Pay Zambrano!

The Cubs need to pay Z.  Seriously, he and Maddux have were the two ROCKS the past 3 seasons.  Now, we’ve let Maddux go, and we’re pissing Z off.  These guys never were hurt, and if they had been given run support, they would have both won more games.  Come on CUBBIES, PAY Z!!! 

Zambrano’s contract desire may force Cubs’ hands

Eagle news services

Carlos Zambrano thrust himself into the spotlight with his comments on television that he probably would go elsewhere after the season if the Cubs didn’t get him locked up to a contract extension in spring training. Barring agreement on a one-year deal, he again will be the center of attention Tuesday, when his arbitration case is heard. It would be the Cubs’ first since 1993.

Given their aversion to the contentiousness of arbitration hearings, it seems significant the Cubs have gotten this close to doing battle with their 25-year-old ace. It suggests, for one thing, Zambrano and his agents, Barry Praver and Scott Shapiro, may not be in as much of a mood to compromise as Aramis Ramirez, Derrek Lee, Kerry Wood (way back then) and even Sammy Sosa were when they signed long-term extensions.

Most reports have focused on Barry Zito’s seven-year, $126-million deal as the new standard for front-line pitchers. That’s an average value of $18 million a year. But it’s not really the top-of-the-line deal for a pitcher.

Projected over a full season, Roger Clemens’ 2006 salary with Houston was $22 million. And Clemens might be in line to get even more per month this time around, as he has positioned himself for a bidding war between the Yankees, Red Sox and possibly the Astros.

Zambrano doesn’t have Clemens’ pedigree, of course, but he brings that same skill set in a young man’s body. And this isn’t to say Zambrano is seeking a Clemens-sized deal; just to suggest the location of the moon if he decides to shoot for it.

If Zambrano insists on a deal for seven or eight years — and he told reporters Thursday he’s only looking for five — or if it takes more than $20 million a year to get a shorter contract, then it might be more than general manager Jim Hendry should swallow. That would leave two options: let Zambrano play out the season or start shopping him for a trade, most likely at the July 31 deadline but possibly even one as soon as the end of spring training.

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