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A look at Cubs’ potential trade partners for Carlos Marmol

By bullpenbrian - March 6, 2013 - 2:30 am Leave a comment.

Carlos Marmol Cubs

It’s been a wild ride for Carlos Marmol with the Cubs. He’s gone from minor-league catcher, to reliever, to the best setup man in the National League, to closer and finally, expendable.

After another Jekyll and Hyde year in 2012, the Cubs made no secret they would try and move the closer this winter. He was nearly dealt to the Angels in Nov. for starting pitcher Dan Haren, but the deal fell through with the Cubs concerned over Haren’s medicals.

Then, the Winter Meetings came and went with Marmol’s name barely making a blip on the trade radar. And when Marmol was accused of domestic violence in the Dominican Republic last month, there was another scare the trade window had shut for the spring, if not longer.

But with spring training at full throttle and Marmol cleared of any wrongdoings in the Dominican, the trade rumors have picked back up according to Bruce Levine of ESPN1000 Chicago.

Levine reports ‘several teams’ are interested in trading for the 30-year-old, namely the Detroit Tigers who have penciled in Bruce Rondon, a 22-year-old rookie, for their closer’s role.

Levine also details Marmol can veto trades to four unspecified West Coast teams, one of which we know is the Angels from the broken Haren deal (Marmol reportedly waived his no-trade right to accept the trade before the Cubs declined the deal). Marmol, however, is said to be willing to waive his no-trade rights to join a contender.

So what can the Cubs expect in return for Marmol? It’s generally accepted the Cubs will ask for a younger pitching prospect in return–an attempt to add another cost-controlled piece to the longer-term rebuilding plans.

However, aside from Marmol’s 1.52 ERA following the All-Star break last season, the Cubs wouldn’t appear to have a ton of leverage. His first half ERA was 5.61 and we also know how wildly inconsistent he’s been throwing strikes the past several years.

Even worse, in three of the past five seasons Marmol’s save percentage has been below 80-percent–and he led the league in blown saves (10) as recently as 2011. For his career Marmol is 115/140 (82-percent) in save opportunities.

So for all intents and purposes, trading Marmol is more a cost-cutting move by the Cubs with Marmol still owed $9.8 million through 2013.

Meanwhile, the Cubs essentially replaced Marmol with the surprise signing of Japanese pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa, 32, to a 2-year, $9.5 million deal in Dec. In six seasons with the Hanshin Tigers Fujikawa has recorded 202 career saves, including a 1.32 ERA in 2012.

Having roughly $20 million tied up in two closers doesn’t make much sense for a rebuilding franchise. And although neither Marmol or Fujikawa are in the Cubs’ long-term plans, having Fujikawa for two years gives the organization not only a more reliable closer than Marmol, but also time to find the team’s closer of the future.

With all that said, here are my best guesses at where Marmol could land before opening day.

For the reasons listed above, and the possibility starter Rick Porcello is available. Jim Leyland has implied 
Jose Valverde is not an option and there’s potentially an outside shot at packaging Alfonso Soriano with Marmol in a trade. That one’s a stretch, but Marmol alone would appear a good fit.

They have the young pitching prospects the Cubs want. It’s also another outside shot at dealing Soriano with Marmol considering t
he O’s have been searching for a right-handed slugger all offseason.

They’re moving fast to compete and haven’t been afraid to add payroll this offseason. Closer Chris Perez has declined over the past three seasons and Marmol could be the player to push him for the ninth inning role.

The Rockies are all-around bad, and closer Rafael Betancourt will turn 38-years-old at the end of April. He went 31/38 in save
chances last season, but how much is left in the tank?

Los Angeles Angels
We know Marmol already accepted to waive his no-trade right to join the Halos. Maybe they’d think of adding him
again in what’s shaping up as a very tough American League West division.

Closer John Axford, 30, fell of the wagon badly last season after going 46/48 in saves in 2011. He temporarily lost
his job in 2012 while finishing the season
(5-8, 4.67) with nine blown saves in 44 chances (80-percent).

