With Zambrano gone, will Soriano be next?

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With Zambrano gone, will Soriano be next?

Carlos Zambrano and Alfonso Soriano are symbols of the old way of doing business, the boom-and-bust cycles that have swept this franchise.

The Cubs shipped Zambrano to the Miami Marlins on Thursday and will wind up paying roughly 15.5 million of his 18 million salary for 2012. In return, they get Chris Volstad, a former first-round pick whos 32-39 with a 4.59 ERA in his big-league career.

Thats a wash, but the financials wont be as neat for Soriano, who also has a full no-trade clause and is still owed about 54 million across the next three years.

Thats part of Theo Epsteins inheritance. The president of baseball operations pointed to Sorianos 26 homers and 88 RBI last season (while not mentioning the .289 on-base percentage).

Hes a valuable offensive player, Epstein said. If at some point in the future theres a transaction that makes sense with any of our players if it puts the Cubs in a better position going forward were going to pursue that.

But with respect to Alfonso, hes got power and hes an offensive contributor and we can work with him to get the best out of him. Well see where it takes us.

More than once, Soriano has said that he wouldnt block a deal if the Cubs wanted to get rid of him (though that was before Epstein was hired). He will turn 36 this weekend and should eventually transition into being a designated hitter in the American League.

Soriano is a flawed player, but he doesnt alienate teammates and staffers the way Zambrano did, one reason that compelled Epstein to make this trade with the Marlins.

They love Sorianos energy and upbeat attitude. Hes essentially as popular in the room as hes unpopular on talk radio.

It was Soriano who once invited Starlin Castro to live in his house, making the rookie feel comfortable and smoothing the transition. And it was Soriano who confronted Zambrano in the clubhouse on Aug. 12 after the enigmatic pitcher was ejected for throwing at Atlantas Chipper Jones.

The day after with Zambranos locker cleaned out Soriano delivered this memorable quote: Hes a big man, but I think mentally hes weak.

During their initial meeting in October, Epstein and chairman Tom Ricketts discussed a long-range vision and the troubled assets the Cubs have on the books. Epstein had full authority to eat money in the Zambrano deal, and it will be his call on Soriano.

You have to decide, Epstein said, are we better off with one year of Carlos with the 18 million paid? Or are you better paying the 18 million and getting a 25-year-old pitcher (under your control for three years)? Understanding when theres a sunk cost (is sometimes) the sign of a progressive organization.

That said, progressive organizations dont go around randomly calling people sunk costs. I think you have to work with players and try to rehabilitate them. In this case, putting all the factors together, this was the best thing for the Cubs on (and) off the field.

From World Series to World Baseball Classic: Javier Baez to play for Puerto Rico

From World Series to World Baseball Classic: Javier Baez to play for Puerto Rico

Javier Baez will try to make it two championships in the span of just a few months.

After winning a World Series with the Cubs last month, Javier Baez will play for Puerto Rico in next year's World Baseball Classic.

Major League Baseball announced an initial list of 30 players who will compete in the event. Baez was the lone Cub on that list, though the remaining roster spots for all 16 squads will be announced as the tournament gets closer.

Baez was one of five players on baseball's list confirmed to suit up for Puerto Rico, joined by Carlos Beltran and Carlos Correa of the Houston Astros, Francisco Lindor of the Cleveland Indians and Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Baez batted .273 with a .314 on-base percentage, 14 home runs, 59 RBIs, 19 doubles and 12 stolen bases in 142 regular-season games, all the while playing highlight-reel defense.

He was named the co-MVP of the NLCS, picking up seven hits — four of them doubles — driving in five runs and stealing two bases.

Cubs cashing in big time with ticket prices after World Series win

Cubs cashing in big time with ticket prices after World Series win

The Cubs didn't wait long to cash in on their first championship in over a century.

As the MLB winter meetings heat up in Maryland, the Cubs are raising ticket prices across the board.

Danny Ecker of Crain's Chicago Business reports the Cubs sent renewal invoices to season ticket holders Monday with an average price increase of 19.5 percent.

Meanwhile, club box infield tickets are increasing by 31 percent, bleacher seats up over 22 percent and other spots raising from 11 to 17 percent. The lowest increase is 6 percent for upper deck tickets.

[SHOP CUBS: Get your World Series champions gear right here]

The average price of a season ticket for the Cubs is $58 per game now at Wrigley Field, which is 31 percent more than the same figure from three years ago, Ecker reports

Just from season tickets alone, Ecker states the Cubs could be looking at an extra $20 million in revenue in 2017 compared to 2016.

Add in the more than 200 seats in the "Bullpen Box" down each foul line where the bullpens used to be on the field (each seat starts at $16,000 for the full season), and the Cubs are going to see a major increase in ticket sales coming off a year in which they led MLB with 103 wins, won the National League pennant and then finished it off by hosting three World Series games at Wrigley Field in late October before winning it all on the road.

And hey, why not?

Wrigleyville is guaranteed to be poppin' every night next summer regardless of ticket prices.