The Cubs have a serious problem in Carlos Zambrano after his actions strongly divided the clubhouse and landed him a suspension from the club. Zambrano is far from being the teams ace that he was in the mid-2000s, but he hasn't moved far away from the fire and volatility that characterized his personality on the mound.
Now, after going toe-to-toe with team leader Derrek Lee and saying the team was playing like "horse----", the Cubs find themselves in a tough situation. Finding a taker for Zambrano will be next to impossible. Not only is Zambrano 14-14 since October 2008 with a 4.84 ERA, but he owns a 5.66 ERA in 22 appearances this season.
Zambrano will also make about 35 million dollars between 2011 and 2012, with another 8 million coming his way this season. If they find a taker, call Jim Hendry a miracle worker. But, that will probably not happen.
Here's what they should do...
The Cubs should start negotiating with Carlos Zambrano and his agent about a long-term restructuring of his contract. If the Cubs could defer half of the, say, 40 million dollars owed to him, and spread it out over the course of 10 years, he would be more affordable to opposing teams.
No doubt, Zambrano can be an electric pitcher. Moving to New York and starting fresh may not be the best decision, but joining a team like the Giants or Padres, both in need of pitching, could give that team a perennial ace for a team that does not necessarily need an ace-type pitcher.
Let's face it, when the Cubs decide to activate Zambrano, he will be sulking in the bullpen. He has no value to the team in the bullpen, especially when he thinks he shouldn't be there.
Meanwhile, option pitcher Andrew Cashner to Triple-A and recall Jeff Samardzija. Have Cashner work as a starter for the next few weeks while Samardzija, who has a 1.88 ERA in 20 games at Triple-A, come and work in the bullpen for the Cubs. At this rate, Cashner should be ready by the All-Star break to join the Cubs as a starter.
The Cubs, while they have not openly said it, are very much giving there young players a chance to earn major league roles. They have exhausted most free agent options and are in need of a young crop of players to take over as the core of the Cubs. Tyler Colvin, Starlin Castro, Geovany Soto, Carlos Marmol, and Cashner could all help to do that.