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Carlos Marmol bummed(Big Mea Culpa UPDATE: Below, you will see updates as I worked through where I screwed up on this story. Separately, I’ve written a long apology for failing to be fair. You can still read this story for posterity, but know that, had I an opportunity to do it all over again, it would be very different. For his part, Marmol told the media that he did not have any conversations today about possible trades, and is happy in Chicago and wants to stay. I take him at his word, and that’s that.)

Early in Spring Training, we learned that the Chicago Cubs, who’d already essentially traded reliever Carlos Marmol once before, told Marmol’s agents to expect a trade at some point during the season. Marmol, 30, is in the final year of his contract, and is making $9.8 million. At the time, he looked like an expensive luxury on a team not expected to contend.

Unfortunately for both Marmol and the Cubs, he now still looks expensive and is on a team not expected to contend … but I’m not sure anyone could characterize him as a luxury.

That said, the Cubs are still undoubtedly working the phones, or will be soon, to try and find Marmol a new home that might be willing to part with something – anything – for him in trade. And from the sound of an overheard meeting with his agents today, Marmol is eager to find that new home.

Because the Internet is for rumor mongering, and because newsworthy conversations you have in public are likely to be heard and tweeted by someone these days …

All appropriate caveats here: I wasn’t there. Scott may have misidentified or misheard. We don’t have the entire context for the conversation. Things are always more complicated than a few tweets, and, indeed, an entire conversation, can possibly convey.

That said … I have no reason to doubt Scott’s observations. The pictures he included seem legit, and the big guy in them sure looks like Carlos Marmol. He’s a relatively distinctive looking guy, and, to my eye, that’s Marmol. Further, the conversation relayed by Scott all seems plausible. It strikes me as odd to have a conversation like this in an apartment lobby, but these kinds of public conversations do happen all the time. It’s just that now, they’re even more public. (I tried to get a sense of what Paul Kinzer, the lead agent at Marmol’s agency, looks like, but I’m not really able to pick him out in either of the pictures, if he was even there. Sports agencies have lots of agents, and guys are typically just described as having X Face Guy as their agent, even if they work with lots of agents at the office.)

As to the substance, assuming everything Scott relayed was accurate, is any of it surprising? If I were Marmol, I’d want out of Chicago, too, given the struggles, the booing, and the knowledge that the Cubs have wanted to trade you for some time. It’s good to know that he’s on board with a trade, and probably won’t wield his partial no-trade clause too aggressively, but I’m not sure that that was ever really going to be the holdup. Similarly, it’s nice to know his agents plan to work hard to get him traded, but, again, there’s only so much they can do.

The reality is that we’re talking about a pitcher, formerly awesome, who currently looks like a shell of the guy he once was. Cubs GM Jed Hoyer has himself acknowledged that the Cubs rode Marmol hard for a long time, and his stuff is no longer what it was just a few years ago. Marmol has a 5.40 ERA in 15 innings of work this year, and he’s walked an unconscionable 7.8 batters per 9 innings. His K-rate – 9 per 9 – is the lowest its been since his rookie season, in which he was a part-time starter. He’s getting hit hard when he’s in the zone, and he’s walking guys when he’s not. It’s a terrible mix for a reliever, and regardless of his contract or desire to be traded, it’s hard to see any playoff contender even being willing to have him in their bullpen at this point. It’s too much of a risk, and the upside probably isn’t there.

So, at bottom, the “overheard” conversation doesn’t really offer us much beyond a curiosity. Marmol’s performance is what matters – not his desire to be traded.

UPDATE: Marmol denied to reporters today that he wants out of Chicago and is apparently upset that he was “spied” on. I would expect him to deny the report, and I’ve got no beef with that. I’m not thrilled with the implications now swirling out there that I did something wrong here by somehow soliciting this “private” information. A reader independently passed on newsworthy information to me, which he heard in a public space at his own apartment building, and then tweeted to me (and the world). It’s not hard to have a “private” meeting if you want to have a private meeting.

