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.

What will LeBron James wear to pay up on Cubs World Series bet with Dwyane Wade?

What will LeBron James wear to pay up on Cubs World Series bet with Dwyane Wade?

LeBron James is coming to town, and he will be all decked out in Cubs gear.

The Cavs are in Chicago to take on the Bulls Friday night at the United Center and it's time for LeBron to pay up on his World Series bet with Dwyane Wade.

The two former teammates made the wager during the World Series as LeBron's hometown Indians took on Wade's hometown Cubs, with the loser wearing the winning baseball team's gear when they showed up in the opposing city. This is LeBron's first trip to Chicago this season.

Wade and LeBron already acknowledged they're having fun with this and have a whole spectacle planned with a national TV audience.

LeBron told the Akron Beacon Journal he's not going to try to take the easy way out and just toss on a Cubs jersey. He is planning socks, hat, pants and possibly more. But he won't wear cleats or bring a glove with him.

When the Cubs won it all a month ago Friday, Wade posted an Instagram photo of LeBron wearing a Cubs uniform:

And ESPN had a cutout of LeBron sporting a No. 23 Cubs road gray jersey outside the United Center Friday morning:

CSN Bulls Insider Vincent Goodwill wonders whether LeBron will don signature Joe Maddon glasses, too.

This is gonna be fun, you guys.

How Jon Jay helps fill leadership void within Cubs clubhouse

How Jon Jay helps fill leadership void within Cubs clubhouse

Jon Jay raved about Albert Almora Jr.’s game when he met with Cubs executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer at Swift & Sons, the West Loop steakhouse, during the week before Thanksgiving.

This wasn’t just a free agent telling the bosses what they wanted to hear or trying too hard to make a good first impression. Jay and Almora both grew up in Miami as part of Cuban-American families and had gone through offseason workouts together, part of a group that also included Baltimore Orioles star Manny Machado.

Jay played at the University of Miami, where he developed into a second-round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006. Almora committed to the Hurricanes before becoming the first player the Epstein administration drafted in 2012.

Now the Cubs envision this as an ideal timeshare in center field, and it goes way beyond left- and right-handed matchups and the flexibility with Jay’s one-year, $8 million contract. Jay would like to influence Almora’s career in the same way that Carlos Beltran once mentored him in St. Louis.

“I’m looking forward to doing that with Albert and helping him be the best player he can,” Jay said Thursday on a conference call with reporters. “I’m honored and I’m real excited to be part of this special group, this special movement that’s going on now in Chicago.”

Jay isn’t Grandpa Rossy 2.0. Jay had actually been looking to trade in his “sports car” for a “Dad-mobile” when his pregnant wife got a phone call from the doctor saying to go to the hospital – right around the time the Cubs announced his new deal. Concerns about the Zika virus compelled the Jays to spend this offseason in the St. Louis area. By Wednesday morning, the Jays welcomed twin girls into their family.

But the Cubs certainly had a retired catcher in mind when they targeted Jay, who will be 32 next season and won’t be looking for a farewell tour.

“From a makeup and leadership standpoint, he’s got an off-the-charts reputation,” Hoyer said. “We knew that losing David Ross would be a big void for us, and bringing in a guy like Jon was something that was important to us. He can come in and complement the really good group of young leaders that we already have.

“We didn’t feel like there was that many guys that could come into a team that just won the World Series and be able to fit that seamlessly and help lead this team.

“A lot of the comments we’ve gotten from his now teammates indicate that his reputation definitely precedes him.”

[SHOP CUBS: Get your World Series champions gear right here]

In the same way that the Cubs methodically identified free agents during the rebuilding years, they will be selective about the players who will augment the team that defends the franchise’s first World Series title in 108 years.

“We’ll try to be thoughtful with which veterans we bring in,” Epstein said, “and their character and how invested they are in their teammates and winning. I hope we get the right guys, but then also I think there’s a gradual transition.

“We have a lot of young veterans now. Not just rookies, but young veterans who’ve won a championship and demonstrated a lot of mental toughness. We know how to win now, so gradually they will take control of the leadership of the clubhouse. And we’re going to give them the room to do that.”

Jay grew up with the Cardinal Way and witnessed how much the Cubs have changed since his rookie year in 2010. He earned a World Series ring with the 2011 team, the beginning of a run that saw him play in the postseason five straight years before getting traded to the San Diego Padres last winter.

Jay’s 12th and final playoff series in a St. Louis uniform saw the Cubs win the first postseason matchup in a rivalry that stretches all the way back to 1892. And will never be the same again.

“I saw everything change as soon as Theo got over there,” Jay said. “You could always see the potential that the organization had, and that showed in 2015 when they had a great year (and) they beat us.

“You could just see how the future was bright. I could see that it was going to be a special place with the atmosphere. I remember playing there in September of 2015 and just seeing the crowd, how the city really stood up and really backed the team during the playoffs that year.

“I’m just happy to join this good group of guys and try to do my part to fit in.”