Through 4 2/3 innings, Carlos Zambrano showed why he would require quite a bounty of players/prospects if the Cubs ever traded him. But not making it through that final 1/3 of an inning was Exhibit A in the evidence tab of why Cubs fans are maddeningly trying to get rid of him. I touched that topic yesterday. Today, we discuss trying to dump another whipping boy, Alfonso Soriano.
Like Big Z, Soriano has had his moments of glory. No one wanted to trade him after he led the season off with a home run in Houston, sparking an April in which he posted a .284/.364/.591/.955 line with 7 homers and 14 ribbies. Then came May and June where he combined to hit .207. He rebounded with a .345/.409/.583/.992 line in July where he hit 5 dingers and drove in 16 runs. When the calendar turned to August, Soriano disappeared and knee surgery in September has put him out for the season.
Soriano's ups and downs spark many conversations about dumping him and his massive contract. If the Cubs are going to trade the seven-time All-Star while his stock is low, they won't get anything more than mental relief or marginal prospects unless they want to swap bad contracts with another team.
And I have just the candidate for the Cubs.
Let's take a look at the Barry Zito timeline, shall we?
- 2000 -- Zito and his nasty curveball jump on the scene in Oakland to the tune of a 7-4 season.
- 2001 -- One year later, Zito racks up a 17-win season and 205 punchouts.
- 2002 -- In his third year in the show, Zito put it all together winning 23 games en route to an AL Cy Young award.
The Giants are only 2 1/2 games behind Wild Card-leading Colorado, thanks in part to Zito's nine-strikeout performance, but their offense leaves much to be desired after GM Brian Sabean failed to acquire a right-handed power hitter.
So, in one corner, you have a team possibly thinking it might be time to sell high on a starter, while it is looking for said power-hitting bat. In the other corner, you have a team that might be looking for a front-line starter on the rebound.
It's a risky proposition, but a proposition nonetheless.
For all of his faults, Larry Rothschild has really helped Cubs pitchers acquire and develop a strikeout pitch. And he's resided over one of the National League's best (statistically speaking) pitching staffs since he came to Chicago with Don Baylor. If all else fails, the Cubs could bribe Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan, who is a free-agent-to-be, in the winter time. If he can turn guys like Joel Pineiro and Ryan Franklin into serviceable pitchers, imagine the wonders he could work with Zito.
On paper, the contracts look to work out. Zito is owed $76 million from 2010-13 before a $7 million buyout kicks in for the 2014 campaign. If the option is exercised, Zito will make another $18 million. Soriano is slated to make $90 million over the next five years as his contract comes to an end in 2014.
Cubs fans, you have been vocal to me and elsewhere that you want Soriano good and gone, so I'll leave it up to you. Should the Cubs make this trade?