The exit of Carlos Zambrano in an early January trade to the Miami Marlins for Chris Volstad was met with equal parts relief and awkward wistfulness. After quitting on the team in August, few believed he’d be able to peaceably return for the 2012 season, meetings with Theo Epstein and carefully chosen public statements notwithstanding.

So, Carlos was shipped off to play for his good friend Ozzie Guillen, and we haven’t heard much from him since.

Recently, Zambrano opened up a bit about his time in Chicago, the trade, and his future in Miami. From Carrie Muskat:

“I was very happy when I found out about [the trade],” Zambrano told reporters at the golf event. “I think it was time for a change and obviously this trade benefitted me.”

While Zambrano says he believes he could have returned to Chicago, he admits it was probably a good time for him to move on.

“I don’t think it would have been difficult,” Zambrano said about staying with the Cubs. “I’ve changed my mentality and God has helped me change a lot of things about how I am. It all depended on the work I was going to put in and the mentality I would bring back to them.”

He threw a no-hitter and several tantrums with the Cubs, but Zambrano says he has no ill feelings toward the team.

“I’ve always had a lot of respect for the people of Chicago,” he said. “From the fans to the front office, I want to thank them for treating my like a professional for the past 11 years. All I have for Chicago is gratitude and respect.”

Zambrano is also grateful for what his new manager did for him. Marlins skipper Ozzie Guillen lobbied to get Big Z.

“I’m very thankful that Ozzie pushed to bring me here to the Marlins,” Zambrano said. “He’s a manager that is dynamic. I am a big supporter of his mentality as a manager and I am very happy to have the opportunity to play for him on this team.”

Zambrano says that he’s in great shape and is hitting 97 mph on the gun. There were always reasons to believe, physically, that he could bounce back in 2012. But there were legitimate doubts that it could happen in Chicago.

Thus, if Zambrano does bounce back and have a great year in 2012 for the Marlins, we should probably guard ourselves against feeling like, as fans, we got screwed. Whatever Zambrano does in Miami in 2012 is not necessarily reflective of what he would have done in Chicago in 2012.

Maybe it’s just convenient logic in service of self-protection. In some ways, I suppose I hope Zambrano has a mediocre year so I won’t have to decide how I feel.

  • Fishin Phil

    Good luck Carlos!

  • King Jeff

    I’m always going to be a Zambrano fan, but I just can’t bring myself to believe his most recent epiphany. I think it was well past time for him to move on, glad to see that there are no hard feelings on his part.

    • hansman1982

      Zambrano – 2007 : “I’ve changed my mentality”
      Zambrano – 2008: “I’ve changed my mentality”
      Zambrano – 2009: “I’ve changed my mentality”
      Zambrano – 2010: “I’ve changed my mentality”
      Zambrano – 2011 : “I’ve changed my mentality”
      Zambrano – 2012: “I’ve changed my mentality”
      Zambrano – 2013: “I’ve changed my mentality”
      Zambrano – 2014 : “I’ve changed my mentality”
      Zambrano – 2015: “I’ve changed my mentality”
      Zambrano – 2016: “I’ve changed my mentality”
      Zambrano – 2017: “Baseball Stinks: I quit!”
      Zambrano – 2018: “I’ve changed my mentality”

      • Don

        Exactly! Glad he’s gone. I look at this move as addition by subtraction. He was cancer in the clubhouse.

  • die hard

    I see him as mellowing with age and experience into a reliable starter for next 5 years. He just needed a spark to turn on that proverbial light bulb.

  • BetterNews

    There is NO WAY Zambrano is hitting 97 on the gun! Just his mouth running at 97mph as usual.

    • MontelleW_IA

      If he is, he’s not the only one I know doing that! It’s so easy for you to sit behind a keyboard and spout derogatory remarks when you haven’t the baseball talent of even a lesser minor league player. Say what you want about Z, but he still deserves some respect for trying. Anyone can fail, even repeatedly. It’s the one who keeps getting back up, dusting himself off, and committing to continue that eventually succeeds and deserves the credit. I could no longer defend his actions in Chicago either. Even though he ‘retired’, I think we all knew he wasn’t throwing in the towel for good. While he’s a cancer in our clubhouse that had to be removed, I wish him all the best and success in Miami. Also, I still have a authentic-onfield jersey with his name and number on it that I will always keep.

      • BetterNews

        I’d burn the jersey, sorry Mont.

      • bluekoolaidaholic

        It is easy for me to sit here behind a keyboard and say that you should move to Miami right along with him. He acts, ACTS and will continue to act like a spoiled little 6 year old millionaire that doesn’t get his way all the time; Good riddance. Did he give us some memories during his time here?? YES, but we can’t afford the continuing drama and tenseness waiting for his next tantrum. Who knows when it will be a person instead of a drink machine that he attacks with his bat.Maybe Ozzie can deal with it better, he has similar problems.

  • Camiata2

    I see that Cubbie optimism hasn’t quite worn off on him yet.  Maybe he meant 87 on the gun?

  • mb21 (David Mick)

    I wish Zambrano nothing but the best. I hope he has a great season with Miami. I don’t think he will. He’s past his prime at this point and while I don’t doubt he hit 97 mph this offseason, I doubt he can do it in June or July when his arm is fatigued. He gave the Cubs a lot of very good years and I’m glad to have seen him pitch for the Cubs. He was good, entertaining, frustrating, disappointing and much more. In other words, he was a human being.

    • BetterNews

      I hope somebody busts the bullys mouth!

      • Cedlandrum

        Maturity is really your strong suit.

      • Edwin

        Sounds like a plan. You go hit him first. I’ll be behind you. Every step of the way.

