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Cubs Need New Closer, Right?

By bullpenbrian - September 25, 2011 - 1:01 am Leave a comment.

I would be greatly disappointed if Carlos Marmol returns as the Cubs closer next year. And I think it’s fair to say I wouldn’t be the only one.

Marmol’s frequent inability to throw strikes has largely accounted for his 10 blown saves this season–the most in the majors.


Marmol Out As Cubs Closer

By bullpenbrian - September 4, 2011 - 1:01 am 1 comment.

Let me go back to what I’ve already said about Carlos Marmol–he’s not the closer many Cubs fans believe him to be.

Saturday’s blown save is Marmol’s 9th of the season–the most in the NL. He’s 31-for-40 in save opportunities, that’s 77%, which is well below where you want your closer to be.

Marmol’s stuff is clearly closer worthy, his slider unquestionably one of the best in all of baseball. But his continuous lack of command and overall inconsistency doesn’t suite him well for ninth inning duties.

With two years left on his deal and the Cubs paying him handsomely through 2013–$7M next year and $9.8M the following–that’s a lot of dough for a guy who’s gotten worse, not better, at shutting the door.


Marmol, We have A Problem

By bullpenbrian - August 17, 2011 - 1:50 am Leave a comment.

I’ve always said I like Marmol more as a setup man than a closer.

His bouts of wildness have grown worse with time. And his ability to both create and escapes his self made jams in the ninth inning have grown wider apart as well.

The walk-off grand slam Tuesday night is just another example of many that tell us Marmol isn’t the solid closer many believe him to be.

Marmol is 28/36 in save opportunities this season. That’s 77%, nearly 10 points below where you want your closer to be.

Yes, he’s been dominate again since returning to the closer’s role, but let’s not forget why he lost his job temporarily in the first place–Inconsistency.

That doesn’t mean I believe Marmol is of no use to the Cubs. Rather, I believe he could again return to being the most dominate setup man in baseball, if the Cubs would only put him there.

Problem is, I’m certain Marmol would never go for it. Not now, and not with a contract that’s paying him to save games.

The main advantage of Marmol setting up is the ability to change pitchers before the game is lost. If that nasty slider of his isn’t working, you simply go to the bullpen.

But when you live and die with a pitcher as maddening as Marmol, spectacular one night and disastrous the next, you come to expect the unknown. And that’s not the making of a top-notch closer.


The Houston Astros are closing in on 100-losses for the first time in its franchise history, which dates back 50 years.

The team posted consecutive losing records in 2009-10 for the first time in two decades.

This season is sure to be a third, and possibly the record setter for the club’s worst season ever.

And by definition, when you struggle against this Cubs team, you know times are tough. Very tough.

At (39-84) the Astros are far from simply being a bad baseball team. More like the worst team in the Major Leagues. Even the lowly Orioles, with the majors second worst record, are eight games better than Houston.

By contrast, Philadelphia, arguably the best team in baseball, has lost a mere 42 games all season. That’s nearly 40 more wins better than the ‘Stros.

But what’s eerily similar to the Cubs is Houston’s belief that they’re headed in the right direction.

A (59-52) record after June 1 last year convinced the club manager Brad Mills was worthy of a contract extension, despite a (17-34) start to the season.

Now like Quade, another manager who sparkled late in 2010, Mills finds himself on the hot seat heading towards the off season, which begs the question: should a manager whose team reaches triple digits in the loss column return, especially for a club that’s never sank to such depths before?

I wouldn’t think so.

On two occasions the Astros have neared 100-losses, both times totaling 97 defeats. And in both situations the manager was replaced following the season. So don’t think the Cubs are the only organization eyeing Ryne Sandberg.


Cubs 9-2 In Dempster’s Last 11 Starts

By bullpenbrian - July 16, 2011 - 2:05 am Leave a comment.

One of Dempster’s best outings of the season–period. Eight innings, nine punchouts, no walks…and no way Demps was letting Quade pull him early this time!

Surprisingly, the Cubs won the game without plating a single RBI, which is just another weird turn in this frustrating season.

Marmol, obviously, is a mess. He can’t find the strike zone or the touch on his slider. He’s been way too predictable with his pitch selection and the Marlins have made it look easy against him, and we know that’s not the case when Marmol is right.

I have no qualms with Q’s decision to pitch Marmol after Thursday’s meltdown. It’s text book to throw a closer the day following a blown save. This time, however, Quade had Marshall ready in the bullpen, and that was the game saver.

If there’s any good news coming from Marmol’s recent slump it’s that the problems appear mechanical/mental and not physical, which keeps Marmol a valuable trade piece.

What Marlon Byrd brings to this club can not be overstated. His professionalism, his attitude, his moxy…all of it a dynamic the Cubs sorely missed during his injury. Byrd’s heads-up play to gun down Hanley Ramirez at second base in the ninth inning was sensational.

I don’t suspect there’s much of a trade market for Byrd, but I’d be happy to see the Cubs keep him through next season. The guy’s a winner, which is exactly what this roster needs more of. Byrd’s a keeper.


