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Monday, August 15, 2011
Big Z's future: How about with Ozzie?

By Bruce Levine

Carlos Zambrano and Ozzie Guillen
Could Carlos Zambrano end up playing for Ozzie Guillen, in Chicago or elsewhere?
Carlos Zambrano's fate will be determined by Major League Baseball, his agents and the Major League Baseball Players Association. The process may take over a few weeks. Once the MLBPA's appeal over the Cubs putting Zambrano on the disqualification list is heard, negotiations will begin in figuring out how much money Zambrano can be fined and how long the Cubs can keep him from pitching in the major leagues.

Under normal conditions, Zambrano and the players association could assert that there was a miscommunication between the pitcher and the team after he was ejected Friday night against the Braves and left Atlanta's ballpark before the game was over. The fact he told club personnel that he was quitting baseball convolutes matters, as do his numerous transgressions against teammates and team rules during his career. The Cubs were hoping his cumulative record is taken into consideration in this case.

Although Zambrano has been an average pitcher in 2011, his last 10 starts have not been very good. In that stretch he's 4-4 with a 5.50 ERA. He hasn't pitched more than six innings in a start since June 25.

A likely scenario is Zambrano's agents Barry Praver and Scott Shapiro and the Cubs work out a deal that accepts some form of suspension with pay for the rest of the season. That would allow the Cubs to separate themselves from the pitcher and try to find a suitable team to trade him to after 2011.

The Cubs owe Zambrano $23.5 million for this season and next.

As far as the possibility of trading Zambrano, an MLB source said a disqualified contract can be assigned to another team, but they assume the status involved.

A possible destination for Zambrano would be to follow his friend and countryman Ozzie Guillen to the White Sox or wherever Guillen's next managerial assignment takes him.

Zambrano has let it be known that the only other team he'd want to play for is the White Sox because of Guillen. The future of the Sox manager is up for debate. There have been rumblings that the Florida Marlins would hire GUillen as soon as he leaves Chicago.

With the Marlins opening a new park in 2012, Guillen and Zambrano would create a major buzz.

Guillen tried to explain Zambrano's motivation to the Chicago Sun-Times.

‘‘He told my family he feels like he’s stealing money because he’s not producing," Guillen told the paper. "Maybe that’s why he did it. People don’t understand what he feels. He just wants to compete. The passion and love for the game come out.’’

The Sox have never shied away from acquiring controversial players in the past, going back to Albert Belle in 1997, A.J. Pierzynski in 2005 and Manny Ramirez in 2010.

Zambrano is 9-7 with a 4.82 ERA in 24 starts this season.