Let's say the Red Sox became desperate for an arm and were willing to give an old ace another shot at life, were offered Carlos Zambrano and 90 percent of his remaining contract paid off for a bag of used baseballs, a Fenway Frank and two tickets on Codzilla.
Would you take a low-risk, high-reward shot on him? What if he passed his anger issue evaluations Cubs doctors are putting him through?
Neither would I, but let's have some fun.
Zambrano, who has made fellow Chi-Town hotheads Dennis Rodman, Ozzie Guillen and Mike Ditka look like altar boys, was once a dominating force on the slab. In his first six seasons, he went 64-42 and had a 3.29 ERA. He made two All-Star teams and was voted as high as fifth in two Cy Young votings. The guy obviously had good stuff — whether the PED patrol believes he was on the good stuff or not, his numbers don't lie.
After going 18-13 with a 3.95 ERA in 2007, the Cubs inked Zambrano to a five-year, $91.5 million deal. Since then, he's gone 26-19 with a 4.09 ERA and has earned the title as one of the highest paid non-closing relief pitchers in the history of the game after he was demoted to the bullpen. Just another notch in the Cubs' cursed storyline.
To make matters worse, Zambrano's attitude in the Windy City over the past few years couldn't be worse. Over the weekend he reached new heights when he stormed into the Cubs dugout between innings and lashed out at teammates for failing to make plays behind him.
If calling out your teammate isn't the worst thing a pitcher — or any athlete, for that matter — could do, than I don't know what is. Back-to-back-to-back-to-back homers happen. Walking in a winning run happens. Failing to cover first on a grounder to the right side of the infield happens. It's baseball. Pitchers stink just as much as fielders, often times more. Calling out a teammate? That's disgusting, inhumane and just plain stupid. How Zambrano didn't get clubbed over the head by Derrek Lee during their exchange is beyond me.
But what if a change of scenery, a clubhouse full of leaders, a winning city and the game's most knowledgeable catcher is all the hefty righty needed?
In a locker room where Tim Wakefield, Kevin Youkillis, Mike Lowell, Jason Varitek and Mike Cameron all stand guard and guys like Jonathan Papelbon, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz aren't afraid to put a teammate in their place, Zambrano could have a shot at rejuvenating his career in Hub. Couldn't he?
Linking up every fifth day with Varitek, who has worked wonders with pitchers of all shapes and sizes since 1997, could only help his on-field woes and mound presence. Stick his locker next to fellow countryman Marco Scutaro and the veteran shortstop could teach him a thing or two about what it's like to be a classy, upstanding Venezuelan ballplayer.
Of course, Boston would be welcoming in one of the game's most tarnished names for his on-field and off-field antics. But in a region where renegades make history and fans embrace personalities, who's to say Z couldn't change?
So, in this hypothetical fantasy baseball scenario, would you give Zambrano a chance in Boston?
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