As we touched on last week the Chicago Cubs have struggled mightily this year with injuries and it has left them depleted and with a short bench. However you would think that a payroll of close to $135 would still let you have enough options for pinch hitters late in the game. Apparently not. The team elected to use all star pitcher Carlos Zambrano as a pinch hitter in the past three games. This is a shocking decision that has never really been seen before in MLB action. Of course the team has injuries and a short bench, but is it really necessary to risk the health of the one player that has been pulling through so far this season?
With the loss of players like Derek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Milton Bradley the team is desperate for bench help but this decision is simply unbelievable. It all started last Thursday when Zambrano was sent in late into a 2-2 ball game with the Florida Marlins. Carlos managed to get a base hit but didn’t end up scoring and the team eventually lost the game in extra innings. The very next night Zambrano was sent out in the 4th inning off a game with the team losing 5-1. Zambrano hit a lazy fly ball but the team was able to come back and win the game. The most puzzling of all was when Zambrano was used again last night with the team dominating the game with a 6-1 lead.
Zambrano is scheduled to start the next game and the team has for no reason put him into a situation where he could be injured three nights in a row. This is simply not how you utilize a player of his stature and salary. It is the misuse of an asset that really cannot be explained in any reasonable way. He is only a .230 hitter for his entire career so he doesn’t provide any punch and an injury to him could leave the Cubs spiraling towards the basement of their division. He is only in the second year of his five year $91.5 million dollar deal. Is throwing him into a game that is already over really worth risking this kind of money and this kind of talent? I didn’t think so.
Many people are always unaware of what goes on in manager Lou Piniella's mind but this is something completely new. This is a risk you simply do not take when it comes to baseball no matter how depleted your lineup is. You just do not do it and I cannot understand why any team or manager would make this kind of decision. Let us hope this does not bring in a new era of mediocre managerial decisions and risks of this magnitude.
Drill Down: Chicago Cubs
, Carlos Zambrano
, Derek Lee
, Lou Piniella