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I’ve been mentioning it here and there for a few weeks now, but, as his performance has improved even further, the story has crossed over into the mainstream media. I’m referring, of course, to Chicago Cubs closer Carlos Marmol’s recent stretch of actual honest-to-goodness effectiveness, which netted not one, or two, or three, but four articles in the past 24 hours.

In short, Marmol hasn’t blown a save since April 24, converting 13 straight opportunities since that time. His numbers since then are only decent – 4.11 ERA in 30.2 innings, with 28 walks and 24 hits, as well as 39 Ks – but they’ve trended up considerably as the season has gone on. He’s got a 2.66 ERA since June 12 (with his WHIP dropping to a still-too-high-but-not-nightmarish 1.50) and a 12.4 K/9. Since July 14, the ERA is just 1.69.

Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum, who instructed Marmol to start using his fastball more just before Marmol’s season turned around, was quick to compliment Marmol when asked if he expects the righty to be his closer in 2013.

“I don’t see why not right now,” Sveum said, per Paul Sullivan. “Knock on wood, he’s been as good as anyone in baseball since he’s been back in the closer’s role and the save opportunities he’s had …. He’s the one guy on our roster who next year will have closed.┬áIt’s a commodity that’s very difficult to find, and we’ll already have one going into next season.”

Maybe.

Marmol remains eminently tradable this month, given his onerous contract (it pays him $9.8 million in 2013, an amount that no team is going to want to claim outright (and, if they did, I’d think the Cubs would be all too happy to say, “okey dokey! he’s yours!”). His increased effectiveness of late isn’t going to “fool” any teams into forgetting his wildness and unpredictability. But it might remind them of how dominant he can be when he’s on. Is it enough to get a team to pull the trigger on giving up a decent prospect (assuming the Cubs eat about $5 or $6 million)? It’s possible.

But it’s also possible that the Cubs will have to hope that Marmol keeps this up for another month and a half so that they can try and deal him in the offseason, when the market for his services – if not the urgency – will be slightly more robust. Notwithstanding Sveum’s comments about Marmol being the Cubs’ closer next season, if the Cubs can wring any value out of the final year of Marmol’s deal, which expires after 2013 (when Marmol turns 30), they’re going to make that trade without hesitation. They’ll deal with the 2013 closer fallout after.

  • Cub Style

    Hopefully, he can play his way into us getting an ok prospect for him and his contract.

  • Fastball

    I agree that we could have 3 pretty good relieft pitchers for what they are paying Marmol. But closer’s don’t grow on tree’s. We already have the worst bullpen in baseball. I’m not sure that having him around would be a bad thing. We certainly cannot afford to hand that role over to someone currently in the system. We simply do not own any pitching that qualifies. Then you have the problem of… who in their right mind that is a closer today would want to come to the Cubs next year. If your a closer that’s worth any salt at all you are going to say Thanks but No Thanks. Closer’s need closing opportunities and the Cubs don’t present very many of those and they probably won’t next year either. I don’t know if you can simply trade away every player for a prospect. Prospect’s are probably a 25% chance at success if we are lucky. If Marmol continues to pitch well by using his fastball most of the time he might be worth keeping for the long haul. We shall see. I’m not convinced that going totally young is the way to make this thing work. The Padres are in last place, the Astros are in last place and the Cubs would be in last place if it weren’t for the Astro’s.

    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

      Well, they may not grown on trees, but it’s pretty darn close.

      Let’s look at the top in Saves this year:
      Fernando Rodney – signed off scrap heap for $2M
      Jim Johnson – 5th rounder in 2001
      Joel Hanrahan – never made it with team that drafted him, signed as minimum salary free agent
      Chris Perez – Supplemental first rounder
      Craig Kimbrel – 3rd rounder in ’08
      Rafael Soriano – big dollar free agent….took 4 teams to become closer
      Aroldis Chapman – $30M free agent
      Jason MOtte – 19th round draft pick
      Papelbon – 4th rounder
      Santiago Casilla – free agent in 2000 – elite in 2010 at age 29

      That’s the top 10 in saves.
      Chris Perez and Aroldis Chapman were the only 2 that were tough to obtain and Perez was later traded for a utility player (DeRosa).

      Closers can be found pretty easily, in comparison to any other position.

      • PRcajun

        I gotta say, I strongly agree with Norm here.
        If anything we can only hope that (if he’s kept) he pitches out of his mind during the first half of 2013 and that injuries or other unforeseen circumstances make teams desperate for his services via trade.
        I for one would trade him just to avoid having a heart attack every time he gets the ball in the 9th with less than a 3 run lead.

    • Matt

      Carlos Marmol is a solid relief pitcher at best that is going to be overpayed when he gets to free agency. No way is the new front office dropping free agent money on a reliever unless he’s truly an elite guy.

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  • Daniel Guerra

    Plan A is to trade Carlos Marmol and Soriano. Simple as that. Carlos will probably go first then Soriano the last piece to go. Its only fitting that Soriano goes last. Soriano, Jim Hendry’s biggest signing that never lived up to his contract. Everyday Marmol and Soriano remind me of the old Cubs.

  • J R

    I am not a Marmol fan in the slightest, but 9.6 million next year doesn’t seem like that much for a guy of his stuff. If a new pitching coach can harness him, they have a catch. Considering the Dodgers claimed Lee and he is still owed $100 million in his mid 30’s (I know Lee is waaay better than Marmol). Why wouldn’t a team like them claim Marmol??

