Carlos Zambrano Loss Could Be Nail in Coffin of 100 Year Drought for Cubs

Katelyn GrabarekSenior Analyst IJune 19, 2008

I'm sure I wasn't the only Cubs' fan that gasped at the sight of Carlos Zambrano being pulled from his start on Wednesday with shoulder problems.

How many times have we seen it? 

Kerry Wood, Mark Prior.  Both rising stars lost to injuries early in their careers. 

I don't know about the other Cubs' fans, but anytime the letters MRI come up in conversation with a Cubs' player, the results are usually bad.  Call me a pessimist, but the attempt to end a 100 year title drought can cause some people to be pessimistic, myself included.

So say the Cubs lose Zambrano for any given amount of time, let alone the season, with this shoulder injury.  What happens next?

1.  Go get C.C. Sabathia

Sabathia's name has been thrown around in trade rumors among many teams as of late; however, what will the Cubs have to give up to get him? 

Sabathia is currently 5-8 with a 4.26 ERA this season, which isn't close to Zambrano's 8-3 record with a 3.13 ERA.  Sabathia is a left hander and is playing on a struggling Indians club.

2.  Hope we can make it through until Hill or Marshall come back up

Wow, the first two on this list include left handed replacements. Both Rich Hill and Sean Marshall were sent back to Triple-A Iowa for work. 

In Marshall's last outing, on June 14, he lasted five innings giving up four hits and two runs.  Marshall is 0-1 with a 4.18 ERA with the Iowa club.  

Hill lasted four innings in his last start allowing three runs while walking six.  Hill is 2-3 with a 3.91 ERA in Triple-A.  Hill started the season in the Cubs rotation and Marshall started in the bullpen.

3.  Try to work with four starters until Zambrano is healed. 

There's no doubt that with the way Ryan Dempster and Ted Lilly are pitching right now the Cubs could try this.  However, it would take a lot more work out of Jason Marquis and Sean Gallagher to make this option feasible.

4.  Try one of the other relievers as a starter. 

The obvious first move would be to make Jon Lieber a starter again.  He has the experience of being a former starter and right now is the long reliever.  It would make sense to get him some longer work on days when Marquis or Gallagher struggle and then insert him into the rotation again. 

Minus his start against the Reds, Lieber has had a good season.  Lieber has a 2-3 record with a 3.21 ERA.  That is only one win behind No. 5 starter Sean Gallagher and a better ERA.

5.  Hope Zambrano's injury only forces him to miss one start or less. 

Zambrano told reporters he didn't think the injury was bad.  He wanted to stay in and finish off the batter.  However, from experience we all know that Zambrano never likes to be taken out of a start injured or not. 

Let's just hope the injury isn't significant and the Cubs can bounce back with or without him.

If it turns out Zambrano is out for any portion of time, it could be devastating.  The Cardinals are only three-and-a-half games out and are still waiting for Chris Carpenter and Mark Mulder to come back. 

I'm just happy I'm not Jim Hendry if Zambrano is out for a while.