UPDATE 2: This has the decided feel of something spiraling a bit out of control, and, for that part, I feel bad. I’m not the kind of guy to be obstinate to a fault. If I screwed up here, I am willing to admit it. Given that the conversation was in public, Scott was in his own apartment building, and the information was tweeted out for the world to see, there’s still a part of me that wants to say I was justified. It’s newsworthy info, and I felt compelled to pass it on. I probably moved too quickly, though, and I think that’s the part that I screwed up. Saying now “well, it’s not like I could have called Marmol to ask him if it was true” is a pretty weak excuse. I could have asked somebody. That’s the link in the chain where I probably failed.

UPDATE 3: Getting more feedback, I’m starting to see where the disconnect is, and where folks (fairly) feel like I failed. When I write something like this, to me, the story is “X person is saying that he heard Marmol say X.” I apply all caveats so that the reader understands it is to be taken with a grain of salt, but it’s still very interesting to hear. As the site has grown, however, that’s an unfair shield to hide behind. Because now, when I write “X person is saying that he heard Marmol say X,” it is read as “Brett says that Marmol said X.” I can’t ask to be held to any kind of professional standard and then hide behind the shield of “well, gee, I was just saying what someone told me.” I still think this was newsworthy info that should have been shared in some form. But there was a process I should have followed, however difficult it might be for an outsider, and I didn’t have the foresight or professionalism to follow it. It’s appropriate that I’m updating you in this fashion, given the meta issues involved here – you’re watching me come to terms with a fairly serious screw-up in real-time. It isn’t particularly fun, but I owe it to you.

UPDATE 4: The official word here, from Marmol, himself, is that he never said these things, and “[is] going nowhere. I’m very happy here. I can’t wait until they do something so I can stay here. I always talk about how I love Chicago, I love being here, I love my teammates, I love everybody here.” That is per Carrie Muskat, and I take Marmol at his word. That’s that.

  • bloctoad

    This is no sketchier than what you see on the nightly news or any other public news outlet competing for ratings and viewers. Brett posted warnings which is more than you get from your television.

    • cubbyblue

      Really. Come on now

  • mysterious4th

    I think it’s Marmol for sure…..by 1 particular thing in the first photo. Marmol has an a$$. Like serious junk in his trunk. That something I have always oddly noticed about him. Only because he has one like a girl and you don’t see it much on men. it’s always one of the first things I notice on women (well I don’t check out men so maybe it it’s not as rare as I think).

    I hope soon we can get rid of Marmol and the junk in his trunk!

    Also, very disappointed they Cubs did not win yesterday so they failed to delivery my birthday gift!

  • Dynastyin2017

    Brett, you did nothing wrong. Regarding the ‘stuff’ swirling around about you, please remember this: There is no such thing as BAD publicity.

  • Dustin S

    A side story to this season has been current and past Cubs players overvaluing themselves based on distant past performance. Ian Stewart and Carlos Marmol wanting traded like they are superstars that can control where they go, when in reality no team would want to use a roster spot on them even if the Cubs paid 90% of their contracts. Similar story with Zambrano seeming completely bewildered that no team wanted him (well until yesterday).

  • mysterious4th

    Brett honestly Marmol is mad the information got out so quickly. But, it’s on him and his agents for having a meeting (that had private information talked about) in such a public place. It’s not like somebody planted a bug in his room. He was a in public space. I hope you don’t beat yourself up in any way shape or form. Marmol as well as any other person knows anything you say in public could easily be put on the internet for all to read/see/hear with the click of a button. He is an idiot to think otherwise. Especially being a MLB player for a team with the most fans spread out across the world (in my opinion the fanbase for the cubs is more spread out from just Chicago then say the Giants or Mets) and he is a player the fans are totally frustrated with. That means anything he says in public will be quick to spread like a wildfire if it has even a half of a juicy detail.

  • Rich

    Brett
    I think we are all not just fans of this site, but fans of yours as well. I don’t find anything distasteful or wrong with posting or discussing what possibly occurred with Marmol. It is no secret that Marmol was apparent;y traded in the off season and I am sure the Cubs have been trying since the Haren deal was backed out of.
    So I dont think there is / was any harm with your post, in my opinion.

    P.S. We all want the same thing, Marmol with a new team.

