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Cubs Should Use Wood As Closer

By bullpenbrian at 01.12.2012 4 comments.

Now that it appears the Cubs will sign Kerry Wood before Friday’s Cubs Convention, I’ll repeat what I’ve said many times before: it’s time to put Wood back where he belongs–in the closer’s role.

Although dominating at times, Carlos Marmol regularly struggled last season to find his command.

His bouts of wildness resulted in nine hit batsmen and a league-high 10 blown saves–figures which only reaffirmed my belief Marmol is a better set-up man than a closer–and put the Cubs on red alert for its closer’s position heading into the offseason.

I’ve often thought removing Marmol from the high pressure duty of recording the game’s final outs would return him to his peak performance years as the NL’s most menacing set-up arm.

Such was the case in 2008 when Marmol posted a 2.68 ERA while striking out a whopping 114 batters in just 87.1 innings–paving the way for Kerry Wood’s 34 save season and a Cubs Central Division crown.

That’s not to say Marmol hasn’t been a respectable closer since absorbing the role from Kevin Gregg during the 2009 campaign. He successfully closed 15 games that year, then 38 the following season.

However, Marmol’s inconsistencies, in combination with Sean Marshall’s departure, leaves the door open for a smooth transition back to an eighth inning-type set-up role in front of Wood.

It most likely wouldn’t be received as a welcomed move for Marmol, who’s grown fawn of closing games. But that’s not to say he’d be entirely without opportunities to close given Wood’s limited availability and history of blister problems.

Most importantly, transitioning Marmol to the eighth allows Dale Sveum the advantage of removing Marmol, should he falter with pitch command, before all is lost.

The inability to make such a move consistently cost the Cubs wins in 2011, and ultimately contributed to Mike Quade losing his job.

That doesn’t have to be the case this season–not with Marmol setting up Wood to close the door.

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4 Comments

  1. I agree. I actually wouldn’t mind seeing Epstein trying to move Marmol to another team and get $17M more off the books.But the closer market has really dried up this winter and I don’t see anyone taking on $17M when you can get the likes of R Madson for $4M.

    http://wrigleyregular.mlblogs.com/

    • bullpenbrian says:

      I could see moving Marmol, as well. But I’d first like to see the Cubs try his hand again as the set-up man.

      I also think teams will wait to see if Marmol can regain better control of his slider. If that’s the case, his trade value would rise as the season progresses towards the end of July. Wood could close and there’s also the possibility of Manny Corpas in the closer’s role.

      All said, similar to Garza’s situation, the worst case scenario is the Cubs keep a dominating relief arm in Marmol. Not a bad Plan B!

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