When the Chicago Cubs dumped Milton Bradley for Carlos Silva in December, the reaction from fans was universal: sigh. This is the best they could do? Really? Really??
Silva had just struggled through what could very literally be the worst two seasons a pitcher could have and remain in Major League Baseball. Expectations were low. And then Silva showed up to Spring camp out of shape. Expectations were even lower.
And then Silva did something even worse: he pitched well.
“You can learn from a lot of people,” Silva said. “You have [Ryan] Dempster, you can learn from Ted Lilly. You have Marlon [Byrd]. I’ve known him for a long time. We were talking about the way I used to pitch before. [Byrd] said, ‘I want to see you do stuff like what I used to see.’”
The Cubs weren’t sure what to expect when they traded Milton Bradley for Silva last December. Will he be the pitcher who won 14 games with the Twins or the one who struggled the last two seasons?
“I don’t want to say I’m surprised,” Silva said. “This is what I’ve been working for. I’ve been taking this spring very seriously. I even asked [Esmailin] Caridad how he threw his slider. That’s what I’m looking for — I want to learn from everybody. I play catch with Carlos [Zambrano] every day and I ask him a million questions. I’m not surprised. I’ve been working very hard.”
He wrapped up his spring on Thursday, throwing five scoreless innings against the Rockies. In his six starts, Silva gave up nine earned runs on 27 hits and two walks over 21 1/3 innings. And six of those runs came in his first start March 6 against the White Sox.
“We recognize early in camp, even when we were at Fitch Park [before games started], that he was throwing the ball nice and free and easy,” Lou Piniella said. “Larry [Rothschild, pitching coach] and I talked about making a couple adjustments and you can’t pitch any better than he’s pitched here in spring Training.” Muskat Ramblings.
Let’s be clear on one thing up front: even at his best, Carlos Silva was never an ace. But if – IF – he throws like he did in his best years in Minnesota, he could be an excellent back-end starter for the Cubs.
And therein lies the rub: Silva’s performance and attitude are getting me excited, which kind of pisses me off. I was all too eager to chuck this guy out with the dirty, nasty bath water. But now, he’s started to elevate my hopes. We’ve all been burned like this before, so you’d think my defense mechanisms against dangerous hope would be better attuned.
But alas, here I am. Hoping that maybe Silva will be acceptable. Don’t get me started on good.