Deja Vu all over again: Wood, Marmol implode...but it wasn't all bad. Really.

Deja Vu all over again: Wood, Marmol implode...but it wasn't all bad.  Really.

Stop me if you've heard this one before...

The Cubs kick and scratch their way to a few runs and take a lead into the 8th inning.  They turn their game over to their veteran bullpen arms Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol and....

Well, you know the rest.

The Cubs lose this game 7-4 after Matt Garza got the Cubs off to a 4-2 lead going into the 8th inning.  The Cubs got some clutch hits from Reed Johnson and Joe Mather. Garza, except for giving up a 2-run HR to Adam LaRoche followed by a temper tantrum, was cruising along.

There can't possibly be any silver linings here, can there?

  • Well, there's the Garza outing for one.  He was throwing mid 90s and showed pretty good command of his entire repertoire.  The umpire pretty much took away the low strike, making it tough for both pitchers on a day when the wind was blowing out.  In fact, a non-strike call on a knee-high, full count pitch to Ian Desmond led to a walk and ultimately gave LaRoche a chance to come to bat -- and that's what I thought was what Garza was so upset about. Instead, he said he was angry about the location on the pitch to LaRoche.  It didn't seem all that bad.  It was a 95 mph four-seamer that rode in on LaRoche but somehow he turned on it and connected.  Those things happen.  The good thing is that Garza regained his composure and finished strong.
  • Regarding Garza's anger, let's keep in mind that he did cool off and didn't take it back to the mound with him.  He also didn't direct it to any of his teammates. He was upset at himself.  This isn't a Carlos Zambrano situation.
  • Starlin Castro played excellent defense today.  He made two outstanding plays where the runner beat the throw but Castro seems to have taken Sveum's suggestions to heart.  On the first play, Castro made a full-extension dive to his right, snared the ball, got up quickly and fired a bullet over to first to nearly throw out Ian Desmond.  On the second play, he charged the ball aggressively and threw across his body and nearly nabbed the runner at first.  I didn't think he had a chance on either play, but he made them both very, very close.
  • The Cubs showed pretty good plate discipline early in the game, especially when Gio Gonzalez was in the game.  They drew 5 walks in all and worked the count often.  They got into the Nats bullpen early but unfortunately the relief staff was up to the task.  They shut the Cubs down when the Cubs had a chance to break the game open, so they deserve some credit for that.
  • Rafael Dolis had a quick efficient 8 pitch 1-2-3 inning.  He was clocked at 95 mph.

There were even some positives with Wood and Marmol....really.

  • With Wood, it was encouraging to see him bounce back and throw strikes.  He got two quick outs and then Danny Espinosa had the AB of the game.  He worked the count full and fouled off pitch after pitch, then took a low, outside fastball from Wood -- not a bad pitch -- and went the other way with it, putting it in the LF seats.  On the next AB, Wood broke Ryan Zimmerman's bat with a fastball riding in on his fists but somehow the ball looped over the infield for a single.  That was followed by a solid single and then Wood gave way for Marmol...and then more bad things happened.
  • The positive with Marmol was his velocity. He was at 94-96 early on before losing a little velo as the inning went on.  While it didn't produce results it does give some hope that he can turn things around.  It could also help allay concerns with teams who might consider trading for him later on.  If the arm is still there, it's always possible the Cubs can find a team with a scout or pitching coach who thinks they can "fix" Marmol.

Not much to say except it's another tough game and there's 160 to go.  Things have to improve, don't they?


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  • Don't they???? I think you mean: "There were even some positives with Wood and Marmol....really." (not Dolis)

  • In reply to bruno14:

    Ooops. Thanks for catching that! That's exactly what I meant.

  • I really feel bad for Sveum. I think he has made the right moves but the players have not executed can we blame him for think that kerry wood and Carlos Marmol can close 1 game.

  • In reply to cubsfanforlife:

    I agree. Right now you have to go to Wood and Marmol until they prove otherwise. Fans want a switch already so this is Sveum's first test for sticking to his guns.

  • Marmol needs to be moved out of the 9th inning until (or if) he regains his ability to throw strikes.

  • In reply to Hawks12:

    He threw strikes yesterday. Only one walk today. Who do you put in the 9th? Wood? He's thrown even less strikes.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I would try Dolis. Nothing to lose at this point. We may as well see what we have. Unfortunately, we know very well what we have in Wood and Marmol.

