No value in Marmol closing for Cubs (Update: Marmol removed from closer role)


Per David Kaplan, Marmol has been told he is no longer the closer. Russell and Dolis will share duties. Marmol’s role is as of yet undefined.

Some big decisions are coming for this Cubs front office.

The biggest may be when they approach Tom Ricketts about eating some more money. This is probably something all parties realized was going to be the case at some point.

They hoped against hope that players like Marlon Byrd, Carlos Marmol, and Alfonso Soriano could somehow get off to hot starts and prop up their trade values.

It’s not happening.

Byrd got off to a miserable start and didn’t net much at all in return. That isn’t to mention the Cubs had to eat all the remainder of his contract.

If anything Marmol and Sorinao have lost value since the season began.

There was quite a debate today regarding Marmol and the closer role. I’ve mentioned before that he isn’t Dale Sveum’s first choice to run out there. However, he understands what the front office is trying to do.

I think that plan may have come to and end during the ninth inning of Thursday’s game. The jig is up.

You have heard all about how this season isn’t about wins and losses.That may be true but there is no reason to reason to throw way wins either. Sveum can‘t expect the rest of his roster to be held accountable if he can’t hold certain players to the same standards.

We have also heard (ad nauseum) about how you have to try and squeeze any trade value out of guys like Marmol. I’ve got a one-word response.


Marmol isn’t going to get you anything really. Just look at what they got for Sean Marshall, who was arguably their best trade chip. Add to that Marmol’s contract, and his now public confidence crisis.

Apparently Sveum and his staff have been upfront with Marmol, telling him to rely less on his slider. However Marmol doesn’t have the confidence to throw his fastball, much to Sveum’s dismay.

“It’s the same story again,” Sveum said. “Throwing 3-0 sliders (to Votto) when you have three-run leads, that’s just not acceptable. Nothing else can happen except a two-run homer, and nobody is on base. So we have to somehow make some adjustments there. We have to throw fastballs in these situations.”

“To tell you the truth, I don’t know. It’s a confidence factor or something,” Sveum said. “We’ve talked about it, and when he gets out on the mound, things change.

You just can’t have a closer who walks people. The Cubs know it; the rest of MLB knows it. Do you really think someone is going to give you anything for either Marmol or Soriano? Do you really think someone is going to take on a dollar of either contract?

The best the Cubs can hope for is Marmol gets more comfortable out of the closer role and convince some team to take a flyer.

A flyer that will still have Mr. Ricketts paying the freight.

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  • The Sveum quote is almost as maddening as the performance. Because throwing more fastballs is the key to turning it around. AND HE WON'T DO IT!!! It's clear the coaching staff has talked to him about it.

    It's a shame because a 4-2 road trip would have been exactly what this team needs. Especially when you consider how good the starting pitching has been.

    But you can't keep asking the pitching staff to do what they're doing and trust Marmol to close. He needs to be removed. Sadly, the two best options to close are in the starting rotation.

    I still wouldn't do anything rash. The only time you could conceivably trade him is at the deadline. And there should be plenty of mop up innings. Afterall, Chris Volstad is still on the staff..... But he needs to throw his fastball. I'd almost make a rule, you can't throw your slider till you get strike 2. And if he's not going to do it, then he becomes Lendy Castillo.

    While he simply can't close, the truth is he's given a lot of good years to this club, and the club owes it to exhaust every avenue to get him right. And as furious as everyone is right now, the obvious first step is to do whatever they can to get Marmol to throw his effing fastball....

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    In reply to felzz:

    felzz, I still think Volstad has upside. Now he may never reach it, but it's still there. If you take away the one bad inning he seems to have everytime out, his numbers are actually pretty good. Also, tall pitchers like him often take longer to reach their potential because it's just harder for them to find consistent mechanics. People forget that he is only 25, but he was 21 when the Marlins brought him up, and based on his minor league numbers, a case can be made that they rushed him.

    I think the organization did a good thing bringing Sutcliffe into spring training to mentor Volstad. If there is one guy who knows what Volstad has been through, it's Rick. They have similar body types. They're also both first round picks, and they also throw similar stuff.

    I also think Bosio was right to add a four-seam to Volstad's aresenal. Sutcliffe was very successful mixing the two types of fastballs. Volstad seemed to be able to command it in spring training, and it was a few ticks faster than his two-seamer.

