And here we thought being in the best shape of his life would make a big difference. Here’s the great Fergie Jenkings on the Cubs’ highly-paid mopup man:
“The guy I thought was going to be a winner was Carlos Zambrano,”
Jenkins said. “But he just can’t get it together.” The reason, Jenkins speculated, was Zambrano’s offseason weight loss.
“Zambrano was always a guy who was pretty big. (Now) his fastball is
like my changeup. He doesn’t have the same movement. I think he took
away a big part of his ability by (dropping 30 pounds).”
Maybe. As I’ve written in the past, Zambrano is one of those guys who always looks kinda tired on the mound. Even when he was racking up innings pitched a couple of years ago, he always looked kinda sweaty and tired and like someone who could stand to lose that weight.
But I’m not going to lay it all on the line arguing with a guy like Fergie Jenkins about pitching, because he’s obviously forgotten more than any of us will ever know about it. And I’ll offer that having extra weight hasn’t hurt guys like Sabathia and David Wells and any number of other portly pitchers. A big, um, foundation can kind of help.
But who knows? Zambrano’s problems have always been more in his head than on his waistline, so I’m still hesitant to agree with Jenkins too. Especially considering that, as is obvious in the above photo, it’s not like Zambrano is wasting away or anything. He lost some bloat, but he’s still a big due. Likely bigger than he was when he came up and was throwing fire.
I do know that Zambrano has had an awful lot of free time down in the Cubs’ bullpen lately, having thrown seven innings in the over two weeks since he was relieved of his starting duties. Maybe he should take Jenkins’ advice to heart and start eating Ho-Hos and hot dogs and stuff down there and see if he can’t regain that winning form.
Many have speculated on a potential match between the White Sox and Ian Desmond this winter, but we haven’t heard much in the way of legitimate interest. That could be changing with spring training right around the corner, as MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that Chicago is among the teams considering the free agent shortstop.
After turning the page on Alexei Ramirez this offseason, the White Sox currently have Tyler Saladino in line to serve as their starting shortstop in 2016. The 26-year-old is considered a strong defender, but he batted .225/.267/.335 with four homers over 254 plate appearances as a rookie in 2015. Desmond is coming off a nightmare of a walk year and has seen his strikeout rate climb by 8.5 percent since 2012, but he possesses more offensive upside and it’s not hard to imagine a bounceback campaign while calling U.S. Cellular Field home.
Similar to fellow free agents Yovani Gallardo and Dexter Fowler, Desmond is attached to draft pick compensation after turning down a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Nationals. It’s a big reason why a potential deal with the Rays is reported to be a “long shot.” Chicago’s No. 10 overall pick in this year’s draft is protected, so they would give up their No. 28 overall pick if they sign a qualifying offer free agent like Desmond.
Left-hander Eric O'Flaherty has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Pirates that includes an invitation to spring training.
O’Flaherty was one of the best relievers in the league for the Braves from 2009-2013, posting a combined 1.99 ERA in 249 innings, but Tommy John elbow surgery derailed his career and he struggled for the A’s and Mets in 2015 while dealing with shoulder problems.
It’s tough to know if O’Flaherty is healthy at this point, but the 31-year-old southpaw certainly has a chance to be a nice reclamation project for the Pirates on a no-risk contract.
The greatest closer in history is going to get the ultimate honor the New York Yankees bestow on August 14. That’s when Mariano Rivera will get his plaque in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium before a game against the Rays.
There was some chatter in the last year or two about whether the Yankees were somehow lowering their standards out there, what with guys like Tino Martinez getting honored. But if that’s something you care about it won’t matter in this instance. Rivera would’ve been worthy even if the old snobby ways had held and only inner-circle types got a plaque, what with him being a key member of five World Series-winning teams and his status as the all-time saves leader in the regular season and the postseason.
The Yankees retired Rivera’s No. 42 in 2013. He’ll get his plaque in August. Then, on the first ballot for which he is eligible, he’ll be voted into the Hall of Fame, likely with a percentage in the mid-to-high 90s.
Alex Guerrero is a potentially good right-handed bat without a position to play in Los Angeles, so Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reporting that the Dodgers are “trying to trade” him makes sense.
Guerrero, who signed with the Dodgers out of Cuba for $28 million in October of 2013, spent last season in the majors hitting .233 with 11 homers and a .695 OPS in a part-time role that generated 230 plate appearances. He logged a total of just 355 innings defensively, mostly as a left fielder and third baseman.
Guerrero could be intriguing–particularly to an American League team for whom his defense isn’t much of an issue–because he hit .329 with 15 homers and a 1.113 OPS in 65 games at Triple-A in 2014 and was consistently a .300 hitter with an OPS around 1.000 in Cuba. He’s also 29 years old, so Guerrero is no doubt looking to play regularly.