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Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Robothal: Big Z Headed to Miami

What could possibly go wrong?

The Marlins, seeking to make another offseason splash, are close to acquiring Cubs right-hander Carlos Zambrano, according to major-league sources.
...
Zambrano is owed $18 million in the final year of his contract. The Cubs likely will pay most of that sum to purge Big Z, whom they placed on the restricted list in 2010 and disqualified list in ’11 due to issues with his temperament.

Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 04, 2012 at 06:52 PM | 116 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cubs, miami

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   1. Austin Posted: January 04, 2012 at 07:01 PM (#4029073)
This should be fun.
   2. charityslave is thinking about baseball Posted: January 04, 2012 at 07:03 PM (#4029075)
The Marlins will be fun to watch this year! Maybe Zambrano will even step up into a leadership role and mentor Hanley. We can only hope.
   3. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 04, 2012 at 07:05 PM (#4029078)
From the article, it sounds like Theo decided recently that Zambrano shouldn't be a part of the Cubs clubhouse:
New Cubs president Theo Epstein said Wednesday on WGN Radio that Zambrano would need to make significant changes to remain with the team.

“The Carlos Zambrano of 2011 and years previous can’t fit into the culture that we have here,” Epstein said. “Change needs to happen and change will happen. Either he’ll change and buy in and fit into this culture — and I understand there are a lot of skeptics around about that, and I understand that, and frankly, I’m skeptical as well.”
   4. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: January 04, 2012 at 07:12 PM (#4029080)
Like the move for the Fish. If they were going to have a dramatic improvement, I doubt clubhouse chemistry was going to be the reason anyway.
   5. valuearbitrageur Posted: January 04, 2012 at 07:12 PM (#4029081)
Perhaps Carlos heard how yummy Cuban food is?
   6. Endless Trash Posted: January 04, 2012 at 07:13 PM (#4029083)
Zambrano and Ozzie Guillen. Awesome. IS Milton Bradley still around?
   7. thetailor (Brian) Posted: January 04, 2012 at 07:15 PM (#4029086)
This is so exciting!!!
   8. Randomly Fluctuating Defensive Metric Posted: January 04, 2012 at 07:16 PM (#4029088)
Ian Stewart... Volstad... man... I know the Cubs probably couldn't have turned it around right away... but it might be real ugly at Wrigley this season. Like cover your eyes.
   9. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: January 04, 2012 at 07:16 PM (#4029089)
This is so exciting!!!


As a Braves fan, this makes me giddy.
   10. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: January 04, 2012 at 07:20 PM (#4029091)
If this comes to pass, it's been... interesting. I can't think of a more polarizing Cub in my lifetime than Zambrano. Sammy, maybe, but it seems like those who don't like Carlos, really, REALLY don't like him.

I'm sure a lot of people will have a problem with this (mostly the same crowd who isn't happy with the total rebuild the Cubs are doing), but Zambrano's final tantrum last year was the straw that broke this camel's back. I was open to him returning in 2012, but it was similar to that battered spouse who no longer asks when that outburst will happen, just when.
   11. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 04, 2012 at 07:21 PM (#4029092)
I sure hope the Cubs are eating every dime of his salary to get some form of talent in return.
   12. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: January 04, 2012 at 07:21 PM (#4029094)
On a lighter note, Gatorade coolers around Wrigley breathe a collective sigh of relief with this news.
   13. valuearbitrageur Posted: January 04, 2012 at 07:23 PM (#4029096)
I sure hope the Cubs are eating every dime of his salary to get some form of talent in return.


It would be reasonable to pay the Marlins double Z's salary if it allowed them to raid their farm system at will.
   14. Lassus Posted: January 04, 2012 at 07:24 PM (#4029097)
As a Braves fan, this makes me giddy.

I'm sure Heyward's knees think so, too.
   15. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: January 04, 2012 at 07:25 PM (#4029100)
I'm sure Heyward's knees think so, too.


Atlanta destroys Zambrano.
   16. Lassus Posted: January 04, 2012 at 07:28 PM (#4029101)
Atlanta destroys Zambrano.

I think when Z shatters one of Jason's glass limbs in one of those destroyings, I'll be able to actually hear your screaming from here.
   17. The District Attorney Posted: January 04, 2012 at 07:28 PM (#4029102)
“The Carlos Zambrano of 2011 and years previous can’t fit into the culture that we have here,” Epstein said.
Huh, that seems like a pretty dramatic statement by Theo standards.

Ian Stewart... Volstad... man... I know the Cubs probably couldn't have turned it around right away... but it might be real ugly at Wrigley this season. Like cover your eyes.
Are they getting Volstad? If so, getting a 25-year-old who can sop up innings in exchange for an overpaid guy whom you didn't want the slightest bit seems pretty good, really.
   18. Dock Ellis Posted: January 04, 2012 at 07:29 PM (#4029103)
Theo's comments are particularly interesting; not only is he saying that chemistry/culture matters, but he is publicly acknowledging that one of his players may be a problem in that department.*

*The present tense assumes Z was still on the team when he made those comments.

EDIT - Coke for the DA.
   19. ?Donde esta Dagoberto Campaneris? Posted: January 04, 2012 at 07:33 PM (#4029106)
If so, getting a 25-year-old who can sop up innings in exchange for an overpaid guy whom you didn't want the slightest bit seems pretty good, really.

Does it still make sense if you have to pay the overpaid guy? According to MLBTR, the Cubs are picking up every dime of Z's deal minus the league minimum. Z must be a real problem for that to make sense.

EDIT- Now they are reporting the Cubs will pay 15 of the 18 million due.

   20. Walt Davis Posted: January 04, 2012 at 07:39 PM (#4029110)
Isn't that pretty much what Epstein said a month ago or whenever. OK, maybe the "culture" emphasis wasn't there before but it was still a "Carlos needs to behave and prove himself to us" sort of statement.

I'll wait until I see the final talent and money that changes hands here but if all we're getting is Volstad while paying most of the $18 M, I am not happy. Volstad, if all goes right, is Randy Wells. And Volstad is arb eligible so will cost $2-3 M or so. Yes, he's only 25, but the K-rate is under 6, the K/BB is under 2 and the HR rate is over 1 in a neutral park ... that's not gonna translate well to Wrigley.

If this ends up as purely a Sosa/Bradley style dump then bleech!
   21. charityslave is thinking about baseball Posted: January 04, 2012 at 07:42 PM (#4029112)
Does a revitalized/re-energized/newly Guillenized Z have one more 2-3 WAR season in him? More than one?


2001 20 CHC NL -0.9
2002 21 CHC NL 1.2
2003 22 CHC NL 4.6
2004 23 CHC NL 5.5
2005 24 CHC NL 5.0
2006 25 CHC NL 4.2
2007 26 CHC NL 2.9
2008 27 CHC NL 3.2
2009 28 CHC NL 2.7
2010 29 CHC NL 2.7
2011 30 CHC NL 0.7

EDIT- if they are getting him for 1/3, I love this deal. They can send him away if he's a bad boy and it won't hurt them financially in the least, because they are made of money.
   22. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: January 04, 2012 at 07:42 PM (#4029113)
I'm interested to see how Carlos fares in the NL East. Like Sam pointed out, Zambrano has had more trouble with the Braves than he has with any other NL team.
   23. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: January 04, 2012 at 07:48 PM (#4029117)
Does a revitalized/re-energized/newly Guillenized Z have one more 2-3 WAR season in him? More than one?


Zambrano does seem to come back like a man on a mission when he returns from one of his hiatuses. You can chalk up most of those WAR in 2010 and 2011 to that stretch of games after he came back from murdering the Gatorade machine.

