Wisch: Meet Your 2011 Yankees, The 2003 Cubs

By Dave Wischnowsky —

They call Chicago the Second City. But New York appears to be turning itself into the City of Second Chances.

For ex-Cubs, at least.

In the past 24 hours, news has broken the Yankees have signed Mark Prior to a minor league contract, want to re-sign Kerry Wood to a big league one and now, according to the New York Daily News, apparently are interested in trading for the Cubs’ sometimes-ace-full-time-head-case Carlos Zambrano.

Memo to the Bronx: We already tried all of that in Chicago.

It didn’t work.

But, hey, Larry Rothschild is really throwing his weight around in the Big Apple, isn’t he?
Memo to Larry: If you’re also looking for Matt Clement, you can find him – and perhaps his goatee – in western Pennsylvania, where he’s coaching high school basketball in his hometown.


“Going back to my days in baseball, if the game was moving too quick, I knew there would be trouble,” the 36-year-old former Cubs hurler told the Altoona Daily Mirror this past Saturday after watching his Butler (Pa.) High School Golden Tornadoes fall 62-59 to host Hollidaysburg in the championship game of something called the Golden Tiger Roundball Classic.

Clement did say the words, “Going back to my days in baseball …”

Having whiffed this week on Cliff Lee, you know the Yankees must be getting desperate when they start trying to recreate the 2003-04 Chicago Cubs.

But beyond all that silliness, the question begging us in Chicago today is whether Jim Hendry should deal Zambrano, or not.

And, the way I see it, the decision depends on two things. One, of course, would be what the Cubs would get in return (prospects, most likely). The other, meanwhile, is if the Cubs are prepared to effectively throw in the towel for the 2011 season before 2010 has even ended.

If the North Siders want to entertain any thoughts about competing with Cincinnati and St. Louis in the NL Central this season, they’re going to need Zambrano. However, if the Cubs are prepared to commit to rebuilding in 2011 – before perhaps reloading in 2012 – then dealing Zambrano probably makes a lot of sense.

In addition to the talent you’d be getting back for Big Z in a trade, you’d also be freeing up his fat salary commitment. The Cubs already are poised to have as much as $54,650,000 come off their books after 2011. Throw in Zambrano’s chunk of change and that number jumps to $73,525,000.

The Cubs could buy the Marlins.

And the Pirates.

If the return is good, I say trade Zambrano to New York and then either flip the prospects you get for Tampa Bay’s Matt Garza, or pocket them and prepare a grand offseason plan for 2012.

But, hey, if the Yankees also ask for Greg Maddux tell them the deal’s off.

Do you agree with Dave? Post your comments below.

davewisch Wisch: Meet Your 2011 Yankees, The 2003 Cubs

Dave Wischnowsky

If nothing else, Dave Wischnowsky is an Illinois boy. Raised in Bourbonnais, educated at the University of Illinois and bred on sports in the Land of Lincoln, he now resides on Chicago’s North Side, just blocks from Wrigley Field. Formerly a reporter and blogger for the Chicago Tribune, Dave currently writes a syndicated column, The Wisch List, which you can check out via his blog at http://www.wischlist.com.

  • Buffalo Bob

    Me Likey.

  • Jake from da burbs


    I agree with your sentiments about Zambrano. The Cubs need to use 2011 as their rebuilding year with a clear retooling plan to be set in place for the 2012 season. Problem is with Jim Hendry trying to execute any sort of plan. I think a 3 team trade with the Yanks or the Rangers makes a lot of sense too.

    Zambrano to Yanks
    Jesus Montero and a prospect to the Rays
    Garza to the Cubs

    I think Garza would be excellent as a Cub and would fit nicely into the rotation with Dempster, Wells, Marshall Samardjza for 2011. Add another front line starter and you have a contender for 2012.

    While you’re at it, I think Hendry should look at sending Aramis Ramirez to another free agent loser (the Angels) who lost out on Crawford. The deep-pocketed Angels have a need for a 3B and have money to absorb Ramirez’s contract. You should be able to extract a couple of prospects from them too.

    I would add Silva and Marlon Byrd as other candidates that should be relocated. Silva will be off the books by 2012 and might be useful for a team like Mets or Nationals and Byrd will be in his final year in 2012 and is not a long-term solution and has good trade value right now.

  • Dave Wischnowsky

    I recall writing on my Facebook page late last summer that I was pretty much in favor of trading any Cubs not named Castro or Marmol. I like your ideas and I’d like to see the Cubs pursue a similar plan of attack. That said, though, I don’t know about Hendry pulling it all off. He has made some great deals during his tenure, but he’s clearly made his fair share of duds, too — especially lately.

    My only concern about dealing Ramirez is the progress of Josh Vitters, slower-than-expected development and injuries have robbed him of a good deal of his luster. That said, he’s still young. But, if the Cubs plan to let Ramirez walk after 2011 (which they could do), then by all means, trading him makes sense. Silva, Byrd and anyone else they could get good, young talent for, I’d probably be in favor of a trade, too.

    It’s too bad there’s no one that would be willing to take Soriano off the team’s hands, but that’s an albatross the Cubs are stuck with until the end, I believe.

    The reality is that 2011 is probably going to be a pretty poor season for the Cubs no matter if they stand-pat or if they deal veterans, so they might as well make moves if they look like they could be beneficial ones. Cubs fans are going to have to be prepared to bite the bullet, though, and probably watch the White Sox garner most of the headlines this summer.

  • Bring Back Kyle Orton

    The future looks really good for the Cubs.

  • heron25

    If anyone thinks that the Yankees would give up Montero for Zambrano is crazy. Montero is their top positional prospect for a player that teams know the Cubs would love to dump. Cubs would have to pick up part of his salary and take second tier prospects in return. Yankees had Montero and others for Lee last year. Zambrano is no Lee. Also, reports out of NY are that , contrary to what Rothschild has said about Z, they are worried about his makeup pitching in high-pressure situations. They went through that once with Kevin Brown.

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