April 21, 2010
Big Z struggled on opening day, per his usual. But in his three most recent starts he's pitched 18 innings, struck out 25 batters, and allowed eight earned runs. He is inarguably one of his team's most talented starting pitchers. April has been Zambrano's worst month historically, yet he's never posted an ERA above 3.95 in any full season. In case you're wondering, he'll earn $17.9 million this year, $17.9 million in 2011, $18 million in 2012, and he has a vesting option for 2013. (Contract details here).
According to MLB.com's Carrie Muskat, "The Cubs didn't want to move Carlos Silva into the bullpen because he's been on a hot streak, and southpaw Tom Gorzelanny wouldn't fit as well in relief."
For the record, Silva's hot streak is exactly two games old. Opposing batters have hit .303 against him over the course of his nine-year career. Silva's lifetime ERA is 4.67. Gorzelanny's is 4.80.
Zambrano is not an immediate threat to take over Carlos Marmol's(notes) closing role, of course. He's just another guy in the 'pen for now. Instead of giving him his typical 200 innings, the Cubs have apparently chosen to give him 80 this year. Here's manager Lou Piniella:
"This makes all the sense in the world and I appreciate Carlos doing this," said Piniella of the decision. "It gives us some power at the end of the ballgame. With Zambrano and [Carlos] Marmol, it gives us some firepower."
You didn't ask for my opinion, but here it is: This decision isn't merely stupid, it's weapons-grade stupid. Total organizational failure. Even if Zambrano is successful in the setup role, this is an atrocious use of resources. This is neither bold nor innovative. It's just insane. One of the all-time panic moves. In fact, it's in the panic move hall of fame.
I can't possibly talk you off the ledge, Cubs fans. Perhaps our commenters can help…
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