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Zambrano gets a fresh start in South Beach

Chris Ruddick,
MLB Editor


Rounding Third Logo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Just when you thought the circus down in Miami couldn't get any crazier, here comes Carlos Zambrano.

Already in the midst of a wild offseason, the Miami Marlins added yet another piece to the puzzle by agreeing to take on the hot-tempered righty for Chris Volstad, while having to pay only $3 million of the $15 million owed to him this coming season.

Zambrano's addition is just the latest for the Marlins, who have already signed shortstop Jose Reyes, closer Heath Bell and lefty Mark Buehrle. Not to mention the public courting of Albert Pujols.

And now they land perhaps the biggest head case in not only baseball, but all of sports in Zambrano.

You don't believe me?

Look at how much the Cubs are paying just to rid themselves of the guy they once planned on building their franchise around. Volstad? Whatever, they get to save $3 million in the deal and eliminate a big problem in the process.

Zambrano, of course, burst on the scene for the Cubs in 2001 when he slotted in as the third starter behind Kerry Wood and Mark Prior. Thanks to a ton of injuries to the other two, he eventually became the team ace, went to three All-Star Games and won 125 games - including a no-hitter - for the franchise, while pitching to a 3.60 ERA.

The thing he may be most proud of, though, are the 23 home runs he slugged.

Carlos Zambrano
Carlos Zambrano's earned run average never rose over 4.00 until last season when he ended the year at 4.82.
How good was he and just how important to the Cubs was Zambrano? Well while in the midst of his best season, the Cubs locked him up to a 5-year, $91.5 million extension.

Zambrano finished that 2007 campaign with 18 wins, but everything started to unravel for him after that, culminating with a demotion to the bullpen in 2010 and last year's final blowup in Atlanta which led him to say he was retiring before the Cubs basically suspended him for the remainder of the year.

The Atlanta blowup was just the final straw for the Cubs, who grew tired of the constant outbursts, the endless run-ins with teammates and managers, the countless number of damaged water jugs and ejections. It just came to be too much. He had to go, especially with the new regime of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer intent on changing the culture of the franchise.

And where else would Zambrano go, but to South Beach where he will be welcomed with open arms by new manager and good friend Ozzie Guillen.

Actually the Zambrano-Guillen marriage has been in the works for years, as they always seemed to flirt with one another while both resided in the Windy City, so it's really no surprise that the two countrymates would hook up at some point.

On the field Zambrano might not be anywhere near the pitcher he was when he signed that extension with the Cubs, but even with his outbursts and complaining his earned run average still never rose over 4.00 until last season when he ended the year at 4.82.

And if anyone can get Zambrano back on the right track it's Guillen. In Miami he'll join a rotation that already includes Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Ricky Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez. Anything the Fish get out of Zambrano is gravy.

But if he is good, the Marlins could be dangerous.

Maybe I'm crazy, but I think we have an early favorite in the National League Comeback Player of the Year race.

I am a huge fan of the HBO Hard Knock series and the 24/7 shows they run. Is there anyway we can them down to South Beach and film Guillen's spring training with this bunch?

Shoot, I'll settle for a VH1 style Zambrano-Guillen reality show. They can call it Baseball Buddies and run it alongside the tremendously awful Basketball Wives.

Actually that's not such a bad idea.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Chris Ruddick at cruddick@sportsnetwork.com.

Follow Chris Ruddick on Twitter and Facebook.

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