The next general manager, Carlos Zambrano and Tyler Colvin are among the topics in this edition of the Inbox. Send your questions to CubsInbox@gmail.com, and please include your name and hometown. We'll get the Inbox back on a regular schedule.
What are your thoughts on the Cubs' GM search? Who are five candidates who could get serious consideration for the job?
-- Ken W., Minneapolis
This is such a key hire for the Ricketts family. You've heard talk about changing the "culture" -- the next GM will be responsible for creating a winning environment. There needs to be an emphasis on player development. As you know, being the general manager of the Cubs is one of the prime jobs in baseball. They play in a major sports market, have a devoted fan base and play 81 games at one of the top attractions in the state.
Who's on the list? Depends on which rumors you listen to. Tom Ricketts did not have a piece of paper in his pocket with potential candidates on Aug. 19, when Jim Hendry was dismissed. Ricketts is talking to baseball people about the best way to proceed in the search. He's thorough. There is no timeline, but there is some urgency. The next GM needs time to evaluate what the Cubs have before making decisions on coaches -- most have contracts ending on Oct. 31 -- plus the scouts, player-development staff and the roster. As for potential candidates, here are a half-dozen: Rangers assistant GM Thad Levine; Red Sox assistant GM Ben Cherington; Royals assistant GM J.J. Picollo; former Twins GM Terry Ryan; White Sox assistant GM Rick Hahn; Marlins assistant GM Mike Hill. Add those to the rumor mill.
Why isn't Tyler Colvin playing every day, versus righties and lefties? I love Reed Johnson, but he's not the future. Colvin should be playing every day to see if he can get his swing back and produce. The season is over, and we should be looking to the future. The Cubs still don't know if Colvin can perform well on a regular basis.
-- John P., Austin, Texas
September will be important for Colvin. The goal is to get him back on track and play him in situations where he can have success, which is why he's not facing left-handers. He's 2-for-33 (.061) so far against lefties.
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I've been following the Zambrano story very closely, and while he does have many temper tantrums, his numbers are quite good -- 9-7, 4.82 ERA in 24 starts. Since the Cubs' pitching hasn't been great this year, knocking him out of the rotation might be overdoing the penalty, which I don't think is necessary. The Cubs have struggled with starting pitching all year. Casey Coleman had a subpar outing his last start, against the Astros in Zambrano's spot, and it shows what the Cubs have to lose if they drop him. What do you think they'll do?
-- Felix H., Hanover, N.H.
Zambrano was not placed on the disqualified list because of his performance on the field. After giving up five home runs to the Braves, he told teammates he was "retiring," packed his gear and left Turner Field on Aug. 12. A few days later, he changed his story. Yes, Zambrano has the potential to be a solid starting pitcher, but he can also be a huge distraction. The Major League Baseball Players Association did file a grievance on his behalf, but look at the calendar. Even if he was reinstated, Zambrano has not pitched in three weeks. I don't expect to see him in a Cubs uniform again.
Is there any chance the Cubs give Tony Campana the opportunity to be the starting center fielder for next season? With his speed, he would seem to be a defensive upgrade. He's already shown himself to be a baserunning threat in limited opportunities.
-- David W., Duncan, Okla.
Yes, Campana is fast, but the Cubs don't need a defensive upgrade in center field, with Marlon Byrd out there. Campana has already taken steps to take advantage of his speed. He worked with Juan Pierre of the White Sox on his bunting technique. Scouts tell me Campana should be fined every time he hits the ball in the air. He plans on working this offseason to get stronger so he can expand his role.
I really like Mike Quade's sunglasses. Any chance you can put in a good word for me and maybe he'll send them to me after the season?
-- Jeff W., Huntley, Ill.
They're Oakley sunglasses, designed in the Cubs' colors. The model is MLB Flak Jacket, and you can purchase them yourself.