sept. 4: ND, 6 IP, 1ER
That’s 67.1 innings pitched and 19 earned runs over 10 starts for a 2.54 ERA. Yeah, pitchers like that grow on trees. And a writer in this town wanted simply to cut him loose a few weeks ago?
As I said, Z can be a knucklehead, or at least do knuckleheaded things. But perception again is a funny animal. For example, what if it was Z and not Ryan Dempster who hopped over the fence and broke his toe? Can you imagine the outcry? But it was Demp and it was funny and everybody had a good laugh. And remember, too, when Dempster came into camp in tip-top shape a couple years ago after admitting he had let himself go the previous year? Did anybody say he was “cheating his teammates” as they did when Zambrano talked about being “lazy” about his abs work?
On the field, what if it was Z and not Ted Lilly who had bowled over Yadier Molina last year? That’s a play where a pitcher risks big-time injury. When Ted did it, it was a “hard-nosed play.” If Z did it, it’s a major “OMG” moment on the Internet. Teddy Ballgame also has legged out a triple and tried for a stolen base when the “light was red as hell,” according to the manager. If Z lays down a bunt or takes batting practice a little too hard, he’s being “dumb” and “selfish” in a lot of people’s eyes.
Now, I like and get along with all of these pitchers, including Z. But let’s be a little bit fair and consistent when we tell them how they ought to be acting.
Could be an interesting off-season.
Back with the lineups and such later.