MESA, Ariz. As soon as the Cubs acquired Matt Garza from Tampa Bay last winter, there were questions about how he would control his emotions, fit into the clubhouse and handle a bigger market. There were suspicions that he could be Carlos Zambrano 2.0.
One year later, the Cubs are under new management and at least considering the possibility of signing Garza to a long-term extension. Zambrano has been shipped to the Miami Marlins, where he will be reunited with Ozzie Guillen, an old friend from Venezuela.
The Cubs kicked in roughly 15 million to get rid of Zambrano, and the comparisons to Garza didnt really prove to be accurate.
When this idea was mentioned minutes before the 2012 Cubs went through their first formal workout for pitchers and catchers on Sunday at Fitch Park Garza predicted big things for his former teammate.
Id love to get compared with Zambrano on the field, the way his numbers were, the way he threw the ball, Garza said. Hes one hell of a pitcher. But that guy I tell you what hes going to have one hell of a year. I kid you not hes going to go out there and go down to Miami and surprise a lot of people. His stuff is still electric. It still bottoms out.
I wouldnt be surprised to see him in the Cy Young race (this) year. I kid you not. Hes got (good enough) stuff and I think just playing with Ozzie, getting his own comfort zone, hes going to have one hell of a season. I wish nothing but the best for that guy.
To complete last months deal with the Marlins, Zambrano had to waive his no-trade clause and void a potential vesting option for 2013, which could have been triggered with a top-four finish in this seasons Cy Young vote.
Zambrano has never won 20 games in a season, and hasnt reached 200 innings since 2007. He went 9-7 with a 4.82 ERA last year before packing up his stuff and walking out on the team in a moment of frustration.
That night in Atlanta last August was the point of no return. The Cubs will pay almost all of Zambranos 18 million salary this season, minus the 2.655 million owed Chris Volstad, the intriguing 6-foot-8-inch right-hander they got back in the deal.
Volstad, who grew up in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., is still only 25 years old and a former first-round pick. The sense around camp is that he will benefit from a change of scenery and become a good bet to make the rotation.
Either way, it wont be nearly as entertaining or as potentially explosive as the reality show Ozzie and Big Z will put together in Miami.