Rambling Whilst Honing My Closing Skills

It is sad to look up in the middle of work on a Thursday, see the Cubs are winning 3-0, think, “you know what, this team isn’t all that horrible,” and then check 60 minutes later to see they lost in extra innings thanks to most recent staging of “Captain Carlos’ Walk-A-Thon.”

Sound like your Thursday afternoon? Yea, I can’t quit them either, and since that is the case, let’s get to some ramblings …

  • In the past, every time I saw that a 29- or 30-year old was hanging around AA or AAA, I thought, man, just give it up. I am so glad Bryan LaHair didn’t give up on his dream.
  • Sure, most don’t make it, but for those who have ever had a dream, and been oh, so close, it is tough to walk away.
  • And I find it very cool that LaHair and Mike Morse were minor league teammates with the Mariners organization.
  • I am very glad Sveum addressed the fact that the Cubs need to do something different with the closer situation. At least he is not blind.
  • Per Neil, “Do you think Dempster sat in the corner and said it’s my birthday and I’ll cry if I want to after the game?”
  • I was not happy with Wells’ outing, but I was rather impressed with his maturity. He blamed himself for his demotion. It’s okay for him to be mad as long as he realizes why he is in his predicament.
  • The Cubs have 14 homeruns, LaHair has 7 of them. Not … Good.
  • Any of you guys throw in the high 70’s and have the ability to mix speeds? There may be a job posting in the bullpen sponsored by big Cubs supporters Careerbuilder.com!
  • Starlin Castro is good. And I am very happy about it. That is all.
  • Well, not all, keep him running. Keep sending him. I like to see all of this movement on the base paths, it is not un-Cub-like. And it if fun to watch.
  • Only the Cubs lose a game on a single, a bunt, an error on the throw to first and a sac fly in three hitters. ONLY. THE. CUBS.
  • I still want to see some more power out of Castro, but I don’t want it to be forced. I also like to have my cake and it eat, too.
  • To be honest, I don’t know what that saying really means, and I think it is very stupid.
  • Matty G. and the Shark were at it again this week! I love these two. I mean Matty G. struck out 10 and didn’t give up a run in Philly. It was such a performance.
  • It was good to see Volstad settle down after that rough first on Monday. He is only 25, and has a much bigger upside than Wells. In a season like this, I am okay with him getting his work in, learning, growing and hopefully, improving.
  • I would give Dolis the first try at closer. I am still not a fan of him falling backwards during his release, but he has good stuff, and heck, why not, right?
  • It would be great if Tony Campana could figure out a way to hit .290. How awesome would that be?
  • Does anyone else remember little-known Cub Ced Landrum? I loved him because he could steal any base. Only problem, he was almost never on base.
  • Plus, as humans, how could anyone root against Tony Campana. He has underdog written all over him. Just a great story.
  • After Dolis and Russell fail in the closer role, let’s give Kerry one more try during what is likely is final season. Hey, he threw us a bone for two years, let’s return the favor. Again, like it is going to matter if we give him a shot.
  • #notnegativejustrealistic
  • And finally, your Soriano update of the week: 21 hits, 19 singles. Keep it up, Sori!!
  • And for bullet #22, the Red Sox signed Mark Prior. It’s going to be just ducky out in Boston!

That is it for me today, folks. Let’s hear your thoughts as the Cubs prepare to welcome Magic Johnson’s Los Angeles Dodgers to Wrigley!

And until next time … Stay Classy Cubs Fans!!

Quote of the Day

"Never let the fear of striking out get in your way of playing the game." – Babe Ruth

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  • Mozob

    I think it’s the haircut Marmol sported last year.  Every little kid in my school that has the “Mowhawk” seems to be an all talk, no show type of kid. Ever since he got it cut that way he has been incapable.  haha  Seriously, I have been turning off the games when he comes into the game.  Maybe I’ll get more chances to watch a full game. and a “pitcher” who can throw strikes when he needs to.

