Carlos Zambrano has always said he’d love to play for Ozzie Guillen and now he’ll get his chance. The Miami Marlins have agreed to acquire the enigmatic, portly righty from the Cubs for righty starter Chris Volstad, as first reported by Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal. The trade is pending league approval and both pitchers passing physical exams.
Zambrano had an embattled relationship with the team ever since he signed a $90 million extension in 2008, and that relationship came to a head when he was suspended indefinitely by the team last summer. In an indication that Chicago could not wait to get rid of Zambrano, they’ll be paying between $15 and 16 million of $18 million remaining on Zambrano’s contract, according to Rosenthal.
Zambrano, 30, went 9-7 last season with a career worst 4.82 ERA in 145.2 innings last season with a poor WHIP and K/9. He’ll certainly have less pressure on him in South Beach, with Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez joining Zambrano and fellow former Chicago ace Mark Buehrle in the starting rotation. Miami is hoping that lack of pressure, along with Guillen’s influence and the prevalent Latino community, will help Zambrano make a comeback.
Cubs general manager Theo Epstein is hoping to get a career resurgence of his own out of Volstad, a former top prospect who has turned into a back-end innings eater, and a poor one at that. Volstad sports a career 4.59 ERA, including a 4.89 mark in 165.2 innings last year. While that’s bad, it’s just as bad as Zambrano’s with less of a headache, so you have to credit Epstein for getting anything out of the deal.
Miami hopes Zambrano will help the club, or it will go down as a high profile blunder in a season of high profile acquisitions.
Talented big man Marreese Speights was in the doghouse in Philadelphia, and he will now add depth for the Memphis Grizzlies in a three-team trade, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein, that would be completed some time today. Memphis would acquire Speights from the Sixers and send young wing Xavier Henry to New Orleans. The Sixers would get two second-round draft picks, likely one each from the Hornets and Grizzlies.
Memphis was forced to deal for Speights in part because of an injury to breakout big man Zach Randolph that was more severe than was originally anticipated. Randolph will miss up to eight weeks with a knee ligament tear suffered during their blowout loss against Chicago earlier in the week, according to Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
Speights, 24, played 64 games last year (63 coming off the bench) and averaged over five points and three rebounds for Philadelphia in 2010-2011. The 6’10 Florida alum still has a ton of potential and would be a solid backup to Marc Gasol and provide for a capable replacement for the injured Randolph.
Henry, the 6’6 Kansas alum, is only 20 in his second season and is a versatile slasher who would add a nice young piece to a rebuilding Hornets club. He played just 38 games in his rookie season, but could flourish with more playing time. Philadelphia would get two picks for a player they had no interest in playing. So there are benefits for all three teams involved.
Ovechkin Leads Capitals Turnaround…
After a couple of slumping months, Alex Ovechkin and Washington are trying to make up for lost time in the standings. Ovechkin had a goal and an assist and Niklas Backstrom gave out three assists in a 4-1 win over Calgary on Tuesday to extend the team’s league-high winning streak to four games.
The run has put the Caps back on track for a strong playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but Ovechkin is just happy to be in position. ”We just want to be in the playoffs,” he said. With Washington struggling for much of the season, Ovechkin took matters into his own hands. He has 11 points in his last seven games, resulting in five wins and a shootout loss (also 11 points).
…Defeating Sinking Calgary & Its Trade-Bound Star
On the other side of the ledger, the 4-1 loss for the Flames was their fourth straight and opened up questions regarding franchise star Jarome Iginla. The team is streaky and inconsistent; this four game losing streak was preceded by a four game winning streak, which was preceded by another separate four game losing streak.
Iginla added a point in Tuesday’s loss, but remained stuck at 499 career goals. After he reaches that historic milestone, becoming the second player in franchise history to do so, there will be numerous rumors regarding where Iginla is traded. After typing “Iginla” into Google search, “trade” is the second result that comes up.
Everyone involved in the process, Iginla and GM Jay Feaster, have denied Iginla is going anywhere, but the young Flames are probably going to miss the playoffs and the team could get a package of young players. On the other hand, Calgary is only another winning streak away from being in a better position to make the playoffs in the Western Conference. It will something to monitor prior to the Feb. 27 trade deadline.
Carcillo Suspended Indefinitely For Boarding
Chicago enforcer Dan Carcillo, the former Flyer, was suspended indefinitely by the league, pending review, for violently boarding Edmonton’s Tom Gilbert in Monday’s 4-3 Oilers win.
Carcillo and Gilbert raced for the puck and Carcillo gained leverage, extending his arms while sending Gilbert flying knee-first into the end boards near the Oiler net. This is Carcillo’s sixth career suspension, this will be his third this season, and Gilbert said he was aware of that when the two were going after the loose puck.
“I knew who it was and you have to be aware,” Gilbert said Tuesday. “I should have been more ready for a guy who has made those kinds of hits before.”
With Carcillo clearly not learning his lesson with these suspension and the league striving to be a safer game, what will it take to curb the reckless and dangerous ways of players like Carcillo without taking the edge and excitement of good hits out of the game? This has to be a decision the league will grapple with as the concussion issue becomes more prevalent.
Games To Watch
Wednesday- The new NBC Sports Network has Boston and New Jersey, two of the conference’s hottest teams, in a potential playoff preview with Tim Thomas and Martin Brodeur squaring off. Minnesota is 1-6-3 in its last 10 games, but will have a huge opportunity for a great division win against Vancouver.
Thursday- A slate of nine games is led by a great interconference showdown between the Flyers and Blackhawks, which is chock full of starpower and really good players. The Rangers host the Panthers in a game featuring division leaders with Phoenix and Los Angeles going at it for the Pacific Division lead.