Marmol Out as Cubs’ Closer? And Other News Bits

Carlos Marmol’s days as the Cubs’ closer could be over, for now. Dale Sveum addressed the Carlos Marmol situation after he served up two home runs to the Upton Brothers in the ninth inning of Saturday’s 6-5 loss to the Braves. Kyuji Fujikawa had his first bad outing in a Cubs’ uniform and surrendered three runs in the eighth that cut the Cubs’ four-run lead into a one-run advantage. Fujikawa does not appear to be the primary option to replace Marmol.

Dale Sveum said the coaching staff would talk about the options for the ninth inning. James Russell and Shawn Camp appear to be the first options. When asked what was wrong with Carlos Marmol, Sveum said, “If I knew that, I’d be a genius. When he’s throwing strikes it’s getting hit now too.”

Jed Hoyer met with Dale Sveum after Saturday night’s game.

Ian Stewart

Dale Sveum addressed Ian Stewart’s progress on Saturday and said he could join the team in two-three weeks. Ian Stewart played in an Extended Spring Training game on Saturday, and was able to hit. Stewart DH’d and the Cubs will decide the next step in his rehab process.

ESPN Chicago reported that Stewart is at least two weeks away from returning to the team.

Theo Epstein addressed part of the reason why they brought Ian Stewart back. According to the Tribune, the Cubs felt comfortable gambling on Stewart because of the way Luis Valbuena played last season.

Matt Garza

Matt Garza has re-joined the team and is scheduled to throw his second bullpen session on Sunday after being shut down on February 17. Garza says he feels great and is looking to begin a rehab assignment soon. It should take Garza around 30 days to be ready to pitch in a big league game. If he does not have any further setbacks he should be able to reach his goal … Garza is pushing to join the Cubs’ rotation in early May.

June Draft

According to a report from Carrie Muskat, the Cubs have narrowed the list of players they are looking at taking with the second pick in June’s draft.

The report indicated the Cubs have cut their list to six players that include Georgia outfielders Austin Meadows and Clint Frazier. Both outfielders worked out for the Cubs this week and Theo Epstein was on hand to watch Mark Appel on Friday night.

Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod reportedly visited the homes of both Meadows and Frazier.

According to Comcast SportsNet, the Cubs watched Clint Frazier play on Wednesday then held a workout for him the next day.

Oklahoma right-handed pitcher Jonathan Gray and Indiana State southpaw Sean Manaea are also thought to be in the mix for the Cubs with the second pick in the upcoming draft.

News Bits

Donnie Murphy and Ryan Sweeney made their Iowa Cubs’ debuts on Saturday night. Sweeney went 3-for-3 with a walk, a run scored and a RBI.

Juan Carlos Paniagua is still dealing with visa issues and has not reported to Arizona. Paniagua is in the Dominican Republic while waiting for a visa. Baseball America reported that Paniagua will likely receive his visa at some point so he will be able to pitch in the Cubs’ organization but right now there is no timetable for his arrival.

Darwin Barney took batting practice and fielding practice on Saturday. Barney is on track to return from the DL on April 14. The five stitches in Barney’s left knee are expected to be removed this week.

Jeff Samardzija likes the idea of Wrigley Field having a jumbotron and said it is a modern day necessity. Samardzija did not realize that putting up a big screen would be as complicated has it has been.

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Quote of the Day

"Show me a guy who’s afraid to look bad, and I’ll show you a guy you can beat every time." – Lou Brock

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  • Jason Penrod

    I didn’t watch the game because I am out of the country, but somehow I knew Marmol blew it when I saw they lost by only one run. Gotta love being a Cubs fan.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Russell or Shawn Camp?????


    As I mentioned last night, Bosio has been messing with Marmol, and I think, setting him up to fail. Team Theo wants every last remaining “Hendry” Cub outta here.

    How have they set Marmol up to fail?
    1. Marmol is not allowed to call his own pitches. Now what MLB pitcher do you know that doesn’t have the option to shake off the catcher? Steve Stone has some strong opinions about that. He says that if the catcher is going to take the blame at contract time, then fine, he’ll let the catcher determine what he’s going to throw. Otherwise he’ll be the field general on this one. Marmol has to buy a case of wine for Bosio and a case of wine for the bullpen coach every single time he shakes off the catcher.

