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dale sveum carlos marmolI’m thrilled about the Cubs winning their opening series. Let there be no mistake about that. Last year, the Cubs didn’t win a series until taking two of three from the Cardinals from April 23 to 25 – their sixth series of the year. But let’s be clear about what that series was: it was two teams whose offenses look brutally bad, struggling to do anything worthwhile at the plate. Each team scored just six runs, and it just so happened that the Cubs’ six runs lined up more advantageously than the Pirates’. We’ll see how the Cubs look against the Braves.

  • In case you missed last night’s big news: the Sun-Times reports that a Wrigley renovation deal is essentially done, and the Cubs are getting most of what they asked for. The details are here. Being that we’ve discussed the Wrigley renovation deal from the funding perspective for months now, I wouldn’t blame you if you’ve forgotten what the renovation is actually about: improving and preserving Wrigley Field. To that end, here’s the post about the renovation announcement from way back in January, which includes pictures of the actual renovation. It’s easy to lose sight of that piece of the story.
  • On Carlos Marmol: after yesterday’s very nearly blown three-run save (a couple games after Marmol was quickly yanked in another three-run save opportunity), Dale Sveum is still saying the things you’d expect him to. Marmol got the job done. Marmol’s still the closer. Marmol isn’t always efficient, but he does the job. Etc. I get the feeling, though, that the directive to keep Marmol in as the closer is coming down from the top. Can you imagine a manager sticking by Marmol right now of his own accord? I’m not sure I can (look at how rapidly Sveum went to the bullpen on Monday, when he had arms available). I’m also not sure I agree that keeping Marmol in as the highly-visible, highly-shaky closer is more likely to protect the tiny sliver of trade value he has, rather than simply making him the 7th or 8th inning guy, where he might flourish as a setup man. Teams aren’t going to trade for Marmol as a closer anyway, so why keep trying to pull the wool over their eyes? The Cubs’ front office may have the smartest guys in baseball, but other front offices aren’t stupid.
  • Matt Garza successfully threw 25 pitches off of the mound in Mesa yesterday, and if he continues feeling well, he’ll do that again on Sunday.
  • Baseball Prospectus asked which prospects are the most likely to make the monumental leap from High-A to the majors, a la Marlins pitching prospect Jose Fernandez, Javier Baez got the most votes, and Jorge Soler also got some consideration. On Baez: “Baez received the most votes, but could be disqualified from the discussion if he reaches the Double-A level this season (as is expected). Not that his approach is anywhere near ready for the big stage, but his elite bat speed and offensive potential give him the best chance to do some damage if pushed to that level. The defensive profile is better than people seem to think, as many in the industry view Baez as a legit option at shortstop for the foreseeable future. When the light goes on and he learns to tame the magnificent beast that is his swing, it won’t take long for Baez to not only emerge as one of the top prospects in the game, but to reach the major league level in short order.”
  • Gordon Wittenmyer, on an appearance on the Score, continued his crusade against the Cubs’ current rebuilding process – and, more specifically, the money he believes it is funneling into the Ricketts Family’s pockets. I may not be in a place to comment, given that the nature of this blog is to incorporate news and opinion from a fan perspective, but there’s something unseemly about Wittenmyer, a beat writer, going columnist on the Ricketts. Wittenmyer’s reporting carries with it certain factual authority, and I’m not sure it’s appropriate for him to be casually blending facts with his opinions in this way. It’s kind of a tricky issue, really. I don’t dispute Wittenmyer’s right to have opinions, nor his right to share them (even in his work). But something just feels a bit off on this story. Maybe it’s my bias.
  • Subtle, Cubs. Subtle. Scott Feldman, who starts today for the Cubs in Atlanta, noted that he’s never really experienced cold temperatures in baseball season like Cubs just had in Pittsburgh. It makes you wonder if that’s why the Cubs lined up the rotation the way they did, with Travis Wood (who has done the cold weather thing) going yesterday in Pittsburgh, and Feldman starting in Atlanta. It’s just one start, and it’s a small distinction, but why not put Feldman in the best position to succeed, right?
  • Dick Tidrow’s Baseball Reference page has a new sponsor. It is nearly as glorious as his mustache. (Thanks to TWC.)
  • Jeff R

    Re Gordon Wittenmyer

    I’ve noticed a couple of suntimes reporters have blended their opinions into their stories. It makes me wonder if this is a directive from the editors. Just an observation and I don’t necessarily agree or disagree with it.

