Zambrano Out, Volstad In and Two Minor League Signings

Theo Epstein spent an hour on Wednesday afternoon discussing the state of the Chicago Cubs on WGN Radio. Epstein covered a variety of topics during the question and answer session about his team.

The Cubs’ President of Baseball Operations was asked about Carlos Zambrano and how he fit would fit in with the team moving forward.

Theo Epstein said, “The Carlos Zambrano of 2011 and years previous can’t fit into the culture that we have here. Change needs to happen and change will happen. Either he’ll change and buy in and fit into this culture – and I understand there are a lot of skeptics about that, and I understand that, and frankly, I’m skeptical as well. He needs to prove to us that he can change and be part of this culture or we’ll change the personnel and move forward with people who are proud to be Cubs and treat their teammates with respect, treat the fans with respect and can be part of a winning culture in the Cubs’ clubhouse.”

Less than two hours after Epstein made those comments about Zambrano, rumblings out of Venezuela indicated that Carlos Zambrano was on the verge of being traded to the Miami Marlins … and less than four hours later, the trade was confirmed by several outlets.

The deal is not official but is expected to be announced as soon as Thursday. The Cubs will send Carlos Zambrano and at least $15 million to the Marlins for right-handed pitcher Chris Volstad.

News also surfaced that the Cubs signed first baseman/outfielder Joe Mather and infielder Edgar Gonzalez to minor league contracts … and the Cubs announced pitchers and catchers will report to Fitch Park on February 18. Position players are to report by February 23 with the first full squad workout on February 24.

Here’s the update …

Joe Mather and Edgar Gonzalez
According to Baseball America, the Cubs have signed two veterans to minor league deals … likely with invites to big league camp. The Cubs have not announced the signings but according to BA they have signed first baseman/outfielder Joe Mather and infielder Edgar Gonzalez.

The Cardinals selected Joe Mather in the third round of the 2001 draft. The right-handed outfielder and first baseman played in 36 games for the Braves last year. Mather, 29 years old, spent time in the Braves and Rockies system in 2011 and put together a combined .306/.359/.461/.820 line with 19 doubles, a triple and seven home runs in 73 games at the Triple-A level.

Joe Mather’s Page on Baseball-Reference

Edgar Gonzalez, brother of Adrian, played in 82 games for the Padres in 2009 … his last action at the big league level. The 33-year old (June 14, 1978) infielder played in Japan in 2010 and spent last season in the Giants organization.

Gonzalez put together a .315/.378/.457/.835 line with 30 doubles and 14 home runs in 137 games at the Triple-A level (Pacific Coast League). Gonzalez played all four infield positions (SS-58, 3B-23, 2B-49, 1B-1).

Edgar Gonzalez’s Page on Baseball-Reference

Cubs Corner with Theo Epstein
The CCO will have more on Theo Epstein’s interview on WGN Radio before the end of the week. In the meantime, here are a few quotes from Epstein made during the question and answer session on 720 WGN.

On Bryan LaHair: “Bryan LaHair is our first baseman for now. I don’t believe in the concept of 4-A players. The guy can hit. I think hitters hit no matter where they are and this kid has hit. He’s hit everywhere he’s ever been. It’s the right time for an organization like us to give him the opportunity.”

On Kerry Wood: “Kerry Wood is exactly the type of guy we want to build a winning culture here in Chicago.” Epstein added, “If we can’t work this out, we’re doing something wrong.” The Cubs are negotiating a new contract for Wood with his agent.

On the Red Sox Compensation: “It’s still on the table. We’ll get it resolved. I think both clubs are approaching it in good faith. We need to find a resolution that both parties are happy with.” The Cubs and Sox still have a good working relationship after what has transpired over the last three months. Epstein said when the Sean Marshall deal was announced that he was in Boston and went to Fenway and held the conference call with the media from his old desk.

News, Notes and Rumors
According to a report from George Ofman, three American League teams are interested in Alfonso Soriano. The Orioles continue to be connected to Soriano … the Cubs’ left fielder played for Buck Showalter in Texas.

Marlon Byrd could be the next Cub traded according to Dave Kaplan … unless a team blinks on Matt Garza.

FanGraphs discussed the Chris Volstad and Carlos Zambrano trade from both angles … How Much Of Zambrano Is Left For Miami? and Volstad heads to Chicago. All told, the Cubs and Marlins traded fifth starters … and Volstad may offer a little upside for the Cubs.

Dale Sveum and the Cubs make their first trip to the Marlins’ new stadium in mid-April (April 17 – April 19). What are the chances Carlos Zambrano starts one of the three games of that series? The Marlins make the trip to Wrigley for a three-game series in July (July 17 – July 19).

A flurry of minor league contracts were announced on Wednesday and several former Cubs agreed to minor league deals with new organizations that included non-roster invitations to big league camp … Chad Gaudin (Marlins), Andres Blanco (Nationals), Chad Tracy (Nationals), Jeff Stevens (Mets) and Eric Patterson (Tigers).

