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If you're going to showcase Zambrano, then really make it a show

Steve Rosenbloom

The RosenBlog

9:30 AM CDT, July 28, 2011

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Carlos Zambrano is pitching well enough to get traded.

But apparently he has acted badly enough in an embarrassing past and has pitched inconsistently enough this embarrassing year to remain a Cub.

How badly has he acted and how inconsistently has he pitched? Enough, apparently, for the Yankees to hang up on a rumored deal in which the Cubs supposedly offered to pay most of Zambrano’s remaining $24 million as a lovely parting gift.

Depending whose story you read, that’s the story. The Yankees didn’t want a free starter for a rotation that includes a mediocre Phil Hughes, an injured Ivan Nova, and former sweaty and fat White Sox starters Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon.

What could be worse than that?

Try this: Garcia and Colon have better ERAs than Zambrano. No lie. The washouts signed out of desperation have ERAs of 3.23 for Garcia and 3.29 for Colon, making them at least a full run better than Zambrano’s 4.59, and in a tougher pitcher’s league, too.

And that’s Zambrano’s ERA after allowing only two runs in 6 2/3 innings in Milwaukee on Wednesday.

After that game, Zambrano said he wants to remain a Cub but only if the team makes changes, although he wouldn’t detail what changes. Zambrano also said that if he is one of the changes, he’s OK with that, but apparently nobody else is the major leagues is OK with making Zambrano one of those changes.

Which gives me an idea. This laughable Zambrano situation seems ripe for a reality show. Call it “The Deadline.’’ Here’s the hook: By the trade deadline Sunday, either Cubs general manager Jim Hendry has to trade Zambrano or Hendry loses his job.

The idea is that one of them has to go. The Cubs cannot end the weekend with both of them still on the payroll. Zambrano obviously has waived his no-trade clause, so Hendry should waive the rest of his contract unless he can right a terribly expensive wrong. Ready, go. Zambrano and Hendry try to outsmart each other (smart being a relative term for a Cub). Merriment and hijinks to follow.

Hendry offers Zambrano to the Cardinals with the Cubs’ picking up the rest of his salary, for instance, so, on Friday when the Cubs are in St. Louis, Zambrano brings a bottle of vodka out of the Cubs dugout and staggers over to the Cardinals dugout to mock Tony La Russa.

Or Hendry offers Zambrano to the Pirates, and then Zambrano paints a Magic 8 Ball on Mike Quade’s head, explaining that’s how the Cubs manager has made decisions this year.

Think “Jackass’’ meets “Punk’d.’’ Get me Spike and VH1. Have their people call my people. Let’s do deli.

Oh, and quick, someone wake up Tom Ricketts. Tell him this is a better idea than bison dogs and more entertaining than anything his team has done this year.