  • I will say it again. Wood/marmol should have been traded,not marshall. Marmol may turn it around, but not much hope for wood. I knew the game was over when I saw wood come into the game.come on theo....

  • In reply to Dharmabum:

    Marshall was the only guy who would bring back any value. The Cubs have received, in all likelihood, 3 MLB players for Marshall -- two of whom project as starters down the road.

    The Cubs traded one year of a reliever for 3 long term players. Unless you think the Cubs had a chance in 2012, you have to make that deal.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Yeah you are correct . Just tired of these two blowing games. Looks like last year. Hope both are gone by mid year. Even if marmol turns it around, he still makes me nervous every time out.

  • Our 2013 draft pick is looking better

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    A silver lining, I forgot ;)

  • tough loss, again! this wood/marmol combo is going to bite them in the rear sooner than they think. 160 more of these to go. not sure how many of those i can stomach with wood/marmol throwing in the 8th & 9th with less than a 2 run lead.

    the offense did look a lot better and the plate discipline (home plate ump) was there, so that was a positive.

    just think, Cubs should be 2-0 right now.

  • In reply to lokeey:

    They really could be 2-0 but for 2 pitchers who won't be around next that's kinda encouraging. Kinda.

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    John, I really wish you would stop sugar coating this stuff. Wood has really surprised me with yesterday's performance. He couldn't throw a strike to save his life. Maybe it was Dale Sveum's idea of giving Wood just a few innings of work to keep him strong for the whole year. Who know's? But why not let Dempster finish that 8th inning?

    Now Marmol is just a joke altogether. I had really hoped we found our next "Lee Smith" with this guy a few years ago. But this guy is way to erratic to be in a closer's position. But then that leads me to my next question. What do we have left to fill those spots?

    In short.... nothing. Not this year at least. We are just gonna have to sit through another long summer of being the "loveable losers."

    Gawwwwwd!!!!! This sux

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    I'm not sugar coating anything, bocabobby. Just finding positives in an otherwise dismal day. I've said on many occasions that 2012 is going to be a tough year. I'm not surprised at all by the early struggles.

    One thing I'm not is a reactionary guy. I'm not one of those "the sky is falling" or Monday morning QB kind of writers after just 2 games. You have the mainstream media for that.

    I'm trying to look at the bigger picture here.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Ok, I hear ya on that point and probably why I've been reading this blog for so long. Finding positives is always a good thing. And we can look at the everyday players that really seem to be bust'n their ash. That's refreshing.

    Or we can discuss how the farm system is holding some intriguing pieces for our future.

    But to find any positives for Wood or Marmol over the past 2 games is just something I can't see. These guys are veterans getting paid a whole lotta money and we are happy to see that they are throwing strikes today? Com'on, that's kinda real hard to swallow, imo.

    And yes, I know there is still a whole season of baseball to be played and I am in no way throwing in the towel. It's just a real shame the way these guys lost the past two games.

    Ok. back to lurking for me. I really do enjoy this blog. Keep up the hard work!

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Thanks bocabobby!

    I agee there really aren't many positives at all with those two pitchers -- but I did like that Marmol was throwing as high as 96 today. It may mean nothing in terms of results, but it gives me hope that his arm is fine -- and if that's the case, there could be a team out there that might take him in a trade. I was told by some people in baseball that I know that they were concerned with his lack of velocity late last season.

    I'm not saying Marmol can turn it around or that the higher velocity will draw interest, but I can say that if Marmol was out there throwing 89-91 like he did late last season, he wouldn't be tradeable at all -- especially with his poor control and multi-million dollar deal.

  • About 40 years I go so worked up watching a Cubs game that I
    had to be taken to the hospital. Never again, life is to short.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I'm with you there. I can't say I've ever been hospitalized over the Cubs, but I used to get extremely upset over each loss. I'm not sure if I've gotten wiser or just plain numb to the pain ;)

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Not that I don't get frustrated with performances like today...

  • I stopped watching and monitor on MLB Gameday. It makes life just a tad bit easier. Well, it's really because I'm at work and don't have access to watch or listen. :D

  • In reply to lokeey:

    That works. Something about not actually seeing the disaster unfold makes it a bit more palatable for some reason.

  • In reply to lokeey:

    That's what I do as well. For some reason, it does make it a little easier to take.

  • In reply to Hawks12:


  • Good post, John. It's hard to sell patience to Cubs fans. My grandfather was patient, and he died of old age 20 years ago without ever seeing the Cubs win a world series.