  • Ripsnorter1

    My take:

    Marmol is doing this on purpose. Yes, I think he’s blowing games on purpose.
    Here’s my reasoning:

    1. The Cubs have had some players who “threw fits” to get out of Wrigleyville. They were subsequently dealt away for very little in return. And now look at their performances.
    *Z is doing just fine in FL.. QS after QS. His last start was 7 IP with 0 R given up, 1 BB and 5 K.

    *Byrd is doing just fine in Boston. Hitting .297 with 4 RBI in 37 AB.
    That is better than his .070 BA (3 for 43) he had with the Cubs. And Paul mentioned how Byrd was swinging with an arms only approach, unable to reach the outer part of the plate, etc.

    Could Marmol be doing the same? Well….

    2. Marmol was told specifically to throw mostly fastballs yesterday. Pat and Keith on the radio reported that Marmol was told by management to throw at least 50% fastballs, and that he was relying too much on the slider. Then, during his stint on the mound, they also reported that he did not throw a single fastball to the first 5 hitters. Marmol had the bases loaded, a 3-0 count on the hitter, and Marmol threw him a breaking pitch. Keith commented, “I can’t believe it. He just threw him a 3-0 breaking pitch. He has thrown nothing but breaking balls to all of these hitters and he keeps missing the zone.” And of course the wheels came completely off.
    Keith reported “he hasn’t thrown a fastball yet.” 

    I can conclude only that Marmol is doing this on purpose. And if it is true that this was done on purpose, then I expect Marmol to be dealt away shortly with the Cubs paying most of his salary and them receiving very little in return. 

    I think Marmol just wants out.

    • Tony_Hall

      And what did Sveum say after the game…

      “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.”

      • Ripsnorter1

        He’s defying management. I expect he’ll be dealt away soon.

    • gary3411

      Not sure what Moreland was watching, I don’t have the best memory, but I’m 95% positive he started off throwing mostly fastballs early in the counts to the first 2 batters last night, none were close, so he went to the slider, which he just plain has had more command of at least the last couple years, albeit not good command, but better than the fastball.

      • BosephHeyden

         No, those were just flat sliders (you could tell because the radar only showed 87-88 mph).  Marmol threw maybe four fastballs in his entire outing yesterday, and they all missed, too.

        • gary3411

          It’s rather easy to tell the difference whether flat or not. Marmol has never thrown an 88mph slider, I have never even seen 87 that I can recall.

      • gary3411

         I went back to check it out.

        Batter 1: fastball missed, then 4 sliders (1 strike)
        Batter 2: slider, 2 fastballs missed, slider (walk)
        Batter 3: 2 sliders (both strikes)
        Batter 4: 1 fastball (ripped by Bruce, probably a ball up though)

        I really don’t see how Marmol can be blamed for not throwing fastballs. He threw 4 to the first 4 batters and they all were balls, he just can’t throw them for strikes, period.

        • gary3411

           Keith needs to pay attention.

        • Ryan

          Hey threw 14 sliders (You forgot batter 5 where he threw 6 sliders/0 fastballs for a walk) and 4 fastballs yesterday.. Thats not even remotely close to the 50% he was told to throw. Not sure where Keith missed something?

          • gary3411

             I was just confirming that I remember he tried throwing fastballs to the first few batters, obviously when none of them were close he went to the slider excusively, it was his only chance. I would have done the same thing.

            “He hasn’t thrown a fastball yet.” That is a false statement. 4 of first 12 were fastballs and all not close, just wondering where Keith was looking during those 4 pitches is all I was saying, because if I’m down 3-0 I’m throwing the pitch I’ve actually been able to get around the strike zone, and not worrying about some 50% rule.

            Obviously the 50% rule is a generality, not an exact number. He was at 33% (probably higher rate than his season averages) when he came to the conclusion the fastball was not going to work today, so he went slider, he had to.

