- Zambrano to the bullpen is cannibalistic:
The Cubs have themselves a very expensive set-up man/long-man/I dunno what-man as they've moved Carlos Zambrano to the bullpen.
In what might be the early-season's first and most glaring maneuver of self-destruction and short-sightedness, the flailing Cubs have made a ghastly mistake for the team and for the player.
The "logic" behind the move kinda, sorta makes sense if you look at it on the surface; but when peeling away the layers, you realize that it's not only stupid in the short-term, but it's borderline organizational suicide in the long-term.
With a bullpen that's been horrific; Ted Lilly returning to the starting rotation; none of the other starters having pitched worse than Zambrano; and a breather possibly helping the big righty, it isn't a ridiculous idea to use Zambrano out of the bullpen to help everyone involved. Based on performance alone, he's the obvious choice to be sent to the bullpen; and in the short term, he will help them as a reliever simply due to the fact that their current relief corps is in tatters and has been so rotten that I think I could do a better job, bone chips in my elbow and all.
But to move him to the pen and for manager Lou Piniella imply that it may not be a short-term solution? If they needed a closer and were contemplating Zambrano in the role, then maybe; but as a set-up man?
Carlos Zambrano's overall numbers for 2010 are terrible, but the majority of that stems from his opening day start against the Braves when he was rocked for 8 earned runs in 1 1/3 innings. After that, he was good vs the Reds (7 innings; 3 runs); mediocre vs the Brewers (5 innings; 4 runs); and good two nights ago against the Mets (6 innings; 2 runs; 9strikeouts). If it were a lesser pitcher; one with more limited ability, it could be seen as a simple numbers game and Zambrano drawing the short straw; but the implications of this maneuver are reaching further than simple numerical calculations.
This is a mistake because Zambrano is very highly paid; he's still a marketable talent in a trade; the Cubs may be teetering on a full-scale housecleaning by mid-season; and he's not a reliever.
Carlos Zambrano's contract has a guaranteed $53 million through 2012 with a vesting option for $19.25 million in 2013; and a full no-trade clause. At this point, the no-trade is irrelevant because I think he'd accept a trade to Iraq to get away from the Cubs. The money? Not so irrelevant.
The only way the Cubs are going to move that contract is if Zambrano strings together a few starts in a row to make it appear as if he's salvageable; they're certainly not going to get top tier prospects for him, but to get him and his money out of their sight would be more than enough at this point; and the only way to do that is if he looks useful as a starter. No one's paying that kind of salary to a reliever. While it's possible the Cubs would get rid of him if they picked up some of the money, isn't it better to get rid of all the money if possible? The only way to do that is if he's showing use as a starter.
As aggravating as he is, Zambrano still has 18-win stuff. He's big, he's durable, and he's mean. The epitome of a pitcher who needs a change-of-scenery/guru pitching coach----money aside----there are a load of teams that would take a chance on him. The problem for the Cubs is that every alternate location that can swallow the money and has the pitching coach who might be able to nurse Zambrano is not ideal for the Cubs.
The Cardinals with Dave Duncan would be perfect...but the Cubs aren't trading with their arch-rivals.
The Brewers with Rick Peterson could help...but they're not taking that contract and the Cubs aren't trading him within the division.
The White Sox with Don Cooper and Zambrano's Venezuelan countryman as manager---Ozzie Guillen----might be able to do something with him, but the Cubs are not going to trade him across town.
The Red Sox don't really need him; the Phillies couldn't afford to keep Cliff Lee, they're certainly not taking that contract due to the admission it would be of making a mistake with Lee, although they could use him if he's right.
The Mets? They're not taking his contract unless the Cubs take Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez for him.
The Braves? Maybe the Cubs could trade him for Derek Lowe.
There's nowhere for him to go right now. And as a reliever? Forget it.
In fairness to the Cubs and Piniella, Zambrano is a guy who managers and pitching coaches want to strangle; but the shift to the bullpen strikes as desperation. It's doling of blame on the player when there's more than enough responsibility to spread among all participants in his unraveling.
With all the talent in the world----the ability to dominate----this is a pitcher in need of a mental refurbishment and mechanical adjustment rather than a demotion to the bullpen disguised as a method to help the team and the player.
This is the latest in the long line of gaffes that have torn the Cubs apart. It seems so long ago that in 2008 they were rolling through the National League and on the way to a possible World Series. The wheels are coming off and this decision isn't just an aspect of that destruction based on circumstance; it's the Cubs unscrewing the lugnuts to exacerbate the process.
It's a mistake in every possible connotation.
That historical trend of the Cubs continues unabated.
- Media absurdity:
Will they never learn?
Adam Rubin of ESPN New York wrote the following about Roy Oswalt:
A source familiar with the Houston Astros' thinking doesn't believe right-hander Roy Oswalt will end up with the Mets, assuming he does get traded.
"They may sniff, but have no chance," the source said regarding the Mets.
Oswalt, 32, has a no-trade clause and has never shown an affinity for New York. He's earning $15 million this season, $16 million next year and has a 2012 option with a $2 million buyout.
The three-time All-Star is 1-2 with a 2.37 ERA in three starts this season.
It's no guarantee that the Mets are going to be in the position to chase Roy Oswalt. The money he's earning would make it senseless for the Mets to trade for him in any case unless they're either getting money from the Astros; the Astros take the aforementioned Castillo or Perez for him; or the Mets are giving up low level prospects to get him.
That said, how can anyone say with such certainty "they may sniff, but they have no chance" (which is something of a repulsive image to begin with) before the Astros have even placed Oswalt on the market?
Similar things were said in the Mets pursuit of Johan Santana. It was seen as ridiculous and futile. The Red Sox, Yankees, Angels and others were after Santana; all had deeper farm systems; the money to pay the player; and the incentive to keep him away from their bitter rivals.
But the Twins had to trade Santana and both the Yankees and Red Sox pulled out.
That left the Mets as the last man standing; and the Twins got almost nothing in terms of players for him.
The same thing could happen with Oswalt.
As for Oswalt having no interest in New York, you have to shrug. Worst case scenario, it's better than Houston and he clearly wants out. I'm not suggesting the Mets do it; I'd have to think about whether or not it would make sense; but GM Omar Minaya has pursued Oswalt before and if the pitcher is sufficiently frustrated by the situation in Houston, he'd be willing to go to New York.
To dismiss the thought now while leaving the wiggle room to prevent oneself from looking foolish is typical of reporters/columnists nowadays.
It's premature and stupid to make such definitive statements before the act begins to play itself out.Paul Lebowitz's 2010 Baseball Guide is still available on Amazon, I-Universe and Barnes and Noble.com. It's available for download as an E-book here.