So much to discuss today about the Draft and the rumor mill … but everyone’s probably stuck on yesterday’s loss. Before digging into the reactions to the game, let me offer one thought up front: remember that Carlos Marmol and Dale Sveum (and everyone, really) are real, live people. They aren’t just words and numbers on a screen or pictures on your TV. What happened yesterday was extremely disappointing and frustrating, and criticism is both fair and justified. But let’s try to keep that criticism within the realm of rational and proportionate. Overly angry rhetoric doesn’t befit any of us.
- That said … yes, Dale Sveum probably should have pulled Marmol before that homer. We’ve all seen it with him lately: he’s either quite good from the get-go, or disastrous. After a homer, a walk, and a solid single, it was fairly clear which Marmol had showed up yesterday, and it was time to pull the plug. That said, we’re talking about maybe just one batter too many. It happened quickly enough that I can at least understand the argument that you let Marmol face another batter or two – it’s not like you expect Kirk Nieuwenhuis to hit a walk-off homer.
- I’m not sure what was up with Marmol yesterday, other than it was clear he couldn’t get the fastball where he wanted it, and the Mets were absolutely spitting on the slider. That’s really been his problem as his effectiveness has faded – the slider is still decent, but he doesn’t have a quality fastball to set it up anymore. So batters spit on the slider, sit on the fastball, and knock him around when that fastball is up in the zone.
- As much as you may not like to hear it, using Marmol in the 9th yesterday was completely defensible. He’d been pitching well for several weeks, Kevin Gregg was unavailable, and it was a three-run lead. In an otherwise lost season, right now is all about trade value. One save or a scoreless 9th wasn’t going to make Marmol’s trade value anything more than saving a few hundred thousand bucks and a fringe prospect, but not using him in that spot yesterday communicates to the trading world that not even the Cubs trust Marmol late in close games when they have few other options. So, you use him, cross your fingers, and hope for the best. It didn’t work out, but what really was lost, other than a game that wasn’t going to be the difference between the playoffs or no playoffs anyway?
- On the decision to use Marmol, Sveum essentially said that he has experience closing, while the other pitchers available did not. He said that Marmol’s been pretty good outside of the 9th inning this year, and I guess he thought that justified the opportunity yesterday. But Sveum went on to say that, for whatever reason, Marmol just can’t get those last three outs right now. I reckon this was the final 9th inning save opportunity he’ll be getting for a long time.
- Alfonso Soriano, who was apparently visibly angry about the loss, called the whole thing unacceptable. Per ESPNChicago: “We have like 99 [percent] chance to win, the whole game we’re winning, and it’s very tough. In the last inning, with just less than three outs left to win the game, and we lost. It’s unacceptable. It’s hard to take, hard to swallow.”
- Matt Garza didn’t say much after the loss, other than to note that he didn’t think he had his best stuff, but still got good results.
- Patrick Mooney on the awesomeness of the Cardinals organization. As usual, it’s a good read (albeit a painful one, given the subject), save for one lame inclusion: “The Cardinals don’t wish for a magical Jumbotron.” Come on. The Cubs don’t wish for a “magical” JumboTron, either. They wish for the same kind of JumboTron the Cardinals have had at new Busch Stadium since it opened almost 10 years ago: the kind that generates revenue.
- Nate Schierholtz, All-Star? There’s certainly an argument. The front office really nailed that signing if the current results are to be believed. He’s been a strict platoon player (just about 10% of his plate appearances have come against lefties), and he’s absolutely crushing righties (his OPS against righties is above .950). He’s also killing it at Wrigley Field, where his skill set obviously plays well. These are things the front office anticipated when signing Schierholtz, despite the protestations of the masses.