    • Diggs

      I don’t like when beat writers overtly include their opinions like Wittenmyer. Jesse Rogers does it too, although not like what Wittenmyer is doing. It just seems off to me. Leave the opinions to the columnists.

      • waittilthisyear

        the bulls beat writer, nick friedell, is the worst, half of his articles are suggestions to the front office. everyone who comments hates the guy don’t know wittenmyer, but i question everyone who does not see the positive direction the cubs are moving in

  • http://deleted bubbleshargrave

    bret how can you not be sure that using marmol in the closer role makes sense anymore? it doesn,t. be sure. the front office is not smart if they believe otherwise.

    • http://deleted bubbleshargrave

      brett i mean. sorry, this psp is hard to type on.

      • MichiganGoat

        Bert

    • caryatid62

      Imagine if he wasn’t the closer and came in with a 1 run lead in the 7th or 8th. The closer spot is probably best for him, because he faces the least amount of high leverage situations.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        If he’s the closer, you can’t control how many high leverage situations he faces. If he’s any other reliever, you can.

  • WGNstatic

    Hah… I went back to the link with the images of the renovations. Love the last line of your post, quite the soothsayer your are.

    “I look forward to discussing this a whole lot more in the near future.”

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Ha. Oh, January Brett … if only I could tell you …

      • Spriggs

        Thanks for following the renovation story so close, Brett. Very nicely done. I hope the reports about the deal being close are accurate. As a Cubs fan, I guess I was expecting much worse!

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Sounds like it’s finally going to happen. Thanks, Spriggs.

  • Fishin Phil

    TWC is one cool hippie! LOL – that is awesome.

    • Smitty

      Couldn’t agree more. Let me know if you re-up and I’ll help with covering the next ad.

  • SirCub

    Beers, Tears, Tidrow and Cubs Baseball!

  • MichiganGoat

    All hail the glory of Dick Tidrow

  • miggy80

    Good one T-DUB!

  • gutshot5820

    How in the world can Marmol have more value as 7th or 8th inning pitcher? He needs to start an inning where there is no one on base. If he was sent into a middle of an inning, he would be walking into a disaster(pun intended). Give him more than two games for petes sake. Let him pitch out of the 9th for at least another month. The Cubs are not going to get into many more save situations anyways. Plus, this might speed up their long range goals if he actually blows a few games here and there.

  • Kevin

    Wittenmyer is morphing from beat to column. Kinda like a certain Daily Herald columnist. Wonder which Old Cubs are going to be Wittenmyer’s favorites in future columns. Yknow, guys who played the game clean, etc.

  • BubblesHargrave

    I wouldn’t count Sveum out as the one making the call on Marmol as closer. Remember, he’s the one who decided to use all his regulars in last weekend’s meaningless game. The guy’s about as bright as a donkey-tailed pincushin.

    • Mr. Brent Kennedy

      “…last weekend’s meaningless game.”

      So what if the game had no bearing on the record books. Baseball is not a contact sport. If I were a ball player, I would relish the additional time on the field and in the batter’s box to be ready for when the records do matter.

      Sveum is doing an excellent job with the roster.

  • ETS

    “It’s just one start, and it’s a small distinction, but why not put Feldman in the best position to succeed, right?”

    So in 2009 would it have been okay to bump Harden every time he was scheduled to make a day start.

    I seriously was wishing that they would do that at the time.

    • Spriggs

      I think the best chance for Feldman to succeed would be in AAA or at least in Pittsburgh. He has not shot in Atlanta. I don’t care what the weather is like.

    • Kubphan82

      Or not pitching Farnsworth in day games… His night life was a little rough on his daytime ability…

  • Coldneck

    I would argue that coming in with the bases clean in the 9th inning is exactly when you want to put Carlos Marmol into the game. I’d much rather not see him come into the game in a high leverage situation in the 7th or 8th inning.

    • Spriggs

      My biggest problem with Marmol as the closer – besides the fact that he is not very good – is exactly the situation that happened last night. Russell, Camp, and Fuji are done for the night. You are pretty much out of options with a guy who struggles mightily at times.

      And I don’t his trade value is really that important anymore. All FO people in baseball know who Carlos Marmol is and how much he makes. If a team is that desperate for a closer… seriously, I would rather have Camp, Russell, or Fuji in any relief role before Marmol.

      • caryatid62

        That’s a problem with their usage beforehand, not the existence of Marmol after them.

