Volstad was the 16th overall pick in the 2005 draft. A strikeout pitcher in high school, he has not translated that to the pros. (Similar to Mike Pelfrey, who was a strikeout pitcher at Wichita State) In 29 starts last season, he was 5-13 with a 4.89 ERA, with 117 Ks in 169 2/3 IP and a WHIP of 1.425. 2010 was his best season so far, when he was 12-9 with a 4.58 ERA in 30 starts. He had 102 Ks in 175 IP and only gave up 17 HR (as opposed to 23 last year in less IP) despite a WHIP of 1.411.
He still has a lot of potential, and at 25, there is a good chance he can regain some of the momentum he had when he was a first round draft pick out of high school and in the majors at age 21. For a team like the Cubs, I think Volstad has the ability to develop into a very useful pitcher.
Zambrano had a disappointing season last year which I'm sure added to his attitude problems. In 24 starts, (he was suspended for the last two months of the season and had a small DL stint) he was 9-7 with a career high 4.82 ERA that was almost a run higher than his previous high. He struck out 101 batters in 145 IP, which was only 6.2 K per 9 IP when his career average is almost 8. For his career, he is 125-81 with a 3.60 ERA with a 1.312 WHIP and 1542 Ks in 1826 2/3 IP. As old as Zambrano seems, he is only 30.
The bigger relief for the Cubs may be to not have Zambrano in the locker room. It was pretty obvious that his behavior has disrupted the team for a couple of years now. And thats what we have seen in front of us, on camera. Who knows how much worse it could have been behind the scenes? No question he is a talent. But a talent that needed to pitch somewhere else. Hopefully he doesn't use his angry temper to disrupt the character of the Marlins. (Maybe a Mets fan can hope for that.)
The thought is Zambrano is very friendly with Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen and they are both from the same native country of Venezuela. There is a chance that the two volatile personalities may go off on each other causing a scene. It may not be a big deal, but it could. If Guillen can't calm Zambrano down, nobody will. And Zambrano should retire like he suggested he would after his contract is up.
I think the Marlins have a top of the rotation pitcher in Zambrano is he is focused. An average Zambrano season would put him at 14-9 with a 3.60 ERA over 32 starts. The Marlins would take that as well as its value. Volstad may need a little more time in the minors. He may have to add a pitch or fine tune his current ones. It seems the adjustments he has to make aren't major, so he could be a steal for the Cubs if he reaches his full potential. He also has not had any arm injuries whatsoever. If I had to guess, I think the Cubs made out better on this trade.