    It's easy to get caught up in a single game, and it would be nice if we could rebuild while contending, but the bottom line is that this whole season is just extended spring training, as we try to find out who is part of this team's future and who isn't. Wood and Marmol are just keeping a roster spot warm. Dempster has enhanced his value in a trade or as draft compensation. And Garza earns a virtual win -- if we had a bullpen and a better lineup.

    Also, the Nationals are no slouch. This is a fashionable team to pick for the postseason. Come July, we may be surprised that we played them so tough.

  • In reply to Taft:

    Thanks. Sorry about your grandfather. My grandfather lived to be 105 years old and was actually 8 when the Cubs won their last World Series. Trouble is he wasn't a baseball fan. Wasn't even a sports fan. He was a math fan. He probably would have liked today's use of statistics.

    I'm impressed with the starting pitching so far and I'm really excited about seeing Samardzija and Volstad over the next two days. One or both of those guys could end up being long term solutions.

    But I'm still frustrated with Wood and Marmol. No doubt. Will have a scotch tonight and hopefully forget about it :)

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    Offensively I think we are in for mostly a repeat of last season, when the wind is blowing in we are going to have trouble scoring runs. When the wind blows out later this year we should score more often, but we'll see how people like Stewart and LaHair do trying to replace ARam and Pena. 3/4 of their production would likely be acceptable, especially for Stewart.

    Just for kicks I'm simming the 2012 season in OOTP 13 right now. I'll post the results shortly...

  • In reply to Just Win:

    I'm going to say 75-87.

  • John, I keep thinking about that trade that the Cubs weren't allowed to consumate with the Rangers last trade deadline...Marmol to Texas for Chris Davis, Robbie Erlin and another pitcher who were then traded to San Diego (Hoyer and MacLeod) for Mike Adams..We'd be rid of that albatross and all these blown saves...I think Wood will recoup but still, it was at Mr Ricketts insistence that he be retained, not Theo's

  • In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    Weiland maybe? I would have taken that deal. We'd be lucky to get that now.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    we'd be lucky to get a bag of balls for that stroonzo right about now...what a downward turn his career has taken

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    I just simulated the entire 2012 season in Out of the Park 13, which is the newest version of one of the most respected baseball sim games. Of course it's not going to be spot on, but it's about as close as one can get.

    I used the Cubs roster from game 2 of the season with Valbuena in Iowa and Rodrigo Lopez in the bullpen.

    I used the lineup and rotation that Svuem announced a few days ago...

    Dejesus/Barney/Castro/LaHair/Soriano/Stewart/Byrd/Soto/Pitcher vs rhp


    Dejesus/Barney/Castro/Soriano/LaHair/Byrd/Baker/Byrd/Soto vs lhp (I know Stewart hasn't been called a platoon player yet but I expect Baker will get the majority of starts at 3b vs lhp)

    Rotation was Garza/Dempster/Samardzija/Volstad/Maholm.

    Bullpen was Marmol/Wood/Camp/Russell/Dolis with Lopez and Castillo rounding things out.

    I turned injuries off for all teams and ran through a quick season. I did not call up Anthony Rizzo or Brett Jackson. I wanted to see what this team would do.

    So the results....

    The Cubs finished pretty much as everyone expects, 74-88, in 4th place in our division.

    The Central Division winners were Milwaukee (MLB best 102 wins), followed by Stl (who did not make the playoffs), then Cincy, Chicago, Houston, Pittsburgh rounds out the bottom with 66 wins.

    KC had the fewest wins in MLB with 64.

    The World Series winner was Texas, defeating Atlanta 4 games to none. (The Angels, with Pujols and other $$$ free agents finished 80-82. Ha)

    Cubs highlights:

    Garza, Dempster, and Samardzija tied for the team league with 12 wins each.

    Dempster struggled though, with a 5.25 era.

    Garza, Samardzija, Volstad, and Maholm had ERA's between 3.04 and 3.59. (Samardzija and Maholm each were 3.04)

    The bullpen was awful (haven't we seen some of that already?)

    Marmol was the only RP with an ERA under 4.21, 2.76.

    Wood 4.81
    Camp 4.21
    Lendy Castillo pitched 45 innings and had a 1.40 WHIP and a 4.40 ERA, more than respectable for a 5th round pick that didn't get a lot of work

    However, James Russell was the worst pitcher on the staff with an ERA over 7 and 1.63 WHIP, all in relief, in 46 ip.

    Offensively there were some surprises as well...

