Most people who follow baseball are loath to agree with Carlos Zambrano on anything. The burly, talented right-hander combines the self-restraint of a five-year old, with a raging temper rivaled by Tony Montana, creating one of the most toxic personalities in professional sports.
He's punched teammates multiple times on camera, thrown everybody in the Cubs organization under the bus and God knows what he's done when there are no cameras around. Zambrano had been relatively calm this year until Sunday, when he melted down. After Cub closer Carlos Marmol blew two potential Zambrano wins in six days the big fellow erupted. "We're playing like a Triple-A team. This is embarrassing. We stinks."
Some in the Chicago media, and I'm sure the Cub front office, want Z gone after this latest rant. They're wrong. The 2011 Cubs are an absolute and utter disgrace to the game of baseball. First the facts: This team has a $126 Million dollar payroll. They have a pitcher (Ryan Dempster) being paid $15 Million dollars this year to serve up a 6.32 ERA, and four hitters(Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, Kosuke Fukodome and Carlos Pena) who are the most overpaid players at their position in baseball. Cubs management is charging $112 dollars for a box seat and $72 dollars for a bleacher seat to see the team with the third worst record in baseball play. That's like a Broadway theatre charging extra for a musical starring Billy Baldwin.
The Cubs have the third highest team batting average in baseball, but are at the bottom of the pack in average with runners in scoring position. They have 46 errors through 57 games and often make little league mistakes at the absolute worst times. They are a ghastly 7-20 against other NL Central opponents, an especially damning stat when you consider that they've played the equally terrible Pirates and Astros 12 times.
To be fair, the Cubs have been legitimately snakebitten by injuries this year. They've had three members of their opening day rotation go on the DL as well as five position players. These injuries don't hide how frustrating and un-clutch the team has been through the first two months of the season. The best thing new owner Tom Ricketts can do is completely clean house, from Team President Crane Kenney all the way down. Ironically, two of the Cubs cheapest players, middle infielders Darwin Barney and Starlin Castro, are the only guys who've consistently performed at a high level all year.
This underscores the biggest problem with the current installment of this star-crossed franchise. Regardless of how many games they lose, how many outrageous bloated contracts are handed out, how many empty seats pile up in the greatest venue in all of sports, there's no accountability. Say what you want about George Steinbrenner's personality, he would have rather sold the Yankees then pay his players $15 million to watch them trot out day after day and literally hand games away.
Carlos Zambrano is a loudmouth who has made his fair share of mistakes both on the field and off. His words about his teammates may have not been wise or politically correct, but they were what needed to be said. By putting himself on the line Zambrano shows that he still cares about what happens to the Cubs. Judging by recent performance, that's more than can be said for many of his teammates.