    Volstad, like Marmol, could stand to throw his slider a lot less. In all of Volstad's starts this year, when he was getting hit hard, it was almost always a slider or a change-up. With his two-seamer and his developing four-seamer, that slider and change-up should be something he just shows every so often to keep hitters guessing.

  • It's even more maddening considering that our starting staff gave up 0-1 run in 4 out of 6 of their outings and they still finished 3-3.

  • Is there ANY ANY ANY chance that Rothschild will think he can help Marmol regain his magic in New York, considering the injury that just happened to Rivera?

    ANY chance at all?

  • In reply to Steve4cash:

    I think the Yankees make the most sense. No way in hell they want that nut job closing for them. But he could help their depth in the pen if Rothschild can fix his mechanics.

  • In reply to Steve4cash:

    It's possible they could have interest as an 8th inning guy, if the Cubs paid about all of the money left.

  • Tom
    Your point that veterans must be held accountable to hold the rest of the roster accountable is spot on and has been a problem in the past. This season is about winning period! If I want to watch player development I can go to Fitch Park.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Thanks Slug, let's not forget they are trying to build a winning atmosphere as well.

  • I think Marmol could be revived in NY with Rothchild , he was the only pitching coach who seemed to get thru with him. You won't get much for him, but what the hell? It's better that waiving him.

  • Too be honest I don't see much value trading Marmol at this point. Obviously, he needs moved out of the closer spot yesterday. But he isn't in the same situation like Byrd, Soriano, or Soto where he is blocking a spot for younger players. What's the point in trading him and eating all his salary for a marginal prospect like they have obtained in their other deals recently? Hopefully he can get fixed and go back to the nastiest RP in baseball and help the team next year when they are competing.

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    Tactical necessity sometimes trumps the strategic plan for short periods of time, and I think this is one of those cases. As nice as it would be to get an even higher draft pick and greater share of the draft bonus pool, you can't just give wins away. If you do, you will lose the team and the fans because both will begin to believe that management and ownership doesn't care about winning at all. The last thing you want is Cubs minor leaguers coming into a poisonous atmosphere.

    It is one thing to let veteran with bad contracts play to try to increase their trade value, but when it becomes apparent, as is the case with Marmol in particular, that this specific part of the strategic plan has miserably failed, you have to cut your losses. If given a choice between watching Marmol blow saves and watching Dolis blow saves, I will take Dolis. At least there is the chance Dolis will get better. As for Marmol, he has shown me all I need to see.

    It is pretty obvious that his manager and his pitching coach are trying to get him to use his fastball more, and he isn't listening for whatever reason. Because of that, it's time for him to go.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    You make some very good points. I agree that a closer can make a team and fans mad and lose faith like nothing else. But if they aren't able to get anything back for him, and have pay his salary to move him, why not try to revive him to what he use to be in the not so long ago past, a setup guy with the nastiest stuff in the league.

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    In reply to JR Cubbies:

    Also, I don't buy the argument that, because of his contract, he has to play. These are not the Oakland A's that can't afford to eat the salary. These are the Chicago Cubs, and they can afford it. So again, why waste time and effort on someone who just won't listen.

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    In reply to JR Cubbies:

    The good news here is that the bullpen, whether it be closer, set-up, middle or long, is one of the easiest things on a team to fix. So why bother with a guy who doesn't want to listen to what his manager and coaches have to say.

    There is no physical issue here. His fastball is plenty good enough. It's all in his head. I simply think there is a point you have to stop coddling him, and this organization has a history of doing such things with it's veterans.

    He is a head case, but he is a head case at a position that is easily replaced. I have no time for him if he doesn't want to listen.

  • It's a long season, and you can't get too frustrated about one game. The good news is that the Cubs who are losing games are the Cubs who are on their way out of town. Marmol blew the save. Soto struck out with the bases loaded and one out. They'll both be gone by June, I'd wager.

    And like Marlon Byrd before them, their departures will allow the Cubs to add younger, more dynamic players from the farm. Maybe that's Welington Castillo and Jeff Beliveau. As these changes occur, the team will be more exciting to watch and there will be a sense of momentum. Everyone will see that the Cubs are getting better.