New York (NL)
The Mets don’t have much of a bullpen to begin with and they also appear to have lost confidence in closer Frank Francisco. That leaves Bobby Parnell, a reliever with more career blown saves (17) than he has
successful saves (14) during his five big-league seasons, to close the door in the ninth inning. 

Never afraid to make a deal. Billy Beane is the king of spinning closers into trade deadline gold. His 35-year-old closer, Grant Balfour, has long battled arm troubles and is coming off knee surgery in Feb. However, the A’s could potentially be one team on Marmol’s no-trade list.

The Pirates need any edge they can get to stay in contention for a full season. Jason Grilli, 36, is taking over
the closer’s role with all of five career-saves under his belt in 10 seasons. 

The Rangers and Cubs hooked up at last year’s non-waiver trade deadline in the Ryan Demspter and Geovany Soto
trades. Closer Joe Nathan is still a stud at 38-years-old, and newly acquired reliever Joakim Soria saved 160 games in five seasons with Kansas City. But perhaps Marmol would welcome a setup role on a contender. Not to mention, Soriano would appear a good fit in the Lone Star state as well.


Off Field Distraction Puts Marmol Trade In Jeopardy

By bullpenbrian - February 1, 2013 - 11:45 am Leave a comment.

Carlos Marmol
We’ve known all offseason the Cubs are actively pursuing a trade partner for Carlos Marmol.

The Cubs struck a deal with the Angels in early November to swap Marmol for starting pitcher Dan Haren, but the trade fell through when the Cubs reportedly got cold feet after examining Haren’s medicals.

At the time, however, the offseason was still far from over and the Winter Meetings had yet to take place in Nashville.

Now the Cubs’ window to move Marmol before the season has nearly closed. Pitchers & catchers report for duty in less than two weeks and the first spring training game is less than a month away.

“Although I don’t anticipate the unfortunate news of Marmol being accused of domestic violence in the Dominican Republic will decrease any trade value he has as a pitcher, I do suspect it will bring pause to organizations that may have interest in acquiring him.”

A hearing involving this incident is scheduled a week from today, Feb. 8, so it seems likely another week will pass before anything baseball related happens with Marmol.

As far as the baseball side of the story is concerned, should the alleged incident drag on through the spring it’s hard to imagine any team will pursue Marmol via trade.

There will be raised awareness of how this will affect Marmol’s preparation for the baseball season and his mental game.

Dealing Marmol and his $9.8 million contract has been difficult enough without any off the field distractions. So until the dust settles in the DR we can be certain the Cubs are stuck with Marmol, and dealing with the seriousness of the alleged incident.
Cubs pitcher Carlos Marmol was accused in a Dominican Republic court on Wednesday of domestic violence involving a 24-year-old woman, and his attorneys, in turn, filed a countersuit claiming extortion, according to a Dominican news report.

Neither Marmol nor his agent, Paul Kinzer, could be immediately reached for comment Thursday.

But a source close to the Cubs’ closer said an investigation into the alleged incident, involving Miledys Mejia Cepeda, already has been completed by local law enforcement officials in the Dominican, without finding sufficient cause to bring charges.

via Carlos Marmol accused of domestic violence – Chicago Sun-Times.


Time Is Now To Trade Soriano & Marmol

By bullpenbrian - January 31, 2013 - 10:00 am Leave a comment.

Pitchers and catchers report to Arizona in less than two weeks and the Cubs have yet to deal Alfonso Soriano or Carlos Marmol.

I’m not surprised it’s taken so long, there are sticky circumstances with each player (partial and full no-trade clauses), but I do find myself concerned with the risk involved in waiting to play ‘let’s make a deal’ until mid-season.

It’s unlikely Soriano’s trade value will ever be higher coming off his terrific 2012 season. He proved there’s still enough pop in his bat to be a formidable middle of the order slugger; he greatly improved his defense and most importantly, he’s healthy.

Meanwhile, after a rough start for Marmol last season, in which he temporarily lost his closer’s role, Marmol bounced back with a very respectable second half. But the Cubs know Marmol’s greatest weakness is his inconsistency, which partly explains why they attempted to trade him for Dan Haren in November.