    Dejesus did not rebound, hitting .233/.308/.355, scoring only 75 runs while leading off the entire season.

    Barney hit 4 hr's, 49 rbi, while hitting .251/.290/.346

    Castro 5 hrs, 90 rbi, .319/.355/.459

    LaHair 25 hr's, 91 rbi, .233/.312/.407

    Soriano 32 hr's, 100rbi .247/.296/.478

    Stewart 24 hr's, 70rbi ..253/.318/.489

    Byrd 13 hr's, 69rbi, .232/.285/.348

    Soto 18 hr's, 46 rbi, .217/.327/.365

    What a mostly horrible season, which isn't too surprising, but the averages by Byrd and Barney are surprisingly low. Castro's hr totals are lower than most of us are expecting (nobody is expecting 20 hr's I don't think but at least 10-12 is what I expect). Stewart's average is higher than I expected, but he didn't face many lefties.

    74 wins, which is surprisingly what I've been saying all off season, 74-77 wins, around there.

    I want to try this now with Jackson and Rizzo in the everyday lineups all season, and with Randy Wells in the bullpen instead of Rodrigo Lopez, and see what difference, if any, that makes. Back soon with those figures.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    I was close! Good stuff. Thanks Just Win!

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    I meant Rule 5 pick for Lendy Castillo in that post above.

  • my first glance at the 2012 team was today, and the most impressive thing was the way the Wash team stayed focused and Dave j pulled the right strings to keep the game close. My sense is that the league will quickly learn that in a close game that you have a shot as the cob pen is not dependable.

    did not like the lahair 1 swing on an and thought that Garza is showing al tendencies by not being able to lay down a bunt on 2 occasions.

    easy to see this configuration of cub players will lose 90 plus games in 12.

    no matter ...the rebuilding is just beginning and this yr is step 1.

  • In reply to JK1969:

    Garza does not help himself at all at the plate or on defense. In fact, I tweeted that he fields as if he's on roller skates.

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    OK, results for the second simulation of the 2012 season are in.

    Texas beat Cincy 4-2 to win the World Series.

    As for the Cubs, I made 3 changes to the roster. Rizzo and Jackson took Mather and Byrd's spots on the roster. Rizzo started at 1b and Jackson started at CF. Randy Wells was in the bullpen instead of Rodrigo Lopez.

    The results: 73-89. Previous sim had them at 74-88 with LaHair and Byrd in the lineups instead.

    Rizzo hit 36 hr's, 109 rbi and .236/.302/.471
    Jackson 19 hr's, 65 rbi, .240/.319/.408

    So both guys did a little better than LaHair and Byrd in the previous simulation. Rizzo's batting average surprised me, I figured it would be more like .260 or so.

    In this game they list players from 0 to 5 stars, with half star increments as well, for talent.

    Rizzo was a 1.5 out of 4.5 maximum before the season began.

    Jackson was 1 star out of 4 stars before the season began.

    With a full season of experience Rizzo improved to 3 stars out of 4.5 and Jackson to 2.5 out of 3.5.

    The other hitter's slash lines were about the same for each simulation.

    There were a couple of big changes for the pitching staff, though.

    The bullpen was much better.

    James Russell had an ERA of 2.82 compared to over 7 in the last sim.

    Ryan Dempster had an ERA of 3.19 instead of over 5 in the last sim. Dempster also led the team with 15 wins.

    What does it mean? Nothing, it's just a sim and a way to kill some time on a Saturday night, but it was surprisingly consistent (in only two sims) of low batting averages for the entire Cubs team. I hope that's not accurate.

  • oh, and typing on a touchpad is demonstrating my early growing pains learning new technology.

  • I'm trying to take the comments with a grain of Salt because it's April. And everyone overreacts in April. But the panic and screaming over Wood and Marmol is so far past pathetic I can't see it in the rearview mirror. Quoting Professor Hand "is everyone on dope?"

    Nobody in these posts is, after 2 games, proclaiming that the Cubs starting rotation is set and that the north siders are going to have 162 straight Quality starts. but the Starting pitching was just as emphatically good as the bullpen was bad... And I still don't think Woody pitched bad. In fact, John Arguello's squire tom Loxas tweeted during the game that he thought Wood was dealing. Maybe that Espinosa pitch was a little flat. But if you just go through the game and figure if the pitcher gets hit that he must suck and the hitters don't get any credit, well you're just not very good at watching baseball....

