Carlos Zambrano will stay in the bullpen for now

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Now that the Cubs’ starters are struggling as much as their relievers Lou Piniella was asked yesterday whether he’s considered moving Carlos Zambrano back into the rotation:

No, right now we need Carlos right where he’s at. We asked Carlos to do something that would help this team, and it’s helped this team. If you don’t hold onto leads late in the game, it has a lasting effect on the team.

Which is funny, because a) if you don’t have any late leads to protect that also has a lasting effect on the team, and b) Zambrano hasn’t exactly pitched brilliantly out of the bullpen. Zambrano has allowed three runs in six innings as a reliever, with opponents batting .346 against him. He’s also allowed three of his six inherited runners score, which while not reflected in ERA is certainly a big part of relief value.
He’s been decent as a reliever so far, but no one moves a pitcher making $18 million to the bullpen just so he can be decent and Zambrano has thrown just six innings in a 17-day stretch when he would have started three times. All of which is why it was silly to take a perfectly good starting pitcher capable of logging 200-plus innings and move him into a 70-inning role.

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.