Thursday, January 5, 2012

Miami Unsound Machine: Carlos Zambrano Is A Marlin

The Miami Marlins are at it again.  Earlier today, the Marlins traded starting pitcher Chris Volstad to the Chicago Cubs for the human geyser, Carlos Zambrano.  Zambrano will etch his name on the long list of new players who will be calling South Beach home until the Marlins conduct their latest fire sale.

Chicago will eat $15.5 million of Zambrano's salary in 2012, leaving the Marlins to foot the bill for the remaining $2.5 million.  The Marlins needed the Cubs to take on most of his salary so they can use the savings to make repairs to all parts of their new stadium that Zambrano will eventually destroy after his first meltdown.

At first glance, it appears to be a good deal for the Marlins.  They were able to unload Chris Volstad, who was 5-13 for the team formerly known as Florida in 2011.  It was a disappointing season for Volstad, especially on the heels of a 12-9 season in 2010.  The 25-year-old has been in the major leagues since 2008 but has never pitched more than 175 innings in a season.  The same cannot be said for Zambrano.

Carlos Zambrano has had a winning record in each of the last nine seasons, going 120-71 (.628 winning percentage) since 2003.  Over those nine seasons, El Toro has averaged 190 innings pitched per year, surpassing 200 innings five times.  In 2011, Zambrano only pitched 145.2 innings, but that was mostly due to the fact that the Cubs suspended him for the final month of the season.

So why will this deal fall apart for Miami?  Because Carlos Zambrano makes Dennis Rodman look sane.

Other than fellow new acquisition Mark Buehrle, most of the Marlins' pitching staff is young and easily impressionable.  Is Carlos Zambrano going to be a mentor or just mental to them?  Do the Marlins have a long reliever for the games in which Zambrano loses his control on the mound (Big Z has led the league in walks twice and hit batsmen once) and then loses his control in the dugout (he famously confronted several of his teammates there in 2010)?

Also, who's going to replace Jose Reyes in the lineup when Zambrano blindly throws a Gatorade cooler in a fit of anger and hits the former Met in his fragile hamstrings?  Zambrano may be good friends with his new manager (fellow Venezuelan Ozzie Guillen), but can the Marlins handle making excuses for both of them when they lose their cool?

 Carlos Zambrano shows off his best smile for the camera.

Theo Epstein made a great deal today for the Cubs, ridding the team of its clubhouse cancer by finding the one club who was willing to take him off their hands.  The Marlins are signing and trading for anyone with a pulse right now and when Zambrano gets steamed, no one has a higher pulse rate.

Perhaps Zambrano will be a perfect fit in Miami (doubt it).  Perhaps this deal will even help the Mets in the long run.  After all, Volstad is now out of the NL East after posting a 3.35 ERA in eight career starts against the Mets, while having an ERA over 4.00 against every other team he's made a minimum of five starts against.

Miami already has volatile weather practically every afternoon during the summer.  Now they'll be experiencing a different kind of storm every fifth day when Carlos Zambrano takes the mound.  Hide your kids, hide your $106 million shortstop, because Carlos Zambrano is taking out everybody who gets in his way.  Let the countdown begin to his first Miami meltdown.

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