Z to the Pen? Why Stop There?

The twittersphere has been all abuzz over the move Lou Pinella announced today: Carlos Zambrano, the ace of the staff coming in to the year, was shuttled to the bullpen to take over, presumably, the pitching staff’s weakest spot: the 8th inning. Personally, I think this a great move — not just for the bullpen, but for the entire team.

1. It *should* strengthen the bullpen

If Zambrano takes the role seriously, if he’s able to pitch effectively in relief, if he can bounce back from day to day…he will be a HUGE addition to the 8th inning. Grabow/Samardzija or Z? After the profanity that has spewed from my mouth towards Mr. Surrendzija in the early part of this season, this is a no brainer to me.

2. The rotation is just fine without Z — for now

Silva has been amazing so far. Gorz has been very good, as well. Dempster and Wells have been their usual good selves…and Ted Lilly will be back this weekend, so opposing hitters have already begun to pee themselves to prepare to face his awesomeness. Z has been less than spectacular pitching in the rotation so far…if everybody stays the course, the rotation doesn’t *need* Z. He can get straightened out in the pen. The rotation will be fine.

3. The team now knows that *nobody* is safe

This is where the team benefits the most. Zambrano is the longest tenured Cub, the wealthiest pitcher, and the club’s “ace”. His move to the pen illustrates to everybody on the team — pitchers and position players alike — that if they aren’t productive, Lou will put somebody in who will be. Soriano, who has been criticized in spades early on, seemed to respond tonight. The move has to put a sense of urgency onto everybody on this team, and illustrate that Lou is going to do what he has to do to field a winner with the pieces Jim Hendry has dumped on him.

Many other bloggers have covered all of this better than I can already. I’m just playing catchup. But, I have to wonder…why stop with moving Z to the pen? Why not move him to the closer position, and move Marmol back to the 8th inning/fireman spot that he dominated a couple of years ago? Its where Marmol was most effective (when he had that role defined…not when battling to close instead of Goggles McGee) and a clear-cut closer in Z, with a clear setup man in Marmol makes a little more sense to me.

All in all, the message sent was more important than the move itself. Let’s see if this team chooses to heed it.

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