Obviously the big news of the day will be the continued discussion of last night’s Carlos Zambrano trade, and I’ll have more on Chris Volstad, as well as a farewell to Zambrano, later today. Until then, Bullets (which, yeah, touch on the trade) …

  • The local media reactions to the trade are about what you’d expect. Dave Kaplan says the Cubs are vastly improved just by virtue of dumping Zambrano (Kap has a better view of the clubhouse than I, so he could well be right). Dave van Dyke chronicles Zambrano’s sins and says he and Ozzie Guillen are a good match (will be fun to watch “from afar”). Gordon Wittenmyer lays out the case for the inevitability of this move (I agree). Phil Rogers speaks for the fans and says we’re all thrilled to see Zambrano gone (not sure about that). Jon Greenberg offers an evenhanded take on the end of the Zambrano era, and chastises the Cubs for coddling him for so long (fair).
  • An interesting question after the trade: are the Cubs done dealing with the Marlins now? Does this take the Marlins out of the market for, say, Matt Garza? Probably, and, if so, I’m certain the Cubs wouldn’t have made this move until they’d exhausted talks about Garza with the Marlins (i.e., both sides agreed that it just wasn’t going to happen). But, the mere adding of Zambrano (and subtraction of Volstad) does not necessarily close the door on a Garza trade – the Marlins could send a pitcher back the Cubs’ way as part of the deal. I’m just saying: it’s not impossible.
  • Some folks are making way too much of Theo Esptein’s comments about Bryan LaHair being the Cubs’ starting first baseman in 2012. Sure, it might come to that. But LaHair is presently the only first baseman on the 40-man roster. Of course Epstein was going to say that “right now” Bryan LaHair is expected to be the Cubs’ starting first baseman. There’s no one else. The statement echoes what Epstein has said for months about giving LaHair a chance. It doesn’t really mean much of anything. If the Cubs can land someone better, or at least younger, they will.
  • Spring Training is now a reasonably approaching target that we can kind of start thinking about: pitchers and catchers report on February 18, and everyone else reports five days later. Individual tickets for Spring Training go on sale today at 10am CT.
  • MLB is doing that Fan Cave thing again this year (you live in a room and watch every single baseball game all year). Applications are due by the end of this month if you’re into it.
  • I won’t have too many more opportunities to use the photoshop picture up there, so I thought I should get it out there at least one last time. That’s Zambrano breaking Tony Campana over his knee. I’m proud of my career choices.
  • Fishin Phil

    I will miss that photoshop.

    • Wilbur

      I won’t …

  • OlderStyle

    yesterday I ate a 22 oz. hamburger for lunch. I cut it into four sections. the first two-no problem. as I was finishing the 3rd section, I started having doubts. It took me as long to finish final fourth as to eat first two. But, it had to be done. Four other guys were waiting for me to finish so we could get our picture taken and put on the restaurant wall.
    To me, trading Zambrano was like that final fourth section. It didn’t taste good or sit well for a while, but, it had to be done. Maybe it was for the sake of the other 24 guys in the clubhouse this upcoming season?

    • Wilbur

      Nice analogy …

    • tjtrigo

      It all makes sense now…I relate well with food.

  • scottie

    “[A]nd somehow I think the stalled Kerry Wood negotiations are about to pick up steam. Wrigley Field is about to feel a whole lot different.”

    is Rogers implying that Wood wouldnt return if Big Z was still here?

    • MoneyBoy

      Rogers can imply anything he wants – as no one pays attention to his drivel.

      Wood made it very clear on a CTL interview he wanted nothing to do with Zambrano.  Not a single member of the team had anything positive – even those (like Dempster) who had previously been supportive – of him after the ATL incident.

  • RoughRiider

    With sadness I had come to the conclusion that Zambrano would and should leave the Cubs. Say what you will about Zambrano but at least you knew that he cared about winning. The saddest part is what might have been. I hope he does well in the future, very well. Just not against the Cubs. As for the trade, Theo and company got more than I expected. I hope Volsted can turn it around and be the pitcher that he was projected to be.

