No, not the team—that sale has already taken place and unfortunately we’re stuck with the Ricketts. We’re talking players here.

The Cubs have played 69 baseball games this season and, despite taking three out of four against the first place Milwaukee Brewers, have proven once again that this simply ain’t the year for the Northsiders. 

It is time to sell.

Sure, the division is immanently winnable, but not for the Cubs. It’s too obvious when you see the lack of fundamental play, the injuries and the lack of clutch hitting to continue buying what the Cubs are selling.

Oh, and speaking of selling, the time is now for GM Jim Hendry to start whispering in the ears of his general manager counterparts throughout MLB in an effort to lay the groundwork for a move by the All-Star break.

Look, it won’t be an easy task, to be sure. Expensive, long-term contracts and nonperforming ballplayers often do not make for attractive shopping if you’re a contending club looking to add that piece that puts you over the top.

But let’s take a look at the trade candidates one by one and determine why they should be moved, what the Cubs could realistically expect to get and who might be interested.

Carlos Zambrano

Usually, this kind of a trade is the classic “my bad contract for yours” type of deal. However, with starting pitching always at a premium, and Big Z pitching fairly well, I actually do think the Cubs can get a return for Zambrano’s services.

The choice would likely be between salary relief and/or prospects. For the Cubs to net any real players in this type of trade, they would have to pay much of the remaining salary owed to Zambrano.

Alternatively, they could dump the majority of what is owed on a team like the Yankees, for example, but then they would not get much, if anything, in return.

Zambrano is owed the remainder of his $17.875 million contract for 2011, plus another $18 million for next season and he also has a $19.25 million vesting player option.

The Yankees have said to have been scouting Big Z and he is said to be willing to waive his no-trade clause. With everything that has transpired between Zambrano and the Cubs, this may make sense for everyone.

Ryan Dempster

Dempster is Zambrano with the drama, and there are clubs said to be interested in the righthander.

He is owed what is left on his $13.5 million deal for this season, along with a $14 million player option for 2012.

Dempster has recovered nicely after starting the season in brutal fashion. If he can keep the gopher balls down he can be effective.

But there is likely no way he is moved as long as Hendry continues to play GM—though, once again, the Bombers have interest.

Kosuke Fukudome

Actually, Fukudome is not really a bad little ballplayer. The main problem is he signed a contract in which he was supposed to be a power hitting superstar and that simply was too much to expect.

But if you want a guy who has patience at the plate and plays adequate defense in right field with an accurate arm, he is your guy.

Fukudome is in the last year of a four-year contract that is paying him $13.5 million this season. As with most Hendry signees, he has no-trade protection.

A team like Boston might be interested if the Cubs tossed in salary relief.

Alfonso Soriano

This is a pipe dream, as there probably aren’t any teams willing to give up prospects or pay Soriano anywhere near what he is owed.

The Cubs would absolutely be thrilled to move Soriano and what’s left of the eight-year, $136 million albatross he signed in November of 2006, but it would have to be a team with deep pockets and poor baseball sense.

With his defense, it would have to be an AL team where he could DH and both Boston and the Yankees have those spots covered.

Marlon Byrd

Once Byrd is healthy, he should be fairly easy to move as he is a productive player with a manageable salary and a solid reputation.

The most likely scenario is Byrd going to a contending team that could use a veteran for the stretch run, although they can’t count on much power from him.

The Cubs could then call up Brett Jackson and get an early look at the guy who is probably going to be their center fielder next season anyway.

Aramis Ramirez

By all means, I’ve been suggesting that Hendry move this guy for years, but Ramirez simply doesn’t want to go anywhere.

I’d tell him that he has two choices—he could ride the bench in Chicago or he could accept a trade elsewhere. Since he’d like to build up his numbers for free agency, I’m sure he would change his tune.

However, with his power waning, I’m not sure any teams would be interested now. He can still hit when healthy, though he plays a lousy third base.

Carlos Marmol

What good is a closer when you’re not playing meaningful games?

Now, Marmol is very good when he has his command, but sometimes you have to give up something to get something in return and Marmol could be a valuable trade chip for the Cubs.

Move him to Boston for young fire-baller Daniel Bard and a good prospect and it’s a move that helps both clubs. The Sox will be looking for a closer once Jonathan Papelbon is eligible to leave via free agency after the season.

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