HOUSTON -- Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said Carlos Zambrano is staying. Hendry hasn't finalized what areas need to be improved next year, and was encouraged by the young players this year.
Zambrano, who finished 11-6 with a 3.33 ERA, has a no-trade clause, but earlier this year said he would waive that if the team wanted to move him.
"I've never assumed that he really wanted to go," Hendry said Sunday. "He earned the contract that he got. I've always assumed that he will be pitching for the Cubs. I'm glad he's righted the ship and had a really good end."
The Cubs' Opening Day starter, who is signed through 2012, closed the season 8-0 with a 1.41 ERA in 11 starts since coming back from the restricted list.
Hendry said he had yet to meet with Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts regarding the payroll for next season. At the Cubs' final home game, Ricketts said he expected the 2011 payroll would be lower than this year when it was the highest in the National League.
The Cubs are committed to about $103 million in player salaries for next season and the only free agent on the roster is Xavier Nady. Does Hendry feel he has to move some high salaried players?
"I don't know yet," he said. "Tom and I have not had any final conversation on what the payroll will be and what my thoughts are on improving the club."
Hendry plans on meeting with some of his top advisors, such as assistant general manager Randy Bush, player development director Oneri Fleita and scouting director Tim Wilken, plus other scouts, to discuss the Cubs' needs before meeting with Ricketts.
There are quite a few young players who impressed Hendry this season and more in the system, he said.
"The good news is we have so many guys from our system who won't be making a lot of dollars who have come up and earned their stripes that there will be room for improvement," he said. "I feel comfortable as always with Tom Ricketts and his family, that the payroll and money put into player development and scouting will not be a negative."
What about Zambrano saying the Cubs need to sign free-agent-to-be Adam Dunn? Hendry wouldn't comment about the Nationals first baseman to avoid tampering.
Castro finishes with .300 batting average
HOUSTON -- Starlin Castro wanted to finish the season at .300 and he did.
The Cubs' rookie shortstop went into Saturday's game batting .298. Think players don't pay attention to their stats? Castro knew.
"I started the game at .298, and tried to get to .300," he said Sunday. "I was looking for a base hit. I wanted to finish at .300.
"It's good to stay at .300 -- .300 is better than .298," he said.
Castro went 2-for-3 Saturday to raise his average to .300 exactly, and was not in Sunday's lineup, which was part of Cubs manager Mike Quade's plan. The shortstop was ranked 10th in the National League batting race and will become the first Cubs rookie to finish at .300 since Bill Madlock batted .313 in 1974. Madlock finished fifth in the NL that year.
Quade had his lineups set for the final series in advance and wanted to make sure Castro finished strong, but didn't tell the shortstop that he was going to sit him if he got to .300.
"I looked at [the stats on Saturday] and said, 'This kid is going to have to perform to get to .300,'" Quade said. "I loved watching it and loved watching him perform. I'd made up my mind that if he does it and gets to .300, and I don't care if we play 15 innings, and he comes out of it at .300, I'll stick to my original lineup and let [Darwin] Barney play short today. [Castro] earned this yesterday."
Castro met with the Cubs coaches to go over an offseason plan. He will rest, then resume workouts at the team's academy in the Dominican Republic, and play in the second half of winter ball for Escogido.
"I'll get better," Castro said. "I'm going to work hard."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.