The Chicago Cubs have announced the Carlos Zambrano will be (mercifully) returning to the starting rotation as soon as he gets stretched back out. But just as when Ted Lilly returned from offseason shoulder surgery, Zambrano’s return to the rotation means that someone who’s pitching well will be bumped to the bullpen – assuming that Tom Gorzelanny is not seriously injured.

So who gets bumped? The only current starters with extensive, successful relieving experience are Carlos Silva and Ryan Dempster. And Silva’s years as a reliever are long, long in the past. So… Dempster?

”I’m sure whatever they do will be the best for the team and help us going forward,” right-hander Ryan Dempster said.

That doesn’t mean Dempster, the team’s former closer, happily would return to the bullpen if the Cubs listened to the advice of some in the media and moved him out of the rotation to help solve their right-handed relief woes.

”I don’t see where you’re benefitting if you’re taking a guy who’s capable of going out there and throwing seven or eight innings and giving you a chance to win and putting him down in the pen,” Dempster said. CHICAGO SUN-TIMES.

I’m sure that Dempster appreciates the thick and delicious irony in his statement. He may as well have said “moving Zambrano from the rotation to the pen was stupid, and moving me from the rotation to the pen would be stupid, too.”

So if it isn’t to be Dempster, who will it be? Well, manager Lou Piniella may have tipped his hand.

”Obviously, Dempster could do it,” Piniella said. ”We signed him to a nice contract to be a starter. He’s done a nice job starting, so we didn’t disturb that situation. I thought the two guys that could do it were [Zambrano] and [Randy] Wells.”

If Piniella originally thought the guys for the job were Zambrano and Wells, and Zambrano didn’t work out… well, that leaves Wells.

Wells has not been as consistently excellent this year as he was last year, and his greatest strength is control – something the Cubs could no doubt use in the bullpen. I still believe that, short of a Tom Gorzelanny or other starter injury, the Cubs will attempt to solve the rotation glut by way of trade. If that doesn’t become possible, it sounds like Randy Wells is the favorite to make a move to the pen.

  • wax_eagle

    Who knew that having 6 capable starters is all of the sudden a massive problem. Hopefully the solution ends up being dealing Gorz. Like Kevin Hart last year he has probably reached his potential and should be dealt at his high point.

    Other possibility: Gorz or Wells demoted, Silva released, Lilly traded.

    I don’t know about options of Gorz or Wells. Silva’s contract is pretty big, buts its partially paid, and he has been producing.

    Its seems like the best interest of the Cubs is to deal Silva, Gorz or Lilly. If the Cubs are not going to compete and think that Cashner will be ready next year, dealing 2 of the three may even be wise.

    Lilly is an FA after this year, deal him, get value and try to resign him next year, unless the Cubs are dead set on contending this year, if that is the case DL Gorz and just keep going.

    • Really?

      “Other possibility: Gorz or Wells demoted, Silva released, Lilly traded.”

      Are you serious? Why would we release a 5-0 starter in Silva.

      • wax_eagle

        Just running through the options on what to do with the other starters when Z comes back to the rotation.

        Silva’s luck has come back to earth (BABIP now at .283) and he is still pitching well, this is a good sign, but I still don’t trust it completely. 5-0 is a bit of a mirage as the cub’s offense has produced when he has pitched, although he does have 6 quality starts.

        What I am looking at is that I would expect Z to pitch better than Silva will over the remainder of the season, the question then is what to do with Silva, I don’t see a trade market so i suggested release. Obviously if the cubs can get value back for him they should, but if they can’t and they have no other options than release is viable with Silva.

    • Kevin G

      I do believe that we should trade Gorz or Lilly and package one of them with Fontento or Baker to get Linstrom from the Astros. That would give us a power arm in the setup role. I would most likely be Groz and Forntento for Linstrom.

      • wax_eagle

        i was with you until you suggested asking for a reliever back. We should get prospects for these guys not a guy like Lindstrom that is good now, but will be hit or miss for his career (5.89 ERA last year).

        I understand the bullpen is the issue right now, but trading for a middle or even late reliever isn’t the answer. I know this team is in win now mode, but getting actual value back in trades would be nice. Hendry did this well last year when he traded Hart and Ascanio for Gorz and Grabow, getting both his need and a good young starter.

        It will be interesting to see what happens.

        • Kevin G

          I would much rather trade for prospects and build for the future, but most cubs fans are in win now mode.

          • Bric

            You’re right about Silva’s trade value never being better than it is now. I would think a team like the Nats or Padres who both have a ton of young pitching would like to add a quality veteran starter for a good prospect (probably not two but maybe). But with his contract it’s just not gonna happen to these smaller market teams. However, it’s possible to move him to a big market team that’s in a win now mode and will take a chunk of his contract. That leaves the Mets, Braves, Philies, Red Sox, Dodgers, and Giants. Most of these teams already have pretty deep pitching staffs (even if some of their guys aren’t performing up to their potentials). That’s why it looks like Silva will probably stay put unless the Cubs start tanking and Hendry (I mean Ricketts) just wants to dump half or more his salary for a nobody minor leaguer and a chance to bring up Cashner.