The Cubs have announced their intention to send Carlos Zambrano to the bullpen for some unspecified period of time to make room in the rotation for Ted Lilly, who is coming off the disabled list.
Based solely on their performances so far in 2010, Zambrano is clearly the one who should go to the bullpen. The Cubs’ other four starters have pitched well, and Zambrano hasn’t. However, the move still smacks of premature desperation to me.
There’s really no doubt that Zambrano is still the Cubs’ best starter. This is evidenced by the fact that despite his awful ERA, he leads the team with 26 strikeouts in 19.1 innings pitched. Zambrano needs to get himself straightened out on the mound this year, but hasn’t he earned the right to get a least a couple of more starts before being demoted? Four starts is an awfully small sample on which to decide that Zambrano isn’t one of their five best starting options.
Zambrano is a notorious hot-head, and whether he will be willing to remain a relief pitcher for more than two weeks remains to be seen. I have a feeling it will cause the Cubs a lot of unnecessary drama in the end, kind of like their decision to sign Milton Bradley before the 2009 season. I will also be surprised if some of the Cubs starters off to strong starts, particularly Carlos Silva and Tom Gorzelanny, are still pitching well a month or six weeks from now.
It’s now official. After throwing eight shutout innings, Francisco Liriano is having his best month since July 2006. That’s got to get Twins fans excited.
Even more exciting, the Twins are now 11-4 and three games in front in the AL Central. It’s obviously too early to say that it’s going to be the Twins’ year, but teams have generally gotten a bump when moving into a plush new ballpark, and the Twins have certainly gotten out of the gate fast.
It also looks like Roy Halladay is already the odds-on favorite to be the NL’s Cy Young Winner this year. You certainly can’t write Tim Lincecum and Adam Wainwright off in April, but Hallady is now 4-0 with a 0.82 ERA and two complete games.
I wonder if Halladay won’t be able to befuddle NL hitters all season long. He’s obviously still at the top of his game, and he has the added advantage of being unfamiliar to NL hitters, which gives him a huge edge.
Halladay is going to win a lot of games playing for the Phillies, and he’s also likely to throw a lot more complete games than anyone else in the NL, since he is one the last pitchers in all of MLB to finish his own starts on a somewhat regular basis.
The biggest obstacle for Halladay, I think, is that he’s pitched an awful lot of innings the last four seasons, and he will likely pitch a lot more in the first half this year. That could mean arm problems or a dead arm in the second half.