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Carlos Zambrano, Designated Hitter?

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Here's the wackiest story you'll read today.

Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty Images)

I'm not taking this seriously and it doesn't appear anyone else is either, but former Cubs righthander Carlos Zambrano says he wants to come back again -- this time, as a pitcher/designated hitter, according to Paul Sullivan in the Tribune:

Zambrano was indeed on the roster of Magellanes in the Venezuelan Winter League, but had only one at-bat going into this weekend. He was at home on break in Miami last week when I asked if it was true. Zambrano replied via text: "I would welcome an opportunity to return to the major leagues as a starter or as a DH. If Ankiel did it and Kieschnick did it, then why can't I? I guarantee I will give 100 percent."

As Sullivan goes on to point out, Big Z was a pretty good hitter in his prime, although he struck out 240 times in 693 career at-bats -- a 34.6 percent strikeout rate, which, it should be pointed out, is a considerably better ratio than Javier Baez had in his 213 at-bats with the Cubs last year (95 K's for a 44.6 percent rate).

Could Big Z actually do this? Rick Ankiel was quite a bit younger (27) than Zambrano is now (33), and Ankiel did have some successful years as a hitter. Brooks Kieschnick might be the better model; he came back to the big leagues as a reliever/pinch-hitter/DH in 2003 and 2004 with the Brewers. He pitched decently enough in middle relief (one good year, one not quite so good) and wound up with a 4.59 ERA and 95 ERA+, producing 0.7 bWAR as a pitcher. In those two seasons Kieschnick hit .286/.340/.496 with eight home runs in 133 at-bats, producing a total of 2.1 bWAR as a hitter. He was 31 and 32 years old in those two years.

Zambrano hit 24 home runs in those 693 at-bats and currently ranks seventh on the all-time pitcher home-run list. If he could get his head together and not melt down (you're surely familiar with those meltdowns and they don't have to be rehashed), this might actually work.

Please note: I'm not suggesting the Cubs sign him to do anything like this, only intrigued at the possibility that someone who was once a very good pitcher could reinvent himself in his mid-30s and come back to the big leagues anywhere to do it. Since the National League does not (yet) have the DH, he wouldn't be a fit for the Cubs anyway.

I hope someone tries it. If nothing else, it would be fun to watch. Sullivan's article concludes:

I polled a couple of executives at the GM meetings to see if this was an idea any team would bother investigating.

Both greeted the news with snickers.

"He was a very fine hitter in his prime," one said diplomatically. "So I wouldn't rule anything out."

The other replied: "Maybe he would have a better chance as a sportswriter."

Big Z a sportswriter? Now that would be fun to watch.