Today is the day that Cubs position players are required to report to camp. It is also the last day for Hendry to sign Zambrano before tomorrow’s arbitration hearing. The Cubs are fired up and ready to play, as nearly the entire team showed up early to camp, including stars like Derrek Lee and Alfonso Soriano. The last five players who had not shown up were Aramis Ramirez, Ronny Cedeno, Daryle Ward, Brian Dopirak and non-roster invitee Mike Kinkade. As of late Sunday, the only projected starter who hadn’t reported by late Sunday was Ramirez. Lou Pinella was pleased by the early turn out.
”It’s unbelievable isn’t it?” manager Lou Pinella said. ”In all the years that I’ve been managing or even playing, I haven’t seen so many players here so quick. It’s sort of different. But it’s really good to see — and they’re coming in in pretty good shape, too."
”I think it has to do with the fact that they saw that this organization went out and really did some nice things over the winter, and they’re enthused.”
Like the tv show 24, there are 24 hours left to sign Zambrano to at least a one year deal before his arbitration hearing after talks between Hendry and Z’s agents were unsuccessful. The sides are expected to resume talks today as the Cubs try to avoid their first arbitration hearing since 1993 (Mark Grace). Zambrano, 16-7 with a 3.41 ERA last year, seeks $15.5 million. The team is offering $11.025 million. The right-hander made $6.5 million in 2006. All three of Zambrano’s agents Barry Praver, Scott Shapiro, and Tommy Miranda are scheduled to be in Arizona for Tuesday’s hearing. The way the arbitration work is that the Cubs and Z’s agents will both argue their case. The Cubs will have to explain to a panel of arbitrators why Zambrano is not worth the money he is seeking. How they plan to do this is an absolute mystery to me. They really can’t believe they have a case. And if they do, do they want to upset the fragile temperment of Zambrano by pointing out all his flaws. This is why teams, especially the Cubs, try their best to avoid these hearings at all costs. Complicating the issue is the team’s desire to resume negotiations on a possible five-year deal once the arbitration process is resolved.
This is what happens when you leave things to the last minute Jim
Good luck and get it done.
The clock is ticking.