        • BetterNews

          I bet I hit Zambrano he goes down like Mike Tyson did!(LOL)

  • Sweetjamesjones

    I’m just going to put in the reverse jinx already: “Yeah Carlos Zambrano is going to kill it this year. All his bad years are behind him and he will win the cy young too.”

    • Luke

      Is Miami on the hook for his $19 million extension year if he wins the Cy Young, or did he agree to waive that? I don’t remember off hand.

      • Brett

        99% sure he agreed to waive it.

  • Edwin

    Carlos Zambrano, a modern day Willy Loman?

  • a_mazz_ing

    Same you know what, different day… Z says this all the time. He’s changed until he gets shelled in an outing.

  • Jay Anderson Jr

    “Thus, if Zambrano does bounce back and have a great year in 2012 for the Marlins, we should probably guard ourselves against feeling like, as fans, we got screwed. Whatever Zambrano does in Miami in 2012 is not necessarily reflective of what he would have done in Chicago in 2012.”

    I always felt like Z should be back in Chicago. Do not be suprised if he is a Cy Young candidate. In fact, I hope he wins it, however unlikely it may seem. I’m still hurt by this trade and don’t know if I can, nor do I care to watch him pitch for any other team then the one where he belongs. Z will always be a cub.

    Name the last Cub before him that Came through our system, had success and stuck with us that long. Kerry Wood maybe. Other then that, I can’t think of one. Big Z is a true Cub.

    • Luis Salazar

      Obviously there were some great memories with Big Z over the years. He was a key part of a couple playoff teams, and a fun guy to watch at times with all his antics. But he had to go. Even if he was great this year, what does it matter? The Cubs still wouldn’t be a playoff team if Zambrano was somehow a Cy Young candidate… They couldn’t risk that head case going crazy, because they’re going to be bad this year. Can you imagine Zambrano’s reaction if he goes for a long time without run support with this weak Cubs offense? He would go absolutely ape shit… They don’t need that.

  • Peter O

    I just don’t see a 30 year old Zambrano who hasn’t pitched 180 innings since 2008 and has had an average FB velocity over the past 5 years at 91.3 somehow going out and blowing that away.

    We all know that he walks too many guys, and he’s too hittable at 91 to overcome the walks. When he was throwing 94 it was a different story, but that’s long since passed. From what I’ve heard new Marlins Park is cavernous, so maybe that will help is homer rate. Even at that, I still don’t expect anything better than a 3.80 FIP and around 175 innings. Nothing to get mad about that he didn’t do it for the Cubs.

    • BetterNews

      That’s absolutely right! For Zambrano to suggest he is throwing in the high 90’s is absurd, but absurdities are usualy what come’s out of his mouth.

  • Eric S

    Love em or hate em Z is still the last Cubs pitcher to throw a no hitter. And he will be that guy for awhile. Milt’s no hitter stood the test of time for quite some time before big Z came along.

  • cubchymyst

    Does anyone else remember Zambrano making the comments about retiring after his cubs contract ended. I just don’t trust anything he says at this point. Here is a link incase you don’t remember his retirement comments.–20100915_1_cubs-complete-sweep-tyler-colvin-cy-young-voting

  • die hard

    Pitching great Juan Marichal was never understood or accepted and took along time for him to accept these facts and overcome them to become a dominant pitcher. Different cultures plays a large part in this, Imagine trying to succeed at your profession in another country and with another language. I bet most BN citizens only speak one language, me included. Its tough mastering a second language and culture and doing well too. I have utmost respect for anyone who can do well in another country. I cant imagine pressure. Some take longer than others. His time has come maybe. Hope so, cause hes a good guy.

    • Jim L.

      Well said. I hope Z does well but I wouldn’t mind him flying off the handle and using Ozzie as a Gatorade cooler.

  • 2much2say

    “Because I don’t want to play,” he said. “I want to help this team. I want to do everything possible to win with this team. And after five years, four years, or whatever is left on my contract. …”You know how many Mother’s Days I haven’t spent with my mother? Twelve. You know how many things I’ve been [missing] in my life? It’s good to be here, it’s good to play baseball. But in five years. … I will retire. And I won’t have to see you anymore.”

    Continue reading at Carlos Zambrano planning to retire after contract expires | NowPublic News Coverage

  • JR

    I like Zambrano and appreciate the effort he gave as a Cub; he was passionate, played hard, he always cared about winning and never gave up. He ran out every ground ball to the infield – even when the Cubs were hopelessly out of contention. I think he got a bad rap from Cubs management during a time that he was one of the few Cubs who was giving 100% every time he took the field. I was very sorry to see him go. That being said, it was probably best for both him and the Cubs that he get a fresh start with a new team. I agree that we shouldn’t assume whatever success he has as a Marlin would have been attained as a Cub. I wish him the best — except against the Cubs.

  • rocky8263

    What all the rooters seems to forget is Carlos never won an important game as a Cub. I don’t see that changing as a Marlin.

    • DocWimsey

      Um, wasn’t every game in 2003 and 2007 important in the end?

    • Bren

      Well he would have won one important game if Lou wasnt “saving him for game 4” against Arizona

      • DocWimsey

        Z couldn’t have won that game: the game was tied when Z left and the Cubs didn’t score again.

        • SirCub

          Yea, but you’re taking his bat out of the equation, there.

  • rocky8263

    Think pressure games, playoffs, even opening day’s.If Zambrano had a little Schilling or Johnson in him he would still be a Cub. I’ve attended about half the home games his entire career and seen this guy plenty. He cannot win the big game.

  • truebluecubbie

    He shouldn’t have any hard feelings, the Cubs gave him chance after chance after chance with the same piss poor excuses. I wish him nothing but the best in Miami, but I am glad he is gone. He is a good pitcher and maybe Ozzie can get the best out of him. But I highly doubt it. The minute someone makes an error behind him he is going to snap.