Jim Hendry is turning the Cubs rotation into Ellis Island by bringing the poor, tired, and huddled masses of washed-up hurlers the likes of: Doug Davis, Braden Looper, Todd Wellemeyer, Rodrigo Lopez, Ramon Ortiz and now…Dave Bush.

2011 – Tex 0-1   5.79 ERA
2010 – Mil 8-13  4.54 ERA
2009 – Mil 5-9   6.38 ERA
2008 – Mil 9-10  4.18 ERA
2007 – Mil 12-10 5.12 ERA
2006 – Mil 12-11 4.41 ERA
2005 – Tor 5-11  4.49 ERA
2004 – Tor 5-4   3.69 ERA


The Pirates, for the first time since 1997, lead the NL Central. And that begs the question: are the Peg Legs that good, or the division simply that bad? I’m leaning towards the later, but rooting for Pittsburgh to win this division anyway!


Marmol Blows Save, So What

By bullpenbrian - June 1, 2011 - 2:30 am 4 comments.

No doubt Tuesday evening was Carlos Marmol’s worst-ever as a closer.

Protecting a two-run lead in the ninth, Marmol (1-2) surrendered six earned runs, issued a walk and recorded just one out while allowing Houston a 7-3 come-from-behind victory.

When you think about it, however, it’s a rather remarkable inning given just how dominating Carlos has been since taking over the closer’s role from Kevin Gregg in late in 2009.


Ricketts, Marmol & Santo

By bullpenbrian - March 2, 2011 - 12:01 am Leave a comment.

1.) Was Ricketts’ purchase a poor investment?
2.) Marmol says Cubs have the best bullpen.
3.) Ron Santo Day: March 10th.

1.) Think about it. The Ricketts family dropped roughly $900M to purchase the Cubs. That’s a lot of dough for a club full of back-loaded contracts and an under-achieving record the past two years.

Since the stakes for winning were raised in 2007, Cubs fans have come to expect a winning team. Long gone are the days of fans filling the ballpark just to be at Wrigley Field. Don’t believe me? Just check out those new season ticket packages. Since when were the Cubs heavily advertising ticket sales?


How Many Years For Marmol?

By bullpenbrian - January 21, 2011 - 12:07 am Leave a comment.

A Classic Marmol Meltdown

By bullpenbrian - July 18, 2010 - 1:00 am Leave a comment.

It’s scary how quickly Carlos Marmol falls apart.
And yet, remarkable how often he escapes his own jams.

The guy’s made an art form out of walking the bags
full, then striking out the side.

But Marmol has to be more efficient and more
accountable than he was Saturday
in the season’s
second half.

Although unlikely, it’s still possible for our Cubbies
to make a little run at the division title.

The starting staff continues to lead the majors in quality
, and the offense is clicking as well as it has all season.

But sustaining aspirations of a second half run means the Cubs
must rely heavily on Marmol to close the door.

Far more than they did in the first half with the closer
getting just six save-opportunities in the Cubs’ last 34-games.

With the clock ticking away on the 2010 season, and the pressure
to win cranked-up, there’s not a better time for Marmol to show he’s legit
closer material…for this season and beyond.


Seventh Inning Killing Cubs

By bullpenbrian - July 6, 2010 - 1:00 am Leave a comment.

The seventh inning proves to be the worst for Cubs’ pitchers.

They’ve allowed opponents to score 74 runs in the frame, including the Reds’ 9-run inning Friday and 8-run explosion Sunday.

The next worst inning is the first…opponents scoring 57 runs. Then it’s the eighth inning, having allowed 51 runs.

No surprise the late innings are a problem given the loss of Angel Guzman and the promotion of three rookies to round out a young, thin, and inexperienced bullpen.

Then, of course, there’s Jeff Samardzija’s lack of development…a worn-out Bob Howry…and the forgotten about Esmailin Caridad, leaving no wonder why the Cubs can’t get a lead to Marshall and Marmol.

But middle relief has been a glaring weakness since spring training, only long overshadowed by the ineptitude of the Cubs’ offense.

If I’m Jim Hendry…bullpen arms are at the top of my trade list.


Carlos Marmol 12/15 In Saves

By bullpenbrian - June 9, 2010 - 1:00 am Leave a comment.

This is the Carlos Marmol I feared as the Cubs’ closer.

The guy who hits a batter, walks another and then blows the save opportunity. He hasn’t done it often this year, going 12/15 in save chances, but Marmol’s history tells us you’re going to have outings like the one we saw Tuesday night in Milwaukee.

Even the best closers blow a few saves over the course of a 162-game season, and Marmol is no exception. But his knack for losing the strikezone makes him a high risk finisher, which is why I’ve always had more confidence in Marmol as the set-up man.

That said, however, Marmol’s squashed any notion that’s he’s not closer material. Entering Tuesday’s game his 51 strikeouts ranked first among all big league relievers, and his 1.37 ERA is seventh best in the NL. His road ERA is less than 1.00, he’s also held the opponent scoreless in 22 of 27 outings, and just three of the 16 inherited runners he’s faced have scored. That’s All Star type stuff!

Marmol, obviously, isn’t a perfect closer, or even my choice for closer. But the numbers don’t lie…he’s still the Cubs’ best option for closing the door.


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