        • Ripsnorter1

          Where do you get the pitch info?

    • BosephHeyden

       Zambrano and Byrd really didn’t “throw fits”.  Everyone else on the team threw a fit to get Zambrano off the team, and he’s doing exactly the same as he did with us with the Marlins.  It’s only different because, now, we don’t have to listen to the clubhouse stuff in relation to our team (not that he’s had any yet with Miami), and his home games aren’t at Wrigley.  Heck, he even met with management in the off season to see what he needed to do to make the team this year, which a guy like Zambrano isn’t going to waste his time doing unless he actually meant it.

      And Byrd was just off to a slow start.  He didn’t complain (at least not vocally) about the Cubs or their fans to get him out, and showed up to ST ready to play.  I think, eventually, he would have heated up with us.  Problem is, we have guys waiting in to get in the lineup in the outfield that Byrd was blocking, so it makes next to no sense to keep a guy in the hopes that he’ll heat up when you have someone like Tony Campana waiting to get a start.

      Both guys needed to go, it’s just that neither one was forcing their way out of Chicago.  Marmol…I kinda get the feeling he just doesn’t care for the pitching coaches.  I think he got used to Larry, and when Larry left and the other guys wanted him to do different things, he got pissy, kept doing what he was doing, and when there was no one there to correct Larry’s work when it started to not work anymore, we got this.  Coincidentally, Larry is New York’s pitching coach, and it does seem like they need a new closer…just saying.

      • Tony_Hall

        Good thoughts on all.

        The Yankees would not consider Marmol over David Robertson. 

        Robertson is the heir apparent to Mo and is nasty.  

        13.5 K/9 last year and 14.7 this year.

        • BosephHeyden

          Well then, I guess that leaves Robertson’s old spot up for grabs.  All I’m saying is that:

          1)  Cashman, for reasons unexplained, hired Jim Hendry, who thought highly enough of Marmol to give him his big contract.

          2)  For reasons that actually make sense, Larry Rothschild is the pitching coach for the Yankees (because he doesn’t have to develop anyone from scratch), with whom Marmol had his best years.

          3)  The Yankees love bigger named guys.

          If the Cubs media can just, at least, fire up the trade talks, eventually Hendry’s going to say something to Cashman, Cashman will call just out of curiousity, and the wheels can get moving.  Otherwise, we’re just stuck with Marmol.

          • Tony_Hall

            They also have Rafael Soriano.  

            I get the connection with Yankees, but they would be looking for a 7th inning guy, (Rafael Soriano is their other set-up guy) and not likely to pay much of his contract (no one will) or give up any decent prospect.

    • Chadaudio

      I don’t believe Marmol is sand-bagging it.  If Marmol wanted out of Chicago, the quickest way would be as an effective closer that had trade value.  As it is, NO team is going to want him, and he is about to loose his closer job on his own team.

      Plus, I’m guessing his contract has closer-based incentives (saves, etc.).  No, this is all very bad for Marmol and I can’t believe he would do this on purpose.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Who is Matty G?

    • Tony_Hall

      Matt Garza

      C’mon Man!

  • Roland

    I don’t care what Campana’s batting average is.  His OBP is more important.  If he can keep his OBP above .350 I will be thrilled.  A walk, a reach base on error and two groundouts is a great line for Tony.

    • Ripsnorter1

      And 4 SBs.   :-)

      • Roland

        Minimum  :-)

  • cubtex

    Positives- Ryan Dempster has been great so far. Bryan LaHair has been unbelievable so far. Matt Garza keeps getting better. Shark looks like he can be a very good starting pitcher. Maholm had a couple of decent starts after being awful early.

    What does that mean?

