I can’t believe the Cubs don’t have a better option in the rotation than Chris Volstad (0-9, 6.88).
He’s winless in 14 starts with Chicago and hasn’t won a single game over his last 24 outings dating back to his days with the Marlins.
It’s even tougher to believe Volstad actually won 12-games with the Fish just two seasons ago. Of course, when he faltered badly in 2011 going (5-13, 4.89) he became expendable on South Beach, and now we know why.
Volstad struggles with command, struggles to stick to the game-plan, struggles to pitch out of trouble and struggles with confidence. Did I miss anything?
STOP BLAMING THEO FOR VOLSTAD
It’s easy to be critical of Theo Epstein for dealing Carlos Zambrano for a 6’8″ has-been. But it’s important to remember this trade wasn’t about what the Cubs were getting in return.
This deal was strictly about dealing Big Z; a malcontent who had become a destructive clubhouse cancer on the North Side.
Tom Ricketts was essentially paying Zambrano to go away when Epstein dealt him to Miami in January. The fact a player was coming in return was simply icing on the cake, and although Volstad was coming off a down year, six of his last seven starts were quality outings with Florida.
Let’s not pretend there were better deals on the table for Zambrano, either. In fact, it was the only deal available, and the Cubs finally accomplished what they should’ve done years ago–ridding the organization of El Toro.
PUTTING THE BIG Z TRADE IN PERSPECTIVE
As poorly as Volstad has pitched since joining the Cubs, it’s nowhere near the frustrations that would’ve boiled over with Zambrano’s selfishness on a team treading towards a franchise-worst record. Lord only knows what pyrotechnics would have shot out of Big Z during the Cubs 12-game losing streak in May.
The idea Zambrano would’ve helped the Cubs this season is entirely fool’s gold. Sure, he’s pitched better than Volstad going (7-9, 4.32), but even so it wasn’t enough from keeping his close friend Ozzie GuiIlen from demoting Carlos to the bullpen in the season’s second half.
Volstad, however, doesn’t earn a free pass for simply being a throw-in piece to the trade. The Cubs, believe it or not, are still a major league team in the business of winning. Volstad, to this point, has been counterproductive to those efforts.
WHY IS VOLSTAD STILL PITCHING FOR THE CUBS?
How on earth the Cubs justify Volstad’s roster spot is beyond me. My best guess, however, is with the season a wash and hardly any reserves left in the minor leagues, the Cubs are giving Volstad the longest possible opportunity to show improvement.
It’s been long enough in my opinion, and I’m certain in the minds of many other Cubs fans, as well.
The Cubs currently have two minor league starters who could fit the bill over the final six weeks pitching at least as effective as Volstad, and I’d venture to say even better.
Rodrigo Lopez is (2-5, 5.28) with Triple-A Iowa. He started 16-games for the Cubs last season and wasn’t all that bad going (6-6, 4.42). He’s the furthest thing from being part of the Cubs rebuilding plan, but so too is Volstad.
Casey Coleman (2-4, 4.34) hasn’t exactly been tearing it up at Iowa, either. But he has seen several previous stints in the big leagues as both a starter and reliever, including a spot-start on July 31 against Pittsburgh–4.2, 4-ER, 7-H, 4-BB, 5-K. Volstad-esque, but hardly any worse.
So why not take a chance with one of these two guys? Who knows, maybe the Cubs actually win enough games behind one of them to help avoid a dreadful 100-loss season? Sticking with Volstad, meanwhile, only guarantees the Cubs will reach triple digit losses.