Well, there’s the update … and I’m sticking to it.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

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  • Smcneil

    any chance(hope!) that Matt Dominguez(he is blocked by Hanley now) coming back to Cubs from Marlins to help soften the money hurt?

    • Tony_Hall

      None…the money hurt when JH signed him…it was already spent.  

      Think of it this way, they cut Zambrano and he gave us $3M back (for all the trouble he has caused the Cubs) to sign Volstad, who the Marlins cut to make room for Zambrano who they gave a league minimum contract.

      Does that sound better?

  • Agustinrexach

    This is such a bad trade. So Basically the Cubs pay the same Amount of money for a lesser pitcher with a better attitude?!. I’m still waiting for a top10 Marlin Prospect coming our way…if not, this is a typical JH move of the worst kind and only Z wins here. He gets to be part of a really good team and poor Volstad on a very Bad one. Zambrano is a solid pitcher period, he will do great in Miami with Guillén… Count on that.

    • Steve_RocVegas

      First let me state, I agree with you that he will go down to FL and have  a decent season. But how does that change the fact that wasn’t going to happen with the Cubs?  No way he came back and suddenly became the Big Z of old and contributes to a team clearly in rebuilding mode. So even if he goes down to FL and wins 30 games, starts in the All-Star game and wins the WS with FL, what’s that matter to Cubs?  It wasn’t going to happen here and no other team clearly wanted him, so getting Volstad is still better then cutting him and paying same price.

    • Kevin

      Agust- wrong. Money is not an option at this point for the Cubs. Winning isnt even a top priority for next year (as strange as that sounds). The main goal at this point is to rid the Cubs organization of the troubles that have plagued the team for a decades. Moving Zambrano is a great move.
      I would have taken a bag of baseballs and some chewing gum for Carlos. He needed to go and things need to change. This is not a win right away move. It is a long term rebuilding process that is going in the right direction.
      Cubs fans could care less if Zambrano wins in Miami. He was not wanted any longer in Chi town. Good trade for the fact that we are going in the right direction, I’m just not sure how long it will take to clean out this poor organization Lol. Keep goin Theo

  • Steve_RocVegas

    I’m amazed at the reaction so far on here on this trade. Six months ago when Big Z was told to “go home”, EVERYONE on this site said he should be cut and paid to stay home, FOR GOOD! Now, Theo fakes interest in giving him a second chance, confusing most everyone why he would do that, and then flips him for a decent prospect with tons of upside for the same cost of paying him to stay home.  To even make the argument that he should have returned a Top 10 Marlin prospect is absurd.  Everyone in baseball knew the Cubs were in a no-win situation with him and had to give him away or basically pay him to stay home, cut him and pay him, or trade him to whoever will take him.  The fact they got Volstad, who if he returned to his 2009 form, is a miracle to me because I also was clearly in the majority who were saying “cut him NOW” and eat the loss and move on.  Let me guess, so if they happen to sucker someone into taking Soriano and don’t get a Top 10 Prospect from O’s, Tigers, (insert sucker here), then Theo once again is a fool and the same as JH. I think everyone has to step back for a minute and remember what we were willing to do a few months back, which was pay half the roster to stay home and begin rebuilding the “right way”.  Isn’t that exactly what Theo is doing, and stockpiling upside potential in return? 

    • RVSAL

      Thanks Steve, great assessment!  He’s gone now for good and will no longer poison the locker room. Good Riddance.

    • Anthony

      Balt doesn’t want a $7M Vlad, but may take a $3M/3 yr Soriano, but…………..

      That $15M per year difference better be the Comp for a top prospect, and maybe toss in Reimold to play LF for the Cubs?

      • Steve_RocVegas

        So I’m assuming you feel they checked with no other clubs in MLB on his value to them, or was going to bring him back and be part of team, of which he’d create chaos again and be a link to the horrible regime we just booted? Otherwise, he was going to be cut, payed anyway, and THEN picked up by FL for the league minimum.  How do Cubs lose by getting anything close to Volstad for him?

        • Anthony

          what are you talking about?

          • Tony_Hall

            He was talking about Zambrano, and then you brought up Soriano.

            Also, Vlad won’t be $7M

          • Anthony

            say what?

            I agreed with the Z trade

          • Steve_RocVegas

            Anthony, unless I misunderstood you, I took your post as saying the 15M the Cubs paid for Z, better be in return for a top prospect and maybe Reimold.  That wasn’t going to happen was the purpose of my response. Must have misunderstood your response on the 15M, sorry.

          • Anthony

            the diff between 19M for a 2013 Z and 4M for Volstad

          • Tony_Hall

            Big Z was never going to have 2013 pickedup.

          • Anthony

            gain

          • Tony_Hall

            What was this post about?  I didn’t understand how it had anything to with Steve’s post.

            “Balt doesn’t want a $7M Vlad, but may take a $3M/3 yr Soriano, but…………..

            That $15M per year difference better be the Comp for a top prospect, and maybe toss in Reimold to play LF for the Cubs?”

    • cc002600

      exactly.

      This guy didn’t have zero value. He had NEGATIVE value.