        • hansman1982

          Theoretically, if you make Marmol the first guy to come out of the pen in his appearances, you will always have 5-6 other guys who can replace him if he is exploding

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Each of the 7th and 8th yesterday started with the bases clean, as they frequently do.

      • BluBlud

        you mean the inning actually started with nobody on base. Them damn lucky Cubs.

        • hansman1982

          I thought only the Cubs did that…

      • pete

        I am not normally one to give the FO the benefit of the doubt but it seems to me to they have only 2 choices – (1) move Marmol out of the closer role and permanently assign a trade value to him that is both low and static; or (2) keep him as the closer for several more weeks in the hope that he pitch his way out of this/revert to his form of the second half of last year (I presume that they will not give him more than 3 weeks) – which very well could raise his trade value. It would appear that the FO chose (2). I am not particularly a fan of it but I understand their logic.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          That ignores what other teams already think. There is no fooling baseball on a player like Carlos Marmol at this point, and a couple months of “good closing” isn’t going to do it. Another team would be unconscionably foolish to trade for Marmol *as a closer.* So, they won’t do it. Any team interested in Marmol is going to be interested in him as a supplement to a bullpen that already has a closer. So there is nothing to be gained by using him as a closer now, and nothing to be lost by moving him to the 7th or 8th. In which of those roles is he more likely to succeed right now for the Cubs (which is best for his trade value)? To me, it’s pretty clearly the 7th/8th.

          • gutshot5820

            Keith Law just came out with a recent chat and was asked what was the most surprising thing he saw so far this season. His answer was that so many people are over-reacting to a few games of sample size with so much negativity. Sounds about right.

            I doubt Marmol had very much trade value before his two outings, so you really have nothing to lose by leaving him in the closer role and hope he can get on a roll and either get him consistent enough to contribute to the Cubs or hopefully get something out of a trade before deadline.

            Obviously, the Cubs Front Office and manager agrees with me atm, because they are going to leave him in as a closer.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              “you really have nothing to lose by leaving him in the closer role”

              1. Games.

              2. His already tiny trade value.

              • hansman1982

                All else being equal,

                Marmol giving up 3+ runs in an outing doesn’t impact the outcome. Either the offense was going to score more runs that the pitchers allow or not regardless of when the runs are allowed.

                Being down in the 7th would actually cause the other team to bring out better relievers, thereby reducing the Cubs chances to score runs. (albeit in a Marmol’s-Trade-Value sized way)

                • hansman1982

                  impact the outcome, dependent upon when they are given up. The pitching giving up 3 runs is bad if it’s the 1st, 7th, 9th or 13th.

                  • hansman1982

                    damnit I should really complete my thoughts before hitting send…

                    13th, if the offense is only going to score 2 runs.

          • pete

            I don’t disagree with you. As I said, I am not with the FO on this choice but I am acquiescing to them on the choice, for lack of a better way of putting it. And I also agree that any team that acquires a closer mid-season almost always uses him as a set-up guy, which seems counter intuitive to keeping him at closer. But I presume that him at closer is where the FO thinks his trade value will be maximized, which makes me think they have tacitly included the odds of competing for the 2013 playoffs into their calculus. I cannot see why they would be doing this without that inclusion.

            • Randy

              agreed

          • hansman1982

            However, if you move him out of the closers role now, it effectively nukes (with a Tsar Bomba clone) teams potentially seeing him as a closer even if they won’t pay for him as a closer.

            Team X might need a closer and have someone they think can close, Marmol as a setup guy on the Cubs doesn’t allow them to see him as a closer and think of him as someone they can use as a backup to that closer, they will think that he has no business being in the 9th inning.

            You are right, noone is going to think they are trading for someone who will save 97% of all games even if he goes a perfect 20 for 20 in the first half.

            • STH Section 514 Row

              I love the Tsar Bomba reference Hansman1982. I nicknamed my new softball bat “Tsar Bomba” last year.

  • BubblesHargrave

    Yes, but if you put him in in the 7th and he blows the load, at least we have a couple of innings to come back. I don’t want to see the guy in the game at all, except maybe in mop-up assignments.

    • BubblesHargrave

      blows the lead, I mean. Sorry I really didn’t mean to type that.

      • EQ76

        hahaha!!!! “Blows the load” nice.. wonder what was on your mind?!?!

