Since both major Chicago papers and ESPN Chicago have essentially the same story in it this morning, let's mention it here - Carlos Zambrano is officially on the shopping block.
Those of us who remember the end of 2004, recall how all the local outlets, led by the Tribune, seemed to do a 180 on Sammy Sosa, with seemingly new revelations about how poor of a teammate he was, how insubordinate he was, and how badly he wanted to play elsewhwere.
So go out there today. The Big Toro we all know and love supposedly does not want to play here anymore, and will waive his no-trade clause. Big Z is lazy, childish, underachieving, complains about being yanked from games, and is fed up with the Chicago media because they begrudged him a little quality daddy-daughter softball time. In effect, he is being painted as one of the key Fall Guys for 2009. He deserves a bit of this treatment - all of this is based on some degree on fact - but to think he is one of the top 3 Cubs problems of 2009 is wrong. He is no more liable for all this than, say. Alfonso Soriano.
Essentially, it boils down to this: the Cubs want to get rid of Z, and their PR machine is hard at work, greasing the skids by alienating Cub Nation against him by listing all his sins in the media. By the time this abortion of a season is over, Cub Fandom will turn against him, the way they turned against Sosa, with the nudge provided by the papers and talk shows.
What do we think of all this here at GROTA? We think it's bunk!
Yes, he makes Staff Ace money, the most of any Cub, and he isn't a Staff Ace. That's not HIS fault. Once again, there is no evidence that Carlos held a Grach to Hendry's temple and forced him to write down the terms of his swollen pact. What's more, his contract, when factored into any trade scenario, means that we will not get dollar-for-dollar value in any exchange. We will eat the difference, either in player value or monetarily.
Honestly, there is no need to trade the man, given the uneven exchange rate of such a transaction. He is and would be a great innings-eating #2 or #3 starter, provided we ourselves could then attract a true Staff Ace, one that provides leadership and takes much of the focus and attention AWAY from Z.
The path to ultimate victory does not include trading Zambrano away for a fraction of his worth.