As if we weren’t already sure that Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano would never play an inning in Chicago again (the North Side at least), a plethora of activities have all but reassured Cubs fans that next year’s squad is going to have a different look.
Zambrano, long viewed as the ace of the Cubs, recently put one of his two Chicago-area homes up for sale. While it will be difficult to move Big Z, it is another sign that the big right-hander is on his way out. The next big sign? Zambrano’s close, personal friend Ozzie Guillen was just hired by the Miami Marlins. While normally a big-name player going to the Marlins would be a joke, this isn’t the Florida Marlins anymore, and the hiring of Guillen will start a new culture in South Beach. Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune believes that as soon as Guillen was hired, the Marlins became the top-suitors for Zambrano. With a new stadium, a new manager and a new identity, the Marlins, for the first time in a long time, will be able to spend some money on contracts and attract fans into the seats.
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Another name potentially being linked to the new Miami team is Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez. Ramirez told Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald that he believes he is done as a Cub. Ramirez and his agent Paul Kinzer have told the Cubs that they are on his short-list of teams he would play for, but there is no telling if the Cubs front office is on the same page as Ramirez. While he has been the most consistent third baseman in the organization since Ron Santo, and one of the Cubs’ best producers during his tenure, Ramirez has seen slow starts in his last few seasons and has gone from a mediocre defensive player to an unreliable defensive player. He shows flashes of brilliance with the leather, but they have been few and far between. Ramirez wants a three-year, big-money deal on a winning team. While he is probably the best available option at third on the market, there is no telling if the Cubs will be willing to put up more money in a time when they are looking to dump tons of it and go young.
Nobody is sure what will happen with the Chicago Cubs in 2012, but one thing is for sure: A lot of the names you’ve heard Cubs fans complain about soaking up money and under-performing will be gone from Wrigley Field. Whoever takes over the reigns as the new GM will be charged with turning around one of the most storied franchises in sports with a roster full of young, home-grown talent instead of guys that Jim Hendry paid millions of dollars to for past performance.