There are very few names that will launch most any baseball writer into a tirade quicker than that one. Zambrano is the type of player that is seldom loved in our end of the spectrum that is baseball but when he is, that writers will quickly come to his defense. More often than not, writers are quick to point out all of the wonderful flaws that surround the pitcher known simply as “Z”.
As a writer myself and a lover of baseball, I dislike the term “off-season”. There truly is no off-season in baseball, it simply becomes a time of year when Major League Baseball is not operating games with the thirty clubs that we all follow so closely. It is this time of year, the administrative time of year, that games shift to winter ball and our focus turns to our team’s adjustments being made for the following season.
Today we have learned, thanks to an interview with Mark Carman at 610 Sports, that Dayton Moore has identified a possible fit in Kansas City for the game’s most interesting character, Carlos Zambrano. From that interview:
We would have to be interested. We would have to explore it because that’s what you should do. You should explore every opportunity. Carlos Zambrano is a heckuva competitor. Carlos Zambrano has had a lot of success in the major leagues. Carlos Zambrano is actually a very pleasant, easy going, classy person off the field. Sometimes, as with all of us the competitiveness takes over and brings out qualities in us that we are not proud of. Obviously the Cubs grew tired of some of his outbursts but I believe in our coaching staff and we’ll always take a chance and a risk on certain players. We’ll see how that particular situation unfolds.
Let me try to break the mold of the two types of writers I just described and let’s take a look at the two sides of Carlos Zambrano. First, we will drop by our friends at Baseball-Reference for some pure statistical analysis:
|162 Game Avg.||14||9||3.60||36||32||1||1||207||91||83||17||93||174||1.319||7.8||0.7||4.1||7.6||1.87|
If you took a look at that chart and did not know who it belonged to, you would be in full support of Dayton Moore pursuing this opportunity. He is a top of the rotation type starter that can dominate when he is on his game.
The true test, however, is Zambrano off the field. Face it, the Royals are a very young franchise right now. Guys like Jeff Francoeur not only add production, but leadership to the clubhouse. Frenchy is the type of guy you want around the young players, showing them the ropes and teaching them life outside of, and around, the game.
Like him or not, Zambrano has had some meltdowns. He walked out on his team last season. He gets visibly upset on the field and has been known to fight with his teammates, even in the dugout during a game.
The player that takes the mound would be a game changer for the Royals.
The player that has had so many public problems would be a distraction to a young team.
Those two points are hard to put on a scale and weigh out. Dayton Moore has that choice before him right now. Is the risk of the possible chemistry problem worth the reward of what the player can provide on the field?
What works in the Royals favor is the situation in Chicago itself. The Cubs are going to cut bait with Zambrano, so if they can find a trade partner to send them a bag of balls and pick up $1 million of the horrible contract he is under, they will take it. It puts Moore in a good position to move a low level prospect and barely pick up any salary in order to acquire a potential front of the line starter. Again, the Royals General Manager had this to say:
He has a no-trade clause for 29 other teams so he is going to have to be comfortable wherever he goes and there is a lot of money attached to his deal. There is a vesting option that is a part of that worth $18 or 19 million going forward. We certainly wouldn’t want to put ourselves in a position where we have to honor a contract of that nature.
I don’t envy GMDM on this one. It is not as clear cut as you would like it to be.
The quotes utilized in this article were provided by MLBTradeRumors.com and have been credited to CSNChicago.com’s Dave Kaplan.
Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
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