Oh, Whatever: Big Z Isn't Going Anywhere

Retiring? We doubt it

If there is one thing we must always remember about Carlos Zambrano, it's that he is crazy. We forget this sometimes. Z's like Hannibal Lecter, in a way: very useful, skilled in his chosen trade, but if you stick your fingers too close to his cage, he will bite them off.

Want to get information from Hannibal? You have to play his game. Want to get big innings and lots of strikeouts from Carlos? You have to deal with the occasional overdramatic blowup, with the occasional injured hamstring from running out a bunt single (we're still torn, pun completely intended, on that play), with the occasional missed flight to Atlanta. You have to deal with Zambrano pitching a gem in his 100th win as a Cub, which he did last week, and then saying crazy things.

"Three hundred? Me?" Zambrano told Carrie Muskat at Cubs.com. "No, I'll be out of here in five years."

"After this contract, I'm done," said Zambrano, who is signed through 2012 with a vesting option for 2013. "I'm serious. I don't want to play. I want to help this team, I want to do everything possible to win with this team, but after five years or four years, or whatever I have left on my contract, I just don't want to play."

Zambrano cites his mother and his children as the reason he wants to be at home, and if those are the genuine reasons behind him suddenly proclaiming his desire to stop playing baseball in five years, so be it. There are far worse reasons to retire. And really, if Zambrano wanted to walk away from the game for no other reason than he wanted to not have to work anymore, we'd get that. Too many players stick around too long; it's always refreshing when a star walks away on his own terms.

But if we know Big Z -- the twitchy, freaky, hypercompetitive guy throwing 95 mph heat on the mound -- we're betting he's just venting. This was just a few days after Zambrano missed a flight, which touched off a minor media storm in Chicago. You could forgive Zambrano if he wanted to escape the Cubs media.

That's why, when he's 32, Zambrano might leave our fair city. Maybe he doesn't want the recognition and pressure that comes with being the Cubs ace. But the man will still be competitive, and he's a professional athlete, and no pros like to leave the game when they think they have anything left. Zambrano will still be pitching in 2014. Just you watch.

Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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