The unthinkable has happened: the Chicago Cubs have finally cut ties with pitcher Carlos Zambrano, trading him to the Miami Marlins. Back in 2003 when the Cubs were five outs away from making it to the World Series, Big Z was the fourth starter behind an extremely talented, young staff of Mark Prior, Kerry Wood and Matt Clement. While Zambrano is the only one out of those three two avoid any serious arm injury, he has missed his fair share of games due to poor performance and suspensions. In the last few years, we have seen Carlos take his frustration out on water coolers and other dugout accessories, a no hitter in a “home game” at Miller Park, a stint as a reliever and then this year he left the ballpark during a game without notifying anyone after getting thrown out for throwing behind a batter multiple times.
With the start of each season, Cubs fans had the sense that Carlos would be back to his old self winning 15-plus games, however, that never happened. Since 2007, when he won 18 games, Zambrano was an average pitcher, but with all of his off-field issues and massive $18 million per year contract he was nearly impossible to get rid of. The trade won’t come cheap for the Cubs, they have agreed to pay for an undisclosed amount per year, but it has been rumored to be around $15-$16 million. In return, the Cubs will get 25 year old starting pitcher, Chris Volstad, who has been an average at best pitcher, but he has the perfect frame for a pitcher (6’8, 230 lbs) an extremely cheap contract and he is only 25.
With the recent acquisition of both Volstad from the Marlins and Travis Wood, who was part of the Sean Marshall trade, the Cubs coaching staff will have to make a lot of decisions about the pitching staff. The only locks for the rotation are Garza, Ryan Dempster and possibly Randy Wells. The rest of the spots will be decided based on competition among Andrew Cashner, Casey Coleman, Travis Wood, Chris Volstad, James Russell and possibly Trey McNutt. If you weren’t convinced of a total cleansing for the the Cubs by the Sean Marshall trade, the news of Big Z’s trade should be all the evidence you need.