Zambrano Returns As Carpenter Is Demoted


Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano is set to come off of the disabled list. Despite what some hot-headed reporters say (David Kaplan?), Zambrano was not injured throwing out the first pitch at a Chicago Bandits softball game in honor of a charity event, he tweaked hiis back in his last start against the San Francisco Giants. To make room for Zambrano on the 25 man roster, the Cubs have optioned reliever Chris Carpenter to Iowa.

Now to add more substance to this story, I’m going to say that this will be a big start for Zambrano. Why? Because the July 31 trade deadline is two weeks  away, and you would have to imagine that the Cubs would love to move Zambrano if the opportunity arises. Granted Zambrano makes $18 million in 2012, the final year of his contract, there still is a slight chance that the Cubs will be able to trade the controversial pitcher. The New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds, and Detroit Tigers are among the top contenders looking for starting pitching help. In addition, all of those teams are looking for a front-end starting pitcher. There is no question that Zambrano is capable of being a front-end starting pitcher and would appeal to those teams. Though, I can’t imagine the Cubs would be interested in trading Zambrano to the Reds.

With that said, there are still significant hurdles in the way of Zambrano being traded. The biggest hurdle may be the fact that he is making $18 million in 2012. Zambrano’s production this season has not been enough to match that salary, so, the Cubs may have to be willing to absorb most of the remaing salary on Zambrano’s contract. Chairman Tom Ricketts is already said to be willing to absorb the money necessary to make Alfonso Soriano disappear, it doesn’t seem likely–in my opinion–that he would be willing to do so for another player. The other hurdle is that Zambrano still does have considerable value to the Cubs in 2012. Starting pitching is already one of the Cubs biggest areas of need heading into the off-season, by trading Zambrano, the need only becomes greater. Unless the Cubs are able to acquire a top pitching prospect in exchange for Zambrano, I find it hard to believe that he will be traded.

As for Chris Carpenter, he still has a bright future with the Cubs. In fact, he could very well be the Cubs’ closer of the future. I would imagine that 2012 is when we will see Carpenter blossom into the set-up role or even closer’s role in the Cubs’ bullpen.

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Tags: Carlos Zambrano Chicago Cubs Chris Carpenter

  • Luke Blaize

    Take a good look at the Iowa roster right now. There are several names on that roster that we are very likely to be talking about a great deal in 2012. Colvin, B. Jackson, Flaherty, Castillo, Coleman, Carpenter, J. Jackson, LeMahieu, Gonzalez, Rusin, Struck, Carrillo… that’s not a bad group. Add Garza, Castro, Cashner, Marshall, Wood and a slugging first baseman, and I think you’ have the core of an 85 win team.

    Injuries permitting, of course.

    Where do they fit? Going off what it appears the Cubs are thinking in terms of trades:

    Colvin – Right

    Jackson – Center

    Flaherty – Third

    Castillo – Backup Catcher

    Coleman – Starter / middle reliever

    Carpenter – Late inning reliever

    J. Jackson – Starter / middle reliever

    LeMahieu – Second / utility

    Gonzalez – Back up infielder (likely to start in Iowa)

    Rusin – Starter (likely to start in Iowa)

    Struck – Starter (could win a job in spring training)

    Carrillo – Middle to late innings reliever (could win a job in spring training)

    To make room for all that, the following would need to move:

    Fukudome (trade) for Colvin

    Byrd or Johnson (trade or FA) for Jackson

    Ramirez (FA)

    Hill (FA)

    Maybe a starting pitcher (trade), but then again, maybe not.

    Same with a reliever, might not need to move anyone.

    DeWitt or Baker (Trade). No need to move both… or either, depending on if the Cubs carry four or five outfielders. Flaherty and DeWitt can both move into the outfield as needed, so it could be possible to carry both these guys and LeMahieu on the bench and still find plenty of playing time for all three. This also assumes that the Cubs sign/trade for a first baseman. If not, Baker and Colvin would likely split time there which would also result in enough roster slots to go around.

  • Luke Blaize

    Take a good look at the Iowa roster right now. There are several names on that roster that we are very likely to be talking about a great deal in 2012. Colvin, B. Jackson, Flaherty, Castillo, Coleman, Carpenter, J. Jackson, LeMahieu, Gonzalez, Rusin, Struck, Carrillo… that’s not a bad group. Add Garza, Castro, Cashner, Marshall, Wood and a slugging first baseman, and I think you’ have the core of an 85 win team.

    Injuries permitting, of course.

    Where do they fit? Going off what it appears the Cubs are thinking in terms of trades:

    Colvin – Right

    Jackson – Center

    Flaherty – Third

    Castillo – Backup Catcher

    Coleman – Starter / middle reliever

    Carpenter – Late inning reliever

    J. Jackson – Starter / middle reliever

    LeMahieu – Second / utility

    Gonzalez – Back up infielder (likely to start in Iowa)

    Rusin – Starter (likely to start in Iowa)

    Struck – Starter (could win a job in spring training)

    Carrillo – Middle to late innings reliever (could win a job in spring training)

    To make room for all that, the following would need to move:

    Fukudome (trade) for Colvin

    Byrd or Johnson (trade or FA) for Jackson

    Ramirez (FA)

    Hill (FA)

    Maybe a starting pitcher (trade), but then again, maybe not.

    Same with a reliever, might not need to move anyone.

    DeWitt or Baker (Trade). No need to move both… or either, depending on if the Cubs carry four or five outfielders. Flaherty and DeWitt can both move into the outfield as needed, so it could be possible to carry both these guys and LeMahieu on the bench and still find plenty of playing time for all three. This also assumes that the Cubs sign/trade for a first baseman. If not, Baker and Colvin would likely split time there which would also result in enough roster slots to go around.