Obsessive Zambrano Watch: Dempster Might Not Welcome Carlos, Other Teams Might

With the draft signing day on Monday, and the Owners’ Meetings starting today, Carlos Zambrano probably picked a bad time to “retire,” get suspended, and then file a grievance if he wanted to have his hearing heard quickly.

  • Ryan Dempster says he doesn’t know if he’d welcome Z back on the Cubs if Carlos tried to return. “I don’t know, I really don’t know [if I would welcome him back in the clubhouse],” Dempster said. “To be honest with you, there are things that obviously he needs to figure out and figure out what he’s doing. And he’s going through tough times. To feel that way about everything and feel like you need to go home and retire, obviously there are things he needs to take care of before you even start talking about that …. I’m not going to sit here and bash him or rip him. He made some choices and he has to live with those choices and figure out what the repercussions are from those.” Dempster went on to say that he’s pretty sure Zambrano will not rejoin the Cubs at any point this season.
  • SI’s Jon Heyman says a rival GM told him that Carlos Zambrano remains at least a number four starter, despite his struggles this year. Hey, rival GM: need a fourth starter?
  • Losing Zambrano in 2012, as is expected, opens a hole in the rotation that the Cubs are not prepared to fill internally. With the free agent market notably thin, the next GM is going to have his hands full trying to revamp a rotation that was already in trouble.
  • Sammy Sosa wants to caution Zambrano, and other players who are thinking about retiring early, that it’s tough out there for an MLB-retiree. “Players think that when they sign a contract, everything is easy,” Sosa said. “When you retire and you try to do something besides baseball, it’s not easy. It’s tough. When you think everything is going to be the same and so easy as when you played baseball, it’s not that way anymore. I want to make sure [players] understand that. I want to speak to a lot of players. I want to tell them to save their money. I see a lot of players make all their money in baseball and when they retire it’s a mess. They surround themselves with some bad people. There’s so many bad people outside waiting to get their money. That reaction [on Friday] cost [Zambrano] $3 million. Maybe he doesn’t need it now, but later on he will. That’s money he worked hard for all his life.”
  • Reader/Commenter Toosh sent in his thoughts on Zambrano, which I thought I’d include here (if you’d like to send your own thoughts for potential inclusion in a future post, just contact me): “The Good, The Bad and the Ugh! Z?We’ve all heard, seen or read a lot about Carlos Zambrano lately. I’d like to share my views.

    When I think about Zambrano, I like to think about the positives. I remember how good a pitcher he was when he first came up. I loved watching his starts. When I wasn’t able to watch, or listen on the radio, I still knew the Cubs would probably win that day. Doesn’t a win make all Cub fans feel good? When Zambrano started, he rarely gave up a HR. Batters seldom got a good swing off of him. He was tremendous!

    What caused the changes since his early days? I’m sure there are many factors. It’s a shame. The Cubs could use his talent. Now and going forward. However, talent isn’t always enough. In a team sport, one player can’t just quit on the others. The Cubs have to take a stand and part ways with Zambrano. Whatever it takes. When that day comes, it will be a sad one for me. But for the best for both sides.

    Wherever Z pitches next, I’ll root for him. And remember the good things.”

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

44 responses to “Obsessive Zambrano Watch: Dempster Might Not Welcome Carlos, Other Teams Might”

  1. JulioZuleta

    I understand that 18 million is 18 million, but a part of me almost hopes it doesn’t come off the books this year. We already are going to have cash to spend on a weak free agent class. If we add another 18 million to that, it might pressure Hendry/Ricketts/new GM to over spend on free agents in order to keep the payroll at a reasonable level compared to what we’ve had. I’d rather have it come off in 2012 and have the fresh money to spend on a stronger class.