    That's the narrative the front office wants not only for the mental makeup of the young players but to make the Cubs attractive to free agents next winter. The front office owed it to Ricketts to do their best to showcase the bloated contracts in hopes that a big market team would pick up part of those salaries. But to Ricketts' credit, he appears willing to eat those contracts if it means improving the future of this team. And it looks like that's exactly what he'll have to do.

  • In reply to Taft:

    And I think it's that time. I really feel this team could at least be competitive without some of the dead weight around. It will help development as well as the gate IMO.

  • It may be getting to delusion at this point but if Marmol would have come out with the velocity he has this year and throwing strikes at least some of the time, he would have had value. There's no question about that. Marmol had a bad half season and if he would have bounced back to where he was at the beginning of last year, he'd have had value. Before he went into a funk last summer, one exec called him one of the top 7 closers in baseball.

    His ERA at the start of July last year was 2.35 and he had 16 saves. That's not that long ago. The Cubs owed it to themselves to find out if he could recapture that kind of effectiveness.

    I think it's easy to say it now because he hasn't performed, but a good April and everyone would have been talking about trading him while his value was up again. The Cubs had to take that chance. The alternative was just to eat his contract before the season, which might seem like a great idea in hindsight, but back then it would have been lunacy to do it without at least seeing if he could rebound.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    That is true but like I said, jig is up. He has same issues he had last year and needs a change of duty or scenery. No GM is going to give you much now or in the future.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    I agree it's about reached that point right now. I'm just saying that wasn't the case at the beginning of the year. There was still reason to expect he could regain some value. It turns out they were wrong, but they had to find out. It's just too bad it had to cost the team some wins.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John can we add a poll on what to do with Marmol please?

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Sure. I'll think of some options and have something up soon, then I'll retweet...

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Just to be clear. I totally agree with running these guys out there up until now. It's just really clear at this point. The ad nauseum I was talking about was the crap I heard on Twitter yesterday that you still have to stick to it. NO!

  • As one of the head cheerleaders for the "let's give this time to maximize value for our inevitable trades," your well written article is nonetheless pretty hard to counter Tom!

  • In reply to Ryno2Grace:

    Thanks, and I wish it were not the case. I wish we could get something for these guys but truth is, it's time to get real and realize Jimbo left you with some real bad paper. Good news is most of it up next year :)

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    I think we should see if the Marlins want Marmol. Wouldn't we all like to see Zambrano actually do what Dempster felt like doing yesterday?

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Zambrano, by the way, not pitching too badly but FIP shows he's getting a bit lucky, it's actually a full point higher than Volstad's.

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    Ok so we dump Marmol and go with who? Dolis?

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    In reply to Patrick Fahey:

    Sorry for asking a question that was all ready answered!

  • In reply to Patrick Fahey:

    I really like Dolis in that role for the future so let's see what the kid has.

  • i know this isnt gonna be very popular, but i think we should give marmol the 8th inning role. not too long ago he was viewed as an elite closer and he still has the stuff to be one, he just needs a mental adjustment. i think we should keep him in the 8th inning role for the rest of the year and let him work out the kinks, then if he succeeds, maybe someone bites in the offseason and we only end up paying half of the 9.8 mil hes owed next year. if he doesnt succeed then itl be easier to eat 9.8 mil than the 16.8 mil that we'd have to eat between now and next year. if no one wants him this offseason u give him the 8th inning role next year and try and deal him at the deadline. i know everyone wants him gone, but he has been pitching well in non save situations, why not take advantage of that, even if we are overpaying by several mil, we're not gonna get anything for him now anyways .

    we should have sold high this offseason, but there was no way for us to know that he'd be this bad. i think it would be a terrible idea to sell this low, because from where hes at right now there can only be improvement.

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    I wouldn't have too much of an issue with this. Maybe he just can't handle closer role anymore? He could garner some value if he responded to the change and someone would look at him as 8th inning guy on a contender. Never know until you try.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    He's actually done well in non-save situations. Maybe it's in his head.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think it is, and maybe this could be the real way to prop him up.

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    Jsh...,I disagree with the rest of the year stuff. Sveum is the manager, let him decide where to put Marmol now, after his demotion message. EARN IT, I think, should me a message sent here to the whole team. How much Shock Marmol needs to get his attention back is Sveums big test.

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    Can Marmol be optioned to AAA or is he out of options? Thanks!