    2. Bosio and Co. have told Marmol to live primarily off of his fastball. His fastball is still 92-94, but it doesn’t move like his death slider. Marmol rarely gave up HRs in previous years, but the move to using the much straighter fastball has put the HRs back in play.

    3. Bosio has changed Marmol’s arm slot. He has raised it. The result is that the break on his pitches is much less. And batters now have the capability of hitting it.

    My opinion is that I didn’t want Marmol to leave the setup spot back when Mr. Pinella was around. But at that time the closer was one Mr. Kevin Gregg, another one of Mr. Jim Hendry’s head-scratching moves. Lou seemed to have no choice. But Marmol has been miscast as a closer. He was the world’s most effective setup man, and he became a middling closer. And the issue has still not been resolved by a Cubs’ management team that can’t figure it out.

    As for James Russell and Shawn Camp as closer, I have to say that James Russell does not have dominant stuff and has no business whatsoever as a closer. NONE. If you think Marmol is bad, just wait until you watch James Russell throw line drives in the ninth.

    As for Shawn Camp, he is some better than Russell, but he, too, does not have killer stuff. He has no business as a closer.

    The REAL closer is the one that Team Theo paid $9 million to come over here to close: Mr. Fujikawa. What is so hard about having the one you paid $9 million to close games out, actually start closing games out?

    It’s just another Team Theo head-scratcher.

    • Tony_Hall

      Marmol has shown he can’t call his own pitches over and over again. I am also assuming they must like wine in the bullpen.

      Marmol was 94/95 on his fastball last night….location…..location……location. He has no clue where the ball will end up.

      The arm slot was raised because it kept going lower and lower creating no movement. They didn’t make him over the top, but back to 3/4, where he gets the most movement that is sharp.

      Marmol has lost his dominant stuff….you don’t have to blame the people you hate.

      If Fujikawa hadn’t looked bad last night, they would have made him the closer, but now they need him to have a few good outings first, before putting him as the closer. If you already hated Fujikawa, and they made him the closer, you would rail against making him the closer. Russell or Camp is a short term thing, not set in stone for the season.

      • Ripsnorter1

        I do not hate Fujikawa. I want him as my closer.

        • Tony_Hall

          Not Fujikawa but Sveum, Jed, Theo.

          • Ray Ray

            So here the thing that I don’t understand.Weren’t many of these players brought in on short term deals with hopes that they overperform and you trade them for prospect? Isn’t that this blueprint plan that Theo has masterminded? Fujikawa is 38 years old. He was a dominant closer in Japan. If he is not put in the closer role…….does he have much trade value? They need to put Fujikawa in the closers role and hope that he closes 90% or so of his chances. If he performs he will be in demand to a contender to a team like the Tigers for instance. Isn’t this year about maximizing short term assets for long term assets at the trade deadline?

          • Tony_Hall

            I believe that the hope was to put Fujikawa as the closer, but to do it after trading Marmol. They were banking on the Marmol of the 2nd half who was fixed by Bosio after his horrible 1st half to start this year like he finished last year. The best laid plans don’t always work and know they need to call an audible and figure out what to do. If Fujikawa had gone 1,2,3 last night or even given up just one run, this would be easy and it would be Fujikawa time.

          • Ray Ray

            I agree that was plan A. But plan B should be to insert Fuji in there and build up his trade value instead of Marmol.

          • Tony_Hall

            I think they may use the “matchups” line to not say it is Fujikawa, but it will be him soon enough, whether they want him to have another good outing or 2 before making it official. They brought him in to close once Marmol was no longer the closer (they hoped via trade) and to be able to trade him at the deadline in 2013 or 2014.

          • Ray Ray

            he is 38. the time to trade him would be this year. imo

          • Tony_Hall

            Most likely, it would most likely depend on the development of Bowden and Rondon and Cates and McNutt in the minors.