      Nobody wanted his crazy arse, except ozzie. NOBODY.

      Yea, there are teams just lining up to take a nutjob making $19M who can’t pitch anymore.

      If you think about it, what’s the difference between Z and Bradley ?  very little.

      To get a bag of balls for him would have been a coup, and yet Theo gets $3M and a young pitcher, and everyone thinks he got screwed.

      Too many people here drink the cubs kool-aid

      WTF.

      • John_CC

        We agree!! This dumping Zambrano thing is very interesting.  The reactions are all over.  1967 even liked it! :)

    • Jeff in AZ

      Well said. It is necessary to remind posters here repeatedly what they were for before they were against.

    • paulcatanese

      It’s the “upside potential” that concerns me. Haven’t seen any signings that fit that criteria.

      • cubtex

        I know Paul. I am with you

  • Anthony

    A wise mentor once told me that when a decision has to be made that contains emotion, step back, wait to the next day, then decide with a clearer head.

    All the lingo comes into play. Addition by Subtraction. ST asset to LT asset, contra-asset(the opposite effect).

    Volstad is arb-elig and under control for 3 seasons, and if he lays an egg, will contine to be a 3-4M 5th starter Comp-wise.

    Z was not going to be tripped at 19M for 2013. Effectively, this opens up $10-15M for 2013 FA pitchers if/when needed.

    If both pitchers have an average 2012, the difference in wins Z would provide may be marginal, and that is not quantifying what “anchor effect” Z has on the clubhouse just being short-wired. He is Ozzie, basically “off the wall”.

    Volstad fits as an under-achieving former 1st rounder, the kind of player Theo seeks hoping the pedigree finally materializes, catch lightning in a bottle. Maybe Theo hired a bunch of sports psychologists to work with all these players?

    I understand the trade, and I also understand some thinking, as I did to ride the horse the first half of the season and get value then, but we don’t know what they know, and Theo felt it wasn’t worth the risk of potential collateral damage to the team/organization.

    So far:
    Garza
    Dempster
    Wood
    Volstad
    OPEN

    My take on the Gonzales 2B signing. A veteran with a SD connection, can handle the position if Bianchi struggles(or wins it outright), and opens the door for a Barney trade, probably in a package.

    Mather is serviceable and provides backup/insurance relating to current roster, AAA fills, and pending trades. Actually a pretty good player.

    My guess is a deal will come down that includes known Cubs prospect names, and the connection is too great between SD and ChiC, and the fact Alonso is the Padres 1B. They will try for Rizzo, but for AAA initially as they see what LaHair can do, and you can bet LaHair is taking flyballs in workouts.

    When Soriano is shipped, if Rizzo is gotten in a trade, the possibility of both he and LaHair in the same lineup works, on paper.

    My guess is Vitters or Lake, or both with a pitcher gets Rizzo, and don’t be surprised if Youk becomes a Cub in a lame-duck season where Boston has a 3B in waiting, needs to lessen payroll while adding a dominant starter.

    The names Byrd, Garza, Youkilis, Ellsbury, Alex Wilson, Ranaudo may be included in some sort of deal, or it just might be Byrd for Youk to save Boston about $7M for a 2012 rent-a-pitcher(Oswald).

    Theo ain’t done yet.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Mather signing means….

      “WE have nothing in AAA or AA that we think can hit a ML fastball, so we signed this guy in case we need a .215 hitting 1B for 20 games or so.”

      “He’s a quality guy…like Ian Stewart.”

      “He’s part of the New Cubs’ Culture we starting around here– LOSING BIG on the cheap.”

      • Anthony

        I disagree, and rookie-level players can hit a MLB fastball. There is a huge difference in 98 vs 92 mph, and a rare few hit 98, the rest are very hittable.

        If I were to guess, every MLB pitcher was once a minor league pitcher, and when they got to the major leagues, they didn’t all of a sudden gain velocity.

        ??????????

      • Steve_RocVegas

        Ripsnorter, since I’m fairly new to this site, can I assume you liked the JH regime here?  Otherwise, how can you possibly think Theo is doing something wrong here trying to clean up an absolute “oil spill” that JH left behind.  Did you think he was going to do that successfully in 2012 somehow?  Give the guy some time and then make those kind of assesments in 1-2 years if it’s still this plan.  Personally, I think he’s doing everything he can to clean house without completely cutting half the roster and telling them to stay home. Me personally, I’d rather watch them lose 100 games this year with a hard working team and plays the game the right way, IF i know he’s clearing money for a 2-4 plan that brings a consistent team year after year who competes, ala Boston.  And I do believe that’s exactly what he’s doing, slowly but surely turning the ship, and getting it headed back to port for a “redo” that was desperately needed.  I couldn’t even watch the Cubs the last two years and see players like Big Z, Sori, A-Ram, and a few lesser others play like spoiled, overpayed, and absolutely lazy major league brats.  Although Sori is just lazy and not the others traits I mentioned for A-Ram and Z.  Not sure what you expected, but I’d hate to work for you and be a new hire I’ll tell you that.  Relax dude, give it till next spring before you rip him and say he’s LOSING BIG on the cheap.  I think you’ll have a different opinion by then personally.  If not, and this course fails, RIP AWAY!!