But ever since that deal fell through Marmol’s name has hardly registered on the trade radar. The Cubs clearly want to deal this guy, but nobody seems interested in giving up much, if anything, in return for him.

While I respect what appears to be the Cubs’ decision to hold out for the best offer on both Soriano and Marmol, I‘m also beginning to fear the Cubs are ready to assume the risks involved with starting the season with both players on the roster, despite the tremendous risk in rolling the dice on either Soriano or Marmol picking up where they left off last year.

More specifically, what happens if Soriano and Marmol get off to a slow start, or worse, suffers an injury? (Remember, all 32 of Soriano’s HRs came after May 14th last season) Then how much comes back for a 37-year-old outfielder with battered legs, and a wildly inconsistent closer who can’t find the strikezone? What team will want to spend the roughly $10 million it will cost to land one of these individuals? I don’t know, either?


I can understand the Cubs’ intentions to field a more competitive team becomes increasingly more difficult without Soriano’s bat in the lineup and his leadership in the clubhouse. Both aspects of his game are practically irreplaceable on the current roster.

The bullpen is arguably the weakest link on the team aside from the uncertainties at third base. With ‘good’ Marmol the bullpen is of course a little stronger, but the ‘bad’ Marmol sucks the life out of an already thin relief corps.

The fact of the matter is if Team Theo doesn’t pull the trigger on these trades soon, I fear they may not have the chance later on, and that would be a huge swing-and-miss for the front office in Year 2 of the rebuild.

We’ve managed to wait this long, but I’ll be interested to see where we’re at in two weeks, with or without Soriano and Marmol.


Cubs Bullpen Still In Shambles

By bullpenbrian - November 30, 2012 - 3:00 am Leave a comment.

Don’t forget about the Cubs’ bullpen this offseason. It remains a glaring weakness and aside from re-signing Shawn Camp, not much has been done to improve the relief staff.

Adding a couple of quality starter (Scott Baker & Scott Feldman) should help in theory, reducing the number of relief innings, but there’s still a ton of work to be done.

Only the Rockies, Brewers and Astros relievers allowed more earned-runs than Chicago in the National League last season.

The Cubs’ pen also allowed the second most HR in the NL (56) and worse, issued the most walks in all of baseball (259).

Carlos Marmol could be traded by the end of the Winter Meetings next week. Michael Bowden and Alberto Cabrera are being stretched out as starters this offseason. That basically leaves Camp and James Russell as the only reliable relief arms.

Meanwhile, Lendy Castillo, Jaye Chapman and Jeff Beliveau are still unproven. So is Rafael Dolis. Maybe there’s a pleasant bullpen surprise this spring among Arodys Vizcaino, Trey McNutt or Robert Whitenack, but even so that’s not enough for a formidable bullpen.

So in addition to finding the right fit at third base and a center fielder, improving the bullpen must be high on the Cubs’ list of repairs.

I wouldn’t suspect the bullpen issues get ironed out at the Winter Meetings, there might be a move (Marmol), but it’s something to keep an eye on as we move deeper into the offseason.

I have to believe at some point Team Theo will add at least one, if not two, quality relievers before the start of spring training.


Why Team Theo Could Surprise Cubs Fans This Offseason

By bullpenbrian - November 15, 2012 - 10:00 am 2 comments.

An important part of the Cubs’ rebuild is selling the general fan base on the idea the team is improving despite its place in the standings.

Keeping the masses interested in a team still several seasons away from reaching the postseason won’t be easy, nor is it an effective ticket sales strategy if the Cubs lose 100-plus games again next year.

Realistically, slipping just under triple-digit losses in 2013 won’t cut it, either. For the club to be convincing of any improvement the loss total needs to be closer to 90-games at minimum, and anything less would certainly be ideal.

