Happy Fathers’ Day to all the dads and your dads and grandpas etc. out there! By now you are probably still recovering from the Cubs’ loss against the New York Mets where Carlos Marmol came in and did silly Marmol things in the ninth inning. And how about that David Aardsma? Seems that the Cubs could’ve given him a ring at some point, wonder who thought about doing that, hmmm…
Anyway, I had a fairly good day even with that ninth inning meltdown. I got to sleep in a bit, went to Target to get a few things for our brats before the game, got to hang out with the family, and after the game was over, I went out, walked the dog, talked a bit of baseball with my fellow WSD friends and then played some badminton with the boy before plopping down and writing that humongous sentence with probably way too many commas. Think about it for a bit…the Cubs are now 28-39, just a hair above last place in the National League Central and most likely not going to the playoffs, and you expect me to be super upset about Carlos Marmol blowing a game? Get real. Considering the Cubs are about to head into enemy territory with the St. Louis Cardinals probably slightly miffed that they just lost a series to the Miami Marlins, this next week isn’t going to be too pretty. And just to make things interesting, we’re going to have a guest on our Dreamcast from the fine Cardinals blog, Saint Louis Sports, so check that out.
Given all that, I hope you’ll excuse me for not letting an otherwise meaningless-in-the-grand-scheme-of-things game ruin my Father’s Day.
As for Dale Sveum, who also is a father, I bet that since this is kind of HIS JOB, his Father’s Day is slightly ruined even if he and the front office know that the goal of the season is to continue rebuilding and to get that protected draft pick. Every guy on that active roster has to feel terrible right now, including Matt Garza, who is likely to be traded (although it’d be interesting to see if the Cubs could extend him), after watching a well-earned victory slip away. With the Cubs’ offense only able to muster up three runs, the margin of error was very slim, and Garza could only go seven full. That meant two more innings to go, and with the Cubs’ bullpen, it’s always an adventure.
To reset: Kevin Gregg, the newly appointed closer, was used for the past four days and unavailable. Sure, the Cubs could use him again but the injury risk, ineffectiveness and other kinds of bad voodoo made that a bad decision right off the bat. Negative there.
James Russell was used in the eighth inning. There’s a temptation to use Russell for more than an inning, but bad stuff tends to happen when the Cubs use Russell as an extended reliever. Mauricio and I had a fun discussion about this on Facebook about whether they should have used a different reliever for the eighth and then used Russell as the closer, but we’re not the manager. Not to mention that Russell already has four blown saves so far this year, plus a bad inning against the Mets on Friday. Not as automatic as you would like.
Kyuji Fujikawa is broken. Hector Rondon is inconsistent. Shawn Camp just came back from injury and was warming up earlier before Marmol was called in, but Camp has his own set of issues that may not even be related to the “injury” they used to stash him for two weeks. Blake Parker is inexperienced. Henry Rodriguez is basically Carlos Marmol at 100+ mph. And Carlos Villanueva may not be closer material. The Cubs’ bullpen is not what you would like it to be. At all.
So enter Carlos Marmol, who actually had four straight appearances where he was surprisingly efficient and gave up no runs. These included two against a very good Pirates club (whether you care to admit it or not), the Cincinnati Reds, and setting up for Gregg on Friday against these same Mets. Maybe he has no trade value left and maybe there’s absolutely no reason to trust him anymore, but you can’t argue that he’s been good for the past four outings. Why not?
The issue, and I think Mauricio has a point vis-a-vis our Facebook talk, is that you can pretty much tell if Marmol doesn’t have “it” on any given day. It may be a “feeling” and I realize it’s not very quantitative for a blog group that often touts the stats, but you can see when Marmol can’t locate his slider at all. If that happens it may be necessary to get action in the bullpen right away to set up another fireman to bail out Marmol if Marmol can’t do the job.
The issue with that, and where I think I have a point, is that if Sveum has Marmol in as the closer but has an emergency closer warming up as he’s throwing his final tosses on the mound, then Marmol knows that Sveum has no confidence in Marmol. I believed that letting Marmol go the ninth without a reliever already up to spell him should trouble arise was a show of confidence by Sveum for Carlos, and I support that. I also think that this is the last straw and Marmol will never be allowed to go in a pressure situation again without another reliever warming up in tandem.
It would be great to hear what Dale Sveum was thinking during the ninth inning. This is all speculation on my part, and I find these thought exercises to be fun. But this also illustrates why I couldn’t be a big league manager, especially for these Cubs, because it seems every decision made would be second-guessed anyway. I think I’d be a lot more upset if this team were contending like when they plowed through the National League in 2008 than now, but either way, days like this will happen.
As a final thought, it appears that people on Facebook and Twitter are talking some crazy stuff about Carlos Marmol and his family…and seriously, get a grip, people. It’s just baseball. Re-evaluate your priorities, enjoy your Fathers’ Day and move on.