    1. CubFan Paul

      no comment on that rationalization… smh@the misinformed

      1. JulioZuleta

        You think that Ricketts wont feel the heat if he lets the payroll drop under 100 mil? I’m not saying I would mind, I wouldn’t care if it was 50 next year as long as it comes back up the following couple years. We all know that there is no realistic chance to legitimately contend next year, and that trying to do so will be detrimental to the future. I would prefer to not see us over spend on second tier free agents just to meet some arbitrary “salary floor” that the “misinformed” fans have come to expect.

        1. CubFan Paul

          the payroll wont drop under $130million next year & it may go up a few million to compensate for dead money (big z & soriano)

          “We all know that there is no realistic chance to legitimately contend next year”

          only YOU think that because you don’t know the numbers as far as salary & payroll #misinformed

          1. JulioZuleta

            Paul I see you’re of the “rebuild while contending” philosophy that has proven to work so well.

        2. JulioZuleta

          We already have the Silva deal (6 million) Aramis (16 million) Fukudome (14) Pena (10) Grabow (4) off the top of my head coming off the books, for a total of 48 million. I don’t want to see us throw 28 a year for years at Pujols just because we have money to burn. I’m not saying it would be bad by any means, I’m just saying it could be dangerous judging by the way this club has been ran the last century or so. It could be to our advantage to have the awful contracts come off at the time gradually so we don’t over compensate and sign a new batch of them. (After next year as it is now we’ll have Zambrano (18) Dempster (14) Byrd (7 ish) Marshall, Baker… off the books too)

          1. hardtop

            man, these numbers keep getting thrown around, and im no expert, but i know some of them are inaccurate. for instance, aramis would be 16 million +/- IF he played for us next year. But if he doesnt, thats not 16 mil off this years payroll number. he makes 14.5+/- this year, with a 2 mil buyout next year, the payroll would decrease from this year to next only 12.5 mil not 16. 3.5 mil isnt a lot when you talk about a marquee player but its significant when its all added up. Im really going to make an attempt to break this down in the near future.

            bret reported, and i agree, that when its all said and done, and the cubs keep who they are going to keep, and thow some bones to the guys who need/deserve a raise, they will have about 30 mil to spend… if they want to keep the payroll the same. this does not include any relief they might get if they move Z or Sori.

            1. JulioZuleta

              Yeah, that’s true I guess, I wasn’t looking at the numbers, but I was looking at it as next year he would make $16 mil if we pick up the option, which is unfortunately possible, so that saves 16 by not picking up the option.

              1. CubFan Paul

                “I wasn’t looking at the numbers” ..that why i said you were misinformed JulioZuleta ..& i wouldn’t call it Rebuild while Contending, its spending the money you have available from expiring contracts to field a competitive team; meaning with $25-$35mil to spend this offseason (which stays under Budget) the team can be 20-30 games more competitive next year and even better in 2013 because the rest of the bad contracts come off the books

                1. willis

                  Who’s going to pitch you into 20-30 more wins next year? Wells? No. Coleman? Hell no. Cashner? Who knows but probably not. Lopez? No.

                  And the guys at AA and A aren’t ready. So do tell me, who the hell is your rotation to be this much better next year?

                  1. EQ

                    Well an upgrade in the 4 & 5 starters helps… Demp & Garza not getting off to terrible starts helps, better defense helps, Marmol not blowing every other save helps, a big signing like Fielder could help.. there’s a lot of ways to see the overall record improve next year.. keep in mind, we have the worst stats out of the #4 & 5 starters in baseball.. upgrading to average pitchers would add 5-10 wins by itself.

                  2. CubFan Paul

                    what u talkin bout willis?!

                    Garza, Dempster, Cj Wilson, Cashner, & maholm (the pirates arent picking up his $10million option) or trade for another arbitration guy like Garza

                    Garza will be better next year in his 2nd N.L. year
                    Cj Wilson has above average ‘stuff’ that’ll translate to 13-16wins in the N.L.
                    Cashner has ‘top of the rotation stuff’ & will be handed the 5th spot in the rotation
                    and Demp is Demp

                    1. willis

                      Dude, you are an optimist, and that’s needed around here. I would be thrilled if they went after Wilson and Maholm. Or at least one. We need starting pitching so badly it’s sick. Go check out the minor league pitching stats…ugly.