        • John_CC

          Steve, thanks for jumping into the fray even though you’re new.  Your first sentence is perfect…what else would one think reading Snorter’s posts for the first time?  It’s hilarious because Rip was NOT a fan JH. Not in the slightest.  I’ll just wait to see what he has to say now.  Welcome aboard. I for one, appreciate the sanity.

      • Tony_Hall

        They have Jeff Baker to be the RH 1B, if needed.

        Sometimes they sign minor league contracts and invites to ST, as a favor to the player.  

      • Tom U

        Rip, I’m a little surprised at all of this vitriol over Joe Mather. 

        Currently, the state of the outfield for the entire organization is in flux, and it may not be completely resolved until the around Fourth of July. 

        As it stands, the team has four veteran outfielders signed to major league contracts in Soriano, Byrd, DeJesus, and Johnson. They also lost four Triple-A outfielders this off-season in Brad Snyder, Luis Montanez, Tyler Colvin, and Matt Spencer (Spencer is still with the organization, but is converting to pitcher). 

        As it stands right now, there are only three outfielders that can be considered somewhat secure for the ten spots in Triple-A and Double-A. Those are Brett Jackson at Triple-A (most likely won’t be in the majors until the Super 2 date is passed) and Jae-Hoon Ha and Evan Crawford at Double-A. The other seven positions are up for grabs among James Aducci, Ty Wright, Nelson Perez, Mather, Dave Sappelt, and Tony Campana. That leaves two spots open, depending on who gets the fifth spot with the parent club. 

        In short, Mather was signed to basically fill a spot in the organization. You should save yourself for more important things.

        • Anthony

          Tom, by midseason, I agree the entire outfield picture will be much clearer in the entire organization.

    • paulcatanese

      Where was that “wise mentor” 55 years ago the day I got married?:):)

  • Tony_Hall

    Theo and Jed are bringing in lots of players, who qualify under the “buy low” plan.  Now, no one believes they will all bounce back, but some will, and those will either turn into guys to keep for awhile, or be traded for others (Sell high).  The ones that don’t work can be cast aside, with little to no cost.

    So far these players have left the 40 man roster since the finish of 2011.

    ARAM
    Pena
    Montanez
    Hill
    Colvin
    Lemhaieu
    Grabow
    Lopez
    Ortiz
    Wood (may be coming back)
    Caridad
    Smit
    Marshall
    Zambrano

    That is only 14 of the 40, so 26 have still remained. There are more moves to follow before Opening Day, but I was using an over/under of 17 players would remain opening up 23 spots on the 40 man.

    So, 9 more have to go to get to that number, via trades/cuts

    Trade candidates
    1. Soriano
    2. Byrd
    3. Soto
    4. Dempser
    5. Garza
    6. Marmol
    7. Dewitt
    8. Wells

    Cut candidates
    1. Dewitt
    2. Campana
    3. Wells
    4. Coleman
    5. Cabrera
    6. Gaub
    7. Mateo

    L Castillo could be sent back to his original team.

    They may not make it turning over 23 of the 40 spots on the 40 man roster by opening day, but they have a good start to it and by mid-summer believe they will have no more than 17 of the 40 they inherited, left on the roster.

    • Anthony

      Theo mentioned Marmol has good stuff, had an off year, and they will work with him to succeed.

      • John_CC

        That doesn’t mean he won’t trade him when for the right package.

      • Tony_Hall

        He also said good things about Big Z awhile back.

    • Jeff in AZ

      I disagree on wells being a cut guy. If wood and Volstad have trade value so does wells. He has shown some potential in the past.

      • Tony_Hall

        Didn’t say he would be cut, just that if they can’t trade him and he doesn’t make the rotation, he will be cut.

    • cubtex

      Tony…..Again with the buy low talk! Please. These guys are buy low BECAUSE they are not good…..plain and simple. If there was a market for them they wouldn’t be buy low. A bad player is a bad player even if you buy low!

      • Dorasaga

        I wouldn’t call Stewart and Dejesus “bad player.” Above average, in fact. That’s why they’ve been paid millions by cheap teams like Royals.

        Here are my thoughts in “comp form”: Barney is average (if we count his defense, or else, below mediocre). Crisp is average (when not hurt, like he did almost every year since leaving the Redsox). Fielder is exceptional. Pujols is excellent. Willie Mays is superman.

        • cubtex

          Look at Stewarts and DeJeusus’ numbers from last year. How is that above average? That is what I am saying. They are below average players who didn’t have a market.

          • Tony_Hall

            You can’t just look at 1 year.  That is how JH overpaid for all of these 1 year guys, who performed above their level, at just the right time.

            How did that work for us?

      • John_CC

          “If there was a market for them they wouldn’t be buy low”

        Huh? 