    • bluekoolaidaholic

      I agree. He is gone, and it doesn’t matter what we got in return, I guess we just got tired of replacing Gatorade machines and duggout parts, let’s move on.
      How about if we just remember his fire and desire to win going along with all those great games that he won for us. What about all those hits he got?
      Thanks Z, In spite of how it ended, (especially that poor judgement thing with Chipper)
      I thank you for your contribution (well, most of it).
      I wish you the best in Miami with Ozzie, really.
      I hope someone has a camera on you the first time he takes you out of a game before you think he should, or someone does something else you don’t like. .
      Pure entertainment.
      See ya.
      Oh, and by the way. I am going to hate you properly whenever you play the Cubs now.

  • oswego chris

    I really hope they keep Garza now….Theo has done a nice job of infusing the staff with young low risk high ceiling guys…Wood, Volstad, still got Smard(ND wideout)…but you can’t have NO veteran starters…Garza and Demp with No z, woody back for bullpen leadership..nice mix of youth and vets…I still say they add a starter like Maholm

  • NL_Cubs

    The era of accountability, expectations of appropriate behavior and clubhouse chemistry is being formulated. I like the way this recipe is being cobbled thus far. Full steam ahead Theo and Jed!

    So long ‘Z’. “We stinks” but it’s a little more pleasant odor to tolerate without your behavioral issues & antics.  The ‘Z’ and Ozzie show should be good for a few laughs.

    • Fishin Phil

      I’m going to start following the Fish just for the laughs.

    • http://cubbiekingdom.wordpress.com hansman1982

      2012 could go to one of the two extremes for the Marlins – either World Series or they finish with 8 wins and 30,000 killed.  Putting Z and Guillen together with a disgruntled Ramirez and Morrison could turn any losing spell into a losing season.

      • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

        On the other hand, even if the Marlins’ clubhouse does blow up, if it does so spectacularly enough, it will help sell tickets. And that is about all that matters in Miami right now. I think the Marlins would take a horrible season in 2012 if they knew they would also get an attendance figure around 3 million and 20,000+ season ticket sales out of it. Long term that franchise is in good shape… if the fans show up.

        Just think of the marketing ploys…Zambrano v Guillen Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots giveaway night, Big Z’s Gatorade Cooler Punching Bag giveaway night, Hanely Ramirez refuses to play all 9 positions night, win a chance to edit Ozzie’s tweets for a game, Post Game Fight Club brought to you by WWE night…

      • EQ76

        I expect Z to have a good year, I really do.. which in some ways will kinda piss me off.. but overall, I think the Marlins won’t be a playoff team.. the only really solid move they made was getting Heath Bell..  Buehrle is decent but may start declining the next few years,  Reyes will be hurt throughout the year… not sure if they’ve gotten a whole lot better, or just a little better.

  • ncsujuri

    So as it stands right now our rotation candidates are: Garza, Dempster, Volstad, Wood, Wells, Cashner, Shark, Sonnastine.  Am I missing anyone?

    • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

      McNutt, Searle, Rusin, and Coleman (is probably the ninth starter, but he is still a candidate). McNutt probably won’t be ready until mid-season, but Searle or Rusin could steal a job out of spring training. Throw Jay Jackson in that mix as well. Maybe Alberto Cabrera if he looks like he did at the end of last season. And Rafael Dolis, unless they decide to keep him in the bullpen (probable).

      And I strongly suspect that only one of Cashner and Samardzija will be in the rotation. I’d rather it be Cashner, but given his shoulder issues, it will like be Samardzija this season. I think they’ll take cautiously with Cashner and work him out of then for a year.

      That’s actually quite a bit of rotation depth. I wouldn’t mind seeing another 200+ innings a year guy added into the mix, though.

      • ncsujuri

        Thanks for filling in the blanks Luke…I wasn’t considering the Triple A arms as much as I should have been.  I appreciate the input.

  • 2much2say

    Scratch Sonestine add Mcnutt and maybe that Cuban

  • Fishin Phil

    You forgot Rodrigo Lopez. 😉

  • CubSouth

    Brett, this question is for you or anyone else who would like to chime in. You had asked about what the Cubs would do with the available 2012 payroll money “leftover”. Besides bidding on Cespedes and Soler, and Prince as well, has there been any knowledge as to what that money will be used for? If, say, we don’t get any of those players.

    • 2much2say

      Extra money? Maybe a Starbucks?

      • EQ76

        Maybe a Starbucks inside the 20 mil. dollar McDonalds?

    • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

      It could go back into the international free agent market. The restrictions don’t kick in until the 2012 summer signing period, so anyone the Cubs sign before then is effectively uncapped (like Soler). That won’t use all of it, though.

