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With the series loss in Houston – to the AAAstros (I’m so clever!) – the Cubs now find themselves in such a position that, even if they won every series for the rest of the season (taking two of three), they would still finish below .500. Let that be a guiding principle for your state of the Cubs announcement, Mr. Ricketts…

  • Even before Carlos Marmol’s recent effective stretch, and even before his ineffective stretch before that, there was reason for concern. Marmol’s velocity has dropped dramatically this year, and he’s lost the ability to throw his fastball for a strike. Quade is finally acknowledging the velocity drop, but, instead of raising any physical concerns, Quade is taking the ostrich approach: “I think mechanically, he’s so unorthodox and so tough to keep in line, that to me [is it] probably as much as anything.” It’s just more mechanical issues. Nothing to see here, Quade says.
  • By way of reminder, Marmol was given an extension through 2013 in February, which will pay him $7 million next year and $9.8 million in 2013. Also, the Cubs refused to even listen to trade offers for Marmol last month. Again I say: these are guiding principles, Mr. Ricketts.
  • Harry Pavlidis at Cubs F/X, who has been banging the Carlos Marmol velocity problem for a while now, adds another data point: it’s not just that Marmol’s fastball velocity is declining, his slider velocity is increasing. That convergence (and the convergence of the movement on his pitches, also discussed by Pavlidis), for obvious reasons, is a bad thing. Here’s the chart he put together, plotting over 6000 pitches Marmol has thrown since 2007 (the top cluster are fastballs, the bottom cluster sliders):

  • As expected, Scott Maine was sent back to AAA Iowa yesterday to make room for Casey Coleman.
  • Tyler Colvin doesn’t mind hitting 8th. I do mind, at least insofar as it’s not going to give us a real picture of how he might hit as a regular next year.
  • Prospect Josh Vitters has heated up of late, and is hitting well in August. His overall numbers remain relatively unimpressive – .288/.322/.452 – but, and I know I say this all the time about Vitters, he still doesn’t turn 22 until next week. Vitters himself acknowledges a problem others have speculated about: he’s too good at making contact. “When you know you can hit a pitch, it’s hard not to swing at it,” Vitters explained. “But I need to wait until I get a pitch I can drive. That’s something I’ve been working on, and I think I’m making progress.” Maybe I’m overly optimistic, but, assuming health (which Vitters has not had in the past few years because of fluke injuries), I think he’ll break out in 2012.
  • A Freakonomics quorum on MLB realignment and post-season changes. If you have 10 minutes, it’s an interesting read.
  • Fishin Phil

    Every bullet above points to one inescapable conclusion:

    Now is not the time for bold changes!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      The sad irony is that Quade practically said just that when talking about Marmol – AGAIN.

      • Fishin Phil

        Maybe he’s being sarcastic and we just aren’t catching.

        Nope, on second thought, he really is an idiot.

  • philoe beddoe

    I didn’t think about it at the time, but the Marmol contract is pretty bad…I know that’s easy to say now, but like we discussed yesterday, only a couple closers in all of baseball keep their job for more than a year or two…it’s a shorter career path than NFL running backs…

    anything on Vitters defense?…I know that was a concern, because as a hitter I would be willing to put him at third next year and bite the bullett…sometimes guys with his kind of hitting talent adjust to the Majors better than the minors…especially if he is a contact hitter and getting himself out on bad pitches in the minors…just a theory…

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      For the record – I try not to do the back-patting too much, but, yes, here comes some back-patting – I thought the Marmol extension was terrible when it was signed. I still think that, and I think I’m being proven right. And it’s just another reason to be angry with Jim Hendry.

      • CubFan Paul

        but ‘elite’ closers make $13-15million/year ..if Marmol gets serious about his mechanics and comes into the season conditioned its still a great 3yr extension that the team saves money on ..40-50saves by one guy is hard to come by, and Marmol is capable of that (when the team is winning) & he’ll be underpaid the next two years while doing it

        • CubFan Paul

          and i do think the team will be winning the next two years, i just didnt say that to say that ..with the dead weight dropping off this offseason & the rest of the big contracts coming off the books for the 2013 season this team will compete next year &be a totally different team in 2013

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I think all of about two or three closers make that much. Marmol will never, ever be in their company. And, even if he were, $13 to 15 million for an “elite” closer is a terrible waste of resources on a non-Yankee team. I’d much rather spend $8 million on a “very good” closer, and reallocate that other $5 to 7 million to less fungible positions.