        • cubtex

          DeJesus is a below average starting major leauge outfielder…therefore he is making 5 mil a year for 2 years. If you look at past years he might have gotten 6 (maybe 7 tops) a year. The point I am making is that he is still at best a 7 mil a year player that the Cubs got for 5 mil, This is not a great starting outfielder. This is not Andre Dawson. This is not someone who we should have starting for the Chicago Cubs.

          • Tony_Hall

            You are right, he is not comparable to a future Hall of Famer…cast him aside.

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    I still like the idea of LaHair in lf and fielder at 1b or laroche if fielder goes to the nats.

    • Jeff in AZ

      I did notice that Theo said “our first baseman for now”

  • Ripsnorter1

    taking a look at Volstad….

    AWAY from his home park…15 starts….

    Teams slugged .500 off him
    OPS–get ready for this: .847!
    Hit .307….
    14 HRs in 84 IP = 1 HR every 6 IP
    1.476 WHIP….
    5.4 k/9 IP…he doesn’t miss many bats…
    2.32 BB per 9 IP…

    Let’s compare him with Casey Coleman away from Wrigley….
    1.690 WHIP
    .296 BA
    52.2 IP
    7 HR
    that’s 1 HR every 7.2 IP
    OPS = .869

    Yup…they are close the the same pitcher….

    • Tony_Hall

      What’s your point?  Were you expecting a front of the rotation SP for Zambrano?  Compare Zambrano’s 2011 stats, he’s not much better, and has a lot of baggage.

      Z was done the moment he threw at Chipper and cleaned out his locker and said he was retiring.  Everything since then was to try and get something for him.  He had a full NTC, and was in total control.  The Marlins knew it, Ozzie knew it, Big Z knew it, and Theo knew it.  

      • cubtex

        His point is that Volstad is not good.

        • Tony_Hall

          Back of the rotation SP’s are in the back of the rotation, because they can fill innings, and give the team a chance to win more times than not.  They are not All-Stars. 

          Plus Volstad is better than the bag of balls I expected for Big Z.

          • cubtex

            But they don’t have any front of the rotation starters except Garza(and he will probably be traded)

          • Tony_Hall

            And where do you think they will get them, the corner store.  They don’t grow on trees, you need to draft and develop your own, trade for them (wrong year), or buy them in free agency (wrong year).

        • John_CC

          NO One said he was! 

          The bigger point was that the little value Zambrano did have worked against the Cubs because they had ZERO leverage due to past discrepancies.  i.e. full NTC, the fact that Hendry publicly admonished him, twice (after each very public display of amateurism) and then Ricketts did too, after he cleaned out his locker and said he quit.  

          cubtex: i haven’t read your honest opinion on the move yet.  i am not looking at this through my Theo colored sunglasses, I would have been very happy with and proud of Hendry if he had made this exact same move. I said it.  Now, you take off you “boy genius” cynicism for a minute and tell me how you honestly feel about this. Do you really think that the Cubs could have received a top 10 prospect or MLB pitcher any better than Volstad for Z? 

    • Steve_RocVegas

      Exactly Tony, the ONLY other option was cutting him, pay him, and let FL pick him up for league minimum. No one else obviously wanted him at any cost other then pickup at league min once Cubs cut him. Volstad has way better upside then Coleman, so comparing stats is worthless, and getting him back in return is a best case scenario Theo had.  Any other dilusional expectation of return for him is niave and Cubsighted.

    • 43hopping

      Who cares? The goal was to get rid of Big Z no matter what the return.

      MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!!

      Volstead’s numbers are inconsequential. The fact they got rid of Z for anything is a plus. If Volstead does nothing this was still a good trade for the Cubs.

      • cc002600

        BINGO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Jeff in AZ

      I don’t think many will argue that volstad is a quality pitcher or fair value for zambrano, but, it was better then just cutting zambrano and paying his salary. Maybe volstad will become servicable, in all fairness none of us can say yes or no until they play the games.

    • cubtex

      You should see Ryan Howard’s line against Volstad….I am sure he is sorry to see him traded out of the division. I think it was something like….26 AB’s   .500 Avg with 8 Bombs.

  • Anthony

    So what are the main needs for SD?

    Offense was an issue, they added Quentin to the OF, Alonso probably at 1B, and my guess is Headley moves to LF and they insert Gyorko into the lineup at 3B.

    What would be your trade guesses for getting Rizzo to Iowa AAA?

    • daverj

      Brett Jackson

      • Anthony

        that thought crossed my mind considering that if Rizzo worked enough to get out of Iowa, they could plug LaHair in LF, and Jackson eventually take RF after Quentin, or immediately in LF if they hold back Gyorko.

        Never know?

  • daverj

    I’m fine with this trade.  Personally, I would have waited until July to deal Zambrano and hoped to get a bit more, but either way, he wasn’t going to bring much in return so this trade isn’t really a big deal.  Even if he pitched well for a couple months, a lot of playoffs teams would be skeptical about bringing in a guy with his past.

    • Jeff in AZ

      If he flipped out or regressed further before July he would have been virtually untradeable.

