You don’t go more than a century between world titles without doing some pretty dumb stuff. You trade a Hall of Fame outfielder for an old, breaking down pitcher. You give away a pair of Hall of Fame closers within a six year span. You write paychecks to Gene Michael, Jeff Blauser and Danny Jackson.
And you decide you’d rather have Tom Gorzelanny in your starting rotation than Carlos Zambrano.
That’s what the Cubs announced this afternoon. When Theodore Roosevelt Lilly returns from his three state killing spree rehab tour on Saturday in Milwaukee, the Cubs will put Zambrano in the bullpen.
Only the Cubs are capable of making a decision like this and not understanding just how batshit crazy it is.
On the surface, the move is defensible. Zambrano is 1-2 with a 7.45 ERA in four starts. He crapped his pants so thoroughly on opening day in Atlanta that it was the kind of performance that depressed emo nerds write longform poetry about.
And his three starts since then have been uninspiring. He’s thrown too many pitches (at least 110 in all three), and not enough innings (seven in his second start at Cincinnati is his longest of the year), and he’s been throwing the ball all over the park. But, even Walter Bishop couldn’t find an alternate universe in which a team would want to have Gorzelanny in the rotation and not Zambrano.
Gorzleanny is 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA, but he’s only made two starts. One was against those same lousy Reds and he got a no-decision when the bullpen did what it does best. The other was Saturday against Houston when he tried to catch a ball with his abdomen and had to leave after three innings. Three innings in which he allowed two runs to a team with an OPS plus of 37. (Hint, that’s legendarily awful.)
But here’s what really pisses you off. The reason the Cubs are making this move are many, and all of them are bad.
- Their original plan was that when Lilly came off the DL they’d pick between the “weak links” in the rotation, Carlos Silva and Gorzelanny and send one of them to the bullpen. Silva’s been really good (albeit in only two starts).
- They were going to send James Russell to AAA, but he’s been one of the less lousy relievers so far.
- If they put Gorzelanny in the bullpen and keep Russell on the big club, it would give them four lefties in the bullpen.
- They don’t have much from the right side down there right now because Smiley Caridad is on the DL, and Jeff Samardzija is fucking horrible. Oh, and so is Jeff Gray.
So it ends up being Zambrano. But not for a few days because he threw 119 pitches last night.
Has he been the worst of the five starters so far? Yes. But it’s April 21. And I don’t care if this move is temporary or meant to light a fire under him, or what. It’s just dumb.
As “bad” as Zambrano’s been, the only thing this team does well is pitch the first six innings of games. The bullpen is awful, the defense is embarrassing and they can’t hit or run the bases. Other than that…they’re awesome.