I suspect Z will be on his best behavior for a while, but we've seen too much evidence to refute the notion that he's really in control of his emotions for long periods of time.
   24. Zonk is a Doorknob Whisperer Posted: January 04, 2012 at 07:50 PM (#4029119)
Was Volstad just tossed out there or was it rumored somewhere?

If the Cubs pick up a big chunk of his salary - or all of it - LoMo makes a ton of sense for the Cubs... I mean - I know that's a heist and then some, but he's on the outs in Miami and the Fish seem to be trying to do what the Rays did a generation ago, which sometimes leads to really bad ideas.

   25. Zonk is a Doorknob Whisperer Posted: January 04, 2012 at 07:52 PM (#4029122)
OK - per Bruce Miles, sounds like its Volstad straight up.

I'm not unhappy about this, but neither am I excited by it.
   26. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: January 04, 2012 at 08:01 PM (#4029126)
I wouldn't be surprised if Zambrano pulls an A. J. Pierzynski with Miami -- horrible reputation player who pulls it together to be a respected veteran. Same manager even.
   27. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: January 04, 2012 at 08:01 PM (#4029130)
I don't know how realistic it was to expect to be excited about the specifics involved in trading Zambrano at this point. Guy is a head case and was owed a boatload of money in 2012. No way the Cubs weren't taking the short end of any swap involving Zambrano.
   28. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: January 04, 2012 at 08:03 PM (#4029133)
I wouldn't be surprised if Zambrano pulls an A. J. Pierzynski with Miami -- horrible reputation player who pulls it together to be a respected veteran. Same manager even.


Reform is a lot easier for someone who's only a dick, but not crazy.
   29. thetailor (Brian) Posted: January 04, 2012 at 08:04 PM (#4029135)
Wow, I am shocked to see that among active pitchers, Jamey Wright has 40 more HBP than any other guy (excepting Wakefield). I was also shocked to see that Jamey Wright was, in fact, active.
   30. Zonk is a Doorknob Whisperer Posted: January 04, 2012 at 08:05 PM (#4029137)

I'll wait until I see the final talent and money that changes hands here but if all we're getting is Volstad while paying most of the $18 M, I am not happy. Volstad, if all goes right, is Randy Wells. And Volstad is arb eligible so will cost $2-3 M or so. Yes, he's only 25, but the K-rate is under 6, the K/BB is under 2 and the HR rate is over 1 in a neutral park ... that's not gonna translate well to Wrigley.


I think this undersells Volstad a bit - he was a first rounder (granted, the Fish actually have a pretty poor record there), he'll be 25.

I know the bb-ref similarity scores are pointless - but anyone on that 'through age 24 list' are perfectly fine.

I'm trying to talk myself into being happier than I should be, but I truly have always liked Volstad (he's been a roto end of auction flier for me 3 of the last 4 years).
   31. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 04, 2012 at 08:09 PM (#4029140)
I don't know how realistic it was to expect to be excited about the specifics involved in trading Zambrano at this point. Guy is a head case and was owed a boatload of money in 2012. No way the Cubs weren't taking the short end of any swap involving Zambrano.

Well, the latter point isn't that relevant if the Cubs are picking up the tab.

I'm not unhappy about this, but neither am I excited by it.

Yeah, I would have preferred the return value to be a couple of lottery tickets rather than somebody like Volstad who needs to really improve to rise to average and isn't going to be under team control for all that long. Even if he turns out, and the Cubs continue with their plan, he won't be providing discount value for a team built to contend.
   32. The Long Arm of Rudy Law Posted: January 04, 2012 at 08:16 PM (#4029143)
First Buehrle and now Zambrano. Chicago pitching has no past.
   33. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: January 04, 2012 at 08:19 PM (#4029145)
Does a revitalized/re-energized/newly Guillenized Z have one more 2-3 WAR season in him? More than one?


2001 20 CHC NL -0.9
2002 21 CHC NL 1.2
2003 22 CHC NL 4.6
2004 23 CHC NL 5.5
2005 24 CHC NL 5.0
2006 25 CHC NL 4.2
2007 26 CHC NL 2.9
2008 27 CHC NL 3.2
2009 28 CHC NL 2.7
2010 29 CHC NL 2.7
2011 30 CHC NL 0.7


That's just his pitching WAR. He contributes .4 to 1.3 batting WAR every year. Lat year his .7 batting WAR matched his .7 pitching. His 2003-2006 peak was 5.2, 6.1, 5.8, 4.6 in total WAR, and 2008 was 4.5
   34. McCoy Posted: January 04, 2012 at 09:04 PM (#4029187)
Gakk.

I think if the choice is between spending 18 million dollars to have Carlos Zambrano or spending 18 million dollars to have Chris Volstad you choose Carlos Zambrano.

Hell, this doesn't even send a message to the team since everyone except the Albatross is either gone or going to be gone.

PS, Hendry made a better trade to get rid of Sosa than Theo did to get rid of Zambrano
   35. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 04, 2012 at 09:06 PM (#4029189)
Yeah, I would have preferred the return value to be a couple of lottery tickets rather than somebody like Volstad who needs to really improve to rise to average and isn't going to be under team control for all that long. Even if he turns out, and the Cubs continue with their plan, he won't be providing discount value for a team built to contend.
I don't think that's right. Volstad is arb 1 - if he has a good year, the Cubs will be in great position to ink him to a team-favorable contract. Further, the Cubs have the capacity to spend tons of money. The club's problem for the future isn't that they don't have the money to build a contending roster, it's that they have so little talent that they can't build a contending roster in just one offseason.

If I were running the Cubs, I'd be planning on contending in 2013, 2014 at the latest, and the primary Epstein/Hoyer acquisitions have fit with that time-frame.
   36. Addison Russell T. Davies (chris h.) Posted: January 04, 2012 at 09:14 PM (#4029193)
Let's not start up another how-soon-should-the-Cubs-try-to-compete argument. McCoy will lose his mind.

I like this deal for the Marlins, in that they're basically getting Z for 1/$3m plus Volstad. $3m isn't much of a risk for a starter just a season removed from a 127 ERA+. In fact, I was surprised to see his overall numbers for the past few years; I knew '11 wasn't good, but I had the impression 09-10 weren't so great either. And yeah, it's been quite a while since he pitched 200 innings, but still...

Meanwhile Volstad is young, but I just don't see a lot of upside there.

As a Cub fan, the only positive I can take out of this is the chance to see an Ozzie/Zambrano clash, because Christ, that would be epic.
   37. Der-K: at 10% emotional investment Posted: January 04, 2012 at 09:19 PM (#4029199)
I know I tend toward this kind of sentiment, but I think this makes sense for both teams.

Z for $3M + a player the org wasn't sold on in Volstad (who was rumored to be a non-tender candidate) is a pretty good deal, especially given the Marlins desire to make a splash this offseason. For Chicago - well, I happen to like Volstad (and never thought the Marlins would actually dump him), think that he could be a solid 3/4 starter + this gets rid of a guy who needed to go.
   38. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: January 04, 2012 at 09:25 PM (#4029204)
For once, I completely agree with McCoy (post 34). Well said.
   39. Mike Emeigh Posted: January 04, 2012 at 09:58 PM (#4029234)
It would be reasonable to pay the Marlins double Z's salary if it allowed them to raid their farm system at will.


It would be, if there were anything worth raiding there. But there isn't. Christian Yelich had a good year, but he's at least three years from playing in the majors and is probably limited to left field defensively. There's really not much of anything else; some raw kids with upside (Jose Fernandez) and some originally highly-regarded prospects who haven't developed at all (Kyle Skipworth, Matt Dominguez).

-- MWE
   40. Andere Richtingen Posted: January 04, 2012 at 10:03 PM (#4029238)
I think we can tell what's happening here -- Epstein/Hoyer see their hand as consisting of a two, a four, a six, a Kraft American single and a 1990 Don Russ Domingo Ramos card.

