Chicago Cubs setup pitcher (still weird to say it) Carlos Zambrano helped hold down the Cubs’ 4-3 win yesterday over the Florida Marlins, but when manager Lou Piniella came to get him in the middle of the eighth inning, Zambrano was visibly unhappy with either the decision or his performance, or both.
Aside from the way Marmol finished his first save opportunity in nearly two weeks, the only late- inning glitch was Zambrano’s exit before finishing the eighth — walking Jorge Cantu with two outs to get a visit from manager Lou Piniella, then giving up a broken-bat single to Dan Uggla and getting replaced by Marmol.
Zambrano snatched the ball angrily when thrown back to him after the hit and didn’t look at Piniella as he left the field. He was unavailable after the game.
”I wanted Zambrano to basically, hopefully, get the last outs in the eighth inning,” Piniella said.
How much longer Zambrano will be asked to stay in the setup role might depend on whether a good late-inning guy becomes available. But for now, they like the results since the switch — whatever Zambrano’s thoughts might be.
”We’ll always keep looking, but to blame the bullpen for the past couple weeks is very shortsighted,” general manager Jim Hendry said. ”We haven’t lost a lead in the seventh, eighth or ninth inning in the whole stretch.” CHICAGO SUN-TIMES.
First, a quick and obvious jab at Hendry’s ridiculous comment: Jim, of course you haven’t lost a late lead in the last couple weeks. That’s because you’ve had exactly two late leads in the last nine games. And one of those was a 12-run lead (which shrunk to seven runs late).
But now to the main point: Carlos Zambrano was obviously unhappy with the move to the bullpen in the first place. If he’s now unhappy with how he’s being used in the bullpen, to boot, that ain’t good. We know that Z is a temperamental guy, and although that shouldn’t be cultivated or facilitated, you do have to wear kid gloves with the guy if you want him to be at his most effective.
Am I saying Lou should have left Zambrano in the game just to mollify him? Of course not. What I’m saying is that this is just another problem that comes with moving a guy like Carlos Zambrano to the bullpen.