Big Z allowed four runs to the White Sox in the first inning, on a pair of doubles, a single and a homer. These were not cheap hits. As manager Lou Piniella later said, "A few of those balls were hit really hard and one of those balls was in the seats."
Nonetheless, Zambrano apparently became upset that first baseman Derrek Lee(notes) failed to make an amazing play to prevent Juan Pierre's(notes) leadoff double, so he did the only logical thing: He screamed and stomped and flexed, then confronted Lee, then killed a Gatorade container.
Uncharacteristically, he chose not to physically assault Lee, perhaps because the two are similarly sized. (Both players are 6-foot-5, but Zambrano edges Lee by 1,000 pounds of crazy). Piniella sent Zambrano home following the episode, and Z reportedly shared a few obscenities with cameramen who had staked out the parking lot. The Cubs have suspended the right-hander indefinitely.
Later on Friday night — and this is not a joke — the Zambrano family enjoyed dinner with the Guillens and various friends. Sounds delightful.
"What happens on the field stays on the field," tweeted Oney Guillen, Ozzie's son. But that's an easy position for non-Cubs to take.
Zambrano's general manager, Jim Hendry — the man who signed Big Z to a five-year, $91.5 million deal — is talking tough. This from MLB.com:
"His conduct was not acceptable," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said. "His actions toward his teammates and staff were not acceptable. He will not be at the ballpark [Saturday]. We'll play with 24 [players].
"From my point of view," Hendry said, "we'll play with 24 before we tolerate that kind of behavior."
Well, no, the no-trade clause is really his signature move. But he has other tricks in the repertoire as well, and this is one of 'em.
In any case, Zambrano will be absent for an as-yet-unknown period of time, and deservedly so. There aren't many fantasy formats where he needs to be held.
Tom Gorzelanny(notes) figures to replace Zambrano in the Cubs' rotation, and he'll immediately become an interesting spot-starter. He posted a 3.66 ERA over nine starts earlier this year, with 53 Ks in 51.2 innings. Gorzelanny should get the Pirates on Wednesday, then — assuming Zambrano is still in timeout — he'll get a two-start week highlighted by a turn against the Diamondbacks, the team that leads all of baseball in total team strikeouts (by a mile). Streamers and deep-leaguers should give Big G a look.
The Cubs have now officially transitioned from "bad" to "fun-bad," salvaging what would have otherwise been a miserable summer at the Friendly Confines. As a favor to their marketing department, we ask that you offer suggestions for Zambrano-related giveaways in comments. Big Z squishy stress balls seem like a winning idea.
- Jim Hendry