Keep him or trade him? Love him or hate him?
Call him your ace or call in a cavalry of physical and psychological therapists?
In other words, what do the Cubs do with Carlos Zambrano?
Much of the question is moot, considering Zambrano has a no-trade clause and is emphatic about his unwillingness to waive it.
But looking ahead, as manager Lou Piniella suggested doing tonight after Big Z's Big Dropoff from that two-hitter in San Francisco to tonight's season-finishing clunker, do you trust the Giant-killing ability or fear the logic-defying inability to handle the woeful Pirates?
``Look, everybody expects more out of him, including himself,'' Piniella said. ``Let's chalk it up to a season where he wasn't at his best. He's talked about working hard and having a good season next year. Let's just look ahead and not behind.''
That may be the Cubs' only choice. And it might be good enough. Even with a disappointing 9-7, Zambrano finished with a 3.77 ERA, helping keep the Cubs' top-five pitching staff's team mark down at 3.81.
Most of the pitching staff is expected back, including all of the starting rotation except Rich Harden (9-9, 4.09).
``It's a very disappointing year. The season is over for us, and now we work hard in the off season and come back ready for next year,'' said Zambrano, who has been ``encouraged'' by the organization to do more this winter and who vowed to start his off-season conditioning earlier than usual, in November.
``Obviously,'' he said, ``this is an experience to learn from. Put this year behind me and think about next year. The goal next year is to come healthy and come ready for spring training.''
Where have we heard that before?