Despite the Chicago Cubs’ obvious interest in unloading Carlos Zambrano, and the obvious signals coming from both the Cubs and Zambrano that a deal should happen, the Cubs are finding it rather difficult to actually complete a deal. As I caveated in the latter post, to make a deal, the Cubs will at least have to find a tiny bit of interest – no matter how much money they’re willing to eat.

Unfortunately, that tiny bit of interest is hard to come by.

Bruce Levine reports that, according to a Major League source, there is no interest around baseball in making a deal for Zambrano. A separate source says that the Yankees – whom Buster Olney has suggested is the Cubs’ preferred trade partner in a Zambrano deal – haven’t spoken with the Cubs about Zambrano in a month.

Zambrano is owed about $24 million over the rest of this season and the 2012 season. The Cubs have reportedly offered to cover a majority of that money to make a move, which would seemingly get a deal done to any number of teams. Zambrano is in the midst of his worst season in a decade, to be sure, but, since 2003, he’s never had an ERA+ below 117 in a complete season. He was at 128 last year, which was his best in five years.

Ultimately, while it still appears likely that Zambrano will be dealt, if not this week, then after the season, I remain unclear on the precise reason. Is it a clubhouse issue? Is it his declining performance? Is it something else of which we’re unaware?

Because, as things stand, there is no real replacement for Zambrano ready to go. And, for all his struggles this year, I don’t see a better option for 2012 in the system right now. Nor is there a clearly better option – considering the expected contract – on the free agent market for 2012.

(While I have your attention, please consider doing me a huge (but super easy) favor by nominating Bleacher Nation for the Best Team-Specific Site for these awards.)

  • EQ

    exactly! everyone’s so quick to want to get rid of everyone and go get a great pitcher or 2 next year, but there isn’t a better option available… if there was, wouldn’t we be better off with that option and Big Z? Especially if we have to pay most of his contract next year anyways, why not pay him to stay with us, even if he pitches like a #4 starter, it’s still better than any other option we have.

    • Fishin Phil

      When it comes to pitching, I agree with you EQ. Don’t get rid of anyone until you have a better option ready. Remember when we thought we had a glut of starting pitching back in spring training?? How’s that working out??

      It would be one thing if we had some pitchers down on the farm who looked ready to make the jump, but the minor league pitchers this year are not really stepping up.

  • Michigan Goat

    I remain unclear on the precise reason. Is it a clubhouse issue? Is it his declining performance? Is it something else of which we’re unaware?

    There has to be something else and that might be why other teams are not interested.

  • EQ

    Yeah, and I do believe Cashner could have had a good year if he didn’t get hurt.. he and Wells going down early didn’t help at all. In my opinion, the biggest problem we’ve had this year is the starting pitching.. Garza was way too shaky until recently, Demp and Zambrano have been down and we’ve been horrible, probably worst in baseball, at the 4 & 5.

    Having said that, if Ramy and Big Z could net us a top pitching prospect or 2 like it did for the Mets in the Beltran trade, I’d be all for dealing them.

  • pfk

    Does Zambrano drive me nuts? Yes. Is that a reason to trade him? No. Generally, he is an innings eater who get can get you 12-14 wins a year. so, if he’s a #4 starter that is acceptable. And, if nobody wants him that sends him a very embarrassing message that just might humble him enough to be tolerable. If we can add a top of the rotation starter (probably thru FA) to go with Garza and Dempster then Z is OK. Some of the great teams in history had good or great players that were total jerks. Deal with it folks. If we had a winning team his antics wouldn’t get so much press. Fact is, much of what he says is spot on; “We stinks” and “We need change.”

    • EQ

      amen to all of that! and FYI, the only top of the rotation pitchers in FA next year play for both of out top rivals (Buehrle & Carpenter)… I doubt we get either one of them.

      • CubFan Paul

        Buehrle will be 33yrs old & Carpenter will be 37. both are only valuable to their current teams that’ll pay more to keep them ..neither is worth the Cubs investment

        On the hand, CC Sabathia will only be 31 & is dominating the American League and will most definitely opt out to force the Yankees to take on a few more years to his deal ..This is the guy the Ricketts should be chasing this offseason to anchor the rotation with Garza & Cashner next year ..Demp & Big Z will be in the final year of their contracts next year and the hope is: they pitch like soon to be free agents & the cubs would be competitve

        ..but i could also see the team going cheap & resigning Dempster this offseason to a 2 or 3 year extension instead of making a splash OR pull off another ‘garza type’ trade & get a guy who’s arbitration eligible for 2-3yrs

  • Hogie

    CJ Wilson and possibly CC Sabathia are in that class as well. Maybe the talk about bringing Pena back is to spend that money they would have spent at first on pitching.


    • Brett

      I don’t see CC going anywhere. He’ll use the opt out to force the Yankees to give him a couple more years, but they’ll offer him the most money AND they offer him the best chance to reach 300 wins. He’d be a fool to leave.

      • CubFan Paul

        you never know Brett, you never know..

    • EQ

      yeah, it’s hard to imagine the Rangers let CJ Wilson go and I don’t believe CC will opt out, nor do I believe the Yanks will be out bid for him. That’s just too much dreaming. Those are 2 teams that always need pitching and I can’t imagine them just letting those 2 walk.

      There are a couple of decent options that I could see Hendry going after to snag up an innings eater but again, I’d rather have Big Z as a #4 than pay him to pitch elsewhere… unless he’s truly that big of a clubhouse problem.

    • CubFan Paul

      ugh@me & my typos today! i forgot about CJ Wilson who will only be 31 also! he’s only making $7million & is due a big payday

      i pray that they dont bring Pena back because difference making bats dont hit for .220-.240, and i dont care about his .340 OBP when he stills strikes out a ton ..experiment over, as in: Rudy Jaramillo couldnt help Pena get his batting average north of .250 is possible for the cubs to get a CC or a CJ and still add a Fielder or Pujols. If someone doesnt think so i’l post the team’s numbers/financials for the one millionth time

      coffee time

  • philoe beddoe

    Z must be a cancer in the clubhouse…he does always have that “crazy-eyes killa” look about him…and I bet he is at least 3+ years older then his listed age, as with many Venezuelan/Dominican/other Latin players…that may sound racist, but look at the track records of guys like Tejada, Juan Cruz, etc, etc they all drop off considerably in their “early” thirties…I think you just have to have a multiplier…like when calcualating dog years…

    there has to be more to the story because we shouldn’t just give him away, unlike Soriano he can still give value…he is at least a good number 4 pitcher who can still surprise on occasion….plus he would be a better corner OF than Blake DeWitt….FYI…Zambrano can throw mid 80’s left handed…

  • KB

    Forget replacing him. If e were had a legit shot to contend next year, I’d keep him. But we don’t. Let a bunch of young arms make up the rotation. I don’t care if we lose 120 games, I really don’t; how is that any different from losing 90 or 100?

    Z is one of my favorite players, but rebuilding is our only option.