Hello, Cubs fans. Whew! What a game last night. Did you know that if you combined the big league and Triple-A Cubs’ run production from yesterday, you’d get 34 runs? Yep, Iowa beat the Albuquerque Isotopes 20-9 yesterday while, as you presumably know, a sparse Monday night crowd at Wrigley witnessed the big boys trounce the Pirates 14-2.  The (MLB) Cubs now have a 4-9 record against the Bucs this year so, if they win the next two games in the series … well, they’ll still finish the year with an embarrassing 6-9 record. (69, dude!) But at least it’ll be somewhat less embarrassing. Anyway, let’s get on with the news:

So what do we do with Carlos Zambrano?  He’s 3-0 with a 1.84 ERA since returning to the rotation from the restricted list and initiating anger management therapy. His velocity is still somewhat questionable and his walks are still too high, but I guess you can’t argue with those results. (Uh, can you?) To be honest, he appears to me at the moment like a souped-up version of Carlos Silva — basically a ground ball pitcher who goes out there and battles through five or six innings (albeit with, as mentioned, a much higher walk rate).

So I ask you, loyal readers. Should the Cubs cast aside any plans they might have had to trade Big Z during the off-season, or should these better results actually fuel trade efforts. (You see, every other team in baseball, he’s still a starting pitcher! We were just kidding around with the bullpen thing! The line starts here!)

To be honest, I’m pretty open to arguments on both sides at this point. I’m no Z hater — I still think moving him to the bullpen early in the season was an embarrassing panic move (and Carlos himself recently said as much) and his overall season stats aren’t all that bad considering his uneven playing time.

Plus, as I’ve mentioned in past posts, the Cubs rotation for next season is chock full of middle- to lower-level starters without many higher-end guys. Now I’m not saying Big Z is a No. 1 or even a No. 2 starting pitcher at this point. But if he can pull himself together enough to be a No. 3ish guy next season, wouldn’t that — along with Demp — be better than nothing at the top of the rotation? Carlos is still only 29.

The benefits of trading him are, obviously, the Cubs could presumably, maybe (depending on the deal) shed some of his salary and lose the perennial distraction he’s become. But much depends on whether Jim Hendry feels that Zambrano’s relationship with the team really did hit the end of the road with this year’s meltdown. If it did, then Jimbo will presumably be pulling out the stops to move Z once the season is over.

Let’s have the Adam Dunn debate!  C’mon, everybody’s doin’ it. Marlon Byrd likes Adam Dunn, and Adam Dunn likes Wrigley Field. So should the Cubs sign the Big Donkey to be their starting first baseman next season? Maybe a two-year deal like the Nationals gave him? Three years, tops?

I’m loathe to use this phrase again, but “much depends” on whether the Cubs intend to pursue one of the Big Three (Pujols-Gonzalez-Fielder) first base free agents in 2012. Now I’d guess Pujols will remain in St. Louis, commanding a truly massive deal, and Gonzalez will either stay in San Diego (as the face of the franchise) or move on to Boston. That leaves Prince, who will be the youngest of the three and certainly familiar with the NL Central. Granted, he’s got some mountain-sized risks of his own, but Fielder is still the guy I’d go after if the Cubs are serious about putting a big name at first base.

If not, then Dunn would be a decent option as long as the price is right. He’ll turn 32 this fall, so the Cubs could still get a decent level of production out of him for at least a couple of seasons. Y’know, .500+ slugging and good OBP to offset bad defense (which is less bad at first base) and a high strikeout rate. Might be worth a shot.

A few miscellaneous notes:

  • An MRI on Geo’s knee came back negative and he’ll probably play tomorrow (Wednesday) in the season-series-ending game against the Pirates. Soto’s OBP currently sits at .401. Will he finish the season at or above .400? I hope so, though it would only serve to make me more frustrated with the fact that neither Lou nor Mike Quade will bat him higher than eighth in the lineup.
  • The Hawk mentioned being open to serving on Ryne Sandberg’s coaching staff, should Ryno get the Cubs managerial job. Imagine a staff with names like Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson, Greg Maddux, Bob Dernier and Ivan DeJesus. You couldn’t say the Cubs don’t promote from within.
  • I called it! It felt a little dubious to include former Cleveland Indians manager Eric Wedge in my latest Cubs Next Manager Power Rankings but, sure enough, Jim Hendry did interview the Wedgie last week. Here’s a handy resume to peruse.

That’s all the news I can muster today. See you next time, Cubs fans. And, remember, it’s not Quade-mania it’s Quaderophenia.

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