A couple of weeks ago, Kenny Williams put together a package of four players that was acceptable to the San Diego Padres in exchange for ace starter Jake Peavy.
Peavy used his no-trade clause. The old, "I'm flattered, but not coming," routine.
Now in the last few days, reports out of Houston are that the Sox have had a scout following the Astros and watching their ace, Roy Oswalt, because of an interest in him joining Chicago's South Siders.
Oswalt, however, has already raised the flag, helping Williams avoid the egg-to-face experience he went through with Peavy; Oswalt would follow suit and use his no-trade clause as well.
There have also been rumors that Seattle's 30-year-old free agent-to-be Erik Bedard might be on Williams' radar as well.
No matter the name that pops up this week or next, it is clear that Williams is in it to win it and wants to get a top of the rotation starter on his roster as soon as possible. Money is apparently no object, too. He just wants to win.
The rhetoric on Chicago's radio stations has been good, and sometimes ludicrous, discussing reasons these stud pitchers wouldn't want to come to the Sox.
Some think it's because the move from the National League to the American is a deal breaker because of the statistical effect it would have on these guys.
Others have postulated that fiery Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen is a cause for concern, that established stars don't like the thought of getting called out when they have a bad game.
The token "nobody wants to pitch in the Cubs' town for someone other than the Cubs" excuse has been tossed around, of course.
Maybe the best reason an ace wouldn't want to pitch for the White Sox is because of the reality hitter-friendly US Cellular Field would impose on the ERAs of pitchers from pitcher-friendly parks like Houston and San Diego. A shallow fly ball to center at Petco might find the batter's background at The Cell.
So now where does Williams turn in his quest for a stud starter?
How about 20 miles north.
There's a guy already in Chicago that may be running himself out of a locker room with his antics, but who might be a good fit on the Sox roster. And I'm not talking about Milton Bradley.
Carlos Zambrano has actually vocalized to the Chicago media an intrigue in the idea of playing for fellow Venezuelan Guillen. His salary is comparable to Peavy and Oswalt, so the money wouldn't be an issue. And, when he's throwing well, Zambrano is more of a ground ball pitcher than either Oswalt or Peavy.
Would a cross town trade make sense?
Let's back out of the proposition and look at the pieces in play.
What's known is that two young pitching prospects, Clayton Richard and Aaron Poreda, have been linked to the Peavy offer and would likely be involved in any deal for an ace. What remains to be seen is what else a team would ask for in a deal.
What else is clear is that it would take wild horses and a fair amount of drugs to get uber prospect Gordon Beckham away from Williams.
So how would an All Chicago trade go down?
The Cubs are trying to position themselves to win a World Series. I know, it's been 101 years. But GM Jim Hendry made a flurry of moves this past winter to try to make magic and it's done nothing but backfire so far. Would moving Zambrano help get the Cubs any closer?
I'm going to say yes.
The Cubs are falling into a similar trap with Zambrano as they did with Kerry Wood and Mark Proir. With Wood and Prior, the reality was that neither guy was going to stay healthy enough to give the team more than maybe 25-30 starts per season, with a ceiling of maybe 17 wins.
With Zambrano, between his head taking him out of games and his history of dehydration issues, he is proving to have a similar ceiling for effect on the team. He is almost 30-years-old and has yet to realize his potential, largely because of the noise between his ears.
The Cubs are also looking into a crystal ball with Rich Harden's contract ending after 2009 and Ted Lilly after 2010. That leaves the Cubs with a realistic starting rotation of Zambrano, Ryan Dempster and...Sean Marshall after 2010?
The future doesn't look very bright.
So now let's come back to the discussion of a trade between the two teams.
The Cubs are desperate for a left handed arm in their bullpen. They've played with the idea of Marshall, but he has shown himself to be to valuable in the rotation than to be sent to the pen. Neal Cotts, a former Sox himself, has flamed out and is now in Iowa.
By acquiring Poreda and Richard, the Cubs would add two guys that could impact the major league roster immediately. Poreda has a power arm that might fit well in the bullpen, while Richard has been dynamite since the Peavy rumors died.
But just two pitchers wouldn't make the deal happen for the Cubs. There would have to be more to this deal to not have Cubs fans reenacting the French Revolution in Wrigley Field's bleachers, asking for Hendry's head on a platter.
We've already talked about the Sox top prospect Beckham. He's a shortstop that appears to be as can't-miss as it gets. The problem for the Sox is they have last year's runner-up to Evan Longoria playing shortstop in Alexei Ramirez. Ramirez is in a slump, too, putting double the pressure on the Sox to evaluate Beckham faster.
Would a swap of Chicago shortstops make this deal happen?
Move Ryan Theriot with Zambrano to the Sox for Poreda, Richard, Ramirez, and probably another fringe prospect. Maybe the Cubs toss in Jake Fox in exchange for Josh Fields to cover third base until Aramis Ramirez comes back.
The Cubs would then have a team that has beyond 2009 in mind and system depth to perhaps make another deal (Peavy anyone?) happen. My moving Zambrano's contract, Hendry might have the financial flexibility to make a Peavy deal happen as well.
If the Cubs could move the hot headed Zambrano for Peavy straight up, many fans would likely entertain the idea. If the Sox could get a top of the rotation starter they desire, Williams would look like a hero.
Could this deal happen?