      However, the penalties for exceeding the IFA budget after the restrictions go into effect are not all that severe. The Cubs could decide to spend whatever it takes this year (since they might have some money to spend) and just deal with the penalties. That would depend on how much they like the players available this season.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      If the Cubs don’t get any of those players, and if amateur spending is indeed limited to just $10 million or so in 2012 (in other words, assuming the Cubs don’t decide to say “f it” and spend like crazy in the draft and incur the penalties), it’s hard to see where the “extra” $20, $30, $40 million will be spent. It’s possible it could just go back into paying down the team’s debt (which is actually the Ricketts’ debt), which I know is not something folks want to hear. But it’ll be paid out of team revenues at some point anyway.

      • Hrubes20

        It just feels as if they are earmarking $30-40 million for a one-time, lump sum payment to Soriano or to his theoretical new team. It would cost more, as a dollar today is worth more than a dollar in 3 years, but it would give the FO all sorts of financial flexibility in the next 3 years. As has been said, where else is the money going to be spent?

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I believe the money has to be paid up front by rule, so you might be onto something.

          • polocubs

            I like that idea – get rid of the contractual handcuffs right now, year one, and move on

  • 2much2say

    Who’s left for Garza? Marlins out, Yanks out, Tigers out That leaves Blue Jays and Rangers

    • Toosh

      I wouldn’t say any of those teams are out. They might still be interested. They just have to raise their offers. Don’t believe everything you read.

      • http://cubbiekingdom.wordpress.com hansman1982

        Agree, they will posture just as much as Theo will.  Just like any deal, he who rushes to the table, loses, every single time.

  • DRock

    Good work, Theo.  Now, trade Soriano and sign Prince Fielder and maybe Cespedes or Soler.  Let’s get this roster solidified.  The pitchers and catchers report in a little over a month!

  • Andrewmoore4isu

    Don’t care what anyone thinks about my opinion (unless it’s good) but man I loved Z. The moment quade said he thinks Z retired he should have been fired. You don’t repeat what is said in the club house. Z had passion. If Z was posting 3.00 ERAs with all these antics people would’ve loved him. Unfortunately he was posting 4.00 ERAs and hitting bombs. I loved Z and I’ll miss the big douchebag!

  • Cubsin

    How could you forget Casey Coleman?

  • Cubbies4Life

    Does Zambrano realize yet that he’s going to have to actually wear that horrific Marlins uniform? I would think that would be a good enough excuse for him to smack around a few Gatorade dispensers…

    • RoughRiider

      I heard the company that makes Gatorade dispensers is moving to Miami so they can be close to their revenue stream.

  • Rochester Cubs Fan

    For the first time in a long time was feeling optimistic this morning about the direction the Cubs are headed in after the Z trade. Would love to see them get rid of Soriano (for a case of balls) and maybe even Byrd (let Jackson play). If they can get the right package back for Garza and Dempster, then do that too. But the most important move right now is to get Fielder. He is only 26 so they can build around him and he is the left handed power bat in the middle of the lineup that they have been trying to get for years. Getting the big guy would change the whole lineup for the future.

  • 2much2say

    There is a big difference between the Cubs top 3 prospects and the Yankees Top 3.
    The best the Cubs can hope for is a top 50 prospect bottom 100 and maybe a 40 man roster guy.

  • 2much2say

    It was possible that Z’s value at the July trade deadline would have been equal or higher then what the Marlins gave. Money would have been less though.

  • JK

    I do have to say that watching Z get a no-hitter in Milwaukee is a highlight in my Cubs history, along with Kerry Woods 20k outing. i will miss Z hitting home-runs as well. But he was a short term asset with a quick fuse who had worn out his welcome.

  • jandersonjr81 father of Caden

    I stated last night and I reiterate it today. There is absolutely no way this tradie makes us better. Does he have problems, yes. Does he affect other players ability to do there job. Probably yes. But if the latter is the case, then the player who is affected should be traded or released. If a grown man can’t do his job because of the “attitude” problems of another, then he is not a real men.

    Besides, zambrano was in prime condition to have a prime year. It’s w contract year. He always pitching great after he has trouble. He’s having a pretty good winter. Oh, and simply put, he is better then Chris Volstad 100 out of 100 times.