I'm not seeing much to like about this deal. I am all for the Cubs turning over their roster, but if they aren't shooting for doing much in 2012, why not give Zambrano a spin and see what he can pull off? He's turned it around miraculously more than once in his career before. I'm inclined to gamble on what Zambrano can do to make himself tradebait in the first few months of the season over Volstad's long-term potential, if you have to pay Zambrano's salary either way. I mean, it's one thing if Zambrano mailed Epstein a turd in a shoebox or something like that, but letting bygones be bygones should be on the list of goals for the New Cubs, right along with getting rid of the stale old blood.

As for Zambrano and Guillen -- I expect it to be a match made in heaven more than a source of conflict.

I don't think that's right. Volstad is arb 1 - if he has a good year, the Cubs will be in great position to ink him to a team-favorable contract.

You could say the same thing about Zambrano, couldn't you? Has Volstad done anything ever to make one think he's going to have a single year that would make you want to lock him up long-term?

This could all work out well for the Cubs talent-wise, but right now it looks like the same "addition by subtraction" strategy that shackled Hendry every off-season.
   41. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: January 04, 2012 at 10:23 PM (#4029249)
If I'm Theo I would have sat Zambrano down and said "look, don't be a dink, pitch well and I'll trade you to a contender at mid-season." Effectively signing Chris Volstad to a one year, $15 million contract makes no sense to me.
   42. Walt Davis Posted: January 04, 2012 at 10:24 PM (#4029250)
The club's problem for the future isn't that they don't have the money to build a contending roster, it's that they have so little talent that they can't build a contending roster in just one offseason.

If I were running the Cubs, I'd be planning on contending in 2013, 2014 at the latest, and the primary Epstein/Hoyer acquisitions have fit with that time-frame.


Not gonna happen though.

It's true the Cubs didn't have a lot of talent on hand and I think it's true (or highly unlikely) that they could build a contender in one offseason. But they have added no talent of not this offseason. They've dumped some (nothing too special) and gotten back some guys who might contribute but if you thought the 2011 Cubs didn't have the talent, wait until you see 2012. So I don't know what "primary acquisitions" you're referring to. DeJesus? Wood?

And next year's FA market doesn't look so hot. So unless Brett Jackson is Willie Mays or Vitters magically transforms into Chipper Jones, I don't see how it's possible for the 2013 Cubs to contend. There was a chance this offseason -- not to make the Cubs instant contenders. But Pujols, Castro, Soto, Garza, Marmol, Marshall and one more FA (probably CJ Wilson) gives you one hell of a core you can build around in 2013-4. Adding DeJesus to that kind of team makes a lot of sense.

So I'm pretty sure Theo's timeline ain't anything like 2013/4. Unless we see a last-minute Prince signing or somebody dumb enough to trade us their farm system for Garza, this looks like a 5-year plan to me.

I will add -- I don't have a particular problem with this trade or with any of the moves Theo has made so far. They're a bunch of tear-down trades and I agree there wasn't much there to tear down so you can't expect to receive much in return. Theo's got a slightly better track record than I do when it comes bo building a winning baseball team so I'm happy to cut him slack even though we disagree.

It's just that when Theo took over in Boston he had a quote along the lines of "we are not going to stop being a $100 million team but we are going to be become a $100 million development machine." Of course it ended up being a $150 million development machine. That's the strategy I wanted to see with the Cubs not "follow the Rays!"
   43. Zonk is a Doorknob Whisperer Posted: January 04, 2012 at 10:32 PM (#4029255)
I think I like this because Theo is doing precisely what I do when I play out a few seasons of OOTP. My next move would be to sucker the Yankees into Soriano for some combination of Corban Joseph, Cody Johnson, and Brett Marshall. I usually have to toss in a BPJ or Rafael Doliz to get them to bite, but aren't major league GMs stupider than a baseball sim AI?

Actually - it's usually the ChiSox who bite on Zambrano, which is weird in an Ozzie-centric sort of way.
   44. VegasRobb Posted: January 04, 2012 at 10:36 PM (#4029263)
Not a huge fan of the deal if the return was just Volstad, but it does allow the Cubs to move on.
   45. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 04, 2012 at 10:46 PM (#4029271)
So once the inevitable Garza trade goes down, the Cubs are probably looking at a sub-$90 million payroll. Make your own guesses on arb awards.

Going into the 2013 offseason, the Zambrano money, Dempster and Byrd are all gone. Another offseason of sitting the top level FA market out (Napoli, Kinsler, Wright, Youkilis, Josh Hamilton, Grienke - if any of them actually hit the market) and Chicago could be in Oakland payroll territory.
   46. McCoy Posted: January 04, 2012 at 10:55 PM (#4029279)
I don't know if the fanbase would tolerate the Cubs at a 50 to 60 million dollar payroll.
   47. JJ1986 Posted: January 04, 2012 at 11:07 PM (#4029287)
Another offseason of sitting the top level FA market out (Napoli, Kinsler, Wright, Youkilis, Josh Hamilton, Grienke - if any of them actually hit the market) and Chicago could be in Oakland payroll territory.


Wright and Youkilis both have two years left before FA.
   48. Tom Nawrocki Posted: January 04, 2012 at 11:17 PM (#4029294)
Looking at that chart of Zambrano's year-by-year WAR, you can see very clearly that his prime years coincided with Dusty Baker's tenure as Cubs manager. But I'm sure Dusty had nothing to do with that.
   49. Meatwad Posted: January 04, 2012 at 11:19 PM (#4029295)
This is a terrible deal, should be getting more in return since they are eating so much of the contract
   50. Zonk is a Doorknob Whisperer Posted: January 04, 2012 at 11:30 PM (#4029298)
Going into the 2013 offseason, the Zambrano money, Dempster and Byrd are all gone. Another offseason of sitting the top level FA market out (Napoli, Kinsler, Wright, Youkilis, Josh Hamilton, Grienke - if any of them actually hit the market) and Chicago could be in Oakland payroll territory.


I'm trying to think of the last team that truly won purely on the FA market, though...

I think it's more likely he's freeing up space so he can be in on any and every "I gotta shed this guy" that's CERTAIN to come up in 2012 and 2013. He doesn't know what he'll need in 2013 or whenever this barren save Castro team will be any good. Do you really think there won't be a Pirates, Brewers, Royals, Rays -- or hell, a still scuffling financially Mets or Dodgers -- desperately looking to shed payroll?

I honestly don't care about payroll. If the next good Cubs team has a payroll of 50 or 150 million - makes no difference to me.

Either you're going to trust the process or you're not.

As I said in the last thread, if all you thought the Cubs needed was to spend money -- you don't need a new regime in the FO to do that.
   51. Zonk is a Doorknob Whisperer Posted: January 04, 2012 at 11:35 PM (#4029299)
This is a terrible deal, should be getting more in return since they are eating so much of the contract


If Zambrano hadn't been suspended twice, beat up his catcher, and everything short of set himself on fire in the locker room over the last few years, maybe...

I mean - if you get down to it, Zambrano passed standard Milton Bradley ############# about a year and a half ago. He hasn't been an elite pitcher in several years.

I'm struggling to see where he had even as much trade value as Bradley.
   52. Zonk is a Doorknob Whisperer Posted: January 04, 2012 at 11:36 PM (#4029300)
How can the nanny catch ############# when it's not even a word?
   53. McCoy Posted: January 04, 2012 at 11:37 PM (#4029301)
I think it's more likely he's freeing up space so he can be in on any and every "I gotta shed this guy" that's CERTAIN to come up in 2012 and 2013. He doesn't know what he'll need in 2013 or whenever this barren save Castro team will be any good. Do you really think there won't be a Pirates, Brewers, Royals, Rays -- or hell, a still scuffling financially Mets or Dodgers -- desperately looking to shed payroll?