  • J R

    Brett, so is it assumed Marmol and Soriano not been placed on waivers yet? What would be the benefit for the Cubs on holding off on putting them on waivers?

    • scorecardpaul

      not Brett, but I think it is a safer assumption that they have both not only been put on waivers, but I would guess that they have both already cleared waivers !!!!
      It will be very hard to trade either of them. we can only keep hoping

      • J R

        OK thanks man. At least Marmol doesn’t have a NTC like Soriano. Those things suck..

        • Scotti

          Soriano does not have a NTC? He has 10-5 rights. The only real difference is that he earned, rather than bargained, for them.

          • Scotti

            *…NTC.

          • Can’t think of a cool name

            Scotti, when he signed his contract it included a NTC, now a moot point since he’s a 10/5 guy.

            • Pat

              It’s not entirely a mot point. It doesn’t matter to the Cubs, since he also has 10/5 rights, but to a team that might trade for him it could. The 10/5 rights disappear with a trade, but the NTC continues. It means less teams that might try to get him cheap for a stretch run this year and maybe flip him later for something else. It makes subsequent trades more difficult.

            • Scotti

              Can’t think, the VAST majority of players who sign mega deals get NTC’s. Theo handed them out like candy in Boston. Regardless, as Pat said, it isn’t moot. If he is moved just once then he has no 10-5 rights afterward. And trust me, as a closer, he is going to want a better situation than the 2012-13 Cubs. The guy needs a big saves year and he wont be getting it with the Cubs.

  • abe

    At this point the payroll is so small who cares how much we spend on marmol. It all about winning if we could get a good prospect from a desperate team go for it. If its just a fringe prospect we should keep marmol

    • J R

      Abe, I agree. I think the Cubs would rather get a middle of the road prospect and pay for Marmol, the just get rid of him on the payroll.

  • Stephen Morris

    The best way to go, in my opinion, is to keep Marmol and hope that he pitche well enough next year to earn the Cubs a draft pick when he leaves in free agency. The problem there is whether he would accept a qualifying offer or no?

    • scorecardpaul

      there is no way in any world that the Cubs make him that offer. not going to happen. The Cubs will not be getting draft pick compensation for Marmol

  • Drew7

    “The problem there is whether he would accept a qualifying offer or no?”

    -There really wouldn’t be a problem here, because there is absolutely no way the FO would offer him $12.5-13 mil.

    If for the sake of your argument, they did extend a qualifying offer, I certainly see no reason why he wouldn’t very happily accept it.

  • chirogerg

    I feel like I’m the only person that actually likes Marmol. When he is on, he is the best relief pitcher in all of baseball, evidenced by him putting up the highest strikeout rate in the history of the game! I think that he has really figured it out this year. The Cubs should keep him and extend him after his contract expires, IMHO.

  • MichCubFan

    We don’t need a highly paid closer right now. If we can get anything for him now them move him. Relievers are not that hard to find and we have some young arms in our farm system that could close in a few years…when we are trying to start to compete.

    Closers come from the minor leagues. They do not get better after they get contracts. They are not like starters or position players. There are relatively few of them that are successful closers throughout their careers.

    • Scotti

      Theo learned to value closers after the “closer-by-committee” fiasco in Boston. The only reason that closers don’t last as long as starters is because they are overused. Golden Goose and all that.

      • DCF

        The main reason why closers don’t last is because bullpen success is highly volatile, up to the point where it’s more random than talent-based.
        Back in April everybody was sure Marmol was done for good and was looking jealously to Sausage, WI whose closer was considered to be not only the one with the coolest stache in MLB, but also a prime example of consistent closing work.

        • Scotti

          There’s nothing random about a guy with a plus FB and a plus, plus slider having success as a closer. There’s also nothing random about that arm breaking down from overuse (he was first in relief pitches for three years running). Again, there’s also nothing random about that arm coming back with proper care (though, often times, damage done cannot be undone). Thus, there is very little “random” about Carlos Marmol.

          In terms of pitching injuries/abuse there is very little unknown here. There’s no difference in stressing a muscle group in a weight room or on a mound. Doing max intensity workouts three days straight (or four of five) on the same group is STUPID. From that perspective pitch counts are a bit overblown (during a given workout you can add another set and find it very beneficial) and the abuse that relief pitchers get is WAY, WAY under reported.

  • die hard

    how can Marmol be fairly evaluated in a season where there are so few games to save? C’mon!!

  • jim

    CARLOS MARMOL Are you kidding? He gives everyone
    a heart attack whenever he pitches & usually he only
    faces 2 or 3 batters. NARMOL & SORIANO can both
    gol bye-bye as far as I am concerned. SORIANO
    WAS WAY OVER PAID. I think he has outlived
    his welcome. Adios!

    • Scotti

      The Marmol/heart attack thing is overrated. Closing situations are generally full of stress. The tighter the lead the more stress and it’s been a while since the Cubs were winning games by comfortable margins.

      Strikeouts also add to stress because they are so “exciting”. You can get a ground out or popup or flyout on any count but you need strike one and then strike two to get to a count where a K can happen. It is that BUILDING of anticipation that leads to stress. No heart attacks happen when a 1-1 ground ball goes for a single but if a guy walks a hitter on 3-2 you get stress.

  • Cubbies4Life

    “I for one would trade him just to avoid having a heart attack every time he gets the ball in the 9th with less than a 3 run lead.” I feel THAT, PRcajun! But I have been pleasantly surprised of late, and my doctor says now that Marmol’s doing better, I can watch the 9th inning without having the cardiac paddles warming up nearby….

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