      • daverj

        Agreed.  There were risks to holding on to him.  That’s why I can’t blame the Cubs for dealing him now.

      • cubtex

        That would be the risk….But I would have taken that risk. Reports were he was pitching well this winter and with a new manager and new players my thought is that he would be motivated for a good year. I would have rolled the dice instead of eating 15 mil now.

        • Jeff in AZ

          Pitching well in Valenzuela is not the same as pitching well in MLB. Its funny how I was reminded of the difference when I was told that Cespedes will not be a good MLB hitter because he feasted off subpar foreign pitching, but when referring to Zambrano in the Venezuelan league suddenly he is pitching better (never mind that he is pitching against minor leaguers and foreign hitters like Cespedes)

          Zambrano will have a decent year. He will win 10 plus games. He would not have done this for the cubs as he would have continued to be a head case with all off the young players around him. Having him pitch half of a season and hope he dominates while not losing his cool is not a very good calculated rsk in my opinion.

          • cubtex

            It’s basically a 3 mil dollar gamble.

  • daverj

    Epstein is filling up the back end of the rotation for 2013 and beyond with young cost controlled pitchers who already have major league experience and a chance for upside.  Adding these types of pitchers increases the probability that we have one guy that takes the next step.

    If the Cubs sign 2 pitchers next offseason from the group of Hamels, Cain, Greinke, A Sanchez, and Marcum, the rotation suddenly looks very competitive. 2013 rotation could look like this:

    1.  Cain, Hamels or Greinke
    2.  A. Sanchez or Marcum
    3.  Garza
    4 and 5.  Wood, Volstad, Cashner or Samardzija

    That’s a division title contending rotation built in only 2 years.The offense still would need some work to make the team a World Series contender, but the NL Central could be won based on that pitching alone.

    I think Team Epstein has a plan here …

    • Anthony

      that appears to be part of the plan

      let Demp eat his 200 innings in 2012, hope he does great, then see what happens

      the Zambrano payroll relief, net of Volstad’s 2013/14 cost gets spent on something in your post

      • John_CC

        I think they’ll hold onto Dempster. He displays all the on the field attributes that Theo, or anyone, would want from a veteran pitcher.  Garza does too, but he has actual value, the only reason he is being shopped. Dempster does not have enough value, not now. Come July, if he having a good run, I think a lot of teams would love to add Dempster to their contending rotation.

        The guy is a gamer, he works hard, he has a great attitude, he never makes excuses, always takes the ball and always tries to win.  He is a great mentor in a rotation of young pitchers. If Quade had just pulled him at the obvious points in games when we were all screaming to pull him – one hitter before the 3 run homer, etc. – his season numbers last year would look a lot better. 

        and Davejr above – yeah…pretty sure they have a plan, it’s what they do, unlike past administrations!

    • cubtex

      The problem though is that I don’t think Hamels or Cain are going anywhere. So that leaves Greinke,Marcum and Sanchez. Even if you add 2 of those…..Not good enough.

      • daverj

        Possible, but we don’t know that yet.  What were/are the other options? … whether you like the Zambrano and Marshall deals or not, the Cubs were not getting an ace or future ace type pitcher for either of them.  Signing Darvish and E Jackson this offseason would not be better (and would be far more risky) than adding Greinke and Sanchez next season.  As for Garza, I agree with you that we should deal him for top young talent, but if no team is willing to make that kind of a deal for him, then I think we both agree it’s better to keep him. 

        • cubtex

          I like the Marshall deal. We got a decent back end guy in Wood and a young possible 2B replacement.
          I understand trading Z now…I really do…but if they are going to eat 15 mil out of 18 mil…I would have rather gotten a positon player with upside than another backend(at best) pitcher. Volstad would have been nontendered anyway so essentially the Cubs got nothing in return. They could have signed him as a free agent.
          I understand your point about the FA pitching market for next year but from everything I have been hearing the Giants and Phillies will do everything they can to bring those 2 pitchers back.
          I would just like to see a move Theo makes to bring some excitement for this year. Get a top prospect.  Trade for Anthony Rizzo….Get a Jacob Turner. That would at least generate a little buzz!

          • daverj

            I think the answer on the Z deal is that the Marlins weren’t willing to give anything back other than a player they were going to non-tender anyway.  Obviously, neither of us knows whether that is true or not, but that would be my speculation.  If the Cubs had some interest in Volstad, they might as well get him in the deal (as opposed to getting nothing other than $3 mil of salary relief) and not have any competition for his services as a free agent.

          • daverj

            Giants may have to choose between Cain and Lince … prob can’t afford both.

            I’m not sure the Phils want to give $20 mil to 3 pitchers in the rotation.  They might decide its better to put the “Hamels” money into improving the aging and injury plagued offense.

          • Tony_Hall

            Then they will trade one, not just let him walk

          • daverj

            It depends … if they are in the playoff hunt this year, they may hold on to both of them.  In that case, they may accept losing Cain after 2012 and picking up a draft pick (or two … I can’t remember the new rules).

          • paulcatanese

            Tony.isn’t Lince on a year to year contract?Think I read that somewhere. does that make any difference?

