Carlos Zambrano is the only Cub not allowed to have a meltdown

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The Chicago Tribune’s Dan McNeil is no fan of Carlos Zambrano. After railing against his contract and going on about how he’s no Ted Lilly, McNeil predicts a Big-Z meltdown:

Put me down for the first week in May for not-so-Big Z’s first
implosion. Not sure if it will be getting tossed for undressing an
umpire or pulling up lame trying to stretch a double, but an eruption
is a certainty. Until the man-child proves he’s as right between the
ears as he is in the hips, I’m betting against the Cubs getting this
cat’s potential actualized.

I think the richest thing about this is how he uses Ted Lilly of all people to demonstrate just how awful Carlos Zambrano is, because Lilly is no stranger to drama himself.

No wait, that’s not the richest thing. The richest thing is that just last summer McNeil wrote that the Cubs’ biggest problem was that Lou Piniella was acting all calm and professional instead of being a combative jackass:

Unearthing bases. Kicking dirt. Spitting. Scratching.
Fighting one of his own players, as he did in Cincinnati with the
behemoth-sized Rob Dibble.

None of those outlandish behaviors will solve the Cubs’ most urgent
problems, but when a historically fiery manager ceases to breathe fire,
then you have a brand new problem to tack onto the list: resignation.

To sum up: you can get away with acting like a jerk if you’re Ted Lilly. You can not only get away with being a jerk but you damn well better be a jerk if you’re Lou Piniella. But Lord help you do those things and your name is Carlos Zambrano.

Twins to retire Joe Mauer’s No. 7

AP Photo/Jim Mone
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Twins senior director of communications Dustin Morse announced that the Twins will honor former C/1B Joe Mauer by retiring his uniform number 7. Mauer announced his retirement from baseball on November 9.

Mauer will join Harmon Killebrew (No. 3), Tony Oliva (No. 6), Tom Kelly (No. 10), Kent Hrbek (No. 14), Rod Carew (No. 29), Kirby Pucket (No. 34), and Bert Blyleven (No. 28) as Twins to have their numbers retired.

Mauer, 35, spent 15 seasons in the majors, all with the Twins. He posted a career .306/.388/.439 triple-slash line with 143 home runs and 923 RBI. He won the AL MVP Award in 2009, won the batting title three times, earned three Gold Gloves and five Silver Sluggers, and made the AL All-Star team six times. Sadly, his career was limited due to injuries, including a concussion that caused him to move from catcher to first base.

Five years from now, Mauer will appear on the Hall of Fame ballot. There will certainly be some arguments for and against his candidacy. He retired with 55.1 career Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball Reference, which definitely puts him in the conversation. But, as always, there’s never a consensus.