    Again, I'm not excusing Wood and Marmol. They've blown it and they have to get better. But good lord it's two games. two fricking games. if this was a concert the band would be 1 quarter of the way through the 1st song. if this was Star Wars the damn words would still be scrolling up the screen, and some you would be walking out? Let the season breathe just a little, JUST A LITTLE, before going all paranoid and doing Cub fan Sh*t that makes us look like the dumbest bunch of hayseed fans in the country.

    This whole winter i read nothing but praise for "doing it the right way" and "being willing to watch the rebuild and not have any anxiety because this season wasn't the important one." and the very first bump in the road and it's Al Yellon's house of pain......I came to this website to get away from that.

    Right now, the only thing i see that is worrisome is Wood and Marmol are off to bad starts. That's it, last year this time, there were tons of problems. Dempster had a horrible start, Garza couldn't pitch in the cold (or was it heat?) the fielding was the worst in the league, and other than Soriano and Castro, nobody could hit .200. Right now the early signs point to this team being a hell of a lot more interesting 9 and a lot more fun) than last years team. Please don't ruin it by being the same ol wallowing-in-our-own-self-pity fans.....

    Hey, has anyone seen Caldwell? I figure he still needs a week or two to dry out from the Kentucky win last week. But some signs of life or proof that he didn't drown in a Whiskey river or get eaten by a Badger or married to a redneck would really take a load off my mind......

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    In reply to felzz:

    An attitude change is needed by most Cubs fans, imo. In the past many of us, including myself, would just say something like, "well, it's only 2 games into the season." But is it really? We're going to give Marmol a pass because it's ony 2 games into the 2012 season. Is it really?

    Marmol's career is much longer and it's pretty obvious over the past 2 years to see he's losing it. This guy just can't throw strikes, period! And professional hitters know this! His slider used to be a knee buckler and now he can't get it over the plate.

    Again, professional hitters know this! So they do what professional hitters do. They will sit and wait for that one fat fastball that Marmol must throw over the meat of the plate and they do what professional hitters do. They smack the hell out of it!

    So let's just give the hitters all the credit and excuse Marmol. That's typical "old school" Cubs fans talking. And I am more than willing to step up and call a spade a spade. Marmol sux and we're stuck with him.

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    While it's too early to panic in general, I agree to some extent on Marmol. There's no doubt there should be some concern about him considering how he finished last year. He no longer gets the benefit of the doubt he's gotten in the past.

  • In reply to felzz:

    Great stuff Felzz!

    Agreed that Wood was actually decent. He got those two quick out and quickly got to two strikes on Espinosa. Just couldn't put him away. Give Espinosa some credit there. One of the other 2 hits was a broken bat single. Tough luck for him but no reason to panic.

  • Although the cubs have 1st 2 games, I thought today's game was interesting to watch as a Cub fan. I professed that enjoyed seeing the beginnings of the seeds starting to sprout ever so slowly toward a new future.

    Also, as I indicated earlier, Dave J has a very good and smart Wash team that looks to be coming into their own.

    Not sure how long before they are a serious challenger in the NL east, but their days are as a weaker team are behind 'em.

  • Good points are made by John and Felzz. You have to give the hitters some credit and Wood and Marmol aren't part of the future anyways. There were some positives in the game like good base running,two out hits and another solid game from the starter. Don't get me wrong it was depressing as hell to watch the end of the game unfold but it's a good test for Sveum to see how he handles it though I am sure right now it's a non-issue from his perspective. I doubt he's the kind of manager that's going to be swayed by a couple of losses or the fans and rightfully so. I think Wood will be fine and it would be in the Cubs best interest to get Marmol right if possible and to get some kind of return on him later. They have such precious few assets and they need to try and get everything they can out of what they have. Dolis looked good, lets see him do it consistent basis for awhile and if Wood and Marmol don't come around and Marmol looks like a lost cause I am sure Dolis will get more opportunities at the end of games. There are no sacred cows on this team nor should there be but it's going to be a balancing act all season between winning games and long term concerns.

    Well as John said we have Samardzija and Volstat the next two games and that should be interesting. I also suggest the package if you have the means and time to watch minor league baseball. After a tough loss it helps to watch the Iowa Cubs and see Jackson and Rizzo play even if it's not in the majors yet.

  • In reply to draco:

    Thanks Draco! This is a year we all knew was going to be tough so we're going to have days like these. But it's two games. They'll play better -- and we can't forget that we're going to need to measure this team's progress in other ways besides wins and losses.

    Agreed on the MiLB TV by the way.

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