Acquiring troubled starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for 2005 first round draft pick and Palm Beach Gardens product Chris Volstad seems to have rounded out the Miami Marlins rotation for the 2012 season. With the Cubs paying all but 2.5 million of his 18.5 million dollar salary, this is a low risk, high reward proposition for the Marlins. In Zambrano the Marlins have added a clubhouse cancer who in past years has succumbed to back issues and has had his fastball decline in velocity. In general most fans wouldn’t be thrilled to add such a character to the roster. However, I believe that Zambrano will prove to be a key part of the 2012 Miami Marlins team.
Zambrano’s cancerous attitude in Chicago in my opinion is attributed and is exaggerated due to the Cubs instability and relative lack of success over the past few years. This frustration combined with Zambrano’s intensely competitive nature has contributed to his antics characterized by a regular throwing of Gatorade coolers and most recently in August throwing behind Chipper Jones after giving 5 home runs, being ejected from the game and subsequently walking out of the clubhouse while threatening to retire. At this point coming to Miami will benefit Zambrano since he will enter a relatively stable environment in which minimal pressure is on him as the 5th starter. This factor in addition to the fact that Zambrano, 30 years old, is about to enter a contract year shows that he has alot left to prove. With that being said, I expect Zambrano to have a solid 2012 season in line with his career averages having an era of 3.60 and whip of 1.32.
It is clear that Zambrano is extremely competive and has an intense desire to succeed. In the past his competitive nature has been his downfall. As a Miami Marlin he will be given every opportunity to succeed in a minimal role. In addition, having his friend, mentor and father figure in Marlins Manager Ozzie Guillen at the helm will be essential in helping him channel his competitive nature in a positive, team friendly manner. Zambrano and Guillen greatly respect each other. Ozzie was key to Miami Marlins acquisition of Carlos Zambrano since he actively encouraged Marlins President of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest to trade for him. This factor cannot be understated as Ozzie’s influence and relationship with Carlos Zambrano will ultimately make him happy and successful as a Marlin. While there may be an incident here or there, Ozzie will help keep them to a minimum and make sure that he truly is a Miami model citizen.