Back-end starting pitchers Carlos Silva and Tom Gorzelanny – so dominant early in the season that moving Carlos Zambrano to the bullpen to allow the two to stay in the rotation didn’t seem insane (just stupid) – have come back to Earth in recent weeks. Not that such a return to averages was entirely unexpected. But Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella says he’s still not considering moving Zambrano back into the rotation.

”No, right now we need Carlos right where he’s at,” Piniella said. ”We asked Carlos to do something that would help this team, and it’s helped this team. If you don’t hold onto leads late in the game, it has a lasting effect on the team.”

Until Saturday night, Zambrano had been one of the bullpen’s top performers since his reassignment to a setup role two weeks ago. And Piniella stressed the domino effect Zambrano helps create in terms of being able to use other relievers in more appropriate roles for their pitching styles and experience.

”If we can get into a stretch where we’re scoring runs, he’s going to be a big help for us,” Piniella said.

”And we’re trying to win baseball games.”

Whether a sooner-than-later return to the rotation has crossed Zambrano’s mind with some of the team’s recent rough starts, he’s not saying. He declined an interview request Sunday. CHICAGO SUN-TIMES.

Unless the Cubs are able to sell high on Carlos Silva or Tom Gorzelanny, it’s going to take a number of crappy performances by one or more of the starters to force Piniella’s hand and move Zambrano back into the rotation.

The experiment has already lasted longer than I would have expected (or preferred). In no reasonably explainable way has Zambrano’s presence in the bullpen made the Cubs a better team.

  • jstraw

    Shut up. Lou’s trying to win baseball games. Shut up.

  • Hawkboy64

    I hve a question if this really gets out of hand would the cubs consider letting Lou go and avoiding the Lou bs ryno thing at the end of the yr. And make him manager this yr. I really hope it dosent come to tht just wondering

    • Rylan

      I heard that if Torre doesn’t stay in LA after this year, and Lou does leave, we might go after him instead of Ryno?

      • jstraw

        You heard that? Where did you hear that?

        • Rylan

          I think somewhere on ESPN or MLBTR

      • Ace

        I saw an article to that effect on ESPN (posting it later today). Just what we need – another old guy with no fire.

        • jstraw

          I was getting all up in Ryan’s grill because I read that article and it says nothing at all like “we might go after him.” It’s just the usual sportswriter made up shit. Apparently, you can meet a deadline by asking someone a stupid question and getting him to take a hundred words to say “ummm…no.”

          It’s not even Hendry or Ricketts saying “never say never…buuuuuuutt…” It’s Torre.

          No one has said “we might go after him.”

    • Bric

      If it weren’t for all those no trade clauses it would be easy to break the team down and start over. After all, we’re still rooting for an almost identical team that got swept in the playoffs twice and only led for ONE inning out of 54. But because of the NTCs it’s not gonna happen. So what’s the easiest and cheapest solution? Dump Lou now. It kind of reminds of when the Astros brought in Phil Garner. He turned ’em around and got to the penant. Lou’s the easiest to ax and his “uhs”, and “Well, we’re (sigh) just not playing well”s are getting pretty old. I mean, really? No shit. You’re not playing well? Then do something about it (and bitching at a reporter doesn’t count). Time to retire.

      • Ace

        You are correct. The NTCs make it hard to even be hopeful for a rebuild soon.

        • BT

          No trade clauses are made to be broken. They are mostly there as a negotiating tool for the player. If the Cubs really want to trade Lee or Zambrano, something can be worked out.

          • Bric

            That’s true that players can and have waived them in the past. But it gives the player much more control over where he’ll get sent which seriously cuts down trade possiblilities. However, it could also work like dominos. I was thinking Dempster, Lilly, and Z have value to contending teams. Less value but probably some interest would be Lee, Silva, Fuke, Samardjia and Fontinot. Little or no interest would be Sori and Grabow. That’s a long list but if you’re gonna break down the team then do it right.