He could already do this without cutting loose a single player he did.

The Cubs didn't save any money by trading Carlos Zambrano and if something good comes along that forces them to cut Volstad then they could just as easily cut Zambrano instead.
   54. Walt Davis Posted: January 05, 2012 at 12:17 AM (#4029316)
Effectively signing Chris Volstad to a one year, $15 million contract makes no sense to me.

Actually it's 1/$18. They send $15 to the Marlins and Volstad is arb-eligible with over 550 IP the last 3 years so he's a good bet for $2-3 M even with crappy performance.

if all you thought the Cubs needed was to spend money -- you don't need a new regime in the FO to do that.

But nobody thinks that's all the Cubs need to do. But you're (let's go with ...) misguided if you don't think it's one of the things the Cubs need to do. And you're (let's go with ...) naive if you don't recognize that the Cubs' massive revenue stream is the biggest advantage they have over almost the entire NL and certainly the Central division.

There is no good long-term plan for the Cubs that doesn't involve the Cubs outspending every team in their division by at least $30-50 million per year. If the Cubs are not leveraging that massive revenue advantage, they are screwing up. They don't _have_ to do it in 2012 but I see absolutely no advantage to them not doing it in 2012. (Well, I didn't before they sat on the sidelines for all the good FAs.)

Now, leveraged massive advantage does not equal "wasted money". So, fine, if Theo thought spending money this offseason would be a waste then that's what he thinks and he's acted reasonably. I disagree quite strongly but so be it.

(a) Can we all agree that the Cubs don't have much talent in the system at present, espeically not ML ready?

(b) Can we all agree that, given moves to date, the talent level of the 2012 Cubs is actually no better and probably below that of the 2011 Cubs?

(c) Can we all agree that, given (a) and (b), there is no way for the Cubs to be good over the next 3-5 years unless they spend heavily on payroll?

(d) Can we all agree that the 2013 FA list just posted is not inspiring (although Kinsler and Greinke are interesting)?

(e) Can we all agree that most of the payroll other teams would be looking to shed is older players on bad long-term contracts?

(f) Can we all agree that Longoria's agent should be fired and that they will find a cure for herpes before Braun becomes an FA?

If Pujols, Fielder, Reyes, Wilson are all bad FA bets, who are the future good FA bets going to be? Just how much talent do you think the Cubs can develop and on what time frame?

I just don't see evidence of a short- to medium-term plan other than "let the Cubs suck for 4 years, hope we have some good young talent in 2015, then go for it." There is no need for the Cubs to follow that plan exclusively and it's a high-risk plan which quite possibly means we'll be in the exact same place in the 2015-16 offseason.

Now, if in the next week, Theo signs Fielder and trades for Lincecum and King Felix, I might revise my opinion.
   55. Something Other Posted: January 05, 2012 at 01:05 AM (#4029329)
I can sort of see this. Epstein talks with Zambrano. Zambrano acts like an assh*le, sees no need to change anything of himself. Epstein concludes that all he's going to get from Zambrano, AT BEST, in 2012 is a headache and a not especially good pitcher during a throwaway season. That means there's a good chance Zambrano becomes the story, since the Cubs don't have much else to offer the tabloids. As a result, Epstein looks stupid, looks like he can't control his team, his players... where's the upside in that?

And what Epstein got was the best he could get.
   56. Meatwad Posted: January 05, 2012 at 01:46 AM (#4029333)
Or he could just pay z to pitch for the cubs who is a better bet to do more then the return on him
   57. Something Other Posted: January 05, 2012 at 02:08 AM (#4029338)
He could, but I think the point stands. Let's say Zambrano actually does what no one expects him to do, which is to pitch well and comport himself with a modicum of dignity. Instead of winning 71 games, the Cubs win 74. Okay--that's nice.

The downside, though, is that Zambrano becomes an ongoing distraction. Epstein is trying to overhaul the organization and put a smart, disciplined, positive, professional, WINNING stamp on it. Instead of being able to do so, Epstein gets caught up in the circus that Zambrano can certainly be, and his message--at a time when that message is most likely to be heard--gets lost.

It's an excellent sign that, rather than trying to squeeze a couple of wins or a B prospect out of a troubled player who has been a huge problem, the Cubs decided to cut ties and move on. The return for Z is irrelevant. The Cubs needed to get rid of him, doubtless they contacted teams outside their division, and took the best offer. Problem solved.
   58. Bunny Vincennes Posted: January 05, 2012 at 02:12 AM (#4029341)
Meh, after 35 years of the Cubs being one player away, that guy wasn't Carlos Zambrano, 2012. I really don't care. I don't feel remotely farther from a championship than I was at the last of Lou's tenure. I'm non-plussed in as a mild way possible. My grandfather is 86ish, after 5 five heart attacks since he was 39. He isn't going to see the next championship, and he wasn't five years ago. Meh, he and I put that hatchet to rest last fall. Who knows. Maybe I move up significantly on the season ticket list.
   59. Walt Davis Posted: January 05, 2012 at 03:52 AM (#4029355)
Look, Zambrano on or off the 2012 Cubs, especially as it seems they will be constructed, doesn't matter. Some of the "issues":

1) The Cubs believe it is better to spend $18 M to have Volstad pitch for us than Z. That's certainly questionable.

2) The Cubs have a long history of being completely unable to handle temperamental players and of bad-mouthing and scapegoating them to the press. Some of us were hoping this was ending with Theo but obviously not yet. This was a classic Hendry move.

3) True, none of us know what went on behind closed doors.

4) Any GM could have pulled this trade off so there's nothing to like about it from any angle.

It's an excellent sign that, rather than trying to squeeze a couple of wins or a B prospect out of a troubled player who has been a huge problem, the Cubs decided to cut ties and move on.

See above. This is what the Cubs have been doing for years.

The Cubs needed to get rid of him

The Cubs only needed to get rid of him because they forced themselves into the position where they "needed" to get rid of him. That's more on Hendry than Theo but then Theo (by not being Hendry) didn't "need" to get rid of him.

Instead of winning 71 games

71? They only won 71 last year and this team is substantially less talented.

LaHair < Pena (although this is close enough probably)
Barney projected to a 76 OPS+
Stewart < ARam by a lot
Soriano 95 OPS+
Byrd 94 OPS+
DeJesus 106 OPS+ (quick Marcel)

Brett Jackson does project to a 99 which looks nice for a guy his age, might be up mid-season.

Garza 116
Cashner 108 (I'll believe it when I see it)
Dempster 96
Wells 91
Volstad 84 (quick Marcel)

Marmol 128
Wood 111
everybody else below average

What "depth" the team has is mainly a function of how crap most of the starters are -- i.e. it doesn't really matter if Barney or Soriano or Byrd or Wells or a reliever gets hurt because they're not much above replacement anyway.

This is a very bad team right now, the worst Cub team in quite a while. I know you'll find this hard to believe but the Cubs have not lost over 100 games in a season since I was 4 years old which was before my fandom. I'd like to avoid that if I could.
   60. Something Other Posted: January 05, 2012 at 04:33 AM (#4029359)
See above. This is what the Cubs have been doing for years.
Irrelevant and immaterial. The Cubs have been acquiring free agents for years. Should they stop doing so because the previous, dim regime did it too?

The Cubs needed to get rid of him

The Cubs only needed to get rid of him because they forced themselves into the position where they "needed" to get rid of him. That's more on Hendry than Theo but then Theo (by not being Hendry) didn't "need" to get rid of him.
The Epstein Cubs didn't force themselves into this position, the Hendry Cubs forced the Epstein Cubs into this position.

Instead of winning 71 games...


71? They only won 71 last year and this team is substantially less talented.
Yeah, yeah. And if I'd said 65 games McCoy would have started foaming at the mouth. You know what I mean.

