Carlos Zambrano To Bullpen As Cubs Continue To Operate In Bizarro World

Alex KanteckiContributor IApril 22, 2010

CHICAGO - AUGUST 29: Manager Lou Piniella #41 of the Chicago Cubs takes the ball from pitcher Carlos Zambrano in the 7th inning as he removes him from the game against the Milwaukee Brewers on August 29, 2007 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

To quote one of my favorite episodes from Seinfeld:

"He's reliable. He's considerate. He's like your exact opposite."
"So he's Bizarro Jerry."
"Bizarro Jerry?"
"Yeah, like Bizarro Superman, Superman's exact opposite, who lives in the backwards Bizarro world. Up is down, down is up, he says hello when he leaves, goodbye when he arrives."
"Shouldn't he say badbye? Isn't that the opposite of goodbye?"
"No, it's still goodbye."
"Does he live underwater?"
"Is he black?"


Let’s face it.

No one is looking to the Chicago Cubs organization as a blueprint of what it takes to be a successful MLB franchise.  

In fact, it should be the other way around.

Sure, the Cubs have had glimpses of hope in the past decade, and without question, the team has and always will boast one of the largest fan followings in all of professional sports.

But success isn’t measured off the field.

Just look at the past 102 years of World Series champions. You’ll get the picture.

So when Wednesday’s curious move of shifting the supposed staff “ace”  Carlos Zambrano and his $19 million salary into the bullpen was announced, I immediately asked myself, "What other major league franchise would do this?"

Silly, me. Only the Cubs.

Only the Cubs operate in such an upside-down manner. Only the Cubs live in their own “bizarro world,” as you may.

I had to wipe my eyes and check twice before believing what I was reading.

Carlos Silva? Sure, that would make sense. That was the plan all along.

But Zambrano?

Who else would think about, let alone act on, moving one of the era’s most dominating starters—look up the stats if you don’t believe me—into the bullpen, effectively limiting his innings from about 180 to around 70 and making him less valuable statistically?

It doesn’t add up.

Unless you are the Cubs, of course.

Let me take you back to the offseason, when the Cubs failed to land their No. 1 choice for veteran bullpen help, Matt Capps (who chose to go to for the sure-thing closer’s gig with the Washington Nationals).

At the time, it didn’t look like a big deal.

But couple it with a season-ending injury to Angel Guzman and it gets magnified—or at least it should have been.

Jim Hendry and Lou Piniella did an okay job of sweeping the potential for a combustible bullpen under the rug and even went as far to persuade some fans who thought otherwise.

Now, just 15 games into the season, Piniella is the one persuading Hendry that the pen needs a shakeup.  

And, wouldn’t you know, Hendry was quick to sign off on Piniella’s plan for a bolstered pen.

Why wouldn’t he? It’s not like this type of thing hasn’t ever been done before. Oh wait…it hasn’t.

There have been starters turned into relievers and relievers turned into starters countless times, but not for this reason. Not with a team’s “ace,” and certainly not with $19 million being wasted.

As Cubs fans, I don’t need to remind you that Zambrano tends to get stronger as the game progresses, not the other way around.

That is, he often struggles in his first inning of work. Not ideal for a set-up man.

In a “bizarro world,” it just might work.

But for those of us who think in terms of the real world, we’re not about to hold our collective breath.

Bad luck, Zambrano Carlos!

(That’s “Good luck, Carlos Zambrano,” for all of you non-bizarros out there.)


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