[Cubs' ex-ace and only no-hit set-up man, Carlos Zambrano, seen here with die-hard Cub fan Fidel Woo-Woo Castro, considers this a transitional move until "the Cubs get to the play-offs." So, Z is cool with this until September 2011?]
All talk of of a conservative spending Ricketts regime (yes word-cops, I said “regime”) ends today as Lou Piniella moves Carlos Zambrano, bananas and all, to the bullpen. Who’d a thought Carlos Silva would hold a starting position longer than Big Z? The main reason, besides Zambrano’s refusal to be typecast as an “ace,” is that Theodore Roosevelt Lily is back from rehab and ready to start. Carrie Muskat reports it all here, with the sad numbers speaking for themselves — Zambrano’s ERA is even high for the Cubs ‘pen. Considering that the Cubs starting ERA with Z is 2.16, one can only hope Lily will give the North Side some real traction. Too bad Youtube won’t allow a Hitler Finds Out Zambrano is in the Bullpen video. Also, the pressing deadline of this post prevents me from a good Conan O’Brien bumping a guy from prime time George Lopez analogy, but just so you know, it’s there.
Overall, it’s a bold, creative move on Piniella’s part. For a guy who couldn’t budge Fonzie from the lead-off spot last year, this is a big deal. It should also shut up most of Z’s critics who think he’s an unmanageable egomaniac. Ms. Muskat relates it all today:
“We need help in the eighth-inning role right now, and that’s what we’re trying to help ourselves in,” Piniella said.
Zambrano said Wednesday that he told Piniella he expects to be back in the rotation when the Cubs are in the playoffs.
“He did mention that,” Piniella said. “The playoffs are a long, long, long way away. Let’s just get through April right now.”
The move was expected to be temporary, but no one on the Cubs will say how long Zambrano will be in the bullpen.
“Let’s not put a time frame on it — let’s not do that,” Piniella said.
Zambrano will need a little more time to warm up before his relief appearances, and Piniella plans on using him only for one inning or 1 1/3 innings and not stretching him out too far.
“It’s a shock,” Marmol said of the news. “I never thought Zambrano would be in the bullpen. He’ll help the team, that’s what he says. I agree with him.”
Ryan Dempster, Carlos Silva, Randy Wells and Tom Gorzelanny entered Thursday’s game with a combined 2.16 ERA in 11 starts. Zambrano was 1-2 with a 7.45 ERA in his four starts. The bullpen needs reinforcements, having compiled a 1-6 record and 6.14 ERA.