Carlos Zambrano is set to make a combined $35 million in 2011 and 2012, in addition to the $17.75 million he’ll have pulled in when this season wraps up. For legal tender like that you’d think the guy would be fat-neck deep in the Cy Young race like past years, or at least the first halves of seasons. But he’s not, and instead he’s been taking team-ordered anger management classes due to a series of offbeat, quirky behaviors this season. But mainly because he’s a raging psycho.
Zambrano’s been known for his on-field meltdowns, of which he had a few more than usual this season. Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella assigned Zambrano to the bullpen, where he honed his 5.66 ERA and racked up a whopping four holds. The fiery Venezuelan has reportedly finished his anger management classes and will begin pitching at team facilities in Arizona. The Cubs don’t have a timetable for his return, but hope to stop pissing money away sooner than later.
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That doesn’t mean the Cubs expect Zambrano back anytime soon, though. He’s expected to make some rehab appearances in the minor leagues but is still “a ways away” according to Lou Piniella.
Zambrano hasn’t pitched since June 25, when he and Derrek Lee got into a shouting match in the Cubs’ dugout after Zambrano allowed four first-inning runs to the White Sox. The Cubs have since placed him on the restricted list while he deals with his anger problems.
Zambrano and Lee never came to blows in the dugout, mainly because neither has hit a target since 2008. The whole ordeal, of course, was a wacky scheme concocted by Zambrano to fire up his teammates. If you recall, he went to Carlos Silva and asked him to blow up on the team, because they’d take a 9-3 pitcher more seriously than a 3-6 dud. When Silva declined, citing the stupidity of the idea, Zambrano waited for just the right moment to inspire his team – after he’d given up four runs to the White Sox in the first inning.
The Cubs are going to need a significant turnaround, as they start the second half of the season nine games back of the first place Cincinnati Reds, but it’s clear that they don’t see Zambrano as part of any comeback this season. Added GM Jim Hendry: “But that’s not to say he couldn’t help a team like the Mets. So if someone could pass my number along to Omar Minaya, that would be just swell.”