    Zambrano is a Cub. A career long Cubs. Meaning he was “born” into the family. Epstein is an in-law. He has to earn his place in family. An in-law that’s been married before at that. You don’t turn your back on a family member. Your brother messes up, you still love him and support him. You don’t disowned him. Definitely not cause an in-law says to. I’m going to miss Z. He is the only player I know who tried 150% everytime out. Can’t say I blame him for acting the way he did last year, or against derek Lee. I like That fire. If we had 25 players with that fire, we would win the World Series every year. Epstein, how about that annullment.

    • http://cubbiekingdom.wordpress.com hansman1982

      Wow, so you are saying that if I have someone I work with that has beat up other employees and has walked out on a project when the times got tough, but I have a problem with him sticking around and he negatively affects my performance, I am not a man and I should be the one out the door?

      Plain and simple, we are not the ones who are disowning Zambrano, he did that in August when he walked out and said, I Quit.  Right now Z is in a decline, now why that is, isn’t clear but if you look at the past two years, Z and Volstad are basically the same pitcher, only Volstad will be around for 3 more years, is improving and isn’t the clubhouse headache.

      It is time Cubs fans stopped getting wrapped up in the players before the organizations needs.  I LOVED Marshall to death, but I understand that by trading him the organizational needs are better addressed.  After the Pujols signing I tried teasing a brother-in-law of mine and his response was “It didn’t make sense to sign 1 player to that much money, the Birds on the front have to come before the name on the back.”  If a die-hard Cardinal fan can say that about the greatest player of our generation who has not been a headache of a teammate, then why do you have such a hard time saying that about someone who is clearly declining and was a headache of a teammate.

    • TWC

      “There is absolutely no way this tradie makes us better.”

      This year?  Perhaps.  But in 2013 and 2014?  Zambrano would be doing nothing for us in those years.  Volstad will be.

      “Can’t say I blame him for acting the way he did last year….  I like That fire.”

      You mean when he cleaned out his locker and said he was quitting?  That’s not fire, that’s cowardice.

    • JK

      I see your point but there comes a time to let go. That time had come with Z. We weren’t going to renew him after next season. So it was either this year or next. He made his bed.

    • jandersonjr81 father of Caden

      I see why we will never win a series. I can’t believe somebody from Chicago would say that. I guess Micheal Jordan was a great teammates, huh. I guess smacking and choking Steve Kerr, looking down on teammates and thinking you are more mighty is good for the team. But Chicago still loves him. Steve Kerr still likes him. Oh and he won rings. Not say Z is Jordan. But their attitudes are to different.

      • ncsujuri

        Both Jordan and Z were/are competitive and fiery the main problem with your analogy though is that Jordan was the best player of his and most likely ALL time in his sport whereas Z isn’t even a HOF pitcher though he had the ability to be one.

        • http://cubbiekingdom.wordpress.com hansman1982

          Jordan also never walked out on his teammates mid-season, never assaulted someone on the bench during a game

          It is one thing to do it in practice (still not acceptable), it is a whole different ball of wax to do it mid game.

          • Kyle

            “Jordan also never walked out on his teammates mid-season, never assaulted someone on the bench during a game.”

            Nope, that was Sandberg and Santo, respectively.

          • jandersonjr81 father of Caden

            No, just right before Camp when he didn’t give his team a chance to make offseason moves. Or was that he got “suspended”. As I recall, Battery started the fight with Z, and Lee actually snap a Z after Z told him he should have made the play. Funny Lee was never criticized for not making an easy play. Not defending him, I just don’t get sucked up in all the media hype.

            • http://bleachernation.com loyal100more

              the Z stands for ZERO just let it go dude your only makeing yourself look foolish in front of a bunch of cub fans that have a clue as to what they are talking about. just move on and join the conversation from a realistic view.

      • Tommy

        Help me out here – Michael Jordan choked Steve Kerr? I have never heard that before.

    • jandersonjr81 father of Caden

      By the way Hansmans, I work in Aviation and everyday I go to work I deal with immature trouble makers who keep shit started. Me, I stay to myself and do my Job. If I didn’t, it would be pretty dangerous for those of you who fly. And believe ut or not, teamwork is just as important in my field as on a baseball field.

      • Rick Vaughn

        Wow, I bet Caden is almost as proud of dad as dad is.

        • Tommy

          LOL, Vaughn!

    • Tommy

      Wow! I disagree with everything you said jandersonjr81.

