Yeah, I’ll eat my words. And it turns out Gordon Wittenmeyer was right.
Not long after I finished recording my podcast this afternoon, the Lou Piniella announced that he was moving Carlos Zambrano to the bullpen.
“I told him we really needed him in the bullpen. We felt he could do a really nice job for us there,” Piniella said before the game.
Maybe so, but you’re paying him $19 million! Now, Lou did say that money wouldn’t play a factor in who played. I thought that would apply more the Alfonso Soriano’s or the Kosuke Fukudome’s. I guess he was serious about everyone though.
We’ll have to wait and see how the move pans out. Zambrano pitched last night, so he won’t be available for a couple of days. You would think that with his starter-caliber durability and his better than average arm, he might be able to pitch several days in a row.
The shock factor of the move is huge. I think Cubs fans knew that one of the current starters would be moved to the bullpen when Lilly came back, but nobody thought it would be Zambrano. He’s the longest-tenured member of the Cubs’ pitching staff, and has been the Opening Day starter each of the last six years.
Despite his numbers, Zambrano has pitched fairly well. When I say that, I’m of course taking out his Opening Day start. He’s got his ERA down now to 7.45, and he’s had at least seven strikeouts in each of his last three starts.
Being a strikeout pitcher, I think Lou’s hoping he can get people out in the late innings. The bullpen right now is just abysmal. They’ve got a collective 1-6 record and a terrible 6.15 ERA. They’ve blown four out of the seven save chances they’ve had so far. That’s not all on Carlos Marmol, though. The save rule is complicated, so a guy who gives up a lead in the 7th inning can earn a blown save.
I can’t imagine Carlos is happy with the decision. In fact he said before the game that he doesn’t like it, but he’s willing to do whatever he can to help the ballclub win games.
If he can come in and throw strikes, I think he can be very effective down there. He’s got a BB/9 of more than 4, so that’s going to have to improve quickly.
I think it’s a risky move, maybe too soon, maybe not. Lou definitely had to do something with the roster he had, so he pulled the trigger. One thing he said before the game was that this move would allow Jim Hendry a little more time to explore the possibilities of a trade or signing a free agent. It’s bad that this sort of thing has to happen so early, but I’m glad to see the Cubs doing something about it rather than sitting by the wayside.
Again, the Angel Guzman injury continues to affect the Cubs in a negative way.