On Z's Return, Lilly's Exit, and Girardi's No-Comment
— A season-high crowd of nearly 13,000—more than 5,000 above than the I-Cubs' average—was on hand for Carlos Zambrano's rehab appearance last night in Des Moines.
Zambrano threw a bumpy but scoreless inning in which he got 10 of 15 pitches over the plate, but allowed two singles and was saved from a third hit by Sam Fuld's catch against the center-field wall. (See Mike Wellman's full account here.)
Current plans are for Zambrano to pitch in Round Rock over the weekend and then in Albuquerque on Tuesday before rejoining the big club in Colorado.
— In her short list of moves that "today's contenders should make to make sure they're winners tomorrow," Christina Kahrl of Baseball Prospectus (subscription required) says the Yankees should go hard after Ted Lilly as a replacement for the injured Andy Pettite.
Valid concerns about Lilly's flagging velocity aside, a big problem for him this season has been location against left-handers, leading to a return of the bass-ackward platoon splits that hampered his performance in 2008. With the Yankees, he'd have the advantage of pitching with great run support in a ballpark that is turning out to be less of a launching pad than initially expected. He has experience pitching in pennant races, experience pitching in pinstrips, and he wouldn't come in having to be a star, just deliver effective starts...and let the offense grind opponents to dust.
Lilly bounced between starting and relief duties as a Yankee from 2000-02, going 8-12, 4.65.
By the way, Kahrl says the Yankees could offer the Cubs Class 'A' second-base prospect Corban Joseph in return for Lilly. The 21-year-old Joseph is hitting .309/.386/.450 in the pitcher-dominated Florida State League this summer.
— In case you doubted it, Joe Girardi is more interested in winning another World Series right now than in discussing the soon-to-be-open job with the Cubs.
From the New York Daily News (which broke the Piniella story in the first place):
“I figured this would come up once Lou announced his retirement. I have a responsibility to this club and the guys in that room, and that’s my concern. People can speculate all they want, but that’s my concern right now. I don’t really think much about it.”
And also this:
“I love it here; I’ve loved my time here,” Girardi said. “I put my kids in school here and they’re enrolled to go to school here next fall. There’s going to be talk; I grew up there, I grew up a Cubs fan, I went to Northwestern, I lived in Chicago. But my concern is right now.”
— Jeff Suppan (0-5, 6.05; 6-9, 3.92 all-time vs. Cubs) goes against Randy Wells (4-7, 4.33; 0-2, 10.13 all-time vs. Cards) in Friday's opener of a three-game series with still Roy-Oswalt-less St. Louis. Including today, the teams will meet 12 more times this season.