4) Any GM could have pulled this trade off so there's nothing to like about it from any angle.
What you're missing is that there was nothing to get in return for Zambrano. He's Milton Bradley, and while the Cubs lucked into Silva in return for Bradley, it was a joke trade. That's all you get for Milton Bradley or Carlos Zambrano. A lottery ticket, if that.

Any GM could have pulled this trade off because that's what GM's do. They get rid of distractions and headaches and move on to better things in order to turn around a shitty organization. I mean, I want to go all whomever that ALL CAPS poster was, and write ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME??!!! YOU'VE GOT AN ORGANIZATION IN DEEPEST SH!T AND YOU WANT TO SPEND TIME AND ENERGY FARTING AROUND WITH A NONPRODUCTIVE HEADCASE??!!!?? BLEARRGH!!!?!!!

And goodnight.

   61. Benji Posted: January 05, 2012 at 04:49 AM (#4029360)
When I saw this identical headline on the MSN front page, I thought "Oh the Heat got Zildrunas Ilgauskas back." Which would have probably been a better move for the basketball team than this one is for the Marlins.
   62. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 05, 2012 at 06:02 AM (#4029366)
Do you really think there won't be a Pirates, Brewers, Royals, Rays -- or hell, a still scuffling financially Mets or Dodgers -- desperately looking to shed payroll?


Who, exactly, do you expect the Pirates to be "desperately looking to shed"? 'Cause I'm not seeing it.

They might look to move Hanrahan at the deadline, but he's an impending FA, and anyone else who's any good is also pretty cheap.
   63. TerpNats Posted: January 05, 2012 at 07:04 AM (#4029368)
I don't know if the fanbase would tolerate the Cubs at a 50 to 60 million dollar payroll.
In other words, they will tolerate a 77-85 record if they have some sort of outstanding individual talent they can enjoy watching? Hasn't this been the same old mantra on the North Side for years, going back to Ernie Banks in his heyday?
   64. bunyon Posted: January 05, 2012 at 08:11 AM (#4029373)
Let's not start up another how-soon-should-the-Cubs-try-to-compete argument. McCoy will lose his mind.

That's a feature, not a bug.

I mean, it's one thing if Zambrano mailed Epstein a turd in a shoebox or something like that,


I think SO is all over this. Theo didn't come in declaring he'd dump Z. It seems clear, he looked into it, probably met with Z (or tried to) and it didn't go so well.

Folks seem to hang their hat on Z being a better bet to be a good pitcher in 2012. He may do that, but I certainly wouldn't make the bet. I think it's a lot more likely he shows up out of shape and irritated.

   65. Zonk is a Doorknob Whisperer Posted: January 05, 2012 at 08:36 AM (#4029380)

Folks seem to hang their hat on Z being a better bet to be a good pitcher in 2012. He may do that, but I certainly wouldn't make the bet. I think it's a lot more likely he shows up out of shape and irritated.


This.

Everybody is focused whether Zambrano can return to some semblence of being a mid-rotation starter he was for the past 2-3 years. It's as if you're all willfully ignoring the problem case the guy has been going WAY back. Pitchers don't normally beat the crap out of their catchers.

Look - as a fan I don't quite have this dour view of his outbursts as they generally seem bound in a guy who 'cares' and just gets frustrated... I mean, he's not doing blow off a hooker's ass in a Jr High middle school.

But come on -- "Behave and I'll flip you to a contender in June?"

Do you people REALLY think any GM Theo calls isn't thinking big-time "This is the sort of move that could cost me my job. I just picked up a guy who's had multiple confrontation with teammates. A guy who basically tried to quit last summer, got suspended the year before, has been suspended by the league, and beat up a catcher?"

You're Brian Cashman - you get Zambrano... and he beats up Derek Jeter when 2 straight grounders go past him on the left? You think that turn into a job costing move in NY?

You're John Mozeliak - you get Zambrano... and he gets ejected in his first start, goes nuts on the ump, and gets suspended for a couple weeks (could happen - the league's suspended him before, so perhaps they send a message). After Pujols leaving, think your job is safe?

You're Cherington - you get Zambrano... and he takes a bat to video game layout and chicken buckets, accidentally fracturing Beckett's arm in the process.

Zambrano's onfield pitching value is utterly and completely immaterial - beyond a niche situation, like his countryman Ozzie who has openly talked about wanting a shot with him - NO ONE IS GOING TO WANT ZAMBRANO.

A fan can look at Zambrano's outbursts and say "He's fiery, he cares" -- but a GM sees nothing but a headache whose upside is missing starts here and there because he can keep his head in a bad start and whose downside is considerably worse.

This isn't a media-unfriendly, fan-flipping off Milton Bradley situation.... It's a guy who is beyond volatile - but violent and unstable.

I doubt there was any team beyond the Ozzie Marlins that was even willing to listen.
   66. Hack Wilson Posted: January 05, 2012 at 09:04 AM (#4029387)
Everyone is much too pessimistic. I remember when a new Cub manager said that the Cubs were not an 8th place team, and the Cubs proved him right-they finished 10th (losing a hundred games).

On the bright side Z has to pass a physical for the trade to be completed, he could rip off the doctor's head, which could void his contract.
   67. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 05, 2012 at 09:06 AM (#4029388)

Who, exactly, do you expect the Pirates to be "desperately looking to shed"? 'Cause I'm not seeing it.


I don't see the Royals shedding payroll either - they're well under budget and most of their team is young and cost-controlled. The Rays are extremely young and cost-controlled. They may move some good expensive players, but it won't be because they "have to" it will be because their philosophy is to trade guys at the peak of their value.

Next winter after Marcum and Greinke file for free agency, I don't see who the Brewers have that will be all that expensive and attractive as trade bait. Rickie Weeks perhaps? Gallardo? But why trade them unless they're doing a full rebuild, and signing ARam suggests they don't plan to be in a full rebuild next winter.

The teams that will probably be willing to dump are San Diego and Oakland. I can see them dumping more players next year - Chase Headley, Edinson Volquez in a bounce back year, Brett Anderson, Dallas Braden, Kurt Suzuki could all become available. But it seems like with added revenue sharing, a wave of new RSNs, and a bit smarter management in place in many small market franchises, many teams aren't going to be dumping players. You can get good young players, but you'll have to pay through the nose like the Latos deal.
   68. Der-K: at 10% emotional investment Posted: January 05, 2012 at 09:29 AM (#4029396)
(Somewhat) Separate from my feelings on this deal... If Z were a free agent, what do you think he'd get?
   69. Andere Richtingen Posted: January 05, 2012 at 09:36 AM (#4029400)
I can sort of see this. Epstein talks with Zambrano. Zambrano acts like an assh*le, sees no need to change anything of himself. Epstein concludes that all he's going to get from Zambrano, AT BEST, in 2012 is a headache and a not especially good pitcher during a throwaway season.

This is essentially my turd in a shoebox theory. This could easily be true.

Folks seem to hang their hat on Z being a better bet to be a good pitcher in 2012. He may do that, but I certainly wouldn't make the bet. I think it's a lot more likely he shows up out of shape and irritated.

There is no hat to hang for 2012. Epstein/Hoyer are clearly writing the year off, for the most part. Part of the "if everything comes together just right there's a slim chance we eke out a playoff spot in a weak division" strategy could be Zambrano having a decent year, one in line with his peripherals and his overall 2009-11 average performance. And if Zambrano can show up for his starts and manage to put up reasonable numbers, he's tradeable for something better than paying his entire 2012 salary and Chris Volstad. My critique of the move is that it is selling low, not that there is great promise for Zambrano in 2012.

