Carlos Zambrano Carlos Zambrano

Did the Red Sox miss out on Carlos Zambrano?

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The Chicago Cubs were able to part ways with disgruntled pitcher Carlos Zambrano, shipping the right-hander to the Miami Marlins for pitcher Chris Volstad.  A nice transaction for Theo Epstein to finally move Zambrano who felt like he was no longer wanted in Chicago after a couple years of outbursts and internal suspensions.

What’s so surprising about the deal is that Epstein and the Cubs have agreed to eat almost all of Zambrano’s remaining contract for next year, taking on $15 million of the $18 million owed to the Venezuela native.  A great gamble for the Marlins, which begs the question, did the Red Sox miss out on the Zambrano opportunity?

For just $2.5 million next season the Marlins get a quality caliber pitcher.  Granted he has slipped the past couple of seasons, but the talent is there and would make a great addition as a back end rotation starter.

He’s played eleven seasons in the majors, all with the Cubbies.  His career numbers are good: 125-81, 3.60 ERA, 1.319 WHIP, SO/9 of 7.6, HR/9 of 0.7 and a WAR rating total of 31.8.

The last couple of years haven’t been the best for Zambrano, both on and off the field.  Last season he started 24 games, going 9-7 with a 4.82 ERA.  In 2010 he went 11-6 with a 3.33 ERA in only 20 starts, but as mentioned, his hot head has put him in hot water with the Cubs, essentially forcing the club to trade him.

According to Buster Olney of ESPN, in 2010 Zambrano had many emotional outbursts that were made public; something that didn’t bode well with Zambrano or the Cubs.  He got into it with teammate Derek Lee that same year and was forced to attend anger management classes.

Last season Zambrano’s frustrations and emotions boiled over on Aug. 12.  After giving up five home runs in a game against the Atlanta Braves, Zambrano threw two pitches inside to Chipper Jones, prompting the pitcher to get ejected.  Zambrano proceeded to clean out his locker and told local staff that he was retiring.  The Cubs had enough of his antics, putting him on the disqualified list, ending his tenure with the Cubs.

But the guy can pitch.  And for under $3 million next season, this is a huge opportunity for the Marlins.  Olney reports that the key to the deal with the Marlins was Zambrano willing to waive his no-trade clause to go play for his good friend and fellow countrymen, Ozzie Guillen.

Should the Red Sox have tried to trade for  Zambrano and convince him to come to Boston?  With the Cubs willing to eat the majority of his salary and given the ability of Zambrano, then yes, the deal appears to make sense.  He can eat a lot of innings as proven by his early career, throwing over 200 innings in five straight seasons.  For his career he’s averaged over 180 innings and it this type of work horse that the Red Sox need for next season seeing how John Lackey and Tim Wakefield won’t be taking the mound in Boston.  Both guys took in a lot of innings last season, leaving a gaping hole in the rotation.

He’s won as many as 18 games in a season back in 2007 and has a career winning percentage of .607.  Even last year he proved he still has plenty left in the tank before being force to shut it down for the year because of his actions.

It may come out that Cherington had inquired into Zambrano and perhaps Carlos didn’t want to waive his full not trade clause for a deal to Boston.

In the end, Zambrano would not have been worth the risk.  Even at just $3 million next season, the Red Sox would’ve had to surrender a young arm, likely a Felix Dubrount and more.  It’s Zambrano’s unpredictability that is the scary part.  Ozzie Guillen is a powder keg waiting to blow any day.  So is Zambrano, so bird’s of a feather can flock together.  The Red Sox had their fair share of locker room troubles last season with Lackey pouting, Beckett drinking and others not wanting to give it every effort.  The last thing that this club needs is a hot head who may not like the way a teammate looks at him.

Epstein himself said that he didn’t want to take the chance of having another Zambrano meltdown.  Maybe Theo coached Ben and informed him to stay away.  Doubtful, but it’s fun to think about.  Either way, it’s a new regime so to speak and Zambrano is best suited in Miami.

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