Miami trading for Carlos Zambrano this offseason involved little risk, as the Cubs covered all but $3 million of his $18 million salary and the Marlins only had to part with Chris Volstad in the swap.
Unfortunately that low-risk move hasn’t paid off, as Zambrano went 5-9 with a 4.54 ERA and 83/67 K/BB ratio in 115 innings spread over 20 starts. And today the Marlins demoted him to the bullpen, filling his rotation spot with Wade LeBlanc.
Zambrano actually got off to a strong start, sporting a 2.81 ERA as recently as early June, but since then he’s 1-6 with a 7.62 ERA and more walks (38) than strikeouts (27) in 41 innings while allowing opponents to hit .290.
He’s mostly been a model citizen in Miami, which is certainly a change from his Chicago days, but of course that doesn’t seem quite as important when you can’t throw the ball over the plate. And dating back to the beginning of last season Zambrano now has a 4.70 ERA and 123 walks in 261 innings while managing just 6.2 strikeouts per nine frames.
The Tigers have officially named Ron Gardenhire as their next manager. Gardenhire has agreed to a three-year contract.
Gardenhire takes over for Brad Ausmus, who was let go after four seasons as Detroit’s manager. The Tigers went 64-98 this season, finishing tied for the worst record in the majors. Having traded away Justin Verlander and J.D. Martinez, they’re poised for a major rebuild, so it’s best to look at Gardenhire as something of a caretaker manager.
As far as caretaker managers go, Gardenhire is not a terrible choice. He was the bench coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks this season. He managed the Twins from 2002-14, going 1,068-1,039, winning the AL Central six times. He was AL Manager of the Year in 2010. He’ll do a fine job keeping the clubhouse drama free, dealing with the press and making sure the young players know the way to the team bus during road trips. There’s value in having an old hand doing those things with a team in as uncertain a position as the Tigers are these days.
Still, it’s a less-than-imaginative choice. If you have nothing to lose, and the Tigers really don’t, you’d think being somewhat more adventurous with your manager choice might be a way to try something new. As it is, the Tigers took a veteran-laden team in a win-now position and gave it to an unproven Brad Ausmus back in 2014. Now they’re playing it safe with a known quantity when the stakes are low.