Carlos Silva on trading block, goes out firing
March 26, 2011 8:51PM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
MESA, Ariz. — Carlos Silva is going away. But not quietly.
After the Cubs announced they plan to trade Silva, the over-salaried pitcher they got for the over-salaried Milton Bradley said the team misled him about his status in the last week. Then he threw new pitching coach Mark Riggins under the bus for the way Riggins told him he wouldn’t make the team.
All of which made the end of Silva’s Cubs career the verbal equivalent of his 1-3, 111/3-inning second half of last season — if not his dugout-fighting, BP-throwing, three-week start to March.
‘‘It’s very clear they knew what they were doing,’’ said Silva, who thought it was ‘‘weird’’ last week when the Cubs scheduled him to back up Carlos Zambrano with a three-inning relief outing. ‘‘I was like, ‘Something’s going on. Maybe they know who’s going to be the fifth starter.’ . . . Don’t say people are competing for a spot because it wasn’t true. Nobody was competing for a spot. They already [had] their rotation decided. It was very clear.’’
The Cubs’ version of events is far different, with more than one member of the organization using the word ‘‘delusional’’ to describe Silva’s perspective.
The Cubs, who chose second-year pitcher Andrew Cashner for the fifth-starter job and took rookie Marcos Mateo for the final bullpen spot, plan to step up efforts to trade Silva by the end of the week.
They announced those decisions Saturday, setting their roster for the opener Friday, barring injury.
‘‘We told Carlos Silva there will not be a spot for him unless there was an injury between now and Opening Day,’’ general manager Jim Hendry said. ‘‘We will try to explore trade possibilities for him with other clubs that might have some interest in taking him right to the big leagues.’’
The Cubs have received little trade interest in Silva since last season but are willing to eat more of the $11.5 million remaining on his contract than they were a few months — or even weeks — ago.
The Cubs say they’re willing to trade Silva within the division if it keeps him in the big leagues. If they can’t move him, they planned to ask him to stay with the organization at Class AAA rather than release him.
‘‘No chance,’’ said Silva, whose veteran status allows him to refuse such an assignment. ‘‘That’s not on my mind right now, not at all. I am not an insurance player, you know?’’
Silva, who turns 32 next month, is scheduled to pitch a few innings Monday for the Cubs in what amounts to a showcase/tryout — but those plans might be in doubt after his reaction Saturday.
‘‘I get an opportunity for another team, [the Cubs] are going to be in a bad spot,’’ said Silva, who said he has no animosity toward those who won jobs, only with what he believes were misleading signals sent by the team — after three poor outings.
‘‘I know I can pitch. I know what I can do. But they don’t know,’’ he said. ‘‘I talked to Jim this morning, and it’s very clear they think I can’t pitch anymore. He said, ‘If you get traded and you get an opportunity to pitch for another team and then you do good, then we’re [screwed].’ If he says that, it’s because he doesn’t think I can pitch.
‘‘Like they say, they don’t know what Cashner is going to do. So what are they doing?’’
With the exception of going 9-2 with a 2.96 ERA to start last season, Silva hasn’t come close to living up to the four-year, $48 million contract he signed with the Seattle Mariners before the 2008 season.
But after a strong six-inning start Wednesday, Silva said he was surprised by the news, especially after Riggins told him his bullpen session Friday looked good.
‘‘Half an hour later, he calls me into the hall,’’ said Silva, who criticized the Cubs’ former minor-league coordinator for only telling him he didn’t have a roster spot after Silva rejected the idea of opening in the minors to build his sharpness. ‘‘He should start with that first, and then talk to me about [the options].
‘‘It’s like, if you’ve got to say something, be straight. . . . He has to learn he’s in the big leagues now. It’s not kids around here anymore. If you’re here, you’ve been here long enough. And the way he laid it out, I don’t know what he’s trying to do.’’
Hendry and manager Mike Quade said Silva handled the news well in separate conversations, leaving some in the organization especially puzzled by his public reaction.
‘‘Organizationally, we just have to commit to finding out what Cash can be,’’ Quade said of the 2008 first-round draft pick who excelled down the stretch in a setup role last season. ‘‘I just don’t think you can cut a guy loose for four or five starts in Arizona — if you’re serious about this, and you think he’s got the potential to be a high-end starter, which we do — and then go, ‘Never mind.’
‘‘And sometimes those kinds of decisions force other decisions that may not be palatable.’’