This crazy Cubs season gets even crazier as the Cubs opt to send ace starter Carlos Zambrano to the Cubs bullpen. What are GM Jim Hendry and Manager Lou Pinella thinking?!?!
Granted the bullpen has been brutal early in the season – 1-6 record with a 6.15 ERA – costing the club at least 4 or 5 games in which they held the lead in the 7th inning or later. And granted, Carlos Silva (2-0, 0.95 ERA and 0.63 WHIP in 3 starts) and Tom Gorzelanny (0-1, 1.93 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in 3 starts) – the 2 pitchers who earned starting rotation spots until Ted Lilly could return from injury – have pitched well beyond expectations. But is moving the “ace” of your staff – the highest paid starting pitcher on the team – into the right-handed throwing, 8th inning SET-UP role really the answer? This astounds me.
Pinella had this to say about the move — “We’ll have a Carlos setup guy and a Carlos closer… I talked to Carlos today and told him we really needed him in the bullpen, and that we felt he could do a nice job for us. He said he’d do what’s best for the team. I’m very appreciative. He talked about maturing. This proves it to me.”
Big Z for his part said the right things too — “I told Lou I wanted to help this team until you find somebody. I told him I want to be back for the playoffs. If we go to the playoffs, I want to go back to the rotation… I don’t like to be a reliever. I don’t want to be a reliever. This team needs somebody to step up and help the bullpen.”
WOW – I am still in shock. I can’t see the club keeping Big Z in the bullpen for long. How do you justify paying a set-up guy $17 million per year? It doesn’t make any sense. I guess this might help stabilize things for a little while until the younger players can get their feet on the ground in the bullpen or until Hendry can make a move to bring in a veteran reliever into the mix for the late innings. In addition to the money issue, who knows how effective Big Z will be out of the ‘pen. Being a reliever, you have to get warmed up differently, you come into the game in different situations and you might have to start throwing out of the stretch right away. Can Big Z really adjust to this new role in 3 days? Guess we’ll see very very soon. Zambrano could make a relief appearance as early as this Friday against the Brewers at Miller Park in Milwaukee…