  • farmertancolin

    I think Marmol is staying in as closer in an attempt to gain value cheaply. Yet even though some guys may still value save numbers, everyone has to know what Marmol is by now. No one signed Valverde until his former team gave him a flyer.

    I have a feeling once Garza or baker come back Marmol is on the way to cut town. Or Rondon if he doesn’t get to the mid 90s.

  • BluBlud

    Brett, I found a couple different sites(Playboy, Hustler, Penthouse, Pornhub) so I’m going to have to eliminate BN from my daily list of sites. I just don’t have time to come here with all the time I spend on the other sites. I wish you luck in the future and maybe when my hands are tired, I come back and check out some of the acticles. Thanks for everything buddy. ;)

  • gutshot5820

    I just read the Gordan Wittenmeyer article. Although it slants heavily against the Ricketts, it does make a lot of sense. Just because it’s anti-Ricketts doesn’t make Wittenmeyer a bad guy. Basically it states,the Cubs are a mega money making machine, payrolls are down 25%, we have one of the highest ticket prices and acting like a mid-market team, In future years, the Cubs will be rolling in cash. All true.

    You have to be naive to think that Tom Ricketts bought the Cubs for any other reason but profit. I still think they should get all the things they asked for the renovation and they are getting screwed by the city.

    • JR

      Sure the Cubs payroll is down, but i wouldn’t sign guys just because you have a little extra payroll, especially if it could effect the future in a negative way. Why can’t the Cubs spend the saved money this year when they aren’t trying to make the playoffs in future years when they are actually trying to win? Seems pretty logical/obvious to me. Go big or go home mentality.

      • JR

        when they *are trying to make the playoffs.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      What you – and Gordon – miss, is that even if the Ricketts are *entirely* motivated by a quest to profit, what would be the best way to profit from a long-term investment like the Cubs?

      Penny-pinching on scouts’ per diem? Slashing amateur spending? Reduced big league payroll for a decade?

      No. The best way to make money from the Chicago Cubs is to make the Chicago Cubs a very good team long-term.

      • Randy

        Disagree Brett. You also profit by lowering expenses, payroll and so on. Then when the kids are ready to play up at the big level they are paying inexepensive paychecks. You add a few top dollar players and you win with a lower payroll. You then profit by both a bigger gate because you are winning and your payroll still isnt high. Its called business and it happens everyday. You are giving the Cubs organziation to much credit.

    • Spriggs

      I did not find Gordon’s article informative or interesting. He infers that being the most profitable MLB team (while having the 2nd worst record in baseball) is a negative thing and proves they don’t care about fans or winning? Yet he claims the financial situation is a mess according to a few experts he may have talked to. He infers a grave need to pay down the incredible debt burden – yet not only are they the most profitable team, but the value of the team has increased over $165 million in just over 3 years. Not a bad ROI. What exactly are these pressing debt burdens keeping them from again?

      Even with these significant profits and value added, and with new revenue coming in the near future from TV contracts, and presumably new renovation revenue — he seems to infer that he doesn’t know where Ricketts will get the money to pay for free agents when they need them?

      • Randy

        disagree

      • hansman1982

        What Gordo also misses, is that somehow, the Cubs are the most profitable team in the big leagues AND they can’t afford their debt levels.

        If that is happening to the Cubs, imagine what other teams are feeling (or those that are losing money)

        • Spriggs

          That is sort of what I was getting at. Using facts in contradicting ways. And sensatonalizing other facts to emphasize his points. Like talking about how fishy it is that they use a trust to shield assets from creditors. Not only is that one of the basic functions of any type of trust, but also almost any other large entity type (corporations, limited partnerships, etc.). NOT unusual at all! And then to just say the family trust setup is complicated – and sort of leave it at that??? What happened to all the experts he’d been talking to — I guess he couldn’t understand their explanations??? Family trusts are as complicated as you want to write up the instrument that controls them — but they are rarely ever as complicated as ordinary corporations. Really weak article by Gordo, in my opinion. I learned nothing from it.

  • mak

    Poor pitching in the 7th is the same as in the 9th. I’m not sure there is a solution here unless Marmol pitches better.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Again: in which role is he more likely to succeed? That’s the question. Everyone knows “pitch better” will help. It’s how to best get him there – in whatever tiny way the Cubs can help – that is the question.

      • EQ76

        Last year, didn’t they put him on the 15-day DL and let him “rehab” in Iowa? I’d personally, rather see him go figure it out in Iowa so he doesn’t cost us any more games and leads. after his “injury” last year and his rules on shaking off pitches changed, he was really good.