However, I can understand selling low if Zambrano is truly an incorrigible prick and has shown no evidence of being contrite. As I've said elsewhere, I support the idea of Epstein/Hoyer cleaning house and giving the roster a fresh start. This just strikes me as weak return for a player who even last year was in the black in the WAR column.
   70. McCoy Posted: January 05, 2012 at 09:40 AM (#4029402)
As Walt mentioned the 2012 team is going to be a really really bad team and it doesn't even look like it is going to be a really really bad team for a good reason. They won't be better off in 2013 because of it nor 2014.


In other words, they will tolerate a 77-85 record if they have some sort of outstanding individual talent they can enjoy watching? Hasn't this been the same old mantra on the North Side for years, going back to Ernie Banks in his heyday?

For starters I think almost every single baseball city in the country does this as well. Ted Williams, Cal Ripken, Tony Gwynn . . .

But no those are not the other words I would use. If the Cubs are losing games and only have a payroll of 50 to 60 million dollars why would the fans think going to Wrigley is a cool thing to do? Attendance and revenue will suffer.
   71. Andere Richtingen Posted: January 05, 2012 at 09:40 AM (#4029403)
A couple of positives I've noticed about Chris Volstad:

BB/9 IP:

2008: 3.84
2009: 3.34
2010: 3.09
2011: 2.66

BABIP:

2008: .271
2009: .289
2010: .298
2011: .310

So maybe Epstein and Hoyer are seeing something here...
   72. Andere Richtingen Posted: January 05, 2012 at 09:53 AM (#4029411)
In other words, they will tolerate a 77-85 record if they have some sort of outstanding individual talent they can enjoy watching? Hasn't this been the same old mantra on the North Side for years, going back to Ernie Banks in his heyday?

The Cubs did not have good attendance during Ernie Banks' heyday. From 1955-1961 they ranked 4, 7, 7, 6, 6, 7, 7 out of 8 teams in attendance.
   73. Bourbon Samurai, what price fettucine? Posted: January 05, 2012 at 09:55 AM (#4029415)
On the bright side Z has to pass a physical for the trade to be completed, he could rip off the doctor's head, which could void his contract.


I think that would show his arm is quite healthy. The doctor might have trouble passing his review boards, though.
   74. shoewizard Posted: January 05, 2012 at 09:58 AM (#4029417)
I see a pitcher who is throwing more strikes but they are hittable strikes.
   75. DL from MN Posted: January 05, 2012 at 10:03 AM (#4029419)
I'm with shoewizard. That trendline leads me to conclude that Volstad is throwing more pitches down the middle in order to avoid walks. He still doesn't have enough control to put it on the corners.
   76. Zonk is a Doorknob Whisperer Posted: January 05, 2012 at 10:18 AM (#4029429)
And if Zambrano can show up for his starts and manage to put up reasonable numbers, he's tradeable for something better than paying his entire 2012 salary and Chris Volstad.


I just don't get this -- the guy has had a significant, suspension resulting blow-up of one sort of another for what.... 4 straight years?

All the other GMs are just saying show me the Carlosfax -- and the Carlosfacts show a guy who is certain to be suspended by someone (league or team) for something. The guy hasn't been on any good pitching leaderboards since 2006 (beyond a 5th in the NL in HR/9 in 2009). If he behaves AND returns to 2008-2010 form, he's a decent #3.

Who is going to want to assume any of that risk for a good #3 SP?

MAYBE if Carlos had gone off the rails emotionally during his early 20s when he was pitching like a fringe #1 SP - someone looks at him and says that his age + upside are worth seeing if you can keep him under control.... but at this point? He's 30. He hasn't been anything special for 5 years AND he's been a constant problem child.

3 good months aren't going to change that.
   77. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: January 05, 2012 at 10:36 AM (#4029435)
I see a pitcher who is throwing more strikes but they are hittable strikes.


Wait. This makes perfect sense in reality, but it violates the BABIP conventional wisdom, so it must be wrong.
   78. Zonk is a Doorknob Whisperer Posted: January 05, 2012 at 10:44 AM (#4029439)
I was trying to think of a pitcher that Volstad reminds me of -- and then it hit me...

Rick Reuschel. Decent/developing, but not outstanding control (at least, early in his career). Middling K rates. Pretty big guy (Volstad is 6'8"?!) Of course, Reuschel put up ERA+ of 131 and 130 in his first season in a half (fell back to earth in his 3rd year, though).

If Volstad can bring his gopher rate down a healthy notch - you heard it here first.
   79. Andere Richtingen Posted: January 05, 2012 at 10:49 AM (#4029444)
I'm with shoewizard. That trendline leads me to conclude that Volstad is throwing more pitches down the middle in order to avoid walks. He still doesn't have enough control to put it on the corners.

This could easily be the case, but I think the walk rate trend is more of a positive than the corresponding hits in play. At his age, this is something you can work with. And yes, the high BABIP could be due to other factors, including luck and poor defense behind him.

Of course, in the limited times I've seen Volstad, he seems to be prone to bouts where he looks like he's throwing batting practice.

3 good months aren't going to change that.

I disagree.
   80. The District Attorney Posted: January 05, 2012 at 10:50 AM (#4029447)
I was trying to think of a pitcher that Volstad reminds me of -- and then it hit me...

Rick Reuschel.
Reuschel has more WAR than Bob Feller, Carl Hubbell and Juan Marichal*, so I dunno if you wanna count on that one.

Calcaterra reminds us that Zambrano could smash an on-field fish tank. That would be amazing.

* Not combined. (That'd be weight.)
   81. Andere Richtingen Posted: January 05, 2012 at 10:54 AM (#4029452)
Rick Reuschel.

I don't think we have numbers on it, but I think Reuschel was a true extreme groundball pitcher, yes? Volstad is supposed to be that, but it doesn't seem that he is very successful in actually inducing the groundballs.
   82. JPWF1313 Posted: January 05, 2012 at 11:22 AM (#4029473)
A couple of positives I've noticed about Chris Volstad:

BB/9 IP:

2008: 3.84
2009: 3.34
2010: 3.09
2011: 2.66

BABIP:

2008: .271
2009: .289
2010: .298
2011: .310

So maybe Epstein and Hoyer are seeing something here...


what I see is a guy whose stuff is hittable and for who challenging hitters and pitching in the zone is a bad idea
   83. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: January 05, 2012 at 11:27 AM (#4029477)
I see a pitcher with much improved walks and BABIP that's gone from being very lucky the first year to unlucky the last year. His K rate was acceptable but not great last year after being below par the year before, a BB/K of 2.4 isn't shabby at all.
   84. Zonk is a Doorknob Whisperer Posted: January 05, 2012 at 01:30 PM (#4029585)
Re: Reuschel/Volstad...

Obviously - success is the difference maker (and the only one that really matters), but just as Juan Cruz was once compared to Pedro because he was a whispy Dominican with nasty stuff, I was just trying to think a pitcher that Volstad reminds me of regardless of success... An extreme upside comparison, if you will.

I think the comparison holds in that regard... Like I said -- big guy, somewhat bulky, decent but not Maddux-level control, fair K rate, but not extraordinary. Andere is right -- Volstad is supposed to be a groundball pitcher, but it hasn't worked out consistently (looking back at old scouting reports -- you hear "heavy fastball" a lot). Just perusing individual games -- that seems to be when he looks like a 1st rounder - 2-1 or better GB/FB ratios.

I understand why teams don't do it more -- you can't have 15-20 individual coaches, one per player -- but in circumstances like this, where you've got a pitcher who looks like his path to stardom probably IS being a clone of Rick Reuschel and he's nowhere near it after 4 seasons, why not bring in the comparison to spend 6 weeks in the spring tutoring the kid?

An approximation of Reuschel is more than likely what a successful Volstad looks like -- he's had 4 years to become his own guy and it hasn't happen, so it's time to typecast him and see if he can carve out a career that way.
   85. Bad Doctor Posted: January 05, 2012 at 01:40 PM (#4029596)
I'm interested to see how Carlos fares in the NL East. Like Sam pointed out, Zambrano has had more trouble with the Braves than he has with any other NL team.

