There’s a fresh podcast on the way today, and we finally have an actual baseball game to discuss. It’ll be nice for your to digest on your frustrating post-Opening-Day-high-off-day from the Cubs.
- Dale Sveum on his decision to yank Carlos Marmol after four shaky batters in the 9th inning yesterday, per Carrie Muskat: “That’s part of the ninth inning. Those last three outs are hard to get no matter who’s on the mound. Marmol didn’t really have it today so I went to a couple other guys to get those last two outs …. He’s still the closer. I’m not making any changes or anything like that, he just didn’t have it today.” Sveum could not be handling this more perfectly. The early hook for Marmol was exceedingly appropriate – the game was on the line, Sveum had other relievers ready, and it was obvious that Marmol didn’t have it (and, given the history, when Marmol doesn’t have it, you know he’s not rebounding). From there, you say the right things in the media, and hope that your guy comes back the next day and gets it done. If he doesn’t, he’ll get the quick hook again, and it’ll be time to re-evaluate roles. At some point, the teeny-tiny theoretical trade-value upside of keeping Marmol in the “closer” role is going to be destroyed by his inability to, you know, actually close. Other teams likely aren’t viewing him as a closer anyway, so, at some point, why not just let him setup, and let Kyuji Fujikawa close? You might actually build more trade value that way than you lose. That all said, I’m on board with giving Marmol just a little more leash.
- For his part, Marmol said very little. He conceded that his command was a bit off, and said that it was good to have teammates to pick him up. One thing I’ve noticed over the years with Marmol: he never gets too down or too erratic after a rough outing. He faces the media, offers the best thoughts he can, and tries again the next day. I guess that’s the “closer’s mentality,” which Marmol has. He simply doesn’t always have the “closer’s reliability.”
- Dale Sveum called Jeff Samardzija’s outing yesterday the best game he’s ever pitched, and Samardzija agreed (per Cubs.com): “I’d say ‘pitched’ is a key word there. I thought it was the best pitched game. I didn’t have the best stuff, but I worked both sides of the plate, up and down, and really attacked their hitters with the game plan me and [catcher Welington Castillo] had from the beginning. It was nice to have that confidence.” If that’s how he performs when he doesn’t have his best stuff? I mean … game over, man.
- Commissioner Bud Selig responded to yesterday’s Sun-Times story about the Cubs/Ricketts financial situation with a pretty clear rebuke of there being any concerns on baseball’s side, from the Sun-Times: “The Ricketts family worked closely with our office to develop certain financial structures designed to [ensure] the stability of the franchise at these debt levels. The structures have worked; the club is healthy; and the Cubs have been very up front and clear with us since Day 1.” In other words, the heavy debt load is not a real issue (likely because it is at such a low rate, and is partly borrowed from the Ricketts Family, itself), and MLB has no concerns about the Cubs being a cheaply-run franchise. And, keep in mind: as one of the marquee franchises in the sport, MLB has an interest in the Cubs being good, visible, and spend-y. If Bud had a beef with the Ricketts, he’d let them know.
- Anthony Rizzo, who had a homer-less Spring, says his teammates were calling him “Campana” before he went deep yesterday.
- Darwin Barney discusses his knee injury – a cut that, if it was anywhere else on his body, he’d probably be playing with – and how he isn’t in a position to complain, even if he’s bummed about missing time.
- With the season upon us, there will be an uptick in new folks and in conversation on the site. To that end, let me offer a recommendation: If you feel like you might be around a lot, and might do the commenting thing a lot, I’d highly encourage getting a picture to go with your name. It’s very easy, and it really adds to the community here. It feels more home-y when people have a face to a name, even if the “face” is just a picture of a cow. It requires only that you sign up at gravatar.com, put your picture there, and then use the same email address there as you use when you comment here – that’s it. Your picture will appear like Internetz magic, and everyone will applaud your new face.
- (So, out of vanity and an interest in writing about things other than the Cubs, I started a personal blog, which you can see here. An explanation on the site is here, and a short post on how Google April Fooled me yesterday is here.)