The Miami Marlins may be on the verge of making one move too many.
With this move, owner Jeffrey Loria and Baseball Ops President Larry Beinfest are taking a major and unnecessary risk. They will introduce an element into the clubhouse that would threaten to undermine all the good work they did this offseason from the inside out.
This trade is akin to a non-spontaneous chemical reaction. Take a set of chemical substances (Ozzie Guillen, Hanley Ramirez, Heath Bell, and Jose Reyes). Then introduce a form of energy, like light, heat, or electricity (Zambrano encompasses all of the above). The existing chemical substances then turn into another set of chemical substances.
So, take two unstable elements, Guillen and a pouting Ramirez, drop in a Zambrano, and watch the Marlins clubhouse light up like thermite. In Reyes and Bell, you have two big personalities who are mostly known for fun-loving antics, like tossing up a claw or sliding into a pitchers mound. But when you introduce the new form of energy, who knows what shape those chemic…er…personalities will take.
Loria and Beinfest are on the cusp of taking an already good team, capable of making a run at the Phillies in 2012, and introducing instability. And why?
Zambrano is 30 years old, and several seasons removed from his dominant prime. Chris Volstad is 25, and is almost, but not quite as mediocre, as Zambrano. Last year, Volstad put up a 1.43 WHIP and 0.1 WAR. Zambrano had a 1.44 WHIP and a 0.7 WAR. Volstad struck out 6.4 batters per nine innings, while Zambrano averaged 6.2.
In Zambrano, the Marlins are getting essentially the same pitcher they are willing to surrender, except Volstad is 5 years younger, and, oh yeah, not a clubhouse cancer.
If the Marlins do pull the trigger on this deal, it’s good news for the rest of the NL East. It would turn a talented team in to a wad of C4 that could blow at any minute. I just hope our old friend, Jose Reyes, is fast enough to avoid the shock wave.