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Carlos Marmol bummedThere’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.)
  • Hansman1982

    The sad part…there is no difference between Rivera and JoeBlo Reliever when it comes to success with a 3 run save.

    Then there is Bad Marmol.

    • Kyle

      Hey, what do you want from? He got the hold.

  • Featherstone

    I’m curious Brett, what kind of stats do you think Shark will put up this year?

  • Jeremy

    Marmol from mid may on was pretty dominant last year after that hiccup in the beginning of the year, but even with that being said, he has no business being the closer anymore. He has plus stuff with zero command. Guys can literally go up there in the 9th and not swing at any pitches at all and chances are they will walk. He needs to be shifted to a set up role or a match up role.

  • @cubsfantroy

    I don’t know if Marmol should even have a short leash. Just go with a closer by committee. I wouldn’t give it to just any one person.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I wouldn’t wholly hate this approach, either.

      • CubFan Paul

        $9.8M would make me hate the closer by committee approach.

        Marmol’s leash needs to be long (even longer than yesterday’s).

  • Stinky Pete

    Why didn’t they just call Rizzo a sissy?

    • Cubbie Blues

      They did, but with the added benefit of being scrappy.

  • Rich

    Just trying out my avatar…
    was at the game yesterday…

    fans are funny…
    after Rizzo’s bomb I was serenaded to

    “1918…1918″….( sorry had to correct them )

    then I heard “BARTMAN!”

    Really ? C’mon Pittsburgh

    beautiful ballpark …. for those that have never been…

    • Seth

      PNC Park is up there for ballparks I really want to visit. That, Fenway and Camden Yards.

    • THEOlogical

      PNC is one of my favorite parks to see. It’s background setting is a notch above most. I do have to say it’s really, really cold there when the forecast calls for overcast of clouds. Still loved watching a game there.

    • Stinky Pete

      That brings up (At least, what I consider) an interesting question.

      105 years without a championship

      OR

      21 (Probably more) years without even a winning record.

      Honestly, I think it comes down to “The grass is always greener”. Yes we’ve gone generations without winning it all and Pit has won a WS in my lifetime, but for some on this board, they have not had a winning season in their lifetime. We at least have playoff blow ups to discuss. How does a team keep it’s fan base? (So as I type this, I look up the Cubs longest losing streak. 16 years without a winning record. One .500 record in there. 1947 – 1962. Not that far off from 21.)

      • hansman1982

        I would much rather have the 105 years without a championship. I can at least look back to 2007-2009 and remember what winning was like.

      • terencemann

        I just hope the Cubs can come away from this series with at least 2 wins. Atlanta could be a brutal series. I’m seeing them at the Ted on Saturday night.

    • Coldneck

      Pittsburgh is my favorite newer stadium. Beautiful park, nice city, and great seats can be had for cheap.

  • mysterious4th

    I am so glad it is baseball season! Atleast the Cubs will not be the worst team this year. The Astros and Marlins will be fighting for the bottom spot. And finally the yankees have a better chance to finish at the bottom of the AL East! Is it evil I am rooting against the Dodgers? They are reminding me of a NL version of the Yankees, buying talent.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      The Rox will be in the mix for the worst teams, too. That said, I think that the Astros might give the ’03 Tigers a run for the money. Not only are they awful, but they just moved to the tougher of the two leagues.

      • hansman1982

        Just the man I have been looking for…

        If you stop by the message board today, check out the Women in Baseball thread. There is a question in there that I think you can help with.

        • hansman1982

          please…

  • Cubbie Blues

    “He conceded that his command was a bit off” understatement of the day.

  • Cedlandrum

    I’ve got a few of thoughts on yesterdays game. Number 1. Wellington Castillo looked much smoother behind the plate then he did ever at Iowa. He looked like he is finally getting it. Small sample and all that, but he did look good.

    Second, Marmol throws his slider a good amount. Chances are he doesn’t have a great feel for it yet because of the air in Arizona. That said throw your damn fastball for strikes. Ugh. Anyway I think he will be better. I am mildly optimistic.

