Blyleven: Health Silva's biggest question

Updated: December 18, 2009, 4:37 PM ET
ESPNChicago.com

Which Carlos Silva are the Chicago Cubs getting in the Milton Bradley trade?

Is he the one who was a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter with the Minnesota Twins, who averaged 193 innings from 2004-07? Or will he be the Silva of the past one-plus seasons with the Seattle Mariners, the one who went 5-18 after signing a four-year, $48 million free-agent contract?

It will all depend on whether the 30-year-old pitcher is healthy, says Twins television analyst and former pitcher Bert Blyleven.

"What the Cubs got is, if he's healthy, a guy that could pitch 200 innings for them," Blyleven said Friday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "He's got a great sinking fastball, very good control. He's a battler. He's a lot like Carlos Zambrano as far as attacking the strike zone. Carlos Silva does not walk a lot of guys. He's not going to strike out a lot of guys. He's a contact-type pitcher that when he's on has a good sinking fastball."

Silva has been victimized by the long ball, however. He gave up a major-league high 38 home runs in 2006.

"If he doesn't have that sinker and it stays up in the strike zone it's a very hittable pitch," Blyleven said.

The Twins let Silva walk after the 2007 season, unwilling to spend upwards of $12 million on a pitcher who was a third or fourth starter. seattle signed him to a big contract and he suffered through his worst season, going 4-15 with a 6.74 earned-run average. He followed that up with an injury-shortened 2009 season during which he made just six starts and two relief appearances.

"He went to Seattle and had a miserable year," Blyleven said. "He had some lower back problems. During the winter of 2008 and 2009 he spent some time here in Fort Myers, Fla. (the Twins' spring training home), really reducing his body fat and reducing his weight. He was looking forward to the 2009 season and then his shoulder flared up, and he missed most of all last year."

Although his ability to stay healthy may be questioned, Silva the teammate is dependable, according to Blyleven.

"As far as a person, this guy works his rear end off," Blyleven said. "He's a good clubhouse presence. He's got very good chemistry with all the other players. He's a nice addition to the Cubs as long as he's healthy."

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