Jim & Bob's Palatial Baseball Blog

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Taking the Fifth

You can’t say that Lou Piniella doesn’t like to keep things hopping.

In the space of an hour on Sunday, Ryan Dempster went from closer to fifth starter back to closer. At least he kept his sense of humor about it. Demp told the media gaggle, “I’ve got a headline for you. ‘Dempster taken out of rotation after one non-start.’”

I’ve no idea what Piniella was thinking. Perhaps he was just thinking out loud, and Dempster ran with the idea before his boss had a chance to think it through. Or maybe Piniella gave Dempster the thumb’s-up that he was joining the rotation, only to come to his senses later.

But for today, at least, the pitching staff is set. Dempster is still in the bullpen, where he will play Obi-Wan to Angel Guzman’s Luke Skywalker. Cubs’ management (not sure if it’s Piniella or Hendry) thinks Guzman is better suited to the bullpen. There’s an ages-old debate over whether good pitchers best serve their teams by throwing eighty innings out of the pen or 200 innings in the rotation that I shan’t get into here.

But better pitchers than Guzman have served apprenticeships in middle relief before earning their way into the rotation. Guzman has shown promise this year (and last), along with some shakiness – in other words, he’s performing like an inexperienced pitcher in the Major Leagues. I just hope that he’ll view his trip to the bullpen as a learning experience and show us all that he deserves a roster spot.

And taking Guzman’s spot in the rotation is lefty Sean Marshall, fresh from Des Moines. He’s another guy who looked OK at times and not-so-OK other times last year.

Shipped out to Iowa to make room for Marshall: Neal Cotts. The move was sort of a surprise. Cotts hadn’t done much lately, but I don’t think anyone expected them to demote a guy that came over in a semi-big transaction over the winter.

If they were going to move the guy who pitched the worst, they’d probably move Eyre or Howry. But Cotts probably has an option left, so he loses this round.

I half-expected Guzman to take one for the team this time, along with the resulting “Lou hates young players” chorus from the press. Thanks for surprising me this time, guys…

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