What if the Cubs traded Zambrano for Figgins?


What if the Cubs traded Zambrano for Figgins?

I declare today National Carlos Zambrano Day. Well, maybe not "National" but at least "Regional." As in the region in or around Chicago.

We've already discussed how Zambrano's time spent on the shelf with a facial injury will continue, but now let's move into something fun. Something that involves Zambrano packing up and heading out of town.

What if the Cubs traded Zambrano to the Seattle Mariners for Chone Figgins?

Figgins suffered through a simply horrendous 2011 season. If it wasn't for Adam Dunn, Figgins' .188 average and .484 on-base plus slugging (OPS) would have been talked about a lot more.

But he was talked about quite often in Seattle, and there's no doubt he could use a change of scenery. Zambrano needs a change of scenery, too, and both players are under the Bad Contract Umbrella.

This is a bit crazy and something that hasn't even been sniffed at as of yet, but it could work. Let us count the ways:

Why This Could Work

1. Figgins was OK offensively in '10. He sported just a .259 AVG, but 74 walks helped bump his on-base percentage to .340. He stole 42 bases in 57 chances and while he boasts almost no power (he has a career .368 slugging percentage), he can still be an offensive asset.

2. Figgins is 33 now and his 11 steals in 17 chances last season were horrendous, but if he got on base a bit more, he could be some of the speed the Cubs need. Chicago finished 28th in the Majors last season with just 69 stolen bases. The only two teams below them -- the Cardinals and Tigers -- both made the playoffs and the Cards even won the World Series, but they also boast better pitching staffs and a lineup loaded with much more power than the Cubs, so speed is a way to improve for Chicago.

3. Figgins can play both second and third base. He's even dabbled in outfield and at shortstop in his career, too. He's also actually been an above-average defender since 2007. If the issues with his bat continue, it wouldn't be that terrible to move Figgins from an everyday starter to just a utility guy. I'd take him over Blake DeWitt.

4. The Cubs have literally no answer at third base. A platoon of DeWitt and Jeff Baker makes me more nervous than being in a locked room with Carlos Zambrano would. D.J. LeMahieu and Josh Vitters are not quite ready yet and Figgins could be a great stopgap until either -- or both -- mature.

5. The Mariners need to get rid of Figgins' contract while the Cubs need to get rid of Z's contract. Figgins is still owed 17 million over the next two years, while Zambrano has just one year and 18 million left on his albatross contract. I mean, I wasn't a math major, but that's basically the same amount of money we're talking about here, folks.

6. A change of scenery could do these guys good. Zambrano needs a fresh start with a new organization that hasn't directly experienced his behavioral issues. Figgins needs a better ballpark to hit in (though Safeco is more detrimental to a power hitter, not a speed guy like Figgins) and a fresh start to get his career back on track. Both are capable of still being very effective Major Leaguers and are worth taking the risk.

7. The Cubs and Mariners have made "bad contract" for "bad contract" trades in the past, including just the Carlos SilvaMilton Bradley deal. That kinda sorta worked for both sides. This can kinda sorta work, too.

8. I want it to work. And that's good enough for me.

Why Joe Maddon chose Albert Almora Jr. over Jason Heyward in huge Game 6 for Cubs

Why Joe Maddon chose Albert Almora Jr. over Jason Heyward in huge Game 6 for Cubs

With the chance to book their first trip to the World Series since 1945, the Cubs benched the player with the biggest contract in franchise history and started a 22-year-old rookie who began this season at Triple-A Iowa.

Now that says something about Clayton Kershaw’s overall brilliance and Albert Almora Jr.’s precocious nature, but it also again spotlights Jason Heyward’s offensive spiral during the first year of that $184 million megadeal.  

Heyward’s Gold Glove defense in right field, well-rounded skills and clubhouse intangibles certainly helped the Cubs get to this point – up 3-2 on the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series – but manager Joe Maddon wanted to go in a different direction for Saturday’s Game 6 at Wrigley Field.   

“Kershaw’s pretty good,” Maddon said. “You look at his numbers, he’s been absurd versus lefties, (so you) get another right-handed bat out there and the way Albert can play defense really makes it a little bit easier.

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“If we didn’t have the opportunity to do something differently tonight I wouldn’t have. But we do. Albert just presents well at the plate – and well on defense – to the point where I thought we needed to give it a go.”

Almora – the first player the Theo Epstein regime drafted here with the sixth overall pick in 2012 – could be the 2017 Opening Day starter in center field if Dexter Fowler cashes in elsewhere as a free agent.

After posting career lows in homers (seven) and OPS (.631) during the regular season, Heyward has gone 2-for-28 (.071 average) in the playoffs and will probably need to reboot during the winter.

“I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of internal work done in the offseason with him, no question,” Maddon said. “You know he’s not satisfied with the year. (But) he was a big part of our 100-plus wins this year.

“It is something that he has to work on – and he will work on it – but by no means is anybody giving up on him. He just needs to probably clear his mind a little bit when this is all said and done and get back to the drawing board.”

Cubs hoping Kyle Schwarber can make World Series comeback

Cubs hoping Kyle Schwarber can make World Series comeback

As if the possibility of clinching their first National League pennant in 71 years didn’t create enough drama and excitement in Wrigleyville, the Cubs have sent Kyle Schwarber to the Arizona Fall League, hoping he can add another chapter to his October legend.
Schwarber earned this chance after beating every expectation in his recovery from major surgery on his left knee in April. The Cubs haven’t ruled anything in or out – and still need to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers one more time this weekend – but they want to see how he responds on Saturday with the Mesa Solar Sox and ultimately decide if he would be a viable designated-hitter option for the World Series.
Schwarber gained clearance on Monday from Dr. Daniel Cooper, the head team physician for the Dallas Cowboys who reconstructed his ACL and repaired his LCL after a devastating outfield collision during the first week of the regular season. Schwarber immediately phoned president of baseball operations Theo Epstein after the six-month checkup.   
“I wasn’t expecting the call,” Epstein said. “We got news that was beyond better than we could have expected by any reasonable standard. 
“He asked for a chance to do this. And with as hard as Kyle has worked and as much as this means to him – and potentially to us – we wanted to give him that opportunity.”

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Schwarber flew from Dallas to Los Angeles, where he hit in the cage at Dodger Stadium that night. As the Cubs continued with what has been a classic NL Championship Series, Schwarber hit again on Tuesday and then left for Arizona on Wednesday to ramp up his baseball activities and prove whether or not he could again be a difference-maker in October.
Schwarber, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2014 draft out of Indiana University, generated 16 home runs in 69 games last season and then set a franchise record with five homers in the playoffs. 

The Cubs still have to deal with Clayton Kershaw on Saturday night in Game 6, and judge whether or not this layoff is too long, even for one of their best young hitters, especially against what would be a dynamic Cleveland Indians pitching staff.
But the Cubs would also never bet against Schwarber.

“We’ll see where this goes,” Epstein said. “We’re not getting ahead of ourselves. We have a lot of work to do here before this becomes pertinent. But it’s a testament to how hard Kyle has worked to even be in this position where it’s a possibility.”