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Chicago Cubs week one: Scout talks Samardzija, Marmol

Chicago Cubs week one: Scout talks Samardzija, Marmol

There is only one week in the books for your 2013 Chicago Cubs.

One week, but we still had plenty of story lines both on and off the field. For starters will the Wrigley renovation deal be announced tomorrow before the home opener? The stadium news may overshadow the game itself and maybe for good reason.

The Cubs (2-4) will limp into the opener tomorrow after getting swept by the Braves. It didn’t have to be that way as they could have easily been (3-3). The starting pitching was terrific and should have faired better. Bill Parcells however, always believed you are what your record is.

Many Cubs fans figure wins and losses aren’t what is paramount for this season, but rather the big picture development. Let’s look at two issues that concern both the present and future.

Is Jeff Samardzija becoming an ace?

This was a guy I wasn’t sure about being in the rotation last spring, who has shown glimpses of being an ace of late. Samardzija was everything I wanted in an opening day starter and was dominant for most of his follow up start. He already has convinced me among many that he can pitch at least at the top of the rotation, how about the very top?

I asked one top NL talent evaluator about that very subject.

“He (Samardzija) still has to prove he can be consistent, he has enough stuff to be an ace. He had too many roles at the beginning of his career but just maybe he is settling in.”

Samarzijia has seemed to be settling into a leadership type role as well. Some may have thought he got caught up in the strikeout record thing but he says that wasn’t his focus at all.

“I just got to finish the ballgame out, especially with a lineup like that,” said Samardzija, who was charged with four runs in 5.2 innings. “You take a deep breath. That team’s going to win 95 games this year. So you need to lock it down the whole time you’re on the mound.”

“Oh, I’ve seen it (Kerry Wood 20K game) about a hundred times in the clubhouse, so I knew what was going on,” Samardzija said. “(But if) you strike out a lot of guys, the pitch count gets up and as a starter your big job is to pitch deep into the game and keep it close. And I failed to do that. So strikeouts or no strikeouts, it doesn’t really matter.”

No matter whatever else happens this season, Samardzija has become something you watch die-hard or not.

What do the Cubs do with Carlos Marmol?

I totally get what the Cubs front office was trying to accomplish by letting Marmol open the season as the closer. The jig is now up and his value will probably never be high enough to matter anymore. I’ve long suspected that Dale Sveum was just being the good solider in running Marmol out there and that ended Sunday.

Where the Cubs crazy to think there would be any value left in Marmol?

I again turned to the same evaluator regarding Marmol.

“Hard to trust him, no matter who they have to turn to. His history tells you he is pitch-to-pitch and inning-to-inning. Appears it is a value thing that they had to use him there”.

Gordon Wittenmyer also cites officials from three other major-league teams said he has no trade value and anticipated little this season. Marmol is in the final year of a deal that pays him $9.8 million this season.

John recently laid out a scenario in which Marmol nets the Cubs a Marlon Byrd like return.

Twitter just wont be the same.

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  • Well, remove Marmol from situations that matter, and he actually could be valuable to someone as a setup or middle guy by august or september, if he settles down and puts up the numbers. Cubs could save a million or two, or grab a high risk/high reward guy.

  • It's not that the guy has nothing. He just has lost command and if he can ever get some semblance of that back, he might still contribute. It's hard to understand him, being the veteran he is.

  • It is another sad outcome for Cub pitching which has been snake bitten since Woody srtruck out 20 Stros, which turned him into a SO fiend and ruined his career, The Pryor disaster was all on Dusty IMO. Carlos will never be of any real use to the team, and management must cut its losses quickly and find a closer from within or out.

  • Let's not get too mopey about Marmol. Obviously, it would have been nice if he'd been strong enough to generate value, such that he'd have brought back a nice return in prospects, but Marmol had already begun to fall apart by the time this new front office arrived, and it was always a long shot. Trading vets for prospects was the most trivial part of Theo and Jed's rebuilding project, because it was the one where they had the least amount of control. All they could do was hope that Marmol would be effective, that Garza would stay healthy, that another GM would fall in love with Soriano, etc. Oh, well. When Jed and Theo took over, there wasn't a Herschel Walker on the team -- that is, no player who would convince a rival GM to give away the farm. The $9 mill that Marmol is owed is trivial compared to the windfall of cash that will come through the Wrigley renovation deal. We have some great prospects coming up and a chance to add another elite guy in this year's draft. We never had any reason to hope that Samardzjija could develop so quickly into a potential ace. So we've had some good luck to go along with the bad.

