What if the Cubs traded Zambrano for Figgins?

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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.

Arrieta wins 16th straight decision as Cubs beat Brewers

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Arrieta wins 16th straight decision as Cubs beat Brewers

Jake Arrieta's bid for a second straight no-hitter was dashed on his fifth pitch. His Wrigley Field scoreless streak ended at 52 2/3 innings.

Oh, and he won his 16th consecutive decision, the longest streak in the major leagues in a decade.

"I was a little flat today," the NL Cy Young Award winner said Thursday after leading the Chicago Cubs over the Milwaukee Brewers 7-2.

Chicago improved to 16-5, its best 21-game start since opening 1907 at 17-4.

"Our most important ballgames are still ahead of us," Arrieta said. "We're still lined up pretty well."

Arrieta (5-0) gave up one run, three hits and four walks in five innings — the first run he allowed at home since July 25. Alex Presley's fifth-inning RBI double ended Arrieta's home scoreless streak at 52 2/3 innings, four outs shy of Ray Herbert's major league record set with the Chicago White Sox in 1962-63.

Arrieta's streak of consecutive winning decisions is the longest since Jose Contreras of the White Sox won 17 in a row from August 2005 to July 2006, according to STATS. Chicago has won in Arrieta's last 18 starts, a team record.

Cubs catcher David Ross believed some perspective was needed.

"For him to have an off night, and he gave up one (run)," Ross said.

Arrieta's streak of consecutive quality starts ended at 24, two shy of Bob Gibson's record from 1967-68.

"I saw 92 pitches. I saw the Cubs trying to win a World Series. I saw the next five years of his career," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "All that stuff mattered much more than breaking Gibson's record."

Cubs left fielder Kris Bryant left in the fifth after rolling his right ankle while running the bases two innings earlier. The team called it a "mild" sprain, but said Bryant was to undergo an MRI.

After throwing 119 pitches at Cincinnati on April 21 in his second no-hitter in a span of 11 regular-season starts, Arrieta had six days' rest. The Cubs were off Monday, and Wednesday's game was rained out.

Arrieta acknowledged he's "not accustomed" to the extra days off.

Wearing short sleeves on a 45-degree cloudy day with a 12 mph wind at his back, Arrieta had trouble locating his fastball.

He needed 31 pitches to get through the first inning, when Jonathan Villar led off with an opposite-field, broken-bat single over third base. A pair of one-out walks loaded the bases before Chris Carter and Kirk Nieuwenhuis struck out on elevated 94 mph fastballs.

Arrieta initially protested, then agreed with Maddon's call to lift him after five innings.

"The extra off days, the rainout last night, cold weather, extended pitch counts, long first inning, it is the right way to go," Arrieta said.

Ben Zobrist hit a two-run single in the first off Taylor Jungmann (0-4), who gave up five runs, six hits and three walks in 3 2/3 innings as his ERA rose to 9.15. He also hit Bryant with two pitches.

"I think right now I'm a little timid," Jungmann said. "That's never been me, but it's obvious when you watch the game. Too much going on in my head and not competing."

Ross hit solo home run onto Waveland Avenue in the second, and Anthony Rizzo and Tommy La Stella added RBI doubles in the third for a 5-0 lead.

Villar had three hits and stole three bases as the Brewers lost to the Cubs for the 14th time in 15 games thanks to suspect pitching.

"There's no success in 11 walks, that's for sure," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "We were fortunate to only give up seven runs."

Lester takes mound as Cubs face Braves today on CSN

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Lester takes mound as Cubs face Braves today on CSN

The Cubs take on the Atlanta Braves on Friday, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins with Cubs Pregame Live at 12:30 p.m. Then catch first pitch with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on Cubs Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: Jon Lester vs. Aaron Blair

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Cubs getting precautionary MRI on Kris Bryant's ankle

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Cubs getting precautionary MRI on Kris Bryant's ankle

While the big-picture injury concerns revolved around the pitching staff heading into this World Series-or-bust season, the Cubs have already lost one of their best hitters for the year (Kyle Schwarber) and just placed a two-time All-Star catcher on the disabled list (Miguel Montero). The 162-game schedule is a war of attrition. 

The Cubs framed the MRI on Kris Bryant’s right ankle as a precautionary move after pulling the National League’s reigning Rookie of the Year from Thursday’s 7-2 win over the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field.

Manager Joe Maddon said “I honestly don’t know” if Bryant will miss more time with what the Cubs initially described as a mild sprain. “I don’t even want to create conjecture. Let’s just see what happens. Let’s look at the test.” 

Brewers starter Taylor Jungmann (0-4, 9.15 ERA) drilled Bryant with two pitches that didn't appear to bother him that much. Bryant rolled his ankle while running the bases after a third-inning single and got replaced by Javier Baez in the fifth.

Bryant is hitting .289 and is second on the team in homers (four) and runs scored (17) and tied for second in RBI (15). He played in 151 out of 154 possible games after his Triple-A Iowa service-time detour to begin last season, delaying his free agency by a year. 

Beyond the power, Maddon views Bryant as one of the game’s best baserunners and a versatile defender who can move from third base to anywhere in the outfield.