Projecting Volstad for 2012 almost works the other way ... if you take out his starts against the Phillies, he starts to look pretty good. Lifetime: 2-5, 5.88 ERA, 18 HR in 64.1 IP. Last year, they knocked him around to the tune of .404/.442/.766 in 2 starts.
   86. Addison Russell T. Davies (chris h.) Posted: January 05, 2012 at 01:59 PM (#4029615)
Looks like this is official, now.

Also, klaw actually thinks the Cubs got the better of this deal (essentially 1 year of Z for 3 years of Volstad). I'm not sure I buy that logic.
   87. SouthSideRyan Posted: January 05, 2012 at 02:11 PM (#4029623)
I really doubt Volstad is a Cub for 3 years.
   88. Walt Davis Posted: January 05, 2012 at 02:39 PM (#4029640)
The guy hasn't been on any good pitching leaderboards since 2006 (beyond a 5th in the NL in HR/9 in 2009). If he behaves AND returns to 2008-2010 form, he's a decent #3.

From 2008-10, Zambrano had a 121 ERA+. Among pitchers with at least 400 IP in those 3 years, he ranks 21st.

21st.

Oh, I lie. Tied for 20th.

Now fair enough, he only had 78 starts in those three years. Pitchers with more than 78 starts those three years? There were 60 of those. Of course Z only had 78 because the Cubs moronically stuck him out in the bullpen for a while.

Conveniently, WAR helps us combine quality and quantity and over those 3 years, Z had 8.6 WAR, good for 30th.

30th.

Give or take a smidgen, from 2008-10, Zambrano was as good as Chris Carpenter.

That's what GMs would be intrigued by. Now nobody thinks Z is likely to be that pitcher now but there's a reasonable chance. Meanwhile our good friend ZiPS projects him to a 96 ERA+ (in 138 IP but ZiPS is not a playing time projection :-). In 2011, there were 75 pitchers who had both a minimum 130 innings and an ERA+ better than 96. Using Felipe Paulino (139 IP, 93 ERA+) as a rough guide, Z is projected to about 1.6 WAR. That sort of thing is supposed to be "worth" about $7-8 M on the open market these days and the Marlins just got it for $400,000. Are Z's antics really worth a negative $7 M?

But no, the Cubs could not get very much for Zambrano under these circumstances. I've not suggested otherwise. Let me be quite clear what I'm saying with regard to this deal:

YOU ARE MUCH BETTER OFF PAYING $18 MILLION FOR CARLOS ZAMBRANO TO PITCH FOR YOU THAN $18 MILLION FOR CHRIS VOLSTAD TO PITCH FOR YOU.

People point to the potentially horrible things that could happen if Z stuck around. Whoop-de-doo -- if these horrible things happen, you release him and you really are no worse off than you are after this trade. Hell, compared to this deal the Cubs would be better off keeping Z and having him go totally mental because then they could suspend him and at least maybe save some money if you don't have to pay him during the suspension.

There's no need to struggle to find comps for Volstad.* He's a BIP pitcher. Last year his K/BB was quite good and suggests he could have some success (100ish ERA+) but that was the result of a career-high K-rate and a career-low BB-rate -- could be a good sign of things to come or unrepeatable. In addition to his "unlucky" 310 BABIP (which is no big deal either way) was his 1.2 HR/9 rate which is consistent with his career 1.1 HR/9 rate. I'd assume a 1.1 HR/9 rate in Miami translates to something quite a bit higher when you're pitching in Wrigley but somebody who knows the answer to that can supply it. Anyway, the high HR rate and the "high" BABIP suggest that he was getting hit quite hard last year.

Regardless, over the last 3 years he has 500 IP with an 84 ERA+. He is not an unknown quantity. And Volstad's career numbers (and even his 2011 numbers) look an awful lot like Zambrano 2011.

The Volstad pick up makes me reasonably sure the Cubs will be trading Garza and/or Dempster. The rotation currently has Garza, Casner, Dempster, Wells, Volstad and Travis Wood. I don't think they picked up Volstad and Wood to have one of them sit in AAA as injury replacement. Given both are 25 that would be silly for a team in the Cubs situation, you want them up in the majors to decide if they're part of the future. So a starter has to go. They're unlikely to get much for Dempster so presumably it's Garza.

*But Reuschel? You do know that 6.4 K/9 in 1973 was a bit different than doing that in 2011 I assume. Reuschel's K/9 was 20th in the majors (min 150 IP). He was just behind the aging Gibson, within half a K of Carlton and less than 1 K below Blyleven. (He was 4 K/9 behind Ryan :-) Volstad was 69th last year (his career best K/9) behind Justin Masterson and Derek Lowe. The equivalent 20th place finish was Halladay with 8.5
   89. Walt Davis Posted: January 05, 2012 at 03:06 PM (#4029673)
Vlad and others have touched on it -- there aren't that many expensive contracts out there right now. The ones that are there that teams might want to move are the AROD types. Sure, we will still have situations like Adrian Gonzalez. But how is that more advantageous than signing a Pujols or Fielder as an FA? The Red Sox extended him at full market price and gave up talent to get the one cheap year. Sure, maybe the Cubs will do the same for Votto next year -- and that would be fine, I'd rather have him than Fielder and probably even Pujols. But it's not substantially different than operating on the FA market -- depending on the talent you give up you could be worse off.

Anyway, this was one of the great FA classes. The Cubs are a high revenue team. We sat it out. It's hard for me to see how that is a good thing. Let's hope we get good opportunities to exploit our revenue advantage in the next 2-3 years.

Some WAR leaders, up to 30 years old, 2009-11 (hitters only because I'm lazy and pitchers break) and the year they become FA

Longoria 2015 but really 2017
Gonzalez 2019
Cabrera 2016 (he'll be 33)
Braun 2021
Kemp 2020
Tulo 2021
Votto 2014 (he'll be 30)
Cano 2014 (he'll be 31)
Mauer 2019
Pedroia 2016 (he'll be 32)
Zobrist 2014 but really 2016 if he's still good (he'll be 33/35)
Kinsler 2013 but really 2014 (he'll be 32)
Choo 2014 (he'll be 31)
Zimmerman 2014 (he'll be 29)
McCutchen 2016 (he'll be 29)
Upton 2016 (he'll be 28)

So in 2014, we might have a shot at Votto, Kinsler/Cano/Zobrist, Zimmerman and Choo if we feel like going for it but we'll be having the same debates as this year around whether you sign a 30 year-old guy to an 8-10 year contract, etc. Otherwise it's wait until 2016.

Now, don't get suicidal. Braun and Tulo see big jumps in their salaries around 2015-6 so sometime around then their teams might be interested in letting another team pay for their decline phases. And, unless they wrap them all up, the KC kids will be hitting FA around 2016 as will the current crop of TB kids.

So if the Cubs produce enough talent in 2012-13, tney might go for it in 2014. Othwerwise it looks like 2016. Like I said, a 5-year plan.

Anyway, I don't take it as a good sign that when I saw the reports about the Nats being in the lead for Prince, my first thought was "hello Adam LaRoche, 2012 Cubs opening day 1B!" In fairness, I'd forgotten about LaHair who's a free version of LaRoche -- same excitement, 10% of the cost!*

* I'm assuming the Nats will have to pick up a chunk of LaRoche's salary wherever they trade him.
   90. Zonk is a Doorknob Whisperer Posted: January 05, 2012 at 03:25 PM (#4029690)
Walt - I think you're abusing WAR in your analysis of Z a smidge because I think you're also giving him the batting credit, no? I don't deny that has value - but there's a reason Micah Owings, Brian Anderson, and a host of other good hitting pitchers struggle to find jobs... at the end of the day - a good hitting pitcher only has true value if he can also pitch well enough to stay in the game.

