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.