  • mjhurdle

    I tend to think that i am very critical of most modern media, but i don’t see how Brett did anything wrong in this.
    In essence Scott reported a story. He put it on Twitter for everyone to see. maybe it was directed specifically at BleacherNation, but it was visible to all regardless.
    Brett then commented on the story, which, if true, would be kind of a big deal.
    He gave all the usual warnings and caveats to not treat the tweets as the absolute truth, and then offered his opinion.

  • RonSantosLegs

    Brett, are you running a TMZ website now?

    I dunno, people should have some integrity and not listen in on other peoples conversations or take shady cell phone pics of them. Feels creepy.

    I know it was a public place I guess but do you go around taking shady pictures of strangers any other time? listen to their conversations?

    We all know Marmol will be out of here sooner or later…who gives a fuck.

    • BT

      I think we should all listen to the guy who named himself “RonSantosLegs”, and have some integrity. I’m thinking about changing my name to AngelinaJoliesBreasts so I can lecture people about class.

    • DarthHater

      Brett didn’t do any of that, he only commented on something that was already publicly on Twitter. In any event, nobody gives a rat’s ass whether some ignorant, fatuous, tasteless, hypocritical douchebag “gives a fuck.”

  • TWC

    “UPDATE 3: … Because now, when I write “X person is saying that he heard Marmol say X,” it is read as “Brett says that Marmol said X.” I can’t ask to be held to any kind of professional standard and then hide behind the shield of “well, gee, I was just saying what someone told me.””

    Aw, bullshit. You had ample caveats peppered throughout the article. Can you really be expected to be responsible for a bunch of folks that have no ability to comprehend what you wrote?

    • Blublud

      That’s BS TWC. I never read this as brett said anything about Marmol. I just think Brett showed a quick lack professionalism, and it’s good that he eccepted that and moved on. It was a mistake and he is still a great writer. It happens. BN is still the best site on the net, I will never question that.

      • TWC

        Yo, Jay, did I say “Blublud can’t comprehend such-and-such”? No. I was *specifically* referring to Brett’s thoughts on the source of the criticism, as he posted in Update #3 above.

        Your criticism of this piece comes from a different place. I don’t agree with that, either, but I don’t think they’re different criticisms entirely.

        • Blublud

          I don’t think anyone with any kind of common sense would think Brett said this. That was the point.

          • TWC

            ::rolls eyes::

            Man, you’re a weird bird. I’m beginning to rethink my “Blublud can’t comprehend” comment.

            I disagreed with Brett’s analysis as posted in Update 3. You apparently do, too. That’s swell.

      • Bric

        Everybody has an opinion and I’m good with that. But what part of the story do you take issue with? Do you think it was a hoax? Please explain.

        • Blublud

          I personally don’t think its cool for any journalist or “blogger” who profits from his work, making that person a professional, to report he say/she say or gossip without confirming the rumers of one of his readers. If this person was employed by BN, then it could possibly be ok, or if the person was an employee of the Cubs or Marmols agent, then run with it. But reporting what a readers tells you he heard as a story without confirming is not cool. The guy listening should not have even commented on it. But its his right I guess.

          • Bric

            Cool. I still don’t really get your issue but at least you took a minute to explain it. We’ll just agree to disagree. We’re all Cub fans here.

    • Ivy Walls

      Brett the issue is not about you or the site, it is that you are a messenger of the truth that hurts and in TWC’s mind it breaks the illusion that MLB has for fanatics who want to believe in some fantasy. Marmol is responsible for all that has come his way as a professional. He had a special skill, he used it to make millions and now he is on the downside of that talent. How or whether he can adjust is only a question for him.

      Cubs should of, could of made a trade that was a risk but failed in shoot, Marmol is now stuck…baseball people are cut throat business people and will not pay for a junk on the mound unless Marmol shows he has something closer that got him to the All Star game.

      • TWC

        Larf. I have no illusions that Brett Taylor is a “messenger of truth”. In fact, I’m be embarrassed by folks that think he is (if there really are any). If folks actually read the article and understood that it was posted with grains of salt and a fair bit of analysis, no one would have their panties all bunched up.

