You Happy, Dummies? 22

This is how I'll remember you.

Today, a lot of stupid people are celebrating the fact that Carlos Zambrano is no longer a Cub. I’m not. Whether or not one thought Big Z needed to go (he almost certainly did), the end of the right-hander’s amazing Cub career should have been met with “thanks for the memories and good luck, Z!” Rather than remembering the big lug for the incredible things he did in a Cubs uniform, too many people are gleefully dancing on his Cub grave and pretending that paying Chris Volstad $18M to pitch for the Cubs is WAY BETTER than paying Carlos Zambrano $18M to pitch for the Cubs. It’s not, and I LIKE Volstad.

Carlos ends his Cubs career at #7 on the all-time Cubs leaderboard with 7.597 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched. If Theo Epstein can’t trade Ryan Dempster before the 2012 season, Big Z has a decent shot at working his way up to #6. Carlos’ 1,542 strikeouts are second only to Fergie Jenkins’ 2,038 as the most by a Cub. Ever. Carlos started 282 games in a Cub uniform, and he drilled more guys (92) than anyone but Clark Griffith and Kerry Wood.

Carlos is one of the best hitting pitchers in MLB history, and has more career home runs than Ryan Theriot, Juan Pierre, Mike Hampton, and Fergie Jenkins. No matter how volatile and insane Carlos may have been, his starts and his at-bats were must-see baseball.

I’ll never forget Carlos punching Michael Barrett right off the team, and punching the 2007 Cubs into contention. I’ll never forget him showing no remorse when he drilled then-hated Jim Edmonds right between the shoulder blades. I’ll never forget him annihilating a Gatorade cooler. I’ll never forget him flipping out on Todd Walker for playing second base like a total Todd Walker. I’ll never forget the curse of The Stinx. I’ll never forget him helping Ron Stilanovich teach kids to take one for the team. And I’ll never forget him sticking the ball up a whiny bunch of Houston Astros’ asses on that thrilling night in 2008.

Carlos was all sorts of crazy, but he was never malicious. It could never be said that Carlos didn’t care about baseball. If anything, his outbursts came from being too competitive. No one would have been happier than Carlos to see a World Series trophy in Chicago, and no player on the team played with such unbridled joy. His behavior shouldn’t be excused. But nor should it overshadow the outstanding things he did for the Cub organization.

Carlos joins the asylum being assembled in Miami. I hope he pitches well, I hope he finds his qi, and I hope he gets a chance to pitch at Wrigley Field and gets the standing ovation he deserves.

  • Sorry, but I’ll have to take issue with you on this. Carlos has a long history of flip-outs, blowups, meltdowns, and whatever else you want to call them over the years. If the house is going to be cleaned out and then rebuilt, Carlos had to go. His anger management and promises to behave have all been proven to be an act.

    Carlos used up all of his nine lives with the Cubs, and now he’s off somewhere else. I wish him well, but I also say good riddance. And he still gets that obscene paycheck next year, so shed no tears for him.

    • Don’t apologize for having an opinion. I’m not Yellon. And I totally understand where you’re coming from.

  • JackB

    El Toro Loco may have been a nut, but he was OUR nut, dammit. This sucks. I like Volstead too, and hope he can rebound in Chicago, but this still feels like a giveaway. As for the happy Cub fans, these are likely the same dipsticks who are happy Aramis is gone because he’s “lazy”.

    Aramis was the best 3B the Cubs have had in my 35 years and Z was one of the best pitchers. Sure he’s a little off, but at least he wasn’t a psycho like Milton Bradley. Ever hear about Zambrano getting in any trouble off the field? Nope, his only issues were during games when he let his emotions get the better of him. At least he hated to lose, unlike some of the other could-care-less uniform-stuffers the Cubs have had the past couple decades.

    • JackB

      And of course I misspelled “Volstad”.

      • Moon

        That’s just the alcoholic in you. Volstead Act.

    • JozyMozy

      AMEN, God dammit. I’m going to miss this big, crazy son of a bitch. :(

  • Rick

    Have to disagree with you on some of that Kermit. I agree about most of the good baseball stuff. But his outbursts didn’t come from being too competitive. They came from being too immature. He was paid to be the ace of the staff and along with that comes responsibility. He couldn’t handle adversity.

    Great player. Great competitor. And I will come to Wrigley and thank him properly if he pitches. But he brought this on himself. I’m not happy about it because my team is less competitive because we have to pay him to pitch somewhere else. It sucks.

    • He’s immature, stupid, and possibly crazy. No doubt.

      “And I will come to Wrigley and thank him properly if he pitches.”

      I wish more people felt this way. Unfortunately, you’re probably going to be in the VERY vocal minority. After the great years he put together in Chicago, it will be ludicrous if he comes back and gets booed.

  • The breakup was obviously inevitable, but I don’t think it should be categorized as “paying $18m for Chris Volstad.” The $18m that Zambrano was set to make this season, and which the Cubs are paying most of, was a sunk cost. The Cubs will be paying Volstad whatever his salary is, and paying Zambrano $15m to leave town. I don’t know if he had worn out his welcome so completely that it was worth the money to do that, but management clearly thought so and given that this is a new crew that didn’t have the same history with Zambrano, they must really have believed it.

