Oh. My. God.

The Cubs have shaken up their rotation, sending workhorse Carlos Zambrano to the bullpen in order to make room for injured starter Ted Lilly. Zambrano will start his relief stint Friday, and Lilly is expected to start Saturday’s game in Milwaukee.

Chicago manager Lou Piniella had to make a move because of Lilly’s impending return from the effects of an arthroscopic surgery on his pitching shoulder, and he felt Zambrano made the best fit for a number of reasons. The Cubs didn’t want to move Carlos Silva into the bullpen because he’s been on a hot streak, and southpaw Tom Gorzelanny wouldn’t fit as well in relief.

“This makes all the sense in the world and I appreciate Carlos doing this,” said Piniella of the decision. “It gives us some power at the end of the ballgame. With Zambrano and [Carlos] Marmol, it gives us some firepower.” cubs.com.

Moving the first or second-best pitcher on your staff – a guy who is a work horse, no less – to the bullpen in favor of two guys who’ve put together exactly three total good starts is mind-bogglingly stupid. I don’t care how bad the bullpen has been, nor how inconsistent Zambrano has been. Even if the move “succeeds” in the sense that Zambrano pitches well out of the pen, the move will be a massive failure because it will have taken innumerable innings out of Zambrano’s hands.

This isn’t like when the Cubs moved Kerry Wood to the pen – which was done to save his career. Zambrano is healthy, and for the most part, effective. Will he remain healthy and effective on a reliever’s up and down schedule following eight years of starting?

Furthermore, Zambrano – while, yes, he is a high strikeout guy – is, by trade, a sinkerballer. Sinkerballers are generally at their best when they can settle in for a few innings.

This experiment is unlikely to (a) succeed or (b) last.

  • N

    Who’s ready for everyone to get fired?

    I know we wanted hands of ownership who would let the baseball people take care of the baseball people, but I’d be okay with Ricketts being hands on right now. Hands on someone’s neck. This is moronic.

  • Kevin G

    I guess I am noy eating my words on Zambrano Ace!

  • necubsfan

    Next they can pull Ramirez and Lee out of the starting lineup to bolster their bench. Piniella and company have gone full retard!

    • Rylan

      I laughed at that.

      • Ace

        Me, too, but mostly because I read the last word as said by Zach Galifianakis.

  • Bric

    Hold on and take a deep breath. Clearly Lou has had no idea what to expect from his bull pen since they broke camp (not a good sign). We knew changes were gonna happen as Kaplan said this morning “Big changes”. You gotta figure that when Caridad comes back in about ten days Russell will go down to Iowa, Gorz will take his spot, and Z will go back to the rotation. So all this really is is a wake up call. In other words, “Wake the F up and do your job!” No one is untouchable. You can go round and round about Sori’s contract and the boos and all that, but you gotta admit, in the last couple of days he’s responded positively. If you treat employees like babies, they’ll act like babies. You treat them like men, they’ll act like men. Make earn his spot back (and his 90 mil).

    • Ace

      You can’t just assume they’ll effectively swap Gorzelanny and Zambrano in a week. There is no reason to do this now if you’re just going to do that in a week. You don’t jack up a starter’s schedule for a wake up call. Sorry, I don’t buy it.

      • Bric

        Okay, maybe it’s not very temporary. but what’s more logical to assume – Hendry and Lou are smoking the crack pipe or they’re so fed up with an over paid, disgruntled bunch of cry babies who look like they could care less that they are sending a message that everyone’s on notice to perform or play where we put you. And yes, this team is a bunch of cry babies. Fuke and the name calling. Lee arguing strikes. Sori getting booed. Dempster and others who won’t shut up about Bradley when asked.

        I totally agree with this move, temporary or not. I’m glad they didn’t wimp out and makes up an injury to give Z a 15 day vacation. That never proves anything. And while thinking of Z, when was the last time he had a really dominant start that justifies the rest of his drama? Last June against the Pirates? That’s the last one I can think of. I’d say Lou and Jim have been more than patient.

        • wax_eagle

          Z’s September of 25 of last year looks pretty solid, complete game 2 hitter. 4 of his last 6 games were quality starts. I think you are over reacting.

          I don’t know what I think about the big Z move. To me it seems reactionary, but I understand it. I know the stats gurus are going nuts because it doesn’t make sense from a numbers perspective, but if Silva continues his current production it makes sense, he is the hot hand right now.

          • Bric

            I’m not a stats guy either and really don’t consider late Sept. games when they’re already out of the post season legit (unless you’re trying out rookies). So maybe I’m being a little bit premature. But have you ever seen the movie “Patton”? In the movie, he takes over an army that “Doesn’t look like an army, doesn’t act like an army… why should they be expected to fight like an army?”

            The point is at some time you stop asking the question “Why”, and start asking the question “Why not?”. I’m pretty sure that’s where the Cubs management is right now.

  • Kevin G

    Ace, Is it possible that they are doing this for another reason? Could they be trying to get him to drop his no trade and trade him off somewhere? what do you think of that theory?

    • jstraw

      Yeah, Ace…do ya think the Cubs want to get rid of Z? Do ya? Do ya think the Cubs think his salary is the resource they need to free up to fix the other stuff? Do ya?

    • Ace

      I think no.

      • jstraw

        What, you don’t think putting Z in the pen is the best way to pimp his value…if the Cubs did want to deal him? No?

        Me either.

  • juniorbors

    This move is moronic. In my frustation I tried to figure out why the hell the organization would pull this crap and I have a far fetched idea. I have noticed his velocity is down. Is it a possibility he has a “dead arm” but doesn’t want to sit and the team doesn’t want to make it public? This would enable the team to limit his pitches while he continues to compete. Stupid move regardless.

  • wax_eagle

    Here is my thought.

    Silva is hot right now. If he begins to falter you do the following:

    Send Z to DL with a tired arm. Let him get stretched out in Iowa/Peioria, wherever its convenient.

    Send Silva to 8th inning duty.

    Bring up Cashner/Jackson/whoever is ready to spot start until Z is ready.

    I think this covers all of the bases if this fails miserably.

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