Hey gang, Carlos Zambrano’s in trouble! Let’s put on a show!
Short story: Z gave up four runs in the first inning on Friday, then went back to the dugout and had a massive meltdown, blamed everything on his teammates, and had to be physically prevented from attacking Derrek Lee. So the Cubs suspended him indefinitely, and haven’t yet decided on their next move.
So to Z first. I sympathise with the guy, really; his defense really has fucked him over this year — that’s what it tells you when his FIP is two runs better than his ERA. He’s pitched a lot better than he’s gotten credit for. However. Venting in the dugout after a brutal inning — especially a brutal first inning — is one thing, but you don’t take it out on your teammates. I mean, yeah, 2007 Carlos Zambrano got into a fistfight with Michael Barrett and pretty much all that happened was the Cubs made Barrett disappear. But 2010 Carlos Zambrano is not 2007 Carlos Zambrano, and Derrek Lee is not Michael Barrett. It’s one thing to take a swing at a young catcher nobody really likes, but it’s another thing entirely to take a swing at the damn team captain. Note for you, Z: one of the perks of being captain is that people who pick fights with you get in serious shit.
Derrek, in his postgame press conference, handled the situation just about right. He told the reporters upfront that he would be addressing the game only, and not the Zambrano situation, though he did specify that he had no play on the liner that Z was pissed at him for not diving for, and I believe him, because the diving stop really ain’t an element of Derrek Lee’s game. Derrek’s defensive style is pretty much built around never ever coming off the bag unless he absolutely has to, which is a pretty good plan for a first baseman — no sense in getting to the ball if there’s no way to make a putout anyhow. And the robust-ish defensive metrics find that highly favourable, and consistently rank him as one of the best defensive 1B in baseball.
Range Factor, however, does not. For the duration of his career, Derrek Lee has consistently had the lowest range factor of any 1B in the majors, and that set includes Ryan Howard, Jason Giambi, and the Prince of Fielding himself. Turns out that range isn’t a great big deal for a 1B, since it’s better to do like Derrek and stick to the bag most of the time. So, really, Z, he did what he could have done, and what he should have done. Taking huge risks just for the sake of "being aggressive" is something Ozzie Guillen thinks is a good idea.
And speaking of things Ozzie Guillen thinks are a good idea, Z went out to dinner with Ozzie after the game and asked him for advice. The team is apparently really pissed at him for that, which I don’t get at all; I mean, yes, it is pretty silly to solicit advice from the dumbest man in baseball (true to form, Ozzie’s advice was pretty much just "take it like a man"), but I really really don’t get their weird complaining. Apparently, Loopy and Hendo think that, instead of going out, he should have sat at home and brooded about it instead. Which worked really well for the last guy, I guess. Really, guys? This is a big deal for you? That he went out and had dinner with a (crazy) friend and got some (crazy) advice on how to handle himself? I don’t want to tell you your job or nuthin’, but that’s pretty goddamn petty.
Though they’re not alone. The internet appears to be rotten with oddbrains who think that Z throwing his team under the bus is coolsville, but having dinner with the Dullard of Ozz was just ORMG SLAP IN TEH FASE $15.
Quick Ozzie Guillen craziness roundup!
Here are just a few things that came out of the Prince of Wrong’s mouth in reference to the Zambrano situation:
"Carlos has been like that since he started playing baseball. Now all of a sudden he sucks and people are pointing fingers at him. When you don’t produce and you don’t do what you’re supposed to do and you make a lot of money, you’ll always be the same guy. … He’s been like this for a lot of years and they should know; we should know that’s the way he is."
"He will do what I told him to do, face it like a man, don’t turn your back on the problem. What are they going to do to him? Trade him? Release him? Suspend him?"
"That’s part of the game. That’s the way he is. If I see him, that’s the way he is and you’re not going to change that. Now he has to come back to the team and talk to his teammates I guess."
"I’m not saying I’m a dictator, but I don’t believe in guys going out there and fighting each other. Sometimes that’s good for the team. Sometimes they need that, you never know. When that happens, it wakes a lot of people up and they play better."