The recent reports suggesting that the Bronx Bombers were interested in at least exploring a trade with the Cubs for Big Z has left me wondering, once again, just what the hell Jim Hendry is thinking.
True, Zambrano has a full no-trade clause and hasn't expressed any willingness to relinquish it, but for Hendry to not even entertain the idea, if true, is stupid.
Look, here's the situation: The Cubs' new owners are heavy in debt and more interested in exploring ways to improve their cash cow, Wrigley Field, and generating revenue streams than putting more money into payroll at this point.
Recognizing this, the only way that Hendry can improve the team is to move salary. He got some minor relief with the Bradley deal, but for the Cubs to make the kind of major fixes this team needs requires a lot more.
And they may have missed out on an opportunity to save $55 million.
Maybe Hendry doesn't think this club needs a major overhaul. Hey, just a little touch-up and a little paint, right?
If so, I'm not drinking that kool-aid.
Now, I understand that there is no guarantee that there would have been a match between the Cubs and Yanks, nor that Big Z would have agreed to the deal. But to summarily dismiss it without performing due diligence seems irresponsible to me, considering all of our areas of need.
We need starting pitching; we need a center fielder; we need bullpen help; we need better defense and team speed. In short, this team, as currently constructed, isn't remotely close to contending unless guys like Geo Soto and Alfonso Soriano return to past levels of production, and Ted Lilly and Aramis Ramirez are healthy, and D-Lee has another monster season.
Those are a lot of "ifs," Cubs fans.
Now, you might say, "Hey Bob—you just said we need starting pitching, why trade Zambrano?" I'm not advocating simply giving him away. We would have to get at least one starter in return, or use the money saved to go get one or two.
Does a Big Z for Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes and Brett Gardner do anything for you?
Hey, maybe Hendry did discuss this with Zambrano and he told Jim "no way Jose." Or maybe he did spend some time with Brian Cashman. I don't claim to know for sure.
But the way the reports made it sound, and given Hendry's reaction, it doesn't appear to have had any legs at all. It's as if Cashman called Hendry and was told Z wasn't available.
In fact, that would seem to be consistent with what Zambrano's agent, Barry Praver, said:
"I've had zero discussions with the Cubs about a possible trade," Praver said. "I've talked to them on numerous occasions, and the topic has never come up."
Yet the New York Post article claimed to have sources that stated Cashman had inquired about Z's availability. The Cubs' sources that are refuting this may technically be correct in the sense that if Hendry didn't pursue it, there was no actual trade talk.
We do know that Cashman was interested in Zambrano; that's not just a rumor.
Who knows where this would have led to, it may have been much ado about nothing. But for a guy who claims to spend as much time on his cell phone as Hendry does, wouldn't it have been worth a few minutes of his time, come to think of it?