Wow – was I glad to hear about this Cubs Fun Fact of the Day. OK, I know it’s not really a “fun fact” but I thought it was significant enough to warrant its own post. As we discussed a few days ago, the Big Z bullpen experiment was not working. He simply didn’t get it done in the ‘pen – - and when you’re paying someone $18+ million per season to be your ace starting pitcher, he should be in the starting rotation, not in the bullpen pitching in the 7th or 8th innings of ball games.
Manager Lou Pinella just recently made this announcement public — “We’re going to stretch him out to get him back in the rotation. We’ll see exactly when he’s ready. I don’t know how long it’s going to be. Let’s see how long he needs. We’d like to get him two or three appearances out of the bullpen stretched out… We’ll look at the situation and make a determination [as to which current starter will get moved to the bullpen]… Let’s hope it’s a real, real tough choice.”
GM Jim Hendry supported the decision — “He gave it a good whirl, but the last couple of times out he said he wasn’t able to throw as hard as he’s used to or wanted to.”
As for Big Z, he is publicly saying all the right things, but I think he will be happy with the switch — “I’m happy. As long as this team is happy, I’m happy for this team. Like I said, whatever this team wants me to do, I’ll do. This is a business. They’re the boss. If the boss wants me to go close games, I’ll close games. If the boss wants me to start games, I’ll start games. It’s their choice.”
Now, don’t get me wrong – Big Z is not going to all of a sudden go out and win 20 games. He may not even win 12 games this year. But he gives the club a better chance to win on a regular basis and his comfort zone is as a starting pitcher. It was a creative idea, and it wasn’t like Carlos Silva or Tom Gorzelanny pitched poorly while the Cubs conducted the Big Z bullpen experiment. But it is definitely time to make the switch back for Big Z…