Carlos Zambrano Retires?In his latest in a long history of hissy fits, Carlos Zambrano gave up a handful of homeruns on Friday night, got himself ejected for throwing at Braves slugger Chipper Jones, then packed up his toys and went home. Feel like you've heard this story before? This time around, however, it seems as though Zambrano is finally being held accountable for his actions and has been placed on the disqualified list for 30 days. While he came out publicly on Monday saying that he has no desire to retire and that he's saddened by the "harsh" punishment that he has received, this move has been a long time coming. My take in professional sports is that no one player can ever make themselves bigger than the team. Zambrano was having a terrible night and lost both his temper and his control of the ball. It happens to everyone, and it's magnified by a personality as competitive as Zambrano's. But to walk out on your team is a disgrace. The Cubs are a team in shambles right now with a manager who seems incapable of inspiring his players, a slew of terrible contracts, and a team full of guys whose prime was nearly a decade ago. And it's a shame because Zambrano is still a very capable major league ballplayer. His career has been a series of ups and downs, but the average of the two has been a very successful player. He swings a bat better than most bench players, he keeps most games within reach, and he's shown the rare 200IP/200K potential. But the headaches that come with him just aren't worth it anymore.
LoMo Demoted?An equally aggravating story over the past few days is Logan Morrison's demotion to the Marlins AAA affiliate. For those that don't know, Morrison is the incredibly rare MLB player that actually shows some personality off the field and interacts with fans. He's a frequent guest on sports radio programs, he does tons of charity work, and he's an international Twitter superstar. He's not a bad baseball player either... His OPS ranks third among Marlins regulars behind just Mike Stanton and Gaby Sanchez. And yet, the Marlins demoted him to AAA following Saturday's loss with the official statement being that he needed to work on his hitting. Newsflash, Marlins: he's one of the top hitters on your team! He's outperforming the $4.5M John Buck and the $11M Hanley Ramirez. His 17 HRs are 9th among all left fielders this year. His closest comparable player appears to be Josh Willingham who by some metrics is having a career year. So for the Marlins to say that their reasons for sending Morrison down are strictly baseball related is a farce. Here you have a guy who is just 23 years old, yet is the only person on the team not afraid to call out Hanley for his lack of hustle. He's a guy who defended his teamate for a clean play that took Buster Posey out for the season. And most importantly, he's a guy who relates with Marlins fans on a daily basis. You would think that a team that is moving to a new stadium and is in desperate need of a superstar worthy of the spotlight would praise the attention that Morrison draws to the team. He's a guy who can sell jerseys and tickets for years to come. But instead, the crotchety old men in the Marlins front office seem hell bent on eliminating any type of team personality.
Thome Mashes #600!A phrase that no one in the history of baseball has ever stated: "That Jim Thome guy is a jerk!" With his 2 HR performance on Monday night, Jim Thome cemented his legacy as not only one of the nicest guys ever to step to the plate, but also one of the game's greatest sluggers. If you eliminate anyone with ties to PEDs, you can say that Thome ranks as high as 5th on the all time homerun list. And he's remarkably done it with little recognition. He's a five time All-Star, but only owns one silver slugger award, and zero finishes in the top 3 of MVP voting. He's hit .260 and averaged move than 25 HRs per year over the last 5 seasons, most of which were spent as a platoon or bench player. By my count, you can may as well start casting his Hall of Fame plaque today while the price of bronze is still reasonable. His candidacy five years after his retirement is likely to be one of the biggest tests the BBWAA has ever faced. Those who think of Thome as an accumulator of numbers will likely point to his longevity as the only reason that he built such an extensive resume. But I would argue that there's a lot to be said for longevity in today's game. His 10 year stretch from 1995-2004 in which he averaged more than 145 games played is incredibly rare for a slugger. His willingness to play through injury and still put up rate stats has made him one of the all time greats just as much as his gawdy homerun totals. While we only had the privilege of seeing 96 of his 600 HRs during his tenure in Philadelphia, he is beloved in this town for his ushering of a new era of Phillies baseball. His signing and subsequent draw to a new ballpark is directly responsible for the current state of baseball in this town.