Last week Carlos Zambrano agreed to a contract with the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League but never signed his contract as he searched for a Major League team to give him a chance. There were rumors that the Philadelphia Phillies were interested but as early as Monday they denied anything was close. Now, Carlos Zambrano is a Phillie as first reported by Ken Rosenthal.
Despite being one of the better pitchers in baseball for eight years between 2003 and 2010, Zambrano is best known for his antics on and off the field. However, with Roy Halladay out for an unknown period of time and possibly the entire year, the Phillies needed some reinforcements on the mound and Zambrano should be able to help.
Zambrano’s best years came with the Chicago Cubs but he spent last season with the Miami Marlins posting a 7-10 record, 4.49 ERA and striking out 95 batters while walking 75 in 132.1 innings. He made 20 starts and 15 relief appearances last year with the Marlins.
This was a no-risk move by the Phillies. Zambrano has had two off-years but won’t turn 32-years-old until June 1st. Zambrano will spend some time in extended spring training in Clearwater and should give the Phillies a few minor league starts so they will have time to decide if he can contribute anything on the Major League level.
Right now, the Phillies only sit 3.5 games out of first despite a 19-21 record. If Zambrano has anything left he could bolster the back end of the rotation which has gotten solid production from Kyle Kendrick and Jonathan Pettibone. There won’t be a ton of pressure on Zambrano to be an ace with Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee in the same rotation. Even with the demands Philadelphia places on its sports teams Zambrano should be fairly isolated from that pressure by an experienced manager and veteran clubhouse. He won’t be asked to do anything outside of pitch every fifth day and if he can revert to the form of 2003-10 he could be a very astute pick-up for the Phillies as they fight to get back into playoff contention.
There is no risk for the Phillies in this venture. If Zambrano can pitch he can help. If he can’t, the Phillies can simply release him and not have to worry about paying him. In my opinion, there is no such thing as a bad minor league contract and Zambrano is no exception, baggage and all.