Carlos Zambrano was one of the many names this offseason that was being passed around as possible trade bait. Now it looks like he'll be making a move...internally.
According to the Chicago Tribune's Paul Sullivan, Zambrano will be moving to the bullpen to accommodate the return of injured pitcher Ted Lilly. Carlos Silva, the man who was seemingly destined for the pen when the time came, will continue to start.
The Cubs opening day starter the past six seasons, Zambrano will easily become the highest paid reliever in the game ($17.875 million this season).
The move is definitely a surprise to me, but should it be? The Cubs bullpen is in shambles and a veteran presence may be what the young guns (three rookies and no one over 31-years old) need in order to get over the hump on the bump.
Zambrano will be the team's new eighth-inning option according to Sullivan, setting up for shaky closer Carlos Marmol. So, it seems that after an entire offseason of trying to find a veteran set-up man, the team will once again settle for someone within the organization.
Many will see this as a desperation move, but manager Lou Piniella insists that "This is a significant move, not a panic move." However, Lou did say that such a move may not be entirely temporary, stating that "This makes all the sense in the world."
But while it may seem to make sense right now, the strength of this team has been its rotation. Thoughts from Cubs nation figured that the return of Lilly would strengthen not only the rotation, but also the bullpen with either Silva or Tom Gorzelanny moving to relief.
Still, this announcement has to make many worry that the Cubs strength could turn into a weakness. Gorzelanny is sitting right at .500 (29-29) for his career, Silva is three games under (61-64). Now, these guys will have to making two out of every five starts for this team.
Sure, both have been fairly successful this season, but like Jason Marquis, numbers usually catch up to you with the longevity of a baseball season.
Could Silva or Gorzelanny be different players with their new club? Sure. But wouldn't it be more likely that they're success would come with one or two innings at a time instead of five, six, or seven?
Also, couldn't Z's move to the pen take away from one of his most valuable assets, his bat? Sure they could give him a set-up man/pinch hitter role, but like a manager calling for ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte, would Lou come to home plate and call for the switch-hitter?
It seems to me that a switch to set-up man would completely take away his bat, something that could hinder his own personality and his team's offense, at least every fifth day.
Either way, as long as Zambrano is happy with the move (and according to Sullivan, he is), then it's worth a try. However, I feel that the leash should be fairly short on Silva, Gorzelanny and Cra-Z, and keep this situation more as an experiment than a fixture.