Carlos Zambrano is in the best shape of his life

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Our friend Nick Collias of MLBTR has been reading the Venezuelan newspapers and he passes along word from Joiner Martinez at Líder en Deportes that Carlos Zambrano is either (a) getting into the best shape of his life; or (b) getting ready to fight Ivan Drago in Moscow on Christmas Day:

“I’m preparing like when I was a rookie, climbing mountains, running on the beach, and exercising hard so that I can arrive at Spring Training in optimal shape. I want to stay in Chicago for the two seasons I still have with the team. I’m not a coward who would take the back door out of the majors.”

Back door out of the clubhouse in the middle of a game in which he pitched poorly, however, is another story.

In other news, apparently Zambrano participated in the Venezuelan home run derby, called the “Festival de Home Run Pepsi.” Which is great. Zambrano hit one homer and didn’t advance.  The winner was Luis Jimenez, a 10-year minor leaguer currently in the Mariners system. He beat out guys like Pablo Sandoval Bobby Abreu, Andruw Jones and Miguel Montero.

I hope Zambrano sticks with the Cubs or latches on someplace. I’m gonna be bored if I can’t write about him next season.

Yankees, Mariners expressing interest in J.A. Happ

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Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports that the Yankees and Mariners are both expressing interest in Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ.

Happ is posting a 3.48 ERA and a 94/25 K/BB ratio in 82.2 innings across 14 starts and has been stingy with the hits as well. Between that, the Blue Jays’ lack of contention and the fact that Happ is in the walk year of his three-year, $36 million deal, all signs point to the Jays trading them.

In normal circumstances you might not expect the Jays to make a trade with the Yankees, but at this point it sort of doesn’t matter, does it? It’s not like Happ in New York on a couple month rental will impact the 2018 Jays too much. And, given his pending free agency, it’s not extraordinarily likely that he’d haunt the Jays from the Bronx long term either.

There’s not a ton of elite pitching currently available, but as the trade deadline approaches — a little over a month to go on that score — the talk about Happ, Cole Hamels, Francisco Liriano and others will heat up. Figure the Yankees will be linked with any and all available starters.