Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Why Carlos Zambrano will be staying with the Cubs.

While we all wait to see if the Cardinals or Marlins get handcuffed with a huge Albert Pujols contract, I've decided to focus on the Cubs for a few minutes.

I've thought long and hard about it, and with a whole new management team in place, I believe now every indication is that Carlos Zambrano will be on the opening day roster.

Here are several reasons why:

1. The Cubs are rebuilding.
I truly believe that the Cubs management doesn't expect to seriously compete this year. Taking the risk of having Zambrano on a team that isn't expected to compete heavily really doesn't make much difference.

2. Only one year left on the contract.
This isn't the same situation as Alfonso Soriano. Hopefully the Cubs are able to compete again by 2013 or 2014. Z doesn't have a contract that runs past this season. He won't be on those teams. Soriano would still have a contract when the Cubs are competitive again. If Jed and Theo believe that Soriano isn't not part of the future for this team (and we all know he is not), it's best get rid of him now as his value isn't likely to get any higher for the remaining 3 years of his contract.

3. Z's value is currently at an all-time low.
Even if the Cubs intended to trade Zambrano, right now wouldn't be a good time. I don't see Zambrano's value getting much lower over the next few years. He comes with a ton of baggage right now. This leads into the next point.

4. Z's value has the potential to go up.
In fact, Zambrano's value has nowhere to go but up. The smart thing to do would be to let him pitch on a team that isn't going to seriously compete for anything this year and let him attempt to raise his value. Then, as the trade deadline approaches, he might actually be worth something to a team making a playoff run. With his contract expiring at the end of the year, it makes perfect sense that another team would take a flier on Zambrano at the deadline, and the Cubs could get a couple of decent prospects in return.

5. He's no longer the team ace.
The Cubs aren't depending on him this year. With Wells, Cashner, Garza and Dempster already slotted to start, Zambrano is in a position he hasn't been in since 2003...the #5 starter. (Well, Shawn Estes was the #5 starter by the middle of the season...but still.) He's not the Cubs ace. The Cubs chances this year aren't dependent on him getting 16 wins. The pressure is off him. He can go out, relax and just pitch.

6. Manny Ramirez.
I think most people in Boston wanted Ramirez gone before the 2008 season start. Theo Epstein waited and because he waited, he got Jason Bay in return. Bay put up some really nice numbers in his 1 1/2 seasons in Boston. I'm not saying Zambrano is like Manny Ramirez, but being patient payed off for Epstein that year because he probably wouldn't have received that much value for Ramirez if he had traded him before the 2008 season when most people were calling for him to be dumped.

I'm no GM, but I think all of these reasons would indicate that Zambrano is staying for now. And I think that it's probably the best thing to do for the Cubs to do.