I'm not going to get in a WAR war here -- but I think it fails at evaluating a pitcher's offensive contributions in context.

Anyway... regardless -- I notice you still seem to be ignoring the fact that the guy has been an absolutely ENORMOUS distraction for about 3-4-5 years now (if you want to call beating up his catcher the start of the Time of Troubles).

Now - I'm not a 'chemistry'/'plays the right'/'little things' guy -- but that's another huge thing that WAR just cannot account for (beyond the time he misses while suspended for whatever stupid thing he did I guess)...

I'm fully on board with the idea of "Give me 25 superior performing jackasses and I'll beat 25 inferior Ecksteins" - but there's a limit.

Over the last couple years, my professional life has changed my mind a bit from what I would have said about this 3-4-5 years ago. Somehow or another, I got this reputation as a 'turnaround specialist' and started getting a fair number of valuable, intelligent, and sometimes hard-working people - but also difficult to work with. What I learned pretty quickly is that there limits - I don't care if care if you pitch or write C++... There's a proportional equation between how much #### you can stir to compensate for output. I haven't yet found the exact equation - but I do know that when I've had to cut the cord, it's become clear that the #### stirring has begun to noticeably outpace the output.

That's the case now with Zambrano. He's not what he was in 2008. His #### stirring, meanwhile, has reached new heights of nonsense.

I don't want to go all backlasher here, but if ever there was a situation where you cannot calculate a player's value based purely on his stats - it has become Zambrano.

Perhaps Michael Barrett was a douche... but I don't think Derek Lee was/is... or Geo... or whomever.

His emotional state has become detrimental - and now that he's also no longer the workhorse AND is clearly a notch below what he was in 2006/prior - that has to wear awfully thin.
   91. McCoy Posted: January 05, 2012 at 03:33 PM (#4029697)
I'm fully on board with the idea of "Give me 25 superior performing jackasses and I'll beat 25 inferior Ecksteins" - but there's a limit.

The Cubs are going to lose 100 games this year. Who is he going to hurt? Dempster? Gone. Byrd? Gone. Soriano? Wish he was gone. Who is this player who isn't going to be able to ever again hit a curveball because they were so distracted by the "Carlos Zambrano issue"?

If he becomes a problem you cut him. Plain and simple. After of course you suspend him without pay for a month.
   92. Brian C Posted: January 05, 2012 at 03:38 PM (#4029704)
I don't see what the big deal is. It's clear that Hoystein is simply writing off 2012. Z was only signed, barring a miracle, through 2012. He's a headache. So they dealt him for what they could get.

Perhaps they're selling low, but they did get a guy who can probably be counted on to throw 150-175 innings at replacement-level, maybe better. But perhaps they're selling high - if Z offers up a 2011 repeat, Volstad will look pretty good. In that case, Volstad could easily match Z's production straight-up.

I've always loved watching Z, and I wouldn't have minded keeping him around to see what happens. But a new FO regime came in and decided differently, and I have no reason to think that they didn't do their due diligence on the matter. That being the case, this makes perfect sense to me.

Walt seems like he's letting his frustration over the FA class get in the way of his thinking on this deal. But looking at it as simply a case of "Z with the Cubs in 2012 vs. Volstad with the Cubs in 2012", I think that's a tossup (we should acknowledge Z's friendship with Ozzie and probably acknowledge that Miami might be a more ideal situation for him than Chicago would have been if he was still here). And having Volstad lets you get rid of a headache, so from Hoystein's perspective, why not give it a go?
   93. Brian C Posted: January 05, 2012 at 03:43 PM (#4029714)
Also this:
Anyway, this was one of the great FA classes. The Cubs are a high revenue team. We sat it out.

Please, Prince Fielder has not signed yet. Stop talking about things that haven't happened yet as if they've already happened.
   94. Zonk is a Doorknob Whisperer Posted: January 05, 2012 at 03:44 PM (#4029717)

The Cubs are going to lose 100 games this year. Who is he going to hurt? Dempster? Gone. Byrd? Gone. Soriano? Wish he was gone. Who is this player who isn't going to be able to ever again hit a curveball because they were so distracted by the "Carlos Zambrano issue"?

If he becomes a problem you cut him. Plain and simple. After of course you suspend him without pay for a month.


Been done and tried, hasn't worked.

Given the future of the team is a 21 yo SS who had a minor kerfuffle last year over not "playing the right way" -- I wouldn't want Zambrano anywhere in the same city as him.

By most accounts, Castro was a hard-worker in the minors and is very coachable.

But - he's also the same age as a college senior.

The last thing I want with him is a Carlos Zambrano beating up teammates, destroying equipment, bumping umpires, and generally showing him that you can be a volatile headcase and still get really, really rich with all sorts of security.

...and that's without even getting into the fact that as I said - Zambrano has already gotten into multiple physical altercations with teammates (THAT WE KNOW ABOUT!). What are the chances that Castro picks a dandelion on a day that Z is off his rocker and Zambrano whips a baseball at his head as he labors through a 4 IP 6 run outing? A lot better than non-zero, I'd say.
   95. McCoy Posted: January 05, 2012 at 03:46 PM (#4029718)
I don't see what the big deal is. It's clear that Hoystein is simply writing off 2012. Z was only signed, barring a miracle, through 2012. He's a headache. So they dealt him for what they could get.

And in all probability Volstad won't be in Chicago for the 2013 season. Well, not unless Theo wants to punt that season as well and doesn't mind giving Volstad 6 million dollars to help him punt it.
   96. McCoy Posted: January 05, 2012 at 03:49 PM (#4029722)
The last thing I want with him is a Carlos Zambrano beating up teammates, destroying equipment, bumping umpires, and generally showing him that you can be a volatile headcase and still get really, really rich with all sorts of security.

How many other Cub players have done this? By all appearances Carlos being Carlos is an isolated thing and if Carlos gets suspended and canned next year how is that showing Castro that he could get away with it? Castro has seen the mess Carlos has gone through, he has seen the fans, players, and media go after Carlos. If he thinks he can do that as well without the benefit of a mega-contract and still get rich I don't think Carlos being on the team is our biggest worry.
   97. Zonk is a Doorknob Whisperer Posted: January 05, 2012 at 03:55 PM (#4029733)

How many other Cub players have done this? By all appearances Carlos being Carlos is an isolated thing and if Carlos gets suspended and canned next year how is that showing Castro that he could get away with it? Castro has seen the mess Carlos has gone through, he has seen the fans, players, and media go after Carlos. If he thinks he can do that as well without the benefit of a mega-contract and still get rich I don't think Carlos being on the team is our biggest worry.


How many other Cubs are college senior aged with a blindingly bright future?

...and Carlos hasn't "gone through a mess" - yes, yanking him to the bullpen was stupid, but come on.

What Carlos has gone through!?!? He punched at least one teammate, got in a dugout shoving match with another, and was rumored to have had an altercation with a 3rd. He cleaned out his locker and "retired" after getting ejected.

Gimme a break -- Milton Bradley was thin-skinned and needed an amount of babying that wasn't reasonable. Carlos Zambrano is a volatile and dangerous.

I mean - what part of "punched at least one teammate" and that's just one episode in a cornucopia of misbehavior is not registering here?
   98. McCoy Posted: January 05, 2012 at 04:03 PM (#4029742)
You're right it has been bliss for Zambrano. I can see how Castro could look on as a bystander and want to emulate Zambrano.
   99. SouthSideRyan Posted: January 05, 2012 at 04:04 PM (#4029744)
Shouldn't it be noted that they won the division the year he punched Barrett? (as well as the year after)
   100. McCoy Posted: January 05, 2012 at 04:15 PM (#4029763)
But he PUNCHED A TEAMMATE!
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