Blog Entry

Cubs move Zambrano to bullpen

Posted on: April 21, 2010 4:58 pm
Edited on: April 21, 2010 7:59 pm

NEW YORK -- The Cubs have moved opening day starter Carlos Zambrano to the bullpen.

Zambrano, who last pitched in relief in 2002, becomes the primary setup man in front of closer Carlos Marmol. Ted Lilly returns from the disabled list this weekend to join the Cubs rotation. Zambrano, who made his fourth start of the year Tuesday night against the Mets, will be available in relief beginning Friday night in Milwaukee.

The bullpen has been a major problem for the Cubs, who are off to a 5-9 start and have already fallen four games behind the Cardinals in the National League Central. The Cubs have allowed 16 eighth-inning runs, the most in the major leagues.

"This makes all the sense in the world," said manager Lou Piniella, who called Zambrano into his office this afternoon to tell him of the move.

Actually, it was more to ask Zambrano, because Piniella said he wouldn't have made the move if Zambrano hadn't been willing to do it. Piniella told Zambrano that the move was temporary, designed to give general manager Jim Hendry more time to find an adequate setup man in a trade.

"I said whatever you want me to do, I'm here for the team," Zambrano said. "I don't like to be a reliever, but this team needs someone to step up. I need to help this team. . . . We've already lost three or four games in the eighth inning. I'm not saying I'll be Superman, that I'll be the best setup man in the big leagues. But I think I can be good. I think I can be great."

Zambrano is making $17.875 million this year. He allowed eight runs to the Braves in 1 1/3 innings on opening day, but has pitched well in three starts since. Piniella explained that the move wasn't made because of how Zambrano has done as a starter, but rather because he thinks Zambrano is the best solution to the Cubs' bullpen problems.

Zambrano came to the big leagues as a reliever, but he hasn't pitched out of the bullpen since 2002.

Category: MLB

Since: Sep 17, 2008
Posted on: April 22, 2010 4:37 pm

Cubs move Zambrano to bullpen

Zambrano is by far the worst starter in the rotation.

Since: Aug 18, 2006
Posted on: April 22, 2010 3:27 pm

Cubs move Zambrano to bullpen

The rest of the rotation has been fine (so far).  This does not seem like the best long term move, but I think Pinella is trying to wake the team up.  The bullpen has been wretched, and several of the team's marquee players, Zambrano among them, seem to be sleepwalking through the season.  I think Pinella is trying to light a fire.  Otherwise it would make more sense to move someone with actual bullpen experience, like Silva, out of the rotation to help out.  I would be really surprised if he stays in the BP for very long.  He is sending a message to his players (wake up) and one to upper management (get me some BP help) simultaneously.  Not a bad move if it is for a week or two, but a bad idea long term.

Since: Sep 16, 2009
Posted on: April 22, 2010 3:14 pm

Cubs move Zambrano to bullpen

When you ship your ace to the setup role, it seems to make sense that maybe, just maybe, there will not be much to setup for anymore. So now instead of losing games in the 8th, it will just be done in innings 1-5.

Since: Aug 19, 2006
Posted on: April 22, 2010 1:05 pm

Cubs move Zambrano to bullpen

Except Z isn't the best starter on the team.

Since: Dec 13, 2007
Posted on: April 22, 2010 11:39 am

Cubs move Zambrano to bullpen

I was as surprised as anyone else but to say he's our 'best' starter is just not true. He's first in rotation, he's got wicked stuff, but he hasn't been our 'best' starter in a couple of years. Not even close when you consider it. He's capable of pitching a no hitter one day, and giving up a ton of runs the next. He's always been potentially our best starter. But in my mind the best starter is the one game after game consistency, you can count on to get the job done. Something he just hasn't had. On top of that, every season he seems to get the 'dead arm' syndrome at bad times, when the Cubs need him to stop the bleeding. Maybe some time in the bullpen makes sense. I don't know. My main concern hearing this was, there goes his trade value. Might as well have traded him last year when there was a lot being offered. Now, if i was a fantasy baseball player, which I'm not, I'd be screwed if he was one of my pitchers. My guess is he'll be back in the rotation by June. Bottom line is, something had to be done. I'm not sure if this was it but who knows. The setup relief pitching has been awful and cost them at least four leads. If it works, Lou is a genius, if not, he'll be tore apart by press and fans. Now if we can just figure out how to produce more runs. 

Since: Aug 18, 2006
Posted on: April 22, 2010 11:00 am

Cubs move Zambrano to bullpen

The Brewers will give you Jeff Suppan for Zambrano because apparently we have not figured out that Suppan belongs in the bullpen to hide him! I am strictly guessing here but the move was probably made for A.) To strengthen their bullpen and B.) For him to get settled into a groove so they can put him back in the rotation. As a Brewer fan I am thankful we don't have to face him starting because he eats us up alive most times. On the back end though in a one run game I don't want to see Zambrano Marmol combo in the 8th and 9th inning. Lilly is coming back and he is rock solid as a starter taking Zambrano's spot in the rotation. However when Zambrano does figure it out who do you remove from the Rotation? Wells or Marshall?

Since: Jan 22, 2007
Posted on: April 22, 2010 10:01 am

Cubs move Zambrano to bullpen

As long as Silva and Gorzalany pitch well, fine by me!  I would have move Gorzelany

Since: Feb 19, 2010
Posted on: April 22, 2010 8:42 am

Cubs move Zambrano to bullpen

I hope this is only temporary, he needs to be a starter. He has pitched better lately. Why not move Gorzelanny to the bullpen?

Since: Nov 24, 2008
Posted on: April 22, 2010 8:31 am

Cubs move Zambrano to bullpen - Not a good move

Here is a solution that the Cubs should look at.  A team that is really deep on a bullpen staff right now is the Padres.  Make a deal to pick up 2 pieces from there staff.  A fix would be Bell and Staufer.  Staufer has been lights out this season and the Padres are loaded up here.  They have 5 relievers that could help the Cubs.  Hell give up your best minor league prospect if you have to.  The Padres lack a quality second baseman, and speedy outfielder.  If you have something get it done because San Diego is deep even in the minors.

Since: Nov 23, 2009
Posted on: April 22, 2010 8:08 am

Cubs move Zambrano to bullpen

Lou Piniella is an idiot. You need bullpen help so you send on of the best pitchers in the majors to be a freakin set up man? What the @&#$ was that!!! He had two starts for me this week, to.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or