          • CubFan Paul

            but he is making $8million (3yrs/$20mil) and he is “very good” ..his contract wont hurt us the next 2yrs and if the team needs of offense & starting pitching are addressed the trade Marmol rumblings will stop because his numbers will be better/his norm

            • EQ

              “Fungible” Brett?? wow.. you win a gold star!

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                I must have it on the brain, because I think that’s the second time I’ve used it in as many days.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Vitters’ defense is still suspect. I’m not sure I’ve even read that it’s improving. He’s played a fair bit of first base this year, in addition to third.

  • EQ

    I believe George Brett was a mid .270′s hitter in the minors and became a .300+ in the majors.. it’s possible.. and I thought Marmol’s contract was a bad idea when he signed it. He’s always been too wild to give that kind of money and years to.

  • anthony

    Vitters defense can’t be any worse than Ramirez’ take a half step and fall down approach. Any word on if Vitters has lost a pop-up in the sun and had it bounce off his head like Rami? If so, I’d say he’s major league ready.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Ha. I’ll look into that…

  • BFM

    I don’t understand why Colvin is not getting more at bats.
    I was under the impression that Fukudome was traded and Colvin would come up and get more action.
    When he gets there, he plays behind Reed Johnson.
    Hendry wants to see if Colvin can be the everyday outfielder and wanted Colvin in the lineup everyday.
    Now, Q plays him in the field and gives him a crappy spot in the lineup.
    I agree with you Brett, he needs to see more pitching!
    It sounds to me that Q is only humoring Hendry by playing him.
    In essence, telling his boss, he is going to do what he wants.
    Another reason to dump Q!

  • RY

    BFM, colvin is not getting more at bats because hendry and quade are major dumbasses only concerned about today instead of having a forward looking vision into the future!

  • Vince

    Quade should play Campana, use him as a leadoff man and lets enjoy some speed for a change. Byrd has been a disappointment this season, even before his injury. Consider a one, to three hitters of Campana, Barney and Castro in that order. What have they got to loose by getting a little creative. The current lineup is slow and boring.

    • MichiganGoat

      Do not move Castro out of the leadoff, Campy doesn’t have the OBP to allow his speed to be asset

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I imagine a team that never has any baserunners…

      • MichiganGoat

        It’s good to dream

      • EQ

        that’s not your imagination

    • EQ

      I wouldn’t call Byrd a disappointment, he’s hit over .300 most of the year.

      • Fishin Phil

        Unless of course there happens to be someone on base.

        “Bleacher Nation: We love reading this site because your articles are short but informative”

        • MichiganGoat

          Yes, yes, yes… The slogan us catching on. Maybe bullet worthy if enough people join the movement. It can be the BN “Alice’s Resturant”

  • HotRuta

    “Rex is our quarter …” Oops I mean “Carlos is our Closer …”

    • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

      Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha. HotRuta made a funny.

  • Kyle N

    I definitely agree with Brett’s stance on Colvin (and any other minor leaguers seriously in the discussion for a role on the 2012 Cubs, for that matter) and how he is being used right now.  You need those guys to not only play, but play against the top competition In a more decisive role.  If it was my decision, I would want these prospects hitting against the best pitchers so they can realize the magnitude of facing top-tier major league stuff.  I want these guys to play against teams bringing their A-games in a playoff hunt, not reserving their starts against other bottom-feeders trotting out their own call-ups.  Ditto for the  pitchers.  Time for you to see what pitching to Pujols-Holliday-Berkman is like.  When you start a new season, the starters are immediately facing the other team’s best players and are under more pressure to get off to a good start.  You can’t properly evaluate your options going into next year based on a small, disorganized sample contained random starts and irregular play.  So why all of the coddling?  What good is sporadicly batting Colvin eighth going to do?  Nothing.  Is that seriously what the Cubs have planned for a potential power hitting right-fielder, to hit eighth?  Thanks to all of the waffling, I think most people truly have no idea what to expect with Colvin for next year.     We’re talking about Cubs prospects in early to mid twenties who already have cups of coffee under their belts, so it’s not like the team is throwing a teenage kid to the wolves.

    They should be pointing at a Roy Halladay-type pitcher or Pujols-type hitter and telling these kids that this is what they have to deal with in the majors if they want to succeed, and then pencil their ass in the lineup.  It’s really just a no-brainer situation.

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