Many of us here at TCR have been trying to understand the rationale behind Lou Piniella's recent "brainstorm"
where Ryan Dempster
was (apparently) supposed to move from closer to the starting rotation, with Angel Guzman
moving from #5 starter to closer.
Personally, I have always preferred Guzman more as a starter than as a reliever, mainly because of his four-pitch arsenal (two seamer, four seamer, curve, and change), and I have pushed Gooz as a starter in the past for that reason.
However, I believe the three most-liklely factors (besides the meltdown in the 9th inning at Shea last Thursday) that influenced Uncle Lou to seriously consider this move are:
1. Guzman' history of muscle cramps when he gets dehydrated (whch seems to happen fairly often), and throwing one inning versus five or six innings might help to keep that from happening;
2. When used as a starter, Guzman has tended to be a five or six inning pitcher. No matter how good a pitcher's stuff might be, the inability to clear the 5th or 6th inning puts too much of a strain on the bullpen in the long-run.
3. Deep-down, Piniella probably tends to prefer young power-pitchers in his bullpen (like the 1990 World Series champion Cincinnati Reds "Nasty Boys"--Randy Myers
, Rob Dibble
, and Norm Charlton
), so Uncle Lou might be attempting to transition from what appears (to him) to be a tired and spent veteran bullpen staffed by the likes of Dempster, Bob Howry
, and Scott Eyre
, to a Nasty Boys II (with Guzman as the closer, and Carlos Marmol
, Will Ohman
, Michael Wuertz
, Rocky Cherry
, and perhaps Clay Rapada
filling out the card) by sometime later this year, or 2008 at the latest.
That would leave the Cubs with a 2008 starting rotation of Carlos Zambrano
(presuming "Z" is still a Cub), Ted Lilly
, Jason Marquis
, Rich Hill
, and probably Sean Marshall
, with Sean Gallagher
, Donald Veal
, Mark Holliman
, and Jeff Samardzija
other possibilities down the road, although Veal might be more of a candidate for the bullpen.
BTW, if Guzman does in fact go to the bullpen this week, and Dempster remains there, too, then there will have to be a new 5th starter by Saturday (at the latest). The two most-likely candidates at this time are probably Wade Miller
(who continues merrily on his minor league rehab tonight, starting for AAA Iowa at Round Rock), and Marshall (who has pitched well at Iowa after starting the season rehabbing a sore shoulder at EXST).
One other possibility (eventually) could be Neal Cotts
(who was rated by Baseball America
as the White Sox #3 prospect back in 2003, when he was still a full-time rotation starter in AA), especially if Cotts gets optioned to AAA this week to make room for the Cubs' new 5th starter (presumably Miller or Marshall).
If Cotts does get sent down this week, I would think he would likely be converted back to a starting pitcher (which was mentioned by Jim Hendry as a possibility when the Cubs acquired Cotts from the Sox) and get his pitch count extended, so in the event Miller and/or Marshall falter, Cotts could be Plan "C."