                    2. CubFan Paul

                      i watched Every game so i have to be an ‘optimist’ but when stating my opinion i try to be a fact-ist

                      people keep saying free agents won’t want to come to Chicago in 2012 or 2013 but they will because their agents know that the Cubs are in a 2yr window when the big & bad contracts come off the books

                      and guys like Wilson & Fielder added to the core guys this offseason & more guys added in the 2012/13 offseason when $60plus million comes off the books this team will be completely different & ready to win in 2013 and beyond.

                    3. MichiganGoat

                      Agreed Brett, the Rangers will make Wilson a competitive offer and if he hits we may not want to get into a bidding war over Wilson or even Maholm (if the Pirates pick up his option it would be a surprising move from the cheap Pirate ownership). This exact reason why I’m against the save and wait for 2013 theories I’ve been reading. One never knows what’s available until the end of the season.

                2. JulioZuleta

                  I would say that knowing the salaries of the cubs, as well as what year they expire off the top of my head isnt exactly misinformed, I made the inexcusable mistake of looking at his salary this eyar as opposed to next. I’m actually quite well informed….quite a bit more than someone who thinks this team can turn it around 20-30 games by next year.

                  1. TWC

                    You know what’s inexcusable, Julio? Your insistance on attempting to scream “Daryl Strawberry” backwards with a mouth full of Budweiser. That, sir, HAS to stop.

                    1. MichiganGoat

                      TWC you were missed, glad your back!

                    2. TWC

                      MG, you’re an -English- teacher?

                    3. MichiganGoat

                      Yup but my iPad/iPhone is an ESL student and my fingers are poor teachers. Can’t wait for the edit function.

                    4. TWC

                      Stop trying to type with your nose, perhaps.

                      Just a thought.

              2. MichiganGoat

                We save 14M by not picking up his option (16M-2M buyout), and that would be enough to offer/pickup CJ Wilson.

    2. hardtop

      well you dont need to worry about 18 mil coming off the books. no one is going to take zambranos contract as is. i’d be impressed if we got 6 to 8 mil in salary relief (cubs pay him 10-12 mil to play elsewhere). but, based on what brett’s reported here, it’ll likley be a bad for bad contract swap and we wont have any additional money off the books this year (well 3mil for the suspension) or next. note i said “additional” as i realize we will have some money coming off the books from other expiring contracts.
      paul, how is it misinformed? the FA class this year is weak. certain assumptions should be made: some players are over-hyped/over-paid, some are injury prone, and some will sign extensions with their current team etc. etc.
      The free agent market is so lean in fact, that fielder will likely get paid more than adrian gonzalez, just becasue he’s available.

  2. Sparky

    The real issue with Carlos Zambrano is poor sportsmanship. Everyone has good sportsmanship when they’re winning. Being a good athlete involves more than athleticism. Quality athletes that have class can play for a good team or a bad team and still be good sports. Zambrano is a sore loser and a poor sport. He may be athletic, but he’s a pathetic athlete.

  3. Matt Murton

    I’m not economics major, but I wonder how much of that potentially-no-longer-on-the-books 18 mil is going to be covered by the empty seats at Wrigley? I don’t think the attendance drop has been THAT extreme, but at what point does it become a wash? Obviously the money used to pay Z is coming from so many different places… However, when you play like a small market team, you’re eventually going to have to deal with a payroll more comparable to a small market team, right?

  4. willis

    For starters, this team ain’t competing next year for shit. In fact, unless you go out and get CJ Wilson and Paul Maholm (doubtful) the rotation will be this…Garza, Demp, ?, ?, ?. Now, I don’t claim to be a genius, but that’s probably going to be the worst rotation in the majors. So, put down the Ricketts/Hendry Kool Aid and realize, it’s going to be at least 2013 and maybe 2014 before this team is anywhere near the top of the division. Unless there are crazy miracles.