  • In reply to Taft:

    Yes Samardzija is a huge find for this rebuild. I never thought he would be a top of the rotation guy, still not sure he is an ace but he keeps surprising me.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    His slider has really improved. So has his 2 seam FB. All he needs now is consistent split. As long as he can throw 94-97 mph heat with control of his other pitches, games like yesterday are possible.

  • I've always thought it would take a perfect storm to get something big for Marmol. He'd have to pitch very well,especially regarding the walks, you'd need a win-now team with an unproven closer or perhaps an untimely injury from a team with a bullpen that lacks depth, and you'd have to have an old school GM who puts inflated value on closers. But I became concerned when the Tigers who fit most of those categories pretty well, seemed to have no interest.

    The closest the Cubs came to making a deal was for a guy, Dan Haren, that the Angels figured to lose anyway.

    Now you just hope some team has an out of options player and/or perhaps a borderline prospect who's due to be protected from the Rule 5 this year -- it's going to have to be a situation where a team takes on minimal risk.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, the Haren I saw lose 15-0 to the Reds the other day certainly looked nothing like the Haren of 3 years ago. Something doesnt look right with him, seems like hes not pushing off his front leg properly. Maybe his hip or back is a huge issue. I have a feeling Marmol wont be on the 14 Cubs, maybe might even be DLed or released if he cant get things back together.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Interesting. And that's a good point. And it' probably another reason why Angels were wiling to give him up for Marmol.

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    Last year, Marmol's ineffectiveness was tied to his control problems. He was still missing bats, even as he was missing the plate. Once he threw more fastballs, the walks went down and he was pretty good.

    My concern this year is that his pitches in the zone are getting hammered. Look at the HRs by the Uptons; IIRC, both were fastballs with not much movement that were crushed. He's not missing bats this year.

    This is concerning; Marmol was always wild, but it was acceptable because his stuff was so nasty. Is it still nasty? He can get to 94-95 on that fastball so there is hope, but I don't see any amazing movement there

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Even more disconcerting is where both the Uptons homered to. Dead center field both times. It tells me they are not respecting the heater very much, that they think they can look for the slider and still hit the fb. his velocity must not be there,.

  • Hopefully Marmol shakes it off but, we all know even if he settles down, unfortunately he can implode at any moment - and usually in the ninth.

    The Cubs are working toward the ultimate goal and there still is some house cleaning left to do. Similar to the garage sale, the are a few pieces (Marmol, Garza, Stewart) still laying around late Sunday waiting for a buyer or sucker. The time will come when the Cubs either get lucky (Garza) and cash out or just dump the rest on the curb and move on.

    Lets see if we can take advantage of the banged up Brew Crew today! Go Cubs!

  • Let's engage in a little Shadenfreude here to put the Cubs early season into some perspective. Yesterday the AL and NL Cy Young winners from last year each lost their games by identical scores of 13-0. And the Giants best pitcher (Matt Cain) gave up 9 runs in one inning. Might there be some moaning going on in their camps? Of course Cain might pitch a no-hitter against the Cubs later this week.

  • Yesterday on baseball tonight, Curt Schilling said Spellcheck will be a #1 starter before 2013 is over. Say what you might about Schilling from a personal standpoint, but he was a quality big league starter who likley knows talent when he sees it.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Im starting to believe that and its good to hear other people are too.

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    Its unfortunate that the ineptitude of the prior FO resulted in it taking 6-7 years to progress to this point.

    With proper player development, he could've been at this point years ago.

  • I would like to see what Marmol can contribute as a middle releaver before giving him away. By this time Carlos is pretty beat up mentally in the closer role and the opposition knows it. They don't chase sliders and sit on his fastball. He may or may not be helpful in that role as well, but the Cubs have little to lose by finding out.

  • I think the problem was more pitch selection and inability to locate. He started off missing the zone and then when he fell behind, pitched only fastballs. After that many fastballs, the Brave's hitters were likely sitting on the fastball. And then he pitched it right down the middle. Remember he isn't calling his own pitches, since sometime last year. All those fastballs were called by the bench/catcher.

    The cubs want him to become a pitcher that can throw fastball or slider and have an idea where it is going. (Sounds crazy, right?) He started having issues because it seemed like he only felt like he could control his slider. That was fine for a while, since it was such a great pitch. But it has lost some bite at times. Making him reestablish his fastball last year seemed brilliant, when he was throwing it 95 mph+. But not if the Major League hitters know it is coming.

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