    They have 3 or 4 trade chips to try and aquire some starting pitching for next year. The options are to extend Garza and build around Garza and Shark…..or trade Garza for more starting pitching potential. Will Trey McNutt be ready to take a spot next year? He has not been very durable and has been walking too many hitters so you can’t assume he will be ready. Anyone else in the minors? No…
    So, they need to add a minimum of 2 starting pitchers for next year(preferably 3)

    If Dempster agrees to be moved……he will bring back a decent prospect from a contending team. Let’s hope he continues to pitch well.

    Bryan LaHair- He has been a great story but lets face it…….he is a 1st baseman. Why move him to the outfield as a temporary fix? There is only one way for LaHair to go if they move him there which is down and his value will decrease. They have Rizzo waiting in the wings as the future. Again, hopefully a team will need a bat down the stretch and he will bring back another useful piece.

    Matt Garza- I really don’t think they will extend him. I would like to but the Cubs need so much that he will probably be moved for a considerable package of prospects. We just need to hope that Theo makes a better trade for Garza than Tampa did.

    If they extend Garza…..the free agent pitchers who probably might consider signing with the Cubs would be Anibal Sanchez, Brandon McCarthy and Edwin Jackson…. #3 or #4 caliber starters. The question is would a rotation of Garza Shark McCarthy Maholm and Travis Wood be a playoff team?

    Too bad there isn’t another Yu Darvish available next offseason.

  • Michael

    With Mariano out for an extended period of time, and the Yankees needing starting pitching and bullpen depth, is it possible that Cashman comes calling about the following:

    Phil Hughes


    Larry coached both of them last year and it fills Yankee needs. Also might help Hughes to get out of New York

    • cubtex

      I would hope that a package of Dempster and Marmol would bring back more than just a Phil Hughes.

    • cubtex

      Someone from the Yankees who I would take a chance on would be Joba Chamberlain. He obviously is not in good with the Yankees after the trampoline issue. He is fully recovered from Tommy John and is out of the walking boot. He is a power bullpen arm that they need and needs a change of scenery.

      • Ripsnorter1

        Yanks in a world of hurt right now in the pitching dept. Garcia has been stinking up the joint. Hughes hurt. Joba out. Ineffective pitching everywhere. Now Rivera goes down. They need to trade for a completely new pitching staff. 

        And Shawn Camp is untouchable. LOL

  • paulcatanese

    Who calls the pitches? Sveum dosent, Marmol dosent. that leaves one person, the catcher.I have not seen Marmol shake a pitch off.
    As everyone has noted Marmol cannot throw strikes and the other teams know it. I believe if a hitter swung at the first one or even two pitches from Marmol they would be fined.
    Absolutly no reason to swing until you have two strikes. They proved that yesterday.
    The mentality to beat Marmol is simple, throw me a strike, I’ll take two and then take my chances, the odds are in my favor.

    • cubtex

      Marmol throws what he wants and that is why Sveum came down on him and just took him out of the closer role. He doesn’t trust his fastball and that is why he is throwing mostly sliders.

      • paulcatanese

        I have known pitchers who have done that, but not with a lot of success. That was my other thought on Marmol, that Soto just said “throw what you want” and
        as seen without any consitantcy from Marmol  it hasn’t worked.
        And if memory serves me right,I think Quade did the same thing last year and it only lasted 2 games and Marmol was back out there.
        Using Dolis as the closer brings to mind, will Sveum give him the same amount of leeway that Marmol has had to see if he can close?
        If so, Dolis has a lot of ways to mess up before taking him out of that role.
        And if Sveum dosent back this up he will lose a lot of credibility. (if he hasn’t already).

    • http://twitter.com/Golfnut70Bob OttawaBob

      Paul, the other night when Marmol did pitch well, he shook off a ton of pitches. Not saying that led to his success, just saying he shook off Soto.

      • paulcatanese

        Well if he shook Soto off and then came back with the
        original pitch that Soto called for(often done to confuse hitters and runners) then the success would have been Soto’s. Many times it’s the second sign,third, or back to the first. So it could be in fact that Soto was calling the pitches. No one knows because the sequence is between pitcher and catcher.