      • hansman1982

        Then you are assuming that Marmol’s ineffectiveness is tied to the pressure of closing. These two games are probably more cold weather and Marmol’s ineffectiveness to find the plate in 8 out of 10 appearances.

      • DarthHater

        Why is believing that the inning would make a difference to the quality of Marmol’s pitching any different than believing that RISP is a meaningful stat?

      • Randy

        Just release him. Who gives a crap. He is not going to suceed in the 6th, 7th, 8th or 9th. He isnt going to go down to Iowa so release him. Bring up someone with value. This is all about being forced to throw the moron out there to improve his trade value which it turn means they dont really care if they win or not. You cant tell me that the mamager would throw his ass out there in that situation unless he was told to do so. He is a puppet doing what he is told. I am in business and I do as I am told but I wouldnt act like this guy is a golden boy

  • Jp3

    On Marmol, I completely agree Brett and I’ll take it a step further. The one flaw I’m finding with this front office is that they have a hard time admitting defeat. They have done it with Stewart seeing he hasn’t taken the field much as a cub but continue to build up his 401k for him generously. Now with adamantly trying to convince smart people in baseball that Marmol is an adequate closer. I’ve about had it with the Marmol business, we’re going to lose enough games on our own so why force the issue this way?

    Dear Theo & Jed,

    No scout or front office is this f’n stupid. Please admit you got nothing on this hand and fold. We all know you’re bluffing.

    The end

  • DarthHater

    Haren’s on the mound tonight for the Nats. If he has a good outing, the hindsight hyenas will be out in force at BN.

    • gutshot5820

      Then this must be a preemptive strike.

      • hansman1982

        [img]http://www.grahamowen.com/images8/SHOCKandAWE.jpg[/img]

        SHOCK AND AWE!!!!

      • DarthHater

        Yes, better a foresight ferret than a hindsight hyena. ;-)

    • Jp3

      No hindsight business here. Right now if we pay for Marmol’s whole salary I’d trade him to the Nats for a bag of scuffed batting practice balls and we should pay for the shipping and handling.

  • Le Cubs

    If the Cubs weren’t able to trade Marmol and he becomes a free agent, would he have a compensation pick tied to him?

    • Bigg J

      If we offered him more then 13 million

      • hansman1982

        If you think Cubs fans hate Marmol now…imagine a 2014 with him getting paid $14M.

        (We aren’t getting a comp pick from him)

  • Dude

    Testing out my new gravatar account…

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Nice.

  • Ivy Walls

    Marmol: They are playing the tune that surprised everyone last year, where for a short while he was effective. Problem is he is two years removed from a 2.8 WAR, in the middle of 2010 Cubs should have traded him then, now he is close to a marginal .2-.5, hardly something of value.

    Wittmeyer; Ricketts Family purchased this franchise as a trust and have a fiduary responsibility to do what they say and receive benefits accordingly. If they are saying they are investing into the club and operations than good, but most good private capitalists take out the cash first like a good mobster does as well, leaving those who manage make certain that is not seen or recognized.

  • Kubphan82

    Anyone consider that Marmol is just a warm weather pitcher? It just seems he heats up when the weather does. There are plenty of “island” players that can’t get over the cold. Soriano tends to struggle only in the cold. There should be splits with an over under on temperatures. In any case, Marmol will rebound… I just hope it’s not too late for value, but I won’t hold my breath.

  • JR

    I do wonder what showed on the medicals for Haren? If Haren was doing well, the Cubs could have gotten a haul for him at the deadline. Much more than they’ll get for Feldman, and Baker (if he comes back). Even if Marmol was dominant the return for him wouldn’t be much. Everyone knows Marmol is absolute drama, obviously….

  • http://sport.icehd.net/ stiri sport

    Hello that article was simpley super gratitude for those insights!

  • Kyle

    Having only heard on the radio and just now getting to see the ninth inning from yesterday and the PItch FX data, Marmol was a lot better than his first outing. Velocity was strong, and a reasonable number of pitches were thrown in good locations and/or for strikes.

    Sometimes, MLBers just hit decent pitches into play, and sometimes balls in play go for hits.

    I want to go all scorched-earth on the organization, but if they think he can still be an above-average reliever, I don’t want them overreacting to two games. They seem to be handling this the right way.

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