        • Internet Random

          ^^^ This.

  • @murdiddlyurdler

    all the updates are so whiny. who cares? the real issue: if marmol wants out either pitch better or give up some salary to be bought out, i’m sure the cubs would be agreeable to either.

  • Chad

    Brett –

    You did nothing wrong (I’m not a journalist, so I don’t know all the unwritten rules); but you noted that this could be false and that it was coming from someone else, and that there were multiple possibilities that might explain this away.
    I noticed something someone else mentioned on another site…that is Marmol came out and admitted that this guy overheard the convo or eavesdropped. If Marmol admits that this guy did that, then it adds a certain amount of validity to the original twitter post.
    Bottom line; stop feeling sorry for your self and keep doing what you do!

  • Die hard

    There are public figure exceptions to libel and slander — see movie Absence of Malice with Paul Newman

  • Generic BN’er

    Honestly, whichever side someone takes in this issue, there is a silver lining: the fact that something Brett posted could cause so much controversy kinda validates Bleacher Nation as a legitimate Cubs information source that gets noticed by the more mainstream media.

    Any publicity is good publicity. (sometimes)

  • JB88

    “It’s appropriate that I’m updating you in this fashion, given the meta issues involved here – you’re watching me come to terms with a fairly serious screw-up in real-time. It isn’t particularly fun, but I owe it to you.”

    I’m sorry, but I really fail to see what the “screw up” is. Let’s say for example that you are a “serious journalist”, that means that you would have some level of access to Marmol which would allow you to ask that question. You don’t, however, have that level of access. So what is the next possible step you are supposed to take? Ask the Cubs? Send the tip to a journalist with that sort of access? Kill the story because you can’t take that next step?

    Once this was tweeted out, this was available for public consumption. Moreover, this isn’t someone hiding behind the shield of anonymity. The person overhearing the conversation’s name was given and he provided photos.

    I just really don’t see how you perceive this as a screw up. Consider this my meta consideration of your plight …

    • mjhurdle

      agree 100% with this post

  • Bigg J

    Does that mean we are going to hear the “boo birds” when he comes in a game?

  • Bric

    Seriously at first glance I thought that wasn’t Marmol. He looks waaay to big. But many, many people look different when shot in public than we’re used to seeing 80 feet away or on TV. That’s why I didn’t think for a second it wasn’t him. I once stood behind David Robinson when he was checking into the hotel I worked at and he didn’t look anywhere near as big as he did on TV.

    Anyway, the point is this. Brett, I see no reason to regret what you posted. Main reason I believe that this is legit is everything in the story makes sense. As a Brewer hater I often look over at their site to see what they’re saying when they lose. From about May of last year when Axford started tanking games left and right for them all of their fans were clamoring for Marmol. There were numerous suggestions that he could move on up there for various reasons.

    This unverified story is the world we live in now. Everybody’s got a phone, an ear, and access to spill the beans fast. The days when the puppet masters behind the scenes manipulate the fates of millions of people with no one knowing about went away when they invented the internet and put cameras in cell phones.

  • DarthHater

    Here is a picture of Kinzer. Looks like he could be the white-haired guy:

    [img]http://www.harrycaraysrestaurants.com/hcs-blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/grabow-ramirez-kinzer-castro-300×225.jpg[/img]

    • DarthHater
      • DarthHater

        [img]http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7286/8742867740_c8c253182b.jpg[/img]

        • Bric

          I agree that could be Ian Kinlzer in the middle but there’s no way that’s John Grabow on the left. That dude’s name is Eric and I used to work with him at Subway.

          • DarthHater

            That’s Paul Kinzer. Ian Kinsler is an infielder for the Texas Rangers. I’m sure he would be thrilled that an overweight white-haired guy could be him.

            • Bric

              Sorry, Darth but after a careful second look I’m sure that dude in the middle is Ian Kinsler.

  • LWeb23

    Very honorable of you Brett to come out and say you screwed up. I personally don’t think you are nearly as much in the wrong as you think you might be and as others may think, but I completely understand why some would think so by what you explained. Whether a small or large rumor, I enjoy hearing of it and can understand when it should be taken with a grain of salt, but still love to dream of the possibilities. But that self control and understanding of accountability is what keeps me coming back here, unlike some other Cubs blogs that I won’t name.

