By Dave Wischnowsky —

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

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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.

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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.

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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