Over the weekend there was a report from the Dominican Republic that the Phillies had signed Carlos Zambrano. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. denied the report, calling it “ridiculously premature.”
And today the Phillies announced that they’ve signed Zambrano to a minor-league contract. So yeah, next time Amaro calls something “ridiculously premature” that’s just code for “will happen within a week.”
Obviously the Phillies can use rotation help with Roy Halladay out indefinitely and John Lannan also on the disabled list, but Zambrano is pretty close to the bottom of the barrel at this point. He’s still just 31 years old, but in addition to being, well, let’s call it a “strong personality” he also hasn’t been any good for several years.
Last season Zambrano had a 4.49 ERA and ugly 95/75 K/BB ratio in 132 innings for the Marlins, including a 6.60 ERA and more walks (46) than strikeouts (39) in his final 59 innings. And in 2011 he had a 4.82 ERA in 146 innings for the Cubs. Obviously the Phillies believe he at least has more upside than other fill-in options, but even that’s based a whole lot more on his past than his present and it’s been a while since the headaches didn’t outweigh the performance.
But hey, we’ll certainly take the extra material for blogging. For now Zambrano will report to extended spring training.
Tigers closer Francisco Rodriguez continued to struggle on Thursday, allowing a run in a 2-1 loss to the Mariners. It’s the sixth time in nine appearances that the right-handed veteran has allowed a run, bumping his ERA up to 6.23. He’s blown two saves and has two losses on the year.
Despite that, it doesn’t sound like Rodriguez’s job as the Tigers’ closer is in any jeopardy, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports. When asked how much of a leash Rodriguez has, manager Brad Ausmus said, “I’ll let you know.” Ausmus continued, “I think people have short memories. This guy did a pretty good job for us last year. Early on, people were worried because the velocity was down. Well, the velocity is back.”
“But at some point,” Ausmus said, “he does have to pitch the way he pitched last year, because he did an outstanding job for us last year and in a city that has been looking for a closer that was consistent for a long time, he was that.”
Rodriguez, 35, doesn’t have the stuff he once did. And the Tigers do appear to have someone who would be a better option in high-leverage situations. Lefty Justin Wilson has thrown 9 2/3 scoreless, hitless innings so far this season with 15 strikeouts and three walks. But for now, it sounds like Rodriguez will be free to work through his issues.
Don’t look now, but the Nationals have the best record in baseball at 16-6. They’re coming off a 10-game road trip in which they went 9-1, including sweeps of the Braves and Mets and a 3-1 series against the Rockies at Coors Field. During that series with the Rockies, the Nationals scored 46 runs, which is nearly as many as the Royals (54) have scored all season long. The Nats scored double-digits in all three wins.
The first game at Coors, an 8-4 loss, saw a three-hit game from Anthony Rendon and a homer from Ryan Zimmerman.
The second game featured Trea Turner hitting for the cycle and driving in seven runs. Daniel Murphy had three hits and five RBI.
The third game saw Turner finish a triple short of the cycle. Bryce Harper had four hits. Zimmerman had three hits including a homer. Murphy homered, too.
The fourth game featured homers from Adam Eaton, Harper, and Murphy. Seven members of the lineup had multiple hits and six had multiple RBI including pitcher Gio Gonzalez.
The series helped the Nationals bring their run differential to +34, the best in the National League. The Yankees are the only team with a better differential at +35.
Indeed, the Nationals are sad to be leaving Coors Field. They return home to open up a three-game set with the ailing Mets on Friday night.