No more Zambrano

I was listening to a press conference on the radio this afternoon, where Theo Epstein was taking questions from local media types and fans. He was asked about “changing the culture” of the Cubs organization, and how Carlos Zambrano could fit into such a new culture. The audience laughed at the Zambrano reference, and Theo said he’d better answer that part of the question first.

Instead, he went off on a mini-tangent about players coming together and overcoming adversity and valuing the uniform and so forth. At the end of his answer, the host asked him about part B of the question, and I knew right then what was going to happen with Zambrano. Theo didn’t forget about that question, but he did sidestep the issue until the host brought him back to it. I didn’t think the trade would come as quickly as it did, but I knew it was coming.

I called for Carlos to leave on a couple of occasions in this space. As talented as he was, and still may be, he always seemed to let his emotions get the better of him. As a result, the last player remaining from the 2003 team is gone. And it doesn’t bother me in the least.

This makes Alfonso Soriano the most significant piece of the Jim Hendry Cubs still standing. Marlon Byrd is still here, and that’s fine since it’s only for one season, and the exit of Ryan Dempster by mid-season now seems very likely. Geovany Soto is still here, and Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney, but the focus–like the sun’s rays being concentrated through a magnifying glass–now turns to the outfielder wearing number 12.

Soriano has a lot more money coming his way than Zambrano did, and the Cubs just ate $15 million dollars to put Hendry’s miscalculations behind them. I’d like to see them eat even more money to move Soriano, too, but perhaps that’s not realistic just yet. But I’m still hopeful this can get done before Spring training starts at the end of next month.

I heard some things I didn’t like today, such as Theo’s contention that Bryan LaHair is a good option at first base. I’ll get into that later on, but for now the jettison of Zambrano is reason enough to feel good about the Cubs going forward.

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