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Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Big Z's big arm dispatched to bullpen

Carlos Zambrano is heading to the bullpen? So Carlos Silva can remain in the rotation? Has there been a weirder story this spring? Or a sillier story? FanGraphs' Jack Moore -- who doubles as a Disciple of Uecker, finds all sorts of fail in this move. Yes, Zambrano is demonstrably better than Silva ...

Speaking of virtually nil, that's about where I would peg the chance of Zambrano making fewer starts than Tom Gorzelanny this season.

Zambrano's given up four home runs in four starts, which is too many. The other things he can control, though? He's walked 10 batters in 19 innings, which is also too many but is roughly no more than he usually walks. Meanwhile, Zambrano's third in the league with 26 strikeouts.

I'll bet this is less about Zambrano's performance than about his attitude (according to Piniella). Call it reality therapy or a mental karate chop or whatever you like, but this strikes me as a momentary expression of annoyance more than anything else. Jack's right: Silva's not going to keep pitching brilliantly, and he's highly unlikely to pitch as well as Zambrano.

But there's room for both of them in the rotation. At the moment, Big Z's ERA is 7.45; his rotation mates go 0.69 (Silva), 1.93 (Gorzelanny), Randy Wells (2.45) and Ryan Dempster (3.15). It's hard to sit a guy with a 0.69 ERA, or even a guy with a 1.93 ERA. Those numbers will change, though, and probably quite soon. When they get where they're supposed to, Zambrano will take his rightful place in the rotation. You just have to wonder if his heart will come along for the ride.