What are the chances the new GM will get a good deal for Carlos Zambrano? Besides the Marlins and Ozzie Guillen, are any other teams interested in him?
-- Steve S., Grand Rapids, Minn.
It appears Zambrano and the Marlins are the best fit because of his relationship with Guillen. That doesn't give the Cubs much bargaining power. What to do with the right-hander is one of many items on the new general manager's list of things to do. I've heard more teams say they're not interested in the volatile Zambrano than ones who want him, although that could change depending on how much of his $19 million 2012 contract the Cubs are willing to pay. Questions regarding what the Cubs will do at first and third and what free agents they'll pursue have been tabled until the new general manager gets a chance to move into his office.
How much salary is coming off the books this offseason? I'm assuming Aramis Ramirez is gone as is Zambrano and I know John Grabow and probably Koyie Hill.
-- Colin S., South Pasadena, Calif.
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The Cubs' payroll for 2011 was $134 million and as of now, they are committed to $72.6 million for 2012. That figure includes Ryan Dempster, who has a player option at $14 million, as well as Zambrano. That doesn't include the arbitration-eligible players (Hill, Geovany Soto, Jeff Baker, Randy Wells, and Blake DeWitt). As for deciding who will be back and who won't, I'll leave that for the new GM.
With some of the other big brouhahas going on with Theo Epstein, Zambrano, Ramirez and so on, Dempster's 2012 option has dropped through the cracks. Care to comment on whether he's hanging around?
-- Nate D., Washington, D.C.
Dempster doesn't have to make a decision until after the World Series ends, and he's most likely waiting to see who the next GM will be. After his last start, Dempster said: "I'll take a look at things and see what their plans are and what they want to do and go from there. Those things will play themselves out."
You mentioned DJ LeMahieu needs to get his power numbers up and I agree to a point. Hasn't DJ had success with driving in runs without the need of hitting a lot of home runs? I remember a skinny kid at third base for the Cubs back in 1982 and eventually the power came to him, too. I'm more concerned the Cubs need a clutch hitter more than a power hitter.
-- Rick L., Peoria, Ill.
I'd love to see the Cubs have innings like the Rangers did Saturday, when they scored nine runs in the third without hitting a home run. That said, you still need some power. The Brewers have Rickie Weeks, Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder; the Cardinals have Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Lance Berkman and David Freese. Right now, the Cubs have Alfonso Soriano. If LeMahieu can't provide it, it'll have to come from somewhere else in the lineup. LeMahieu did have success at Triple-A Iowa, batting .307 (31-for-101) with runners on, .342 (13-for-38) with runners on and two outs, and .304 (17-for-56) with runners in scoring position.
P.S. In case you're wondering, the infielder from '82 was Ryne Sandberg.
How many left-handed hitters have hit 30-plus homers for the Cubs since Billy Williams?
-- Bill C., Spring Hill, Fla.
The Hall of Famer hit 37 homers in 1972 for the Cubs. Since then, Rick Monday hit 32 in 1976; Rick Wilkins totaled 30 in 1993; Henry Rodriguez had 31 in 1998; and Fred McGriff belted 30 in 2002. Carlos Pena came close this season, hitting 28.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.