    The other thing worth mentioning is that I don’t think Zambrano valued being a Cub as much as we valued having him. Not that he necessarily should have, I guess, and we all know players’ loyalties don’t tend to run much deeper than check level these days. But how often was Zambrano good for a fan-needling quote about going off to play for the Cardinals or White Sox? Maybe he was only having fun with that but he knew how people would feel and he said it anyway. Throw in his clearly declining stuff/health – he was never the same after Baker left, though this could be attributable to Baker’s notorious tendency to shred young arms – and I’ll take my chances letting him go elsewhere, even though he only turns 31 this year. Do I appreciate what he did in a Cubs uniform? Yes. But enough was enough.

    • I know what you’re saying, but they’re basically out the same amount of money with Volstad in the rotation instead of Zambrano. Honestly, though, I wouldn’t be that surprised if Volstad out-performs Zambrano next year.


  • JayBandit

    Amen Kermit! People have short memories, and tend to only focus on the negatives. Zambrano is my favorite professional athlete, and although I understand what Epstein & Co. are doing, I’m still sad to see him go.

    Zambrano may be a hot head and made some poor decisions, but I still put some of the blame on the organization that routinely let clubhouse business out in the press on a regular basis. Things like Zambrano’s packing up his locker and being pissed after a bad game happen in clubhouses and locker rooms all over professional sports, but they’re usually handled internally, and we don’t hear about them unless they’re written about in a memoir years later.

    • Carlos is definitely a crazy dumbass. I just hope the fact that he was one of the best pitchers (and probably THE best entertainer) in Cub history doesn’t get overshadowed by that fact.

  • i always thought that big z got shafted pretty bad by management, but i guess there’s no real reason why they’d decide to air their grievances with one of their biggest liabilities unless things were actually much worse than we know. i.e., is hendry a whiny bitch who handled the situation terribly, or was carlos such a raging dickhead/psycho behind the scenes that hendry finally lost it and booted him (temporarily)? presumably the answer is both.

    the silver lining here is that theo handled shit pretty well, given the situation, and that’s not something i could say about any previous cubs front office during my tenure as a fan.

    all in all, though, i agree with this post 100%.

    • The competence of this front office is still very confusing. Even though I’m sad to see Zambrano go, this has been a terrific offseason so far, and they’ve LOWERED payroll. I can’t believe I ever thought Jim Hendry had any redeeming qualities.

      • JerBear50

        I’m still not understanding why Theo/Hoyer didn’t run him down more in the media and make him look as bad as possible. Isn’t that proper trade procedure?

  • Moon

    How long before Ozzie Guillen and Carlos are at each other’s throats??

    Carlos had only 1 year left on his contract, so they got SOMETHING for him, anyway. If they would have kept him this year, then they get nothing.

    Volstad’s salary is about $450,000. Seriously.

    • Volstad is also pretty good, and he’s young. They got more for Zambrano than I thought they could. I’m just sad to see him go.

  • dying_diehard

    While I thought Zambrano was fun to watch, I also thought that he had to go as part of the rebuilding process. While in 2012, the Cubs will eat $15M to get him to the Marlins, he waived his no-trade and his player option. So I think this could be viewed as spending $15M to unload potentially $37M (though that would have meant he had a pretty stellar 2012 – not unlikely) in salary over two years. With the benefit of getting Volstad, I’m amazed Theo pulled it off.

    While the best option would have been if Carlos pitched well early in the seaon and capture trade value, I suspect getting that “Hendry special” no-trade waived without an extended contract would have been a growing challenge if Z was pitching well.

    I’ll miss him as he was both an excellent ball player and exciting to watch in case of explosions, but I like that Theo appears to have a plan (dump all big contracts as soon as possible and bring in young talent) and I’m all for a crappy 2-4 years – especially since Hendry had 2012 set up to be miserable AND expensive.

    Now get rid of Soriano!

  • I will take Carlos beating the shit out of a water cooler (or Michael Barrett’s face) any day over another lame ass Harry Caray impression from Dempster. It’s like they tried to pass Dempster off as the lovable, goofy all around great guy and pitcher and Z off as the crazy terrible asshole who hates his teammates. Z cared more about this team and winning then Dempster ever will. The Chicago media needs to stop acting like this is the best thing that has ever happened to the Cubs, this team is going to be so much worse to watch next year now.

  • Santo10

    How much do you think skin color and/or race had to do with that perception?

    • I’m not Santo10, but I’d say it played its part for some writers. Not the writers who morons like MB21 like to accuse of being racist, but whether it’s true or not, the coverage by some media members has to at least call to mind questions of favoritism. Basically, anyone who ever thought Ryan Theriot should have been a starting shortstop at the Major League level (Lou Piniella excluded, because he didn’t have much choice) is on notice.

      • Kermit is probably more qualified to answer this one then I am, I do not know the Chicago media as well as he does. Carlos quite often at least gave them something to write about, so I would think that you wouldn’t want to lose that, I’m not sure what they are going to do without Z or Ozzie this year. Also, they are all over-celebrating a move that doesn’t do shit to make the team better.