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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.

  • Die hard

    If Mike and Mike talk about this tomorrow am then that would be a feather in ones cap

  • cubspong

    “X person is saying that he heard Marmol say X.”
    All I can see here another hearsay question…maybe that’s because I had an evidence exam today. But I don’t think you messed up too bad and I also think it shows real character to apologize when you think you did something wrong. It’s very respectable, whether you really made a mistake or not.

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