10/26 Epstein wants to meet with Z
The Cubs do need pitching for 2012, and Theo Epstein says he wants to talk to Carlos Zambrano before automatically dismissing the right-hander. Zambrano was placed on the restricted list after leaving the Turner Field clubhouse in Atlanta Aug. 12 and telling teammates he was retiring. In September, Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said he’d have trouble picturing Zambrano pitching again for the team. The right-hander is owed $19 million for next year and has a full no-trade clause.
“I need to get to the bottom of that,” Epstein said Tuesday during an interview on Chicago Tribune Live. “I think the best organizations get the most out of their players, even the ones that might be harder to get the most out of it. But the best organizations also know when it’s time to move on.”
Zambrano was 9-7 with a 4.82 ERA in 24 starts, totaling 145 2/3 innings for the Cubs.
“He’s got talent,” Epstein said of the right-hander. “Obviously, things haven’t gone the way he would have liked or the organization would have liked the last few years.”
What about Bryan LaHair? He hit 38 homers at Triple-A Iowa this year and was batting .308 with six homers, nine RBIs in 10 games for Magallanes in Venezuela Winter League. He’s also struck out 14 times.
“I have a soft spot for guys who hit everywhere they’ve ever been — hit, hit, hit and continue to hit,” Epstein said. “There’s this myth about the 4-A hitter. Guys who perform all the way up the Minor Leagues, dominate Triple-A, get a cup of coffee, they hit a buck-fifty in the big leagues, and everybody labels them a 4-A hitter.
“The reality is, I’m not so sure there is something called a 4-A hitter. It’s just [a] pretty good Major League hitter who never got an opportunity.”
Perhaps LaHair will get a chance.
“We’re looking for assets,” Epstein said. “We’re going to scratch and claw and do everything in our power — in the draft, internationally, small trades, waiver claims. We need to build assets because we don’t have enough of them. We’re not going to look past one that might be sitting right there in our organization.”
— Carrie Muskat