  • Die hard

    OT—OJ Simpson must weigh 300 lbs and be on steroids as head neck big as his butt

  • Cedlandrum

    Grabs popcorn and sits down with big eyes and watches…….

  • coal

    My disappointment here isn’t with Brett as much as it is with people with itchy camera phone triggers. Can’t a couple of folks have a conversation in a relatively private setting already?

    It reminds me of the leaked Cubs focus group stuff a couple months back. If you want the Cubs to make marketing/branding/experience decisions with no input from the fans at all, just keep leaking that kind of stuff. But don’t then complain with there is a kiss-cam, t-shirt cannon and all kinds of blaring music between innings. They’ll do it in a vacuum if we make them!

    It’s ok if Scott Hutchinson doesn’t have a filter (I guess), but shouldn’t Brett? Is this really news? While in some way the attention is good for BN, I also think you stooped to the lowest common denominator. That’s where I’m disappointed, even though I understand why you posted it even with all the caveats.

    • Bric

      I agree that there’s way too many shutterbugs out there posting B.S. on the internet to make a splash. But after such classics as “Baseball is better” and “Nothing is every easy” (or whatever that P.R. group came up with after all their focus groups) I’m pretty sure that the internet leaks didn’t damage their integrity, brand management or literary name. A first grader could’ve come up with those slogans for the price of an ice cream sandwich, not the 3 mil plus these guys charged.

    • hansman1982

      “Can’t a couple of folks have a conversation in a relatively private setting already?”

      A relatively private setting would be standing in a garage with the door open. A relatively private setting is NOT the lobby of a building.

  • 5412

    Hi Brett,

    Several thoughts. While you may have a scoop, there are adverse consequences you must consider and accept. When we talked I shared information with you that cannot go in to print and you honored my trust. So your choice is this. Do I want to be trusted by the players and insiders? I’m sure David Kaplan could write a book about things he sat on.

    I went to high school with a guy who was the Cub beat writer for years. When I interviewed Dallas Green I mentioned his name and Dallas inquired about his health and went on about how well respected he was.

    Personally, I think you may have hastened Marmol’s exit and done him a favor. At the same time, you might think about sending him and his agent an apology if you feel it is appropriate.
    Regards,
    5412

    • Norm

      Brett hastened his exit?

      Brett wins. Game over.

    • DarthHater

      Brett did not obtain a “scoop” from a confidential informant and then report it. He re-posted a series of comments that were already publicly posted on Twitter and then added some analysis of his own. If anybody should be apologizing for anything, it’s “Scott” for listening in on someone else’s conversation and then plastering it on Twitter.

      • Kyle

        In the modern world, the line between “public” and “not public” information is less important than whether or not the information has been publicized. There’s more information out there than any of us could process in a hundred lifetimes. We count on aggregators to focus our attention. Brett understands the power that he holds with his access to our eyeballs.

        Whether or not he thinks of himself as a journalist, I think his apology indicates that Brett understands that certain journalistic principles would be wise for him to adopt in order for him to maintain the reputation he wants and deserves.

        That said, the fact that Marmol denied it is pretty transparently irrelevant. Everybody denies when they don’t like what’s being said. Every journalist could share a half a dozen stories, at a minimum, of a source screaming “I was misquoted!” or flatly denying that an interview took place after they experience some blowback for what they said. (Playing back the recording of their interview is a particularly enjoyable moment in these situations).

        Marmol didn’t consent to an interview, so the way the information got from him to some guy on Twitter to Brett has some interesting ethical and moral twists, but the only reason I even care about them is because I like Brett.

        Otherwise, my interest as a Cubs fan is in the fact that he pretty clearly *did* say those things. That’s the story now, whether there should have been a story or not.

    • Internet Random

      [img]http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k230/XMLCTkd76eTb/1b3b6b8193e14dadef497c10086a37cb.jpg[/img]

      • TWC

        Heh.

