By now, the world has all chimed in with their opinion on what the Cubs should do with tempermental, batshit crazy Carlos Zambrano. What the Cubs have decided to do is to ground him for two weeks and make him go to anger management.
I pity the poor asshole who has to conduct those sessions.
Of all of the troubling things about the latest (in a long string) incident, and there are a lot, the fact that he talked to former spring training roster fodder Kevin Millar before he talked to any of his real teammates.
We’ve all known for a long time that Carlos is only interested in Carlos. If he’s not throwing his hat at Todd Walker for failing to catch a pop-up, nailing Dwayne Wise with a pitch because somebody bunted on him, hiding from an MRI machine, refusing to drink Gatorade or do conditioning exercises, he’s punching Michael Barrett in the face. Hey, not everything he’s done is bad.
But if Carlos thought talking to Millar, with Millar pretending to be a journalist, was going to help his case, he’s as loony as everybody assumes he is.
What we learned from their chat is that Carlos flipped out on Friday, lost his shit and embarrassed himself (again) and the Cubs (again), and marked the second time in the last five games the Cubs have played at US Comiskular that Lou Piniella had to send one of his players home early, is that Carlos is having a hard time coming up with enough lies to explain it all away.
He told Millar that he just wanted to fire up the team.
- But we all saw the tantrum. It had nothing to do with team. Here’s a guy getting lit up and leaving every breaking pitch right out over the plate, and he’s yelling at the other guys?
He told Millar that he wanted somebody who was pitching well like Carlos Silva to yell at the team.
- Yes, Carlos Silva, the man who’s been a Cub for a whopping 90 days is going to start screaming at guys because they field like shit and can’t hit. Maybe Silva didn’t take Zambrano up on his offer because a) Zambrano never mentioned it and/or b) because Silva’s not insane.
He told Millar that he’s sorry he yelled at Derrek Lee and that Derrek took his rant the wrong way.
- Poor Derrek, it’s embarassing that he thought a 6’5, 240 pound nutcase screaming, “Fuck this team, this team is horseshit!” over and over again in Spanish wasn’t just chanelling Tony Robbins. Derrek has a lot of egg on his face right now, eh, Carlos?
And wasn’t it interesting that three years ago, when Zambrano flipped out on Barrett he immediately started punching, but on Friday when faced with another 6’5, 240 pound man he wasn’t so quick to make a fist?
I’ve liked Carlos for a long time. When he’s not ramped up to 10 on the crazy meter (which, contrary to popular opinion is most of the time) he seems like a hell of a guy. Funny, smart, accessible. But he’s been a shitty teammate for a long time. Nothing is ever his fault.
And frankly, thanks partly to the abuse he took from 2003-2006 under the watchful eye of Dusty Baker, he’s just not the same pitcher anymore. He’s paid like an ace, and he once was an ace, but he’s not anymore. And he’s not dealing with it very well.
Lou Piniella saw it, because despite what most dumbassed Cubs fans think, Lou still knows his shit. When people (including me) railed against the Cubs putting one of their best starters in the bullpen, we were just wrong. He’s not one of their best starters anymore. He’s just their most expensive.
He didn’t exactly set the world on fire in the bullpen, either. And to those of us who thought it was a bad move, it seemed to prove that. But here’s the part that should have told us all we want to know. When the Cubs announced they were going to stretch him back out to become a starter again, he still made a few relief appearances, and he was very good. So how much of his earlier bullpen struggles were that he wasn’t suited to the role, and how much was him being a petulant jackass?
So what’s going to happen short term?
He’s going to suffer through his anger management training and it won’t do shit, other than waste his time and the therapist’s time. After the All-Star break he’ll come back and apologize and go sit in the bullpen and pitch the fourth inning when Randy Wells craps his pants three times a month.
The trading deadline will come and go.
And in the offseason he’ll get traded to another team for somebody else’s headache contract. And since the Cubs lucked out this past offseason by getting a useful player (Silva) for Milton Bradley, there’s no chance in hell this one will work out.
Don’t believe me? Maybe you believe Hall of Famer Peter Gammons and dainty little expert Ken Rosenthal?
The sad part is that Zambrano was a really good pitcher for a pretty decent stretch of time (2003-2008 — six seasons) but this is the kind of shit he’ll always be remembered for.
And, that’s his fault.