[As a reminder, I'm not talking about the Cubs selling ‘you and me’. This is largely about 'Joe Cubs Fan' who's not reading baseball blogs in mid-November or deeply interested in the 'process' of a rebuilding plan still years away from completion. He'll dust off his Cubs cap after spring training and then angrily swap it out for a Bears lid after his Cubbies deal away its good players at next July's trade deadline.] Now back to our regularly scheduled program…

Achieving the dubious goal of ‘anything less than 100-losses’ means the Cubs strictly can’t rely on ‘rebuild’ players alone. The Jacksons, Vitters and Raleys of the organization can’t be counted on to assure the big-100 doesn’t happen again.

Instead, the Cubs are going to need at least 1 or 2 veteran, stop-gap type players like a David DeJesus (most notably at third base, centerfield and the starting rotation) to help prop the team up in the win column, if only for the sake of some visible proof in the standings the rebuild is moving forward.

It’s precisely why I suggested earlier this week the Cubs could explore trade optionsfor Dodgers’ starters Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang–two middle-aged veterans of which either could immediately help improve the Cubs’ starting pitching and its chances of avoiding consecutive 100-loss seasons–but neither of which would do more than serve this single purpose for a year or two at most.

For the sake of this post Capuano and Harang, specifically, are not of importance. What is, is recognizing not every player acquisition this offseason will be a perfect-fit for the rebuild like those early 20s, high-ceiling prospects we so dearly love or the re-tread pitchers coming off Tommy John surgery willing to take a 1-year, ‘prove-it’ deal with the chance to be traded to a contender in July (Scott Baker).

This is why I’ve repeatedly mentioned my hunch the Cubs would have a surprise or two up its sleeve for us this winter.

Look over the current roster and you’ll soon realize that without the additions of a few proven players the outlook for 2013 is hardly better than it was for 2012, as far as wins and losses are concerned.

Bridging what we hope is the short-term gap from the development of young rebuild-players into budding major league stars won’t be accomplished with more Alex Hinshaws and Chris Volstads.

Team Theo knows this, which is why the Cubs already made one attempt this offseason, albeit unsuccessfully, to deal Carlos Marmol for a proven, veteran pitcher in Dan Haren. For all the reasons stated above, I expect this won’t be their last try to supplement a veteran, short-term fix to the longer-term rebuild solutions.

Without one we can be fairly certain this club is sailing right back to the waters from which it came…a stormy sea of 101 losses.


Next Closer For Cubs?

By bullpenbrian - November 5, 2012 - 3:45 am Leave a comment.

We have reason to believe the Cubs will make a second attempt to trade Carlos Marmol after nearly doing so in a deal that collapsed for Angels starter Dan Haren on Friday night.

The tough part is selling Marmol’s actual value vs. his still owed 1-year, $9.8M contract. Another sticking point is Marmol’s no-trade clause. But seeing as how he waive it to join the Angels makes it seem he would do so again–at least to join a contender.

Where, when and how the Cubs trade Marmol, I don’t know. If and when they do, however, the Cubs will need to find itself another closer.

The in-house options are thin and not promising.

Rafael Dolis got a taste at closing last season, which came with a serving of humble pie: 4/6 in save situations and an overall 6.39 ERA. Still green, to say the least.

Jaye Chapman is another question mark having appeared in only 14-games during his rookie season. He did find success with the strikeout (12) but walked an unhealthy 10 batters in just 12.0 innings. Chapman, it seems, first needs to prove he’s a reliable reliever before the Cubs test his mettle in the closer’s role.

James Russell was arguably the best reliever the Cubs had last year. In fact, he was such a good situational pitcher you’d hate to see him limited to closing duties on a club expected to play below .500. Russell also lacks the repertoire of tradition ‘closer’s stuff.’

So it’s fairly obvious if the Cubs need to replace a departed Marmol the better options are outside the organization. Here’s a quick look at some free agent closers available this offseason—assuming the Cubs do not receive a candidate for closer in return for Marmol.