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  • Kev

    I don’t know why reporting on something like this should be seen as problematic by, well, anybody. I don’t know who exactly is criticizing you, Brett, but shit, this kind of story gets reported on by more mainstream sources *all the time.* Remember when some dude ran into Theo Epstein at a Starbuck’s in Wrigleyville? The media jumped ALL OVER that, yet that story’s main source had equally low credibility (if not lower).

    So, I don’t really know what the issue is here, but don’t be fazed by whoever is contacting you. I’m interested to see how this plays out.

  • Cyranojoe

    Brett, I really hope you’ve put out some lines of communication in the direction of Marmol, the Cubs, and Kinzer. Best thing you can do in this situation, especially if you feel bad for jumping the gun (I don’t think you did, especially since “pro” journos follow your Twitter feed and would have scooped you if you hadn’t moved quickly, but I respect your feeling of ickiness about the whole process).

  • IndyCubsFan

    No worries, Brett! Keep up the awesome work!

  • Pingback: An Apology to Carlos Marmol, the Chicago Cubs, and to You | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary()

  • Dan

    Brett, you didn’t do anything wrong lol. Don’t listen to those jealous writers or whomever is giving you crap. Your site is THE number 1 Cubs source. Keep it up!!!

  • Dumpgobbler

    God I love Bretts stuff. Even when he feels like hes a bit wrong hes all over himself. Props. Too bad you couldn’t replace a certain media type working for the Cubs that I wont name.

  • svazcub

    Brett,

    What you did is what reporters do. A source with access to information passed it along to you, and you reported it. It may be an unusual, happy accident that the information was there, and that you were the guy to whom it was passed, but IMHO, it’s a bit self-defeating to be overly apologetic about it. What damage was done, exactly? When there is a news story about a famous person to report, are members of the media extremely careful to never violate anyone’s privacy….or is something intended to be private considered reportable simply because it is of interest to the public?

    What you reported is really no different that someone like Wittenmeyer or Kaplan saying that “a source” told him that Marmol wants out of Chicago. Or a government source leaking something to the media that they aren’t authorized to speak about publicly. The only difference is you’re not used to having the same kind of access to sources who have first hand knowledge.

    It may be wise, the next time something like this happens, to be a little *less* transparent, in terms of exposing the source and retweeting, etc. Better just to say that a source in the know told you that Marmol wants to get out of Chicago to get a fresh start, without posting all the pictures and going into all the details. That may also show a little more respect for the player’s privacy–showing the photos is probably part of what made him feel like he was “being spied on.”

    I think to be successful in journalism, you need to be a bit aggressive. Ethically, there is the question about reporting an overheard conversation. It’s a good question to ask, but as some have pointed out, the public in general eavesdrops on famous people when they’re out in public. In a court of law, for example, would it be considered reasonable for a famous person at a public location to expect to not have people listen to his conversation? It’s not like someone wire-tapped Marmol’s phone, or planted a bug in the den of his house. It’s hard to expect that a Cub fan, out in public, who saw Marmol talking with agents, wouldn’t listen a bit to see what the conversation was about. And I think that famous people understand this. People are interested in their lives–it’s part of the territory that goes with being famous. It’s part of the tradeoff of being a famous figure who makes 9 million dollars per year. If Blake Parker was having a conversation with his agent in public, at a Des Moines Starbucks, probably no one would notice.

    I can understand why Marmol might be frustrated in general with Cub fans, and going through a tough time personally. He has given a 100% effort, been one of the best relievers in baseball for years and given some great performances to Cub fans. Now, he’s struggling, despite his best efforts, and people boo him whenever he gets into a game. He is not being respected for the good things he has done, but it’s “What have you done for me lately?” It’s the prerogative for fans to boo him as a frustrating guy who gives up leads and can’t seem to find the strike zone. But, if I were him I would want out of Chicago, too, I think.

    Nonetheless, if there’s any backlash from Marmol’s quarters, I think it has more to do with overall frustration with his situation and the fans–he can’t seriously expect no one to be interested in his conversations with his agents when he goes out in public in Chicago as a famous figure and the constant subject of trade rumors.

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