          • Tony_Hall

            He has been doing year to year in arbitration.  

            He has been breaking all of the arbitration records, each year.

    • RynoTiger

      wow…that’s a big assumption that any of those pitchers would actually reach free agency.  I’m betting that maybe only 2 of them becomes FA (Sanchez and Greinke or Marcum). 

  • Anthony

    Still think BOS is going to slide a healthy Lowrie to 3B, and Youk will come lame-duck at 13M, Byrd leaves lame-duck at 6M, and the 7M difference is labeled the Theo compensation.

    BOS can in turn, use that 7M toward 2012 SP as an assist against luxury tax considerations.

    • daverj

      Lowrie was traded to the Astros this offseason.

      • Anthony

        wow, Houston has a team still?lol

        forgot about that, still, they can plug that hole

        thanks daverj

    • Tony_Hall

      Talk about creative…

      I would consider that to positive to us…Youkilis for Byrd, gladly pay the extra money for him.

      Boston would not consider that compensation.

  • Kmac

    I know this doesn’t really apply here and there are more important things to talk about, but I was watching back to the Future Part III and in it the cubs beat Miami in the 2015 world series. I know they are in the wrong league and everything, but with the Cubs in full rebuilding mode. It doesn’t seem that improbable that 2015 will be the next time the Cubs are contenders. Maybe Robert Zemeckis actually invented a time machine? Just food for thought.

    • Jeff in AZ

      “That’s heavy” – Marty McFly

  • cubtex

    I guess all Cub fans can look forward to for next year is watching Starlin Castro continue to grow and be one of the best players in the game, seeing Brett Jackson get his opportunity, and hopefully seeing some other young talented players(who we get from a Garza trade or Soto trade or Marmol trade) get an opportunity to play. The pitching staff will be awful….they still don’t have any team speed and they still haven’t addressed improving the defense. If LaHair is the 1st baseman- Downgrade….DeJeusus in RF-Downgrade  Stewart at 3B-Upgrade.
    Message to Theo…..You better blow this whole thing up completely! Get some GOOD young talent for Garza,Marmol and Soto and give fans something to look forward to in this rebuilding effort.

    • Anthony

      tex, what are you really saying?

      that no player other than Jackson in the system is talented?

      Jackson may get traded!

      Theo was mum on Garza on the radio, and was very clear about Marmol. Not every player other than Castro stinks.

      Sooner than later, DeJesus and Sappelt will become Reed Johnson. You have to wait for 2013 to buy starting pitching, it just isn’t there currently.

      The pitching staff has Garza with good stuff, a craft lefty with Wood, an innings eater with Dempster, and an under-achieving former 1st rounder with Volstad. It is what it is.

      Who are you trading Garza to for an immediate return of MLB ready players?

      • cubtex

        Who else on the Cubs currently has above average upside(as currently constructed) other than Castro,Garza and Soto….and there is a good chance Garza and Soto will be traded. Take a look at the team Stewart? Castro(hell of a player) Barney(below average) LaHair(career minor leaguer) Soriano(downside of career) Byrd(below average at this stage of career) DeJesus(below average starting Rf)

        Please show me the light and explain to me what I am missing

        • Anthony

          your not missing anything

          Garza suitors have to be contenders, and have a surplus of tradeable assets, including a MLB ready pitcher/player.

          As has been stated before, the Cubs AAA/AA starting pitching is mediocre based on results, and maybe send most of the position guys from that group packing also?

          Theo keeps lipping about precious opportunities to win at the big league level every season. Move Garza=future benefits=current detriment, unless, you get MLB ready players in return.

          Is Detroit the best landing spot for Garza?

          Is Detroit ready to pay a hefty fee?

          If you were Dombro, and the names Turner, Smyly, Pocello, Oliver were bantered about to get Garza, wouldn’t you think about that cost against a 2 year window, or would you be thinking……………

          Sign and Trade

          Garza is entering his prime. What does a 30 year old(2014) SP of his quality bring in a 3 year deal these days? About 10-12M/year, more?

          What do you think his salary will be for 2012?

  • Jeff in AZ

    Just bought my lawn seats for spring training opening day on March 4th! They just went on sale 12 minutes ago guys so make sure you get em now as the good games sell out really quick.

    • Anthony

      Jeff, lots of the guys are hitting down there currently.

      • Jeff in AZ

        Thanks for he heads up. Maybe I will Cruz by Fitch and see who is already working.

  • Gary J

    Raise your hand if when the off season started you thought we would get anything of real value back in trade from anyone for Z.

    If you have your hand up, put it down.  You know you didn’t.  Or if you didn’t know that, you were kidding yourself.

