How bad do you want to get rid of Mets starter Oliver Perez? So bad that you would trade him for Carlos (Big Z) Zambrano and some cash?Â Similar to the bad contracts swap of Miltron Bradley for Carlos Silva where the Mariners sent the Cubs Carlos Silva and $9M for Milton Bradley, the Cubs would be sending us Zambrano and cash for Perez.
In case you missed it, Cubs P Carlos Zambrano has been suspended indefinitely after being sent home from the U.S. Cellular Field by managegr Lou Pinella during Friday’s game.Â Zambrano was separated from 1B Derrek Lee after an argument in the dugout after the 1st inning, and was removed from the game.Â Essentially, Carlos was upset at Lee for not diving for a Juan Pierre double down the line, leading to a four run inning.
After the game, Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry and manager Lou Pinella expressed their frustration.
ESPN Chicago has some good quotes from Hendry:
“It becomes a bit of a tired act,” Hendry said. “People think that he hasn’t been spoken to by Lou and his staff or the general manager before. Things are sometimes construed as being let go or let slide by — that’s certainly not true. You have every right to say it like that, that it’s a recurring situation. And every time it recurs, it is a little bit more disappointing.”
“He really hasn’t been up to the standards that he was before for two seasons,” Hendry said. “If you look at his last 50 starts, he probably ranks in the bottom third of the National League of overall performance, and I’m not saying that critically. That’s not something that I’m tying in with today, but that’s part of the decision that was criticized at the time, like we were taking our ace out of the rotation.
“At that time we did it,” Hendry continued, “I think it was a 40-start lookback that we did, and it really didn’t wind up very well. … I expect him to win more than nine wins like last year, and certainly, he deserved to be given a large contract. He was one of the best pitchers in the game for four, five years and did a tremendous job.”
It certainly looks like the Cubs have finally had enough with Zambrano and wouldn’t mind if he was no longer partÂ of the team.Â The problem for the Cubs is that they owe Zambrano $19M this year and $38M for the next two seasons his full no trade clause.Â Even if Hendry can convince Zambrano to waive his no trade clause, few teams would be willing to take on Zambrano’s salary.Â However, the Mets have their own issues with Oliver Perez who is owed $24M for this and next season with no hopes for a decent return. [Salary info courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts]
Zambrano, the Cubs Opening Day starter, was sent to the bullpen after four starts where he posted a 7.45 ERA and a 1.86 WHIP in 19.1 innings.Â However, in his four starts after returning from the bullpen, Zambrano posted a 3.63 ERA and a 1.57 WHIP in 22.1 innings.Â Looking at Zambrano’s peripherals, I think Zambrano could beÂ a good pitcher at Citi Field.Â Zambrano is striking out batters at 8.56 KK/9 and is also walking batters at 4.12 BB/9.Â His batting average of balls in play (BABIP) is at an astronomical .370, meaning he has been unlucky and his ERA should improve since league average is .300. [Player stats courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference]
The Mets need starting pitching and the Cubs have a starter they can’t control. There’s an argument to be made that a big personality like Zambrano’s would mess up the good vibrations currently permeating in the Mets Clubhouse.Â However, even though a little fire never hurt any one, I think fellow Venezuelans Santana, K-Rod and Blanco could tame El Toro.
I won’t speculate on what kind of cash it would take to make this a good deal for both teams, but it would certainly have to be sufficient enough to cover most of the difference between Perez’s and Zambrano’s contracts.Â The best part of the deal is we get rid of Ollie, get a decent pitcher in return [for close to what we're paying Ollie] and it costs no prospects. Who knows, maybe Big Z has another no-hitter in him.
Would you trade Ollie for Zambrano and cash?