The Cubs traded Carlos Zambrano? Theo is earning his money

A year ago I lumped Carlos Zambrano in a “trade trash for trash” deal scenario with the Mets. I felt that a guy making $18 million per year who needed anger management and had to be regulated to middle relief duty while hitting 30 wouldn’t fetch much on the trade market.

And today not only did Theo deal Zambrano, but he actually got a 25 year pitcher with 4 years of big league experience under his belt. Chris Volstad already has a 12 win season on his resume and doesn’t have Zambrano’s “has he lost his God Damned mind?” baggage.

Good move Theo. He needs to tear the Cubs down to the ground and build it up. And what better way than to say “The bad contracts are out and young kids are in”?

Yeah the Cubs will have to pay for a big chunk of his contract but hey! I thought they were going to have to take junk back for him.

A title with the Cubs might not come as quickly for Theo as it did in Boston… but if flipping Zambrano to Volstad is any indication, it will eventually happen in Chicago.

(You know… just like it was going to happen with Leo Durocher, Dallas Green, Dusty Baker and Lou Piniella.)

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The Mets and Cubs should trade their trash

I am currently writing a new post for The Hardball Times where I try to put together a mega trade involving lousy contracts.

I wrote two similar pieces last off season… one where I had a three way trade involving Vernon Wells, Alfonso Soriano and Barry Zito.

The other one was a 9 team 11 player deal that was totally insane… although one part of it DID come true: Carlos Silva was in fact traded for Milton Bradley.

So I was doing the same thing this year… put together a mega trade of insanely bad long term contracts (Zito, Wells and Soriano are still subjects although Wells did have a good year for Toronto.)

And I was going to suggest which expensive short team deals should be swapped. (As I said before, who knows? A change of scenery might be what some of these guys need.)

As I was compiling a list of rotten 2011 contracts, I noticed something.

A lot of them were Met players.

And a lot of them were on the Cubs.

It just goes to show that a big payroll does not always mean a winning product.

The Cubs had the highest payroll in the National League.

The Mets had the third highest payroll in the National League.

Both had losing seasons and were not a factor in any playoff chase.

But guess what, Cubs and Mets fans! A lot of the same players who put on an uninspired yet expensive show for you ARE COMING BACK!

I say let’s shake a few things up.

Take the bad contracts for the Mets, swap them for the bad contracts from the Cubs.

The worst thing that will happen is they will both have bad teams with big payrolls.

But guess what? That will happen no matter what!

The best thing that could happen is one of the players blossoms in a new environment. Maybe a new coach will give him some good advice. Maybe a player will relax wearing a new uniform without people reminding him how awful his contract is.

Maybe a new player will just fit in well with a different group of guys.

Maybe someone will say “Hey, my contract is running out. I should pull an Adrian Beltre and put together a great season.”

So let’s make the big trade.

So let’s take a look at what each team gets…


If they catch lightning in a bottle, they can get Carlos Beltran playing for one more contract and have the yoke of New York off of his shoulders.

They can get Jason Bay happy to be swinging in a hitters ballpark again.

It is safe to say that Francisco Rodriguez isn’t fitting in with New York. But what if all he needs is a change of scenery?

And Luis Castillo… wouldn’t it be nice to see the guy who hit “The Bartman Ball” in Wrigleyville?


Carlos Zambrano’s time in Chicago might be winding down. Yeah he looked like a good soldier coming back, but anytime a team’s ace needs time away for some sort of anger management, it might be time to change addresses. If he gets his act together he can be a wonderful 1-2 punch with Santana. Or he could beat up new manager Terry Collins. Either way, it would be fun to watch.

Aramis Ramirez has been super injury prone since signing his behemoth of a contract so maybe a change of position would be ideal for him. First base? Left field? Or probably sitting his butt on the bench while on the disabled list.

Kosuke Fukudome hasn’t been the Ichiro type of superstar that the Cubs were hoping for. But he has some pop in his bat and maybe decreased expectations could help. Thanks to Kaz Matsui, there is no way he will ever be the biggest Japanese flop in Mets history. And if he plays badly for the Mets, it’s not like he has a last name that New York fans could turn into an obscene chant.

With Carlos Silva the Mets get a guy who got off to a great start last year before injuries caught up with him. Perhaps he can stay healthy long enough to contribute. After Santana, Pelfrey and Zambrano, he’d be a nice #4 starter.

And John Grabow had a truly rotten year for the Cubs… but he is left handed and can pitch, ergo he is a millionaire several times over.

After the dust settles on this trade, the Cubs would have sent $82.16 million in payroll to the Mets.

The Mets would have sent $87 million in payroll to the Cubs (so the cash makes up the difference.)

And after 2011, all of the players would be off the Mets roster save for Carlos Zambrano who would have one more season at $18 million… so they would have almost $65 million of salaries coming off the books for 2012.

The Cubs? They would be on the hook for Jason Bay, but he could be an ideal fit in that hitters ballpark the way he was in Boston. Meanwhile they’d have $55 million to spend after the 2011 season.

But then again, neither one of these teams seem very good at spending money wisely. Otherwise they wouldn’t have to deal all of these big contracts.

Now for those of you who are wondering why I didn’t include Alfonso Soriano nor Oliver Perez in these deals… well just wait. I am working out two more blockbuster trades that should happen but won’t.

Players WILL be on the move!

At least in my strange parallel universe.

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