Well folks, it seems like Carlos Zambrano has finally gone off the deep end.
After years of histrionics that included calling out teammates in the media, fighting in the clubhouse, and assaulting a Gatorade machine, Zambrano finally did what in hindsight was inevitable.
He walked out on his team, telling club officials he was retiring on his way out the door.
Zambrano had a rocky outing last night, giving up 8 ER in 4 1/3 innings against the Braves. He was tossed from the game after throwing twice at Atlanta’s Chipper Jones.
Following the ejection, Zambrano reportedly walked into the clubhouse, cleaned out his locker — including the nameplate — and left the stadium.
Cubs manager Mike Quade, likely already worn out from what has been one of the worst seasons on the North side in recent memory, was predictably furious with his mercurial ace. Here’s what he told ESPNChicago.com:
“”It was a bad scenario all the way around and it didn’t end very damn well,” Cubs manager Mike Quade said.
Quade was perplexed by the chain of events that occurred.
“I came in, saw there was an empty locker,” Quade said. “Then I heard that he was retiring, that he had left.””
If this is in fact the end of the road for Zambrano, he’ll be doing the Cubs a huge favor at least financially. He will be walking away from the remainder of his $17 million contract this season plus $18 million next season, giving the Cubs a measure of financial freedom to go out and invest that money in players who fit the team’s long term plans.
It’s been no secret that the team has been trying to trade him, but other GMs are reportedly wary of not only his contract but his history of blowups and meltdowns.
Players have been saying publicly that they’d be willing to take him back but you’ve gotta wonder if they’re just saying that to look good in the media or if that’s something they actually mean. Having a coworker such as Zambrano has got to make a long season even more mentally draining because of his mental inconsistencies.
Quade for his part has said that he’s not sure whether the team would welcome Zambrano back. You’d have to think that he probably isn’t in any hurry to do so, given the fact that Zambrano is the second high-profile Cubs pitcher to show up Quade in recent months. Not to mention the fact that this team is out of it, has been out of it for a long time. Zambrano is taking up a roster spot that could be used by a young starter like Casey Coleman, giving the organization a chance to see what the kids on the farm can do as they move forward with yet another rebuilding plan.
One thing is for sure though — the moment Carlos Zambrano walked out the clubhouse door at Turner Field with his belongings, Gatorade machines around the Major Leagues breathed a sigh of relief, knowing they’re safe from harm for the rest of their lives.