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.