Carlos Zambrano apologizes, just not to his teammates

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During an interview with ESPN’s Pedro Gomez on Monday, Carlos Zambrano apologized to Cubs fans for the June 29 tantrum that landed him on the restricted list.

“It was a moment of frustration,” Zambrano said Monday in an interview
with ESPN. “I was trying to fire up the team. Lee told me to shut up,
and I got more excited. I apologize from the bottom of my heart. The
last person I would be mad at is D. Lee; he’s a Gold Glover. I was just
mad at myself.”

And that’s all well and good, aside from the fact that just last week, Cubs manager Lou Piniella said he wanted Zambrano to apologize to his teammates before speaking to the media. Here’s a flashback:

“I think it’s more important for him to clear that hurdle first,”
Piniella said of the apology. “And once he does that, then talk to the
media. I think that’s the right approach from him…We’re just going to
let him talk to the team, whatever he wants to say. Whenever he gets
here, we’ll have a little meeting and let Carlos say what he needs to
say.”

Zambrano has already apologized to Derrek Lee personally, but according to Gomez’s report, he won’t do so with the rest of his teammates until he re-joins the team in Colorado on Friday.

For what it’s worth, Piniella had little to say about the ESPN interview when asked by Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune on Monday:

“I don’t have any comment about that,” Piniella said about the
television interview, in which Zambrano appeared contrite. “I do know
what is needed — that’s for him to talk to his teammates when he gets
here over the weekend, assuming he gets here over the weekend. He needs
to get that handled and he’ll be accepted back by his manager and his
teammates.”

I’m not a Cubs fan or anything, but even if Big Z’s remorse is legitimate, his priorities appear to be in the wrong place.

Athletics trade Billy Burns to the Royals for Brett Eibner

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 13: Billy Burns #1 of the Oakland Athletics waits on deck to bat during the fourth inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 13, 2016 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.

Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.

Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.

Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.

Nationals acquire closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 20:  Mark Melancon #35 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches during the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies on May 20, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
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The Nationals announced on Saturday afternoon that the club acquired closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates in exchange for reliever Felipe Rivero and minor league pitcher Taylor Hearn.

Melancon, 31, put together another solid season for the Pirates, leaving the club with 30 saves, a 1.51 ERA, and a 38/9 K/BB ratio in 41 2/3 innings. He led the majors last season with 51 saves and has a 1.80 ERA since joining the Pirates in 2013. Melancon is earning $9.65 million this season and can become eligible for free agency after the season.

With Melancon out of the picture, the Pirates intend to have Tony Watson take over the closer’s role.

Rivero, 25, has handled the seventh and eighth innings for the Nationals this season, compiling a 4.53 ERA and a 53/15 K/BB ratio in 49 2/3 innings. He’s just shy of one year of service time, so the Pirates will have control of him for a long time.

Hearn, 21, was rated the Nationals’ 27th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline. He was originally drafted by the Pirates in the 22nd round of the 2012 draft but he didn’t sign and ended up going back to college. The Nationals took him in the fifth round of last year’s draft. This season, between rookie ball and Single-A Hagerstown, Hearn put up a 2.79 ERA and a 39/13 K/BB ratio in 29 innings. He’s a long way away from the majors, so he’s essentially a lottery ticket for the Pirates.

The Nationals needed an upgrade at closer as Jonathan Papelbon has struggled this season. The right-hander has allowed runs in each of his last three appearances, ballooning his ERA up to 4.41 with a 30/13 K/BB ratio in 32 2/3 innings. It will be interesting to see how Papelbon, who has never made a habit of letting his feelings go unspoken, handles a demotion to the eighth inning.