  • Joakim Soria, 27, has been a sensational closer for the Royals with the exception of his last season pitching in 2011: (5-5, 4.33) 28/35 in saves. He blew out his pitching elbow last April and missed all of 2012. That could play in the Cubs favor if Soria can be had for a 1-year, incentive-laden deal for $4M or less.
  • Jonathan Broxton, 28, brings a heavy fastball and a history of closing. In 8 seasons he has 111 career-saves, including an 82% save-percentage over his last four seasons spent with the Dodgers, Royals & Reds. Broxton will likely field multiple-year offers and a price tag around $5-6M, if not more. That’s probably more than what the Cubs are willing to pay, or would have to pay to entice him to join the lowly Cubs.
  • Matt Capps, 28, is coming off a shoulder injury that sidelined him from July to late September. He was limited to just 30-games with Minnesota last year. Capps has been a closer in 7 of his 8 big league seasons with a solid save-percentage above 80%. He could be an ideal option for the Cubs if they can land him for $3M or less. If Capps returns to his old form you’re looking at a valuable trade chip come July.
  • Ryan Madson, 32, is similar to Soria in the fact he’s also recovering from Tommy John surgery after suffering an elbow injury last spring. He missed all of 2012 after signing a 1-year, $6M deal with Cincinnati in the offseason. Where Madson differs from Soria, however, is his history of closing. In 9 seasons with Philadelphia he’s just 52/78 in save opportunities–a discouraging 67-percent success rate. If Madson can be had for half of what the Reds were willing to give him, Chicago could offer him the chance to close games immediately in addition to trading him to a contender, given his recovery goes smoothly.
  • Jose Valverde, 35, was nothing short of Marmolesque this October. Yet despite his poor showing in the postseason, there’s a reason the Tigers paid Papa Grande $9M big ones to close the door. His 93.2 save-percentage over the last three seasons is the best of any closer in baseball. That price is certain to drop this offseason, maybe enough the Cubs could get Valverde if they wanted him. If Papa Grande did bounce back, what a terrific trade piece Chicago would have next July. But like the above closer options, there’s considerable risk that comes with signing Valverde…maybe too much for the Cubs to bite.

No Haren. Now What For Marmol, Cubs?

By bullpenbrian - November 3, 2012 - 1:05 am Leave a comment.

I was less surprised the Carlos Marmol for Dan Haren trade fell apart than I was knowing there was ever a deal discussed in the first place.

Despite being two-years older than Marmol, Haren would’ve been a major coup for the Cubs.

He’s started no fewer than 30-games the past 8 seasons, is a 3-time All Star and has twice finished in the Top 10 of the Cy Young Award.

The addition of Haren would’ve improved the Cubs’ rotation immediately and his manageable 1-year contract would’ve also made Haren a valuable trading chip at the July trade deadline–assuming the Cubs were out of the race as expected.

If you’re reading this post I can fairly assume there’s no need to rehash Marmol’s struggles other than to say he’s grown more inefficient and less reliable with age.

Had the trade gone through I wouldn’t have labeled it a total fleecing by the Cubs. Haren has experienced his own setbacks including a nagging back injury and a significant drop in pitch velocity that led to his first ever trip to the DL.

However, there’s no doubt in my mind Chicago was getting the better end of the deal player-for-player wise. The transfer of money between each party appears to be the sticking point in the Cubs pulling the plug late last night.

Even though the trade is off the table, at least for the time being, it’s still encouraging to see the Cubs stay aggressive in its rebuilding efforts.

And seeing as how the Cubs hung Marmol out to try once, it would seem likely they’ll make further attempts to deal him this offseason–but it won’t be easy.

Marmol is still owed $9.8M in 2013, a hefty price tag for a guy who’s made a name for himself walking the bases loaded in close situations, which brings us back to why I was wide-eyed with the news the Angels were accepting Marmol for Haren in the first place.

Another interesting spin-off to this developing story is who the Cubs will turn to at closer if, in fact, Marmol is traded away? Will the Cubs stay with internal options (Dolis, Chapman, etc.) or will we see Team Theo sign/trade for another closer?

I’ve had a gut feeling the Cubs would have a surprising move or two up its sleeve this offseason. Marmol for Haren would’ve easily fit the description. Let’s just hope the next trade whammy actually comes to fruition.


