Carlos Zambrano was acquired by the Miami Marlins on Thursday for cash and one Chris Volstad. Although the kid from Palm Beach County was looking to become a mainstay in the rotation, this is definitely an upgrade for the Marlins in terms of pure pitching potential. But with every reward there is risk, and with Zambrano there is definitely a good amount of risk.
If this move plays out right, the Marlins acquire a potential front end rotation guy for a solid young talent that may never progress beyond what he was in Miami. Zambrano amassed 125 wins with the Cubs – 15th all time for the storied franchise – while also punching out 1,542 batters for 2nd most in Cubbie history. This is a franchise that had Greg Maddux, Rick Sutcliffe and others, so it isn’t without its pitching greatness. Zambrano was more consistent than the potential greatness of both Mark Prior and Kerry Wood.
Yet, will he fit in with the Marlins? If anyone can get Zambrano in line, it is new skipper Ozzie Guillen who, according to reports, really pushed for this deal to be made. The two players can relate and Guillen comes in from Chicago, much like Zambrano does now, and will bring his Latin American touch to a team that is based in a city with an inviting atmosphere. The weather is warmer here, and perhaps the sentiment will be as well. New place, new face, new feel.
Yet the challenge to curtail Zambrano’s boiling anger might not be the only obstacle for this deal to be a success. His fastball has been dipping in velocity but on a staff with Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, Mark Buehrle, he will not have to push himself to be the ace. He can sit back, find his spots, and be effective.
The challenge is there but there is a sneaking suspicion that the Marlins are pretty good at gambling. See Pudge Rodriguez in 2003. And yes, they have missed – like Al Leiter in recent years, but that was an attempt to get a guy in here to teach on a young staff and not necessarily produce. This is different. The Marlins get a guy who has burned his bridges in Chicago and frankly, needed a change of scenery. He’ll get quite a support group with the Marlins; a strong leader with Ozzie Guillen, and a chance to be surrounded by strong pitchers, very good defense, and some overpowering offense. All of this with a retractable roof to boot.