  • In reply to Chris Trengove:

    He can actually be sent down but it's going to take a lot for it to happen. First they have to put him on waivers, but it's the revocable kind. In other words, the Cubs can pull him off waivers if someone claims him.

    The crazy thing is, he'll probably pass through because no team will want to pick up that salary. But....

    Then even if he clears, the Cubs need his OK to send him down. Players just don't give that okay unless it's for rehab purposes. There's no reason to expect Marmol would either and there's no way to force him to do it.

    In other words, they can try, but it won't happen.

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    Sorry! I mean Tom or John! Thanks :)

  • Added an update. It's official. Marmol is out as closer, Dolis/Russell in. Marmol role still undefined for now.

  • John, let's all take a deep breath. Growing pains, deep growing pains toward OUR GOALS for this year...,see which players can do what, then make Priority Changes.,AND..,see if OUR NEW MANAGER can handle all this. At this very moment, after TELLING Marmol to throw more fastballs, and Marmol choosing to do something else, Sveum, at least,doing the right thing. Now lets see what both Marmol and Sveum do from THIS point. You talk about changing climate..,this could be a BIG step...,and a good one. It does, however, put big pressure on Dolis and Russell. Time to STEP UP. opportunity knocks. (apparently Kerry Wood doing little to influence Marmol down in that bullpen)
    Comments people???

  • In reply to rakmessiah:

    Agreed. We knew this was going to be bad and a lot of us are reacting, including Sveum, to an outing that sort of was the straw that broke the camel's back.

    Got to keep an eye on the (long-term) prize.

  • Damn! Just sucks that it had to be this way. I keep thinking that the Cubs could actually have a better record than what we see.

  • I'm at work and don't have time to read all comments, so here's my idea if it has not already come up. Yankees need starting pitching and bullpen depth (I'm not suggesting a closer). How about Dempster and Marmol for the best package we can get from the Yankees. Dempster probably is gone by trade deadline or next year for sure. Address the Dempster issue before we become beggers.

  • In reply to Moonlight:

    Dempster is 10 and 5. He isn't going anywhere.

  • In reply to Moonlight:

    That's plausible. Also hearing Detroit really likes Dempster.

  • If Dempster is included we will to have good value back.

  • "Then even if he clears, the Cubs need his OK to send him down. Players just don't give that okay unless it's for rehab purposes."

    Mental rehab doesn't count?

  • Dempster deserves good (fair) value. Marmol deserves fair value. Considering he would be a setup man and is owed abt 16 million for this year and next, he's is drastically overpaid. Therefore, our return on him would depend on how much of his pay we retain. Our next best option is to keep him as our own overpaid setup man. All other options that I can think of stink. And with my suggestion, he settle the Dempster issue before it becomes an issue and we are out of leverage.

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    I'd just like to thank Jim Hendry once again for giving out these ridiculous contracts to these pieces of shi+!

  • Just be thankful Marmol, Dempster, Zambrano money all come off soon.

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    Agreed! Though we still have Marmol for this year and next, and Soriano for this year and the next 2.

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    Dempster is a stand up guy, and he is still an effective pitcher to boot. He and his family also love Chicago. It wouldn't surprise me if he were willing to take a team friendly deal to stay with the Cubs. In a best case scenario, ownership and the front office set down with Dempster and his agent in the weeks leading up to July 1st. They lay out their vision for the team going down the road, and how Dempster could help that vision by agreeing to be traded. They also leave the door open by expressing a wish to resign him in the off season, and expressing a desire that he still be a part of the organization after his retirement. Dempster is a team player, and his family is also settled in a town they love with doctors and nurses they trust to take care of his sick daughter. It might just work.

    Dempster is the perfect stable pony for the Cubs young pitchers, and I also think he is going to make a great pitching coach someday. It wouldn't surprise me if he made a decent manager either.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Yeah, I like this idea. Of course, that good will may not last through a negotiation. Dempster may think the Cubs are taking advantage of his loyalty by low-balling him, etc. What number / length would be a fair way to split the difference: a contract that won't be a millstone in the future but which is still in the neighborhood of Demp's market value?

    He's making $14 million this year. If he stays strong through the year, it might be worth investing another $15 million over two years, which would be a good bargain in this market. Besides, it's not like we have a boatload of great starting pitcher prospects who Demp is blocking. It would buy time so that we can afford to bring up the new generation of starters on their own schedule.

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