PROLOGUE: next time you want to say something snide to us about grown men caring too much about a meaningless sporting event, I want you to recall this, then STFU.
It is a little-known codicil that, in the case of Carrie Muskat actually writing something worthwhile on cubs.com, we must follow it up with our own thoughts. It doesn't always happen, but this weekend, as Pitchers and Catchers reported, she gave us this enlightening sliver of Cubs Life concerning Carlos Marmol, our resident Nuke LaLoosh.
Apparently the following happened:
- Marmol was allowed to fall in love with a cut fastball, one that was so miserable that then-Brewer hitting coach Dale Sveum wondered wtf he was seeing, did the right thing by passing said information along to his hitters, who managed to pants Marmol several times the last couple of years. This weekend, when watching Marmol throw said crappy cut fastball, Sveum and new pitching coach Chris Bosio literally laughed at it. This completely corroborates what we all saw last year: a guy who regressed from throwing filthy sliders and high-90s fastballs to some schmoe who threw high-80s cutters that either got hit hard or missed the strike zone.
- Also, the new braintrust noticed that when Marmol did attempt to bring back said hard fastballs, he would "crank his shoulders" to produce power. This not only resulted in poor control, but would appear to also destroy any element of surprise in his pitch selection. Some minor adjustments to level his shoulders allegedly corrected the problems. One might thing that a man would have a hard time adjusting to a new throwing motion, but apparently this adjustment posed little problem with Marmol, suggesting that his 'new' way of throwing is so comfortable and natural, that it is probably the way he should have been throwing all along.
- Marmol led the league in back-to-back appearences, on a 71 win team?!? Granted, they would have been closer to .500 if he hadn't blown 10 saves, but still....81 wins buys you nothing! Certainly not worth abusing your best reliever and one of the highest paid players. What urgency led Mike Quade to keep running him out there? Understood, our bullpen was abysmal, but how difficult is it to realize that back-to-back appearences are not the norm, but something only to be broken out in case of emergency? It was also mentioned in the article that "dry humping" the bullpen will be minimized going forward. This isn't just good news for Lester Strode, who I have heard has never gotten used to all these young guys hanging on him like dogs in heat, but also refers to the practice of having guys warm up, only to sit down because the manager has no ability to manage his staff.
- The fourth and last bombshell in the Muskat article is that Marmol was brought before Theo and Sveum, and it was "suggested that he show leadership" in his role. To any of us who has ever owned a work e-mail account, this is a well-worn euphenism for "stop being a buttwipe".
At first glance, Carrie's post seems like basic ordinary common sense being used in Mesa, which it is. My observation is simply this: just how badly mismanaged have the Cubs been the past two years? Who in hell's name thought it was a good idea to tell Marmol to shelve his normal blistering fastball in favor of a cutter that he couldn't control? Help me here, I never pitched but does a cutter put less stress on an arm than a normal fastball? Nobody could tell that he was tipping pitches? Nobody ever thought about the effects of back-to-backs, or unnecessary warmup sessions?
Yes, the pitching staff was awful last year, but now you know part of the reason why. Quade and last year's pitching coach, who to this day I can't remember his name and don't feel like honoring his existence by googling it - they really did suck, and nobody, not Jim Hendry or anyone else, did anything about it. Many of us sit in our houses in front of our TVs and moan that we could do a better job coaching the team we are watching than the guys actually in charge of the task, and most of the time this is just stupid meatball talk.
But, nope, I think last year, I could have done a better job than Quade, and I think you could have, too. And I don't even really know you. But chances are, yep, you could.