Kaplan: Zambrano doesn't want worldwide draft

Kaplan: Zambrano doesn't want worldwide draft

Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Posted: 9:22 p.m.

By David Kaplan
CSNChicago.com

Cubs star Carlos Zambrano talked with me before Wednesday's doubleheader about how he came to sign with the Cubs and why he is not a fan of the concept of a worldwide amateur draft.

Currently players from outside the United States are treated as free agents and can sign with the highest bidder, often times commanding deals in the millions of dollars.

"I think a worldwide draft would be bad for the kids from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela because we are late developers. We don't have little league or a system of organized baseball to help us learn the game," Zambrano explained. "When I was a kid we played maybe once a week, that's it. If kids from my country were drafted and then didn't develop quickly enough they wouldn't be around long. This way they develop and grow and then sign a little later than when they would be drafted," Zambrano said.

Zambrano was not a hot-shot prospect when he was a teenager and he was not a guy who saw himself playing professional baseball.

"In fact, I never really played baseball as a child. I was a soccer player and because of my size and athletic ability I had a chance to play at a few baseball academies. I played in front of scouts from the Marlins, Blue Jays, Diamondbacks and the last team I played for was the Cubs.

"I had never pitched and when I was at the Cubs facility, their scout (Alberto Rondon) saw me throw a ball in from right field and noticed that I had a strong arm. He asked me if I had ever pitched and I told him, 'no.' He watched me workout and eventually we flew to the United States and I signed with the Cubs in Arizona. I was the first player from Venezuela to sign his contract in the United States. All of the other guys signed back in our country," Zambrano told me.

Cubs in first place?

Okay, admit it Cubs fans and baseball experts. I know that it is only April 20th, but did any of you think that the Cubs would be in first in the NL Central at any point during the 2011 season? C'mon admit it....

Rose or Isiah?

I was asked this question Wednesday morning. If I was coaching the Bulls in Game Seven of the NBA Finals who would I want as my point guard. Isiah Thomas or Derrick Rose?

That is a great question because both players are amazingly talented and both have radically different skill sets.

Isiah was a phenomenal shooter and he also had a great ability to run an offense in a half court set. However, he was not a high-flying athlete who could finish at the rim and thus he was limited in the ways that he could score. He was quick and had a great basketball IQ, which made him the perfect player to run the Pistons physical, half-court style of offense.

At this point in his career Rose is nowhere near the perimeter shooter that Thomas was in his prime. However, Isiah was never the ridiculous athlete that Rose is and he never was able to complete plays at the rim against bigger players the way that Rose does consistently.

Rose is a savvy leader and a tremendous team guy and his perimeter shot is certainly much better than it was when he entered the league in 2008-09. It is a very tough question to answer, but because of the way the game is played today I would lean towards Rose due to that incredible athleticism.

Tom Glavine trying to buy the Atlanta Thrashers?

A big name in Atlanta baseball could possibly play a role in keeping Atlanta's professional hockey team in town.

Former Atlanta Braves All-Star pitcher Tom Glavine is working actively to keep the Atlanta Thrashers from leaving, according to Atlanta Business Chronicle broadcast partner WXIA-TV 11Alive. Glavine said he is extremely interested in keeping professional hockey in Atlanta. Read the rest of the article here.
Read more from The Kapman on Friday at CSNChicago.com

David Kaplan is the host of Chicago Tribune Live on Comcast SportsNet. Follow him on Twitter @thekapman.

Saturday on CSN: Kyle Hendricks, Cubs face Reds

Saturday on CSN: Kyle Hendricks, Cubs face Reds

The Cubs face off against the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday, and you can catch all the cation on CSN. Coverage begins at 3:00 p.m.

Starting pitching matchup: Kyle Hendricks vs. Robert Stephenson

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Latest on the Cubs: All of the most recent news and notes

World Series thank-yous follow Kris Bryant to Las Vegas

World Series thank-yous follow Kris Bryant to Las Vegas

MESA, Ariz. – Kris Bryant didn’t need to pose for a Crate & Barrel billboard in Wrigleyville or walk a goat around a Bed Bath & Beyond commercial shoot. Cub fans just kept sending him free stuff.

The wedding gifts actually shipped to his parents’ house in Las Vegas, where he honed the swing that landed him on a new Sports Illustrated cover that asked: “How Perfect is Kris Bryant?”   

This happens when you mention your registries on a late-night show with another Vegas guy (Jimmy Kimmel) after leading an iconic franchise to its first World Series title in 108 years.        

So Bryant will be the center of attention in Sin City this weekend when the Cubs play two split-squad games against the Cincinnati Reds. But that spotlight will pretty much follow the National League’s reigning MVP wherever he goes. 

At least this gives Bryant a chance to chill at the pool and organize the house he moved into in January. 

“My mom just kept throwing stuff in my car: ‘Here, take it!’” Bryant said. “Opening all those boxes, I can’t believe how many presents we got from fans. It was unbelievable. Jess is going to have to write all the thank-you notes. I’m just signing my name on them. You have literally like 700 thank-you notes to write.

“I said: ‘You need to just go get the generic thank-you.’ She’s like: ‘No, they took the time out of their day to buy us a present.’ This is going to take her the whole year. So if there’s anybody out there that’s waiting for one…”    

The wait is finally over for generations of Cub fans. Spring training will always have a “Groundhog Day” element to it. But this camp – with no major injuries so far or real roster intrigue or truly wacky stunts – has felt different. As the players get ready for a new season – one without 1908 looming over everything – they can’t escape what they did. 

“Every day something reminds me of it,” said Kyle Hendricks, who will start Saturday in Las Vegas. “Even going to throw in these spring games, when they announce your name and the whole crowd erupts because of the World Series. That wasn’t happening last year. 

“Little things like that make me notice. Something every day is brought to my attention, so it’s still getting used to that part.”  

The Cubs insist there won’t be a hangover effect in 2017, believing that this young group is too talented and too focused to get derailed by distractions and overconfidence. But the Cubs could go 0-162 this season and Bryant would still probably be breaking down boxes for recycling.   

“It’s funny,” Bryant said. “We just put cameras on my house for security and I’ll just look at it sometimes. I’ll randomly see my mom just unloading boxes. I’m like: ‘Mom, what’s going on? Are we getting more stuff?’ She’s like: ‘Yeah, we keep getting more boxes.’”