    This is a guy that gets in fistfights with teammates in the dugout… punches inanimate objects with his pitching hand (or with bats) with temper tantrums that a 4 year old would watch and say “duuuuuude – your mom is so going to paddle your butt for that – grow up”…. blasts his organization in the media so bad he gets sent home a month early… then the next season retires after having a historically horrible outing and blames his team for him stinking because obviously the poor fielding was responsible for the 6 dingers.  (and then when he finds out he doesn’t get paid if he retires, reverses course, says just kidding, blames the team again for having the gall to not want to pay him, and files a grievance) 

    As I said previously I’m not going to miss him having a meltdown on the mound every time someone boots a ball or lets a ground ball with eyes get through because he feels they should have gotten to it.  I always thought it would be fitting if A Ram threw a tantrum and slammed his glove down in the dirt or something when Z gave up a homer, but alas it never happened.

    He’s a crybaby, prima donna, ingrate, clubhouse cancer, and above all a quitter.

    Regardless of talent that might be lurking under that layer of chub, this isn’t a player that any typical manager or team would want in their clubhouse at ANY cost unless their manager has a huge ego and thinks he can handle anyone and is also perhaps a little bit nutso.

    Oh… hi Ozzie… there you are.  Here you go and best of luck to you.

    So honestly – getting Volstad back is getting something for nothing.  A 25 year old former top prospect is something with value – although not a ton.  It’s a hope of unrealized potential that may possibly be unlocked with a change of scenery and continued maturity.  If you are upset over over the “return” in this deal, you’re not looking at the situation realistically.

    This situation is addition by subtraction.

    • Jeff in AZ

      Absolutely and anyone who says anything different is just manipulating he situation to fit their pessimistic view of the new management. Love the move and could care less if Z wins 20 games with the marlins (which he won’t).

    • John_CC

      I agree wholeheartedly, Gary. Couldn’t have said it better, I really cannot even explain how sick of watching Zambrano I had become.

      On top of all you said, every winter for the past 4 years all we have heard from Z is how hard he is working, how much he has changed, how he will not get into trouble, how he will win the Cy Young…and then he comes back and is the exact same foolish, uncontrollable, time bomb he has always been. But now he is thirty years old. He has something close to 2000 innings on his arm and shoulder, the velocity and pure nastiness of his old stuff is gone. If he could have only learned to pitch smart, he could have long, successful career. But he won’t. Because, sadly, he just does not have the mental capability to do it.

  • Coolpdxcubsfan

    Alrighty then, Big Z is gone!
    No matter what the return, he is gone. Time to move on.
    Yes, he was a nutcase, but he was “our nutcase”.
    I would rather remember all the times he kicked butt with great stuff and timely hitting. Remember?? We loved it.
    See Ya, Z, Say Hi to Ozzie for me, and be nice to the new Gatorade machine at your new duggout.
    Best wishes,             really.

  • paulcatanese

    It’s very odd to me that Theo cannot work out a contract with
    Kerry Wood. Theo seems very high on Wood, so whats the problem?
    Theo spends money on retreads, but can’t bring himself to give Kerry a raise, and thats on top of Wood taking less money to come back to the Cubs in the first place.
    And LaHair, as he says, is his first baseman,,,,,,”for the moment”.

    • Jeff in AZ

      I agree with this posters here who believe this is just a formality and the management is waiting to have room on the 40 man roster.

    • Tony_Hall

      Kerry may be wanting a 2-3 year contract for $5M+/year.

      He wants market value.

      • paulcatanese

        Now thats a different apple in the tree. Like Wood as a person and what he has done, but three years? Dont know about that.

  • Anthony

    OK GM’s:

    1. keep Garza as is for 2 years
    2. extend Garza an additional 3 years now and keep
    3. extend/sign and trade now
    4. trade as is with 2 years remaining

    and why? and if trade, your realistic return, and with who?

    • Jeff in AZ

      Option three would yield the maximum return, but I see a July trade without extending him as the best possibility. Alot more teams will be willing to “go for it” in July and with injuries the need for starting pitching by other clubs may make it more likely they will part with top prospects.

      I really am starting to think that this may be a move that happens during spring training. Teams will be evaluating their rotations and have a better idea what they have and what they need. I he makes it through spring training on the cubs then I really would like to see us extend him so we can get a maximum return in July.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    The trade is official … nothing official on the money going with Zambrano yet.

    The Cubs traded Carlos Zambrano and cash considerations for Chris Volstad.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Zambrano also settled grievance with Cubs getting back 24 days salary from 30-game suspension w/o pay in 2011 – almost $2.4M.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Zambrano aived no-trade and $19.25M opt for ’13 that would have kicked in if he finished in top 4 of Cy Young vote.

  • Zonk

    I support the Z Trade, but one point nobody made here that is very important, is that Volstad is also under club control for 2 more years past this one, through 2014.  Z is not, and won’t be offered arbitration, so he’s gone with no comp after 2012.

    The only way you hate this trade is if you think the Cubs are contending in 2012, and Z was the missing piece. 

    Theo is playing for 2013+.  In that context, trading Z, Marshall, etc are very good moves

    • Anthony

      it was mentioned yesterday

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    According to the Trib, the amount of cash the Cubs send along with Zambrano will depend on how much they have to pay Chris Volstad in his first year of arbitration eligibilty. Volstad is expected to make between $2.5 and $3 million.