    Third, I don’t think most of the baseball world and even some Cubs fans grasp just how extremely talented Starlin Castro is. I know the vast majority of die hards here have an idea, but he is freaking unbelievable. That first hit he had yesterday was just amazing. He had no business hitting it. He is a stud and people need to recognize.

    • hansman1982

      “I know the vast majority of die hards here have an idea, but he is freaking unbelievable. That first hit he had yesterday was just amazing. He had no business hitting it.”

      Sadly, this will harm him as much as help him…

      • Cedlandrum

        You are right but I think it was going to be a strike. It was a good pitch that most hitters can’t hit. We will see how his approach is the rest of the year.

    • SamuraiJock

      How great would it be to see Castillo settle in as a big-league catcher. I’d say his receiving will be what determines whether he is a success this year, but I wouldn’t be surprised by a .750 OPS either.

      • Fishin Phil

        ” 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”

        This is my favorite part of the bullets. Young catcher and young pitcher on the same page, and executing plan.

        :) :) :)

  • Rich

    I guess those chants in PITT are not indigenous to PITT, prob get those anywhere.

    Yea real nice ballpark..worth the trip…

    Nationals stadium is also beautiful….did the tour and got to throw my 45 mph heated off the bullpen mound…

  • TonyP

    Are you referring to me???? :-)

  • ETS

    Dan Haren’s trade value at this year’s deadline >>>> Marmol’s trade value at this year’s deadline.

  • Andy

    Your personal blog puckerpants has been deemed unsafe by my work IT security! What kind of blog are you running?!?!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      It’s lame – it’s an old warning that’s lingering out there because of a hack when I first opened the site (which was promptly removed, and which never actually posed any threat). Hopefully it flushes out of the system soon. Google deemed the site safe days ago. Le sigh.

      • Coldneck

        You’re just trying to infect us with your maladies.

        • Coldneck

          And it appears to have worked because I can’t get my gravatar to show up. It’s a conspiracy.

          • Coldneck

            Patience, Daniel-sahn.

            • DarthHater

              Yep. Brett, anytime you are going to promote Gravatar, you should include a warning that it always takes 15 minutes or so for one’s picture to show up here.

      • Internet Random

        OpenDNS thinks you’re evil too. I’ve messaged them otherwise but have no idea how quickly they’ll check it out.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Thanks, IR. That should help – I’ve alerted them as well. If nothing else, it makes for another good meta post.

  • David

    Selig also defended the Astros tanking, though. Just saying.

  • Kyle

    I thought the same thing about Samardzija. He didn’t have great feel for his pitches yesterday, but he did a good job of not missing up or over the plate very often (and when he did, the Pirates didn’t make him pay. 96 mph fastballs are a bit harder to punish than 91). A better offensive team might have hurt him early, but for the most part, it’s amazing how good he could be without his best stuff.

    With Marmol, I’ll take it as good news that he did have his velocity yesterday, so it wasn’t like early last year when he was throwing 89-90. He just didn’t make a single good pitch on the edges of the zone. Everything was either a ball or down the middle of the plate. No control at all.

    • terencemann

      He had a pretty rough first inning. I think it took him over 30 pitches to get out of it? I know part of it was the error. I think he’s slated to pitch again on Sunday and the Braves aren’t a team that’s going to go fishing for his bad pitches or allow him to make mistakes over the plate.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      “He didn’t have great feel for his pitches yesterday, but he did a good job of not missing up or over the plate very often (and when he did, the Pirates didn’t make him pay. 96 mph fastballs are a bit harder to punish than 91)”

      That written, it was not warm yesterday, and pitchers often do not have good figurative feels for their pitches in the cold because they do not get good literal feels on the baseball. That makes sense: the fingers are a little more numb, the arm muscles are a little more tight, and the cold & dry air means that pitchers have little sweat or oil in their hands, which makes the ball slippery.

      So, I wouldn’t worry too much about yesterday carrying over to the next start.

  • Cubsfanforlife

    ” 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. ”

    I get the sense from reading this you are OK with Marmol closing games as long as Sveum pulls him if he is off. Problem is, what if he is closing in a 1 run game? Yesterday we had the luxury of having a 3 run lead, that is not always going to be the case. There is nothing more demoralizing than losing a game you have been winning for 8 innings in the 9th.