    IF there is a team that bites on Z and Soriano for just a little cash, then that money comes off but realistically we are only looking at $6-7 million. Rami will be picked up. Shark will be picked up. Pujols and Fielder want nothing of this shit show, so Pena will be inked. That’s not much money to spend. Trust me, 2012 will be worse than 2011.

  5. auggie1955

    I’d like to address Toosh’s memories of Z. I go back a few years and use one of my favorite Jack Brickhouse quotes: “If what you did yesterday still looks good today, you haven’t done much today.” At the time Brickhouse was referring to Cubs C George Mitterwald, who hit 3 hrs one day only to strike 4 times in the next game.

    I like to use this line on guys like Z. He cried he was deserving of a contract like Barry Zito and as soon as he got that big contract his numbers were never the same.

    Big Z was never a number 1 starter in my mind because he never had the composure to be a number 1. Yet the Cubs would march him out there each opening day and he would get his brains beat in. All it would take was for someone to make an error and Z would show up that fielder by snapping his glove when he got the ball back. This was something the Cubs should have never let Z get away with. He was acting like a 10 yr old and had already lost his composure to concentrate on the next hitter.

    All the B.S. that the Cubs put up with from guys like Z and Bradley (Hendry there is such a thing as character) make it even more important that the Cubs sign Fielder or Pujols. They won’t put up with this crap.

  6. MichiganGoat

    Another question in regards to payroll is how Ricketts will consider the sunk cost of Z and possibly Soriano. So if we assume that approx 60M will be eaten to get rid of them, the question is if Ricketts going to add that cost to the next few years payroll or is he going to write it off as an unforeseen expense or only factor a percentage of that cost into the on-field payroll. I think he understands and is okay with having to eat a portion of those bad contracts that we done under the Trib/Zell regime. I’d like to believe that when we move or drop those two we gain 8-10M a year in payroll flexibility. I believe a smart business man like Ricketts understood that there would be some sunk expenses that he’d have to eat we he bought this team. As with any purchase there are many upfront cost to “right the ship.”

    1. EQ

      I will say the one attractive part about Big Z is he’s only signed for 1 more year.. there are teams that would see the risk in trading for him as worth it for one year only. I could see someone like the Yanks taking him for 6 mil for one year.. shoot, they took on Colon and Garcia… why not?

      1. MichiganGoat

        Colon and Garcia were cheap and not crazy, the Yanks would have already made that move if they thought he was worth it.

      2. CubFan Paul

        Colon & Garcia signed minor league deals & pitched themselves onto the big league roster ..Garcia makes $1.5mil & Colon $900k!

  7. Caleb

    Good thoughts, toosh. I, too, have always really liked big Z. The whole thing is a shame, but it’s good to remember all the things to have liked about him. And who knows- this is baseball. Surprising outcomes are all too common.

    1. Toosh

      Thank you, Caleb.

  8. philoe beddoe

    Here is a crazy thought that I think deserves to be explored……

    Wouldn’t it make more sense to try and get something out of him in the last year of his deal than eating the money…yes he is a tired act…but there have been bigger, more selfish assholes than Carlos Zambrano…the only way to re-coup that 18 million would be by him playing….he will be playing for another contract next year and may be motivated…as is he is a serviceable 4th starter who can hit….and if the team is better(fingers crossed) much of this stuff doesn’t affect a team

    If you can negotiate a buy out great, but I don’t see any reason to pay him to play for someone else unless you get something of value…maybe a new hard-ass GM or manager may make a difference…why just trade him for garbage a la Carlos Silva….

    I know, I know his character is bad, but there have been messier situations than this that have been corrected…

    how would it feel if we trade him to someone, pay his contract, and then has a good year in his “walk” year…I think it just makes a bad decision worse..

    negotiate a reasonable buy-out or he plays for us….that would be my stance

  9. Toosh

    “The Cubs have literally done that twice already”. More nails for Hendry’s coffin.