RedEye

Isn't Theo supposed to help whoever his new manager is?

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are working on a second round of the managerial interviews, which they claim is not really a second round, but what else do you call a second interview with, say, Dale Sveum?

Truth is, it doesn’t matter. Theo and the kids can call it what they want. They can take all the time they want, too.

What’s not fine, however, is the way they might be setting up their new manager to fail.

Epstein, see, took a lunch Monday with Carlos Zambrano, his babysitter agent Barry Praver, and Cubs farm director Oneri Fleita. Zambrano, you’ll recall, is team captain of the disqualified list after quitting in the middle of a game last summer. That extended the most embarrassing rap sheet in Cubs history, which would seem like the place to start blowing things up as part of the “culture change’’ everybody at Clark and Addison has been talking about.

But no.

The Cubs’ Baseball Moses told the big goof he could “earn his way back to being a Cub, that nothing would be given to him. He could earn his way back "through very hard work this winter, through rebuilding relationships man-to-man with all his teammates and through other steps we discussed."

Epstein didn’t detail the “other steps’’ Zambrano must satisfy. He didn’t explain how Zambrano should rebuild relationships man-to-man. Blah, blah, blah. Zambrano acts like an idiot, Zambrano acts contrite, Zambrano acts like an idiot. Lather, rinse, repeat.

The idea that Epstein cracked open the door to Zambrano’s cage is crazier than Zambrano himself. The only sensible explanation for this nonsense is that Epstein is desperately trying to build a trade market for the big loon. Good luck with that $19 million bluff for a pitcher coming off a 4.82 ERA, even if you’re willing to eat all the salary.

And good luck giving your new manager a chance, too.

If you’re not lying and you do bring back Zambrano, you won’t be changing the culture of sports’ most pathetic losers, you will simply be changing the clowns getting out of the Volkswagen.

Look, you’re supposed to hire a manager for 25 players, not for one big overpaid, underperforming, quitting, lunatic baby.

Let me try explaining this another way: The best predictor of future performance is past production. Isn’t that what Epstein and his decimalheads live by?

OK then. Zambrano has been a nut job for years. He’ll be a nut job for the rest of his career. Connect the dots, Theo.

Zambrano has been the nut job who punched a teammate a couple times, ignored his managers, acted like a diva on the mound toward teammates, ripped teammates publicly, and finally last season, quit on the field when got himself thrown out of a game and then quit off the field when stormed out of the clubhouse.

That’s only a small part of what this blasting cap has visited upon people who ostensibly were on his side. Point is, what part of “nut job’’ doesn’t Epstein understand? What part of “serial nut job’’ doesn’t Epstein understand?

Maybe Epstein has an algorithm for lunacy. Or maybe this is all a charade. Maybe the plan always has been to act like Zambrano is welcome while trying to get rid of him, knowing the default setting is paying him to stay home. Hope so.

Otherwise, there would seem to be little hope that the new guys’ thinking would be different from the old guys’ failures. I want Epstein to succeed. I want Baseball Moses to lead the Cubs out of the desert after more than 100 years. But that won’t happen if this journey starts in Stupidtown.

Here’s the deal: Bringing Zambrano back because you can’t find a trade market for him, actually letting Zambrano wear a Cubs jersey again, and Epstein goes from Moses to Hendry.

 

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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