When Andrew Cashner finally returned from a multi-month stay on the disabled list with a strained rotator cuff, he was placed in the bullpen. It made sense, of course, for the kid who’d started out the year as a starter, given the taxing nature of starting. If the Cubs wanted to get him some innings here at the end of the year, the controlled, abbreviated environment of the bullpen was best. There was no argument here.

Cashner would throw some relief innings at the tail end of the 2011 season before heading to the Arizona Fall League to build back up his stamina for a 2012 return to the rotation. Good plan. I approve.

And then, as probably should have been expected with a talent like Cashner, the kid pitched well out of the pen. Better even than he had in 2010, when he spent most of the season in the bullpen.

That’s when folks starting writing about Cashner remaining in the bullpen in 2012. Sigh.

He’s doing so well (in a whopping five ML relief appearances this year), they said, maybe he’s just made for the bullpen. The suggestion, of course, was almost as ridiculous as the basis, but it caught traction. First among casual fans, and now, unfortunately, among decision makers in the Cubs’ organization.

Cashner has been told that he’ll be relieving in in the AFL, not starting. Double sigh.

“I have no idea on my schedule in Arizona,” Cashner said this weekend. “From what I’ve been told now, I’ll go to the Fall League as a reliever and pitch one or two innings every time out. But we’ll see how it goes when I get there.”

You don’t need me to go, once again, into my belief that a good starting pitcher is far more valuable than a good – or even very good – relief pitcher. Andrew Cashner has the potential to be a good starting pitcher, and why the Cubs would not want to give him a chance to reach that plateau because of one injury is beyond my comprehension. There may be good reasons, but, for now, it looks like it’s a matter of organizational overreaction – something that has plagued the Cubs for years, and something that hopefully the next regime will remedy.

In the interim, Andrew Cashner is left to flap in the wind. For his part, Cashner is exceedingly clear on what he’d like to do.

“They haven’t told me what my future is going to be yet. I’d like to start. I hope to get a chance to start. I feel I can help this team as a starter. But I have to stay healthy first.”

  • Ron Swanson

    Marmol’s replacement maybe? Just saying, maybe if Kerry Wood had been backed down in wear and tear sooner his career would have looked differently too. Who’s to say?

    • Chris

      I agree, for 2012 let Cash try closing. Worked for Demp when he worked his way back from injury

    • auggie1955

      I was away from my computer over the weekend,  but when I saw Marmol blow that save Saturday vs the Cards I had had enough.     More than anyone else,  yes even more than Soriano,  Marmol has got to go.   

      I may be in the minority,  but as soon as Cashner strained his rotator cuff after only 1 ML start I personally question if Cashner wouldn’t be better suited as a closer.

  • CubFan Paul

    i won’t put much stock into organizaion decisions until a new GM/President is hired because if that person is smart this decision (probably made by Ricketts) will be reversed by spring training/Camp Colvin time

  • Cheryl

    It’s probably best for him. They need to be sure that there’s no further injury.

  • Jeff

    This could be solved this year with competency at the managerial position.  If he was pitching more often than one inning every 4 or 5 days, it would be easier to evaluate his health and durability.  I am just glad that Quade isn’t managing the AFL team.  He’s not, right?

    • CubFan Paul

      this was my thoughts exactly Jeff ..right now it seems that the Cubs have too many “cooks in the kitchen” and nothing gets done ..ricketts in the front office with a lame duck staff and quade on the field trying to cover his ass and impress his next employer

      • RoughRiider

        What next employer ? Somewhere in the summer rookie league ?

  • willis

    Could see this coming a mile away. Dude excels out of the pen in limited duty, and boom, overreaction. In my opinion, I think Cashner could be a very dominant closer/set up man at this level. And if that is the case, I guess fine, whatever. But what makes this head scratching is that this team has one good starter, and one ok starter. Other than that, it’s pathetically thin with no one waiting to take over for the back end of an already bad rotation.

    I get the don’t risk reinjuring the shoulder side of the coin, but the kid has the stuff to be a good starter. For this team, as it stands and what is probably going to be another horrible year next year, wouldn’t using one of your top assets, or at least giving it a look, as a starter vs. a reliever make sense? Unless, of course, the shoulder is worse than we know and doctors have given direction to keep this kid in a limited capacity?

    If not then this is just dumb.

    • dreese

      I agree willis, they have rotation! I feel like this is getting overlooked as we move toward the off season but maybe that is just because we have no GM.

  • Larry

    Cashner should be a reliever period!! He hurt his shoulder starting after being a reliever all throughout college.

    • SirCub

      I think you mean, “Cashner should be a reliever double exclamation point!!” But I’m not so sure, I would go with more of a, “Cashner should be a reliever question mark?” Hard to say one way or the other though, only time will tell ellipses

      • TWC

        Damn punctuation nazis…

  • rocky8263

    I agree with all of the above but most important is someone get this kid a haircut. That justin bieber/hillbilly hairdo has gotta go.

  • Tyler

    Whoever says that Cashner should be a reliever is an idiot. First of all the Cubs have a bunch of young relievers in their minor league system and maybe a handful of good starters so why would they even think about having Cashner relieve. Second of all being a starter that pitches 6 to 7 innings every 5 days helps the team out more then a reliever that pitches 1 inning for 3 games a week.

  • hardtop

    How many MLB games have you seen cashner start? Um Yeah, might want to think twice before calling people idiots for expressing their relatively educated opinion. Read the posts, there is some good logic there. Whether or not you agree, the arguments are far from idiotic. I for one, am among the so called idiots. If he is our best option I’m all for it. We’ll have to let the new managers decide.

    • oso


  • awesome

    i thought Carpenter was our next closer.

    if you’re going to get hurt, you’re going to get hurt starting or closing. does this mean Wells should have been put in the Pen? should the kid on the Nationals been put in the Pen?

    remember, Cashner started all spring. maybe playing yo-yo with this kid is the problem.