Cubs Say so Long to Carlos Zambrano: Fan Reaction

It was inevitable. Pitcher Carlos Zambrano had worn out his welcome in Wrigley Field. On Thursday, January 5, the Chicago Cubs completed the deal that sent their one-time ace to the new-look Miami Marlins in a trade that should not surprise Cub fans.

After last August's tirade that highlights a series of emotional outbursts, Zambrano's tenure as a Cub was practically over. Cub fans especially will remember Zambrano's dugout fistfight with then-catcher Michael Barrett in 2007 and another scuffle with then-teammate Derek Lee in 2010. In a few other incidents, the Gatorade cooler, no longer there, was the victim of Zambrano's wrath. New team president Theo Epstein said all along that Zambrano would have to earn his way back, but that will not happen.

If we can consider only Zambrano's performance on the mound, he can flat out pitch when he controls himself. He has a career record of 125-81 (.606) with an ERA of 3.60 including a no-hitter. He went 16-7 for the last-place Cubs in 2006 and won 18 games in 2007 when the Cubs won their second division title of the decade. In fact, Zambrano helped the Cubs to three division titles although he never won a postseason game. He has not approached 18 wins since 2007, winning 14 in 2008 and only 9, 11, and 9 in the next three years. I especially like watching "Big Z" swing a bat. He has hit 23 home runs in a full-season's worth of at bats (659), something many every-day players would like to do.

Nevertheless, we have to consider his outbursts as well, meaning the time has come for the Cubs to part with Carlos Zambrano. His $18 million contract for 2012 is one of a number of huge contracts that the Cubs would like to shed. The Cubs will pay most of that salary, but they rid themselves of the possible $19.25 million vesting option for 2013, and the Cubs should have a much calmer dugout.

Zambrano's new manager, Ozzie Guillen, has also lost his temper a few times, especially with the media. Maybe the two can keep each other under control - maybe. It should be an interesting summer in Miami if they cannot. Zambrano joins Mark Buehrle as new Marlins' arms. If Zambrano can keep his cool, then he will be a very good #4 or #5 starter in a strong rotation after pitching as a #1 and #2 in Chicago for much of his 11-year career.

In return, the Cubs receive starter Chris Volstad, who had a subpar 2011. Volstad had a winning season in 2008, his rookie year, with a 6-4 record in 15 starts. Volstad won 12 games in 2010, but in 2011, he went 5-13 and had a 4.89 ERA in 29 starts. He also gave up 23 home runs and had a WHIP of 1.409. We Cub fans want better pitching than that. He is a low-cost pitcher financially, and we will see how he does in Wrigley Field.

This trade will work out for both teams in the next few years. The Cubs lost a talented pitcher in Zambrano, but that talent hid itself when the outbursts began to reduce his effectiveness. The Cubs are rebuilding, so this move may have occurred at the perfect time.

Sources:

Baseball Reference, Carlos Zambrano Player Page, baseball-reference.com.

Baseball Reference, Chris Volstad Player Page, baseball-reference.com.

Steven Wine, AP Sports, Zambrano Trade Completed - He's Miami Bound, sports.yahoo.com/mlb, January 5, 2012.

Raymond grew up in Florida and began watching the Cubs on WGN in 1982. He became a fan in 1984 when Ryne Sandberg hit the two famous game-tying home runs off Cardinals closer and former Cub Bruce Sutter. Raymond then solidified his team loyalty when the Cubs won the division later that season and has been a fan ever since.

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Updated Thursday, Jan 5, 2012