Sori’s New Company, Barney’s Streaks, Marmol & Valbuena

By bullpenbrian - September 20, 2012 - 3:00 am Leave a comment.

Yesterday I gushed over Alfonso Soriano’s numbers this season. He homered again last night, a two-run blast onto Waveland Ave in the sixth, giving him 30 HR & 103 RBI for the year.

He now joins an elite group of Cubs players age 36 or older to hit 30-plus HR and drive in 100 or more RBI:

  • Hank Sauer
  • Andre Dawson
  • Fred McGriff
  • Moises Alou

GOLD GLOVE: Last night Darwin Barney struck out swinging in the bottom of the ninth snapping his string of 55-plate appearances without a strikeout–which was the longest in the majors.

His 0-for-5 performance also ends his career-high and team season-high 13-game hitting streak this year.

However, Barney’s National League record of consecutive games without committing a fielding error remains intact at 134-straight contests. With 12-games remaining this season Darwin still has an opportunity to break Placido Polanco’s major league record of 141-straight games without an error at second base.

MARMOL TIME: Would you believe Carlos Marmol has successfully converted his last 19 save opportunities? That’s a career-high for Marmol, whose previous mark of consecutive saves was 18-straight from August, 2010- April, 2011.

Marmol’s last blown save came on May 2, making him one of only two closers in the majors to be perfect in save chances since the second month of the season–the Padres’ Huston Street is the other (18/18).

DOWN LOOKING: I want to believe in Brett Jackson, but his glaring strikeout rate and inexperience was on full display last night when he struck out looking with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth and the game tied 5-5.

That simply can’t happen, especially on a pitch up in the zone and right over the inner half of the plate.

Bob Brenly wasn’t pleased with Jackson’s at-bat either saying “A batter has to be hungry to hit in those situations.” A lesson learned I hope.

WAKING UP LUIS: Is Josh Vitters’ lack of production making Luis Valbuena a little too comfortable at third?

It was only a month ago Valbuena was guilty of not running hard out of the box on a hit he presumably thought would leave the yard in Milwaukee. Valbuena was inexcusable picked-off second base while fiddling with his batting gloves last night.

Is Sveum too desperate to avoid a 100-loss season that he won’t sit Valbuena to send a message. What’s it going to take to keep Valbuena’s head in the game?


How To Increase Carlos Marmol’s Trade Value

By bullpenbrian - July 18, 2012 - 5:15 pm 2 comments.

Carlos Marmol

I haven’t heard a peep during this month’s trade rumors about Carlos Marmol–not that I expected to.

His 10 saves in 12 chances is no indication of his continuous struggle to close games efficiently.

For Marmol, it’s not a save until he walks the first two batters, allows an extra base hit and then escapes the jam with an unconventional double play.

That’s not the kind of gamble contending teams are looking for, especially considering Marmol is under contract through 2013 for a hefty $9.8M.

Aside from the big-money owed to Marmol, his season numbers are even less comforting. He’s walked 30 batters in 27.1 innings pitched. The opposition’s OBP against him is .396 and his walks per nine innings is a team worst 9.88.

It must be killing Dale Sveum internally to keep running Marmol out for the save. But the skipper’s been towing the company line doing all he can to increase his closer’s trade value, what little there is, while jeopardizing his team’s success in the win column.

The fact is, Marmol has seemingly run out of time to prove his worth to a contending team, let alone, the Cubs.



Cubs General Soreness Report

By bullpenbrian - May 23, 2012 - 8:00 pm 2 comments.







Marcus Mateo RP April 4 60-Day DL Sore R Elbow
Steve Clevenger C April 26 15-Day DL Tightness R Side
Lendy Castillo RP May 12 15-Day DL Strained L Groin
Carlos Marmol RP May 12 15-Day DL Strain R Hamstring
Geovany Soto C May 17 15-Day DL Torn L Meniscus
Welington Castillo C May 19 15-Day DL Strained R Knee
25-Man Roster Victories May 15 9-Gm LS Listless

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