    • ferrets_bueller

      Wow. Theo Epstein has earned a hell of a lot more than Zambrano has. I’ve gotta say, this post is based upon the stupidest premises of any post I’ve ever seen here.

  • oswego chris

    I have to disagree… Big Z’s “passion” was really just selfishness in many cases…if he really only cared about winning he wouldn’t have quit on his team…repeatedly…this “he is a Cub” thing is why we have been losers….he was a bad Cub!…the Cubs offered him psychiatric help..he refused…they bent over backwards for this guy…they gave him a great contract…he was treated like family, and he shit on his own family…you can have 25 Zambranos if you want, but you won’t win…he didn’t win big games, he couldn’t even handle pitching on opening day let alone the play-offs… he was a very good pitcher who had the potential to be great, and he has never grown up…you want to get a call from an umpire Big Z? quit pouting and whining everytime you don’t get one…his “passion” is BS

  • Joy

    I am sad that he couldn’t get his act together as I think he could have been a really great pitcher. But I am glad he is gone as I know what it’s like to work with someone like that and it sucks. I hope Garza stays as I think he is a positive influence as he is always involved in the game. Ozzie’s blog should be interesting this year.

  • gratefulled

    Yesterday, I was at a restaurant for lunch and I decided to eat a foot-long chili dog. I cut it into four pieces. After I ate the four pieces I washed it down with a six-pack of Old Stylies. About 6 hours later I spackled my toilet with that exact same lunch.

    To me, that was Carlos Zambrano.

  • oswego chris

    whoaa!!!….big difference between Jordan’s competitive fire and Big Z…Jordan is no saint, but I would imagine when he “snapped at teammate” it carried a little more weight than a guy struggling to keep his ERA below 4.50….you are comparing Superman with the Green Hornet..

  • rcleven

    I don’t see this trade as Theo’s. From the time Z walked out Mr. Ricketts said He didn’t see Z returning to the team. Theo just made lemonade when handed lemons. Does it make the team better? Short term I would have to say no. Like a cancer it has to be removed for the body to heal.Let’s just hope it was done in time to save the body.

    • King Jeff

      I agree that this was a move that was going to be made no matter what.  I think he would have been waiver wired if he wasn’t traded at some point.  I think the only reason it took this long is because the Marlins were hesitant to commit any money until they knew how much they were going to spend in free agency.  Ozzie probably thinks he can work with Zambrano, so this was a no-brainer where the Cubs had almost no leverage.

  • Oliver dehart

    A very healthy move because of his attitude
    And soon to be salary relief. The Cubbies still
    Need to trade Sori, Bird, and Soto for a solid 3rd baseman
    And a solid starting pitcher.
    We won’t win it all this year , but should be exciting to watch.

  • http://j.j j.j

    everybody love big Z fire,if only he would of smack the opposition around a little bit he would probably still be a cub.

  • cubincardinalland

    What is amazing is some people actually defending Zambrano’s actions. This guy has been stealing his money for years. Lazy, egomaniac, bi polar. Adios and good riddance. Hope we kick your butt this year.

  • Sam

    LIL theo – strikes again – Chicago paying 14 million dollars for a pitcher winning games in Miami. only a baseball genius could unite Ozzie and the Baby Z and get stuck with the check!

    • Rancelot

      Sam, do all of us a favor and go play in rush hour traffic on Lake Shore Drive.

      Have you ever seen the movie Pulp Fiction? Theo has been hired to play the role of “The Cleaner”, Winston “The Wolf” Wolfe, as played by Harvey Keitel. Theo/Winston is the master of clean up. He is the consummate gentleman. He immediately sizes up the potentially disastrous situation, formulates a workable plan, and most importantly, provides calm, clear leadership to pull everyone together quickly and powerfully.

      The state of the Cubs is not by any fault of Ricketts and Theo/Jed…this was a Tribune/Zell ownership debacle that spiraled out of control leaving the new regime to clean up the mess!

  • cubmig

    Everyone is weighing in on Z as to whether he was a “cancer” purged or talent wasted by the Cubs in this trade. As notable too, is the passion bleeding through in the arguments. Sounds like passion is not a bad thing for humans caring about winning. I liked and do like Z. I liked his latino fire. I wish him well, BUT more importantly, I hope Volstad doesn’t disappoint. Many seem “high” that we got a usable piece in the trade. That doesn’t say much. Moreover, time is going to tell the full story as to whether we as fans will be content with “embers” instead of “fire”.