    I don’t see the benefit of running Marmol out there at all. To me they should only use him if they are getting pounded. If he is effective for a stretch than you can bring him in to set up some games. If he is not, I think we should be leaning more towards cutting him.

    He has NO trade value, I am sure the front office realizes that. They only got Haren for him because the angels were about to lose Haren for nothing. Even then, the best the Cubs could get was a guy they thought was damaged goods. Teams know what he is, he isn’t magically going to return to ’07/’08 Marmol. The guy is a liability.

    I am not under the impression that the Cubs can contend this year, but I do believe in developing good habits. You have to learn to win as a team. Marmol by himself can undermine that goal.

    I don’t want to blow one game on account of Marmol. The most important thing a closer needs to do is throw strikes, and Marmol does NOT do that. Sveum is making a HUGE mistake if he puts Marmol in to close again. Let’s not forget, if Jones doesn’t swing at ball four yesterday the Pirates might have won that game. That’s with a 3 run lead, does anyone expect it to be different if we are only up 1 run??

  • http://Ehanauer.com Clark Addison

    It’s obvious they brought in Fujikawa to close after trading Marmol. By the end of the month he’ll be the closer whether or not Marmol is still around.

  • Idaho Razorback

    I think Marmol is untradeable and if they can’t trade him in the near future, release him. It will free up a spot on the 40 man roster.

    • terencemann

      Marmol is probably still better than the players in AAA. I’ll be curious to follow Zych this season and see if he’s able to keep progressing enough to make it up at the end of the season or even earlier if they trade any other relievers (I’m wondering if another team would make a small trade for Camp if he looks good again this year.)

    • Coldneck

      The thing about Marmol is that he is fully capable of putting a long stretch of dominance together. This was one outing followed by a couple of poor spring outings. I’m willing to give him some rope considering his second half of last season. He may struggle to find his command, but when he does he’s quite good.

  • ReiCow

    [even if the “face” is just a picture of a cow]

    Okay, fine, I made one. Happy?

    Moo.

    • ReiCow

      …and it doesn’t work?

      Moo. :(

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Works for me – it’s a cow’s butt. Sometimes it takes a little while to populate everywhere.

        • ReiCow

          Ah, works now. There, you happy? :)

          (BTW – is not just a cow’s butt, is a full cow.. and is the cover of Atom Heart Mother by Pink Floyd)

          Moo!

        • ncsujuri

          I swear it’s not ‘that easy’…I’ve fiddled w/ the Gravatar this a couple different times, my emails here at BN and there match and I still don’t have an avatar. I’m not a code-writer or anything that savvy but I’m not an idiot either, at least I don’t think…hmmmm

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Maybe it’s your email address – I won’t post it, because I don’t want to reveal it to everyone, but it’s a different kind of email address than most, if you know what I mean. Maybe gravatar doesn’t know how to handle those?

  • cys_av8r

    He is just this generation’s LaTory Hawkins.

  • dash

    If Marmol could revert back to being a premier setup man, that would be awesome.

  • DONNIE621

    As for Marmol’s performance. The encouraging thing that I noticed was that Dale had other people getting ready just in case. In former times they waited until the game was vortexing out of control before anyone got up… by that time the score was tied or worse and the Cubs lose.

    I am not sure how good it will be long term to have that approach but yesterday it worked and we won. Nice to have a positive opening day.

  • a_mazz_ing

    So rumor has it I’ll have an avatar now…

    • amazzing8

      or do I have to use the same name as on there? I’m more confused than Marmol on how to pitch.

      • hansman1982

        It goes off your email address.

        I see you standing with someone else who has a low cut shirt and long hair (I am assuming it is a woman).

  • North Side Irish

    Cubs draft pool according to BA will be $10,556,500…

  • Dougy D

    one more shot at the gravatar to see if it worked

    • dougyd

      nope

  • roncrayne

    nope

  • daniel

    gravatar working?

    • Daniel

      crap

      • Daniel

        crap

        • TWC

          Yup

          • MichiganGoat

            Nope

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I see it.

    • MichiganGoat

      It works you have to give it like 10-30 after setting it up

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