          • Theboardrider

            I Think Fujikawa is in our plans. Marmol is not. The management has done all they can for him. They’re not some evil empire trying to sabotage him. Rip, some of your musings I ponder and think you may be right, this is not one of them. Again you’re letting your feelings toward this regime cloud your good sense. It’s too bad because you know baseball but you’re losing credibility.

          • JimBo_C

            Fujikawa is 33 years old (not 38).
            Takahashi (the lefty) is the older one; he just turned 39.

          • Ray Ray

            Yes you are right. My bad. My point remains the same though. He is a short term asset that should be dealt as soon as he builds up some value.

          • JimBo_C


            Big picture they need/want to build a pipeline of prospective back end of the bullpen guys with some combo of velocity, movement, command and most importantly guts. If they can get this done then they can adopt a “next man up” mentality with hungry young talent that would come at a low cost. Maybe they wouldn’t ever have to overpay for a setup man or a closer again; just let em walk if they get too expensive (New England Patriots style).
            I get your point on Fuji about being a short term asset. He seems like a necessary short term asset right now because they don’t have an heir apparent in the pipeline. Hoping this changes soon with some of these young guys (e.g. Rondon, Vizcaino, Zych, etc.)

        • bluekoolaidaholic


      • Ripsnorter1

        You are dead wrong about the arm angle. Last year–remember his 1st half woes?–pitch F/X said he had RAISED his arm angle and lost movement. It was when he again lowered his arm slot that he had the effective 2nd half.

        Listen to Sveum last night from ESPN:
        Marmol has allowed five runs, six hits, two walks and hit a batter over three relief appearances spanning 1 2/3 innings and the Cubs (2-3) could be forced to go in a different direction at closer.

        “We’re definitely going to talk about it,” Sveum said. “I don’t know whether it’s mechanical, the arm angle or what. When he throws strikes, he’s getting hit now, too.”

        Sure he’s getting hit! You took the slider away, and stuck him with just a fastball! DUH!

        Blame Bosio and Sveum!

        • Tony_Hall

          I am sure I am not as wrong as mixing up Harang and Haren. Marmol’s slider has been gone for the last few years, even before all these bad guys came in to the organization.

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  • Jason Penrod

    I read where Theo went to watch Mark Appel. Has anyone heard whether Boras is going to try and get 1st overall slot money for Appel, even if he falls to the Cubs at #2? It would be awesome if the Cubs turned him down and got the #3 pick in 2014’s draft. Imagine having 2 top 5 picks in 2014… People are saying 2013’s draft class is much weaker than next year’s anyway.

    Heck, keep Carlos Marmol in there as closer… we might have a chance at the number 1 overall next year for Carlos Rodon!

    • Ray Ray

      I really hope they draft Appel. Another college pitcher that they are saying could be drafted 1 or 2 is Jonathan Gray from Oklahoma. I have seen them both and I like Appel. Appel won’t have as much leverage this year since he cannot go back to college like he did this year. Say what you want about Appel…..but you have to have a lot of confidence in your ability to pass up a million dollar contract like he did last year and go back to Stanford. The guy has top of the rotation stuff and I would take him in a heartbeat if he is there.

      • SuzyS

        The question is….who does Houston take first?

        • Tony_Hall

          They will take whoever will do a predraft deal for below slot again.

          The Cubs will draft Appel unless they go with a hitter and then it will be Meadows or Frazier.

          I only see them taking a SP if they feel they will be in the rotation almost immediately, 2014.

  • Ray Ray

    The thing that was lost in last night’s game was the poor situational hitting displayed time after time on this Cubs team. 1st inning DeJesus leads off the game with a double. Castro(being your #2 hitter) gets 2-0. Instead of taking a couple of chances to hit the ball on the right side of the infield….he hacks at the next pitch and grounds out to the left side of the infield. DeJesus cannot advance to 3rd. They still scored because Schierholz got a clutch 2 out hit….but good teams advance a leadoff double to 3rd.

    Then…you have the bases loaded with no outs with the top of the lineup coming up. Do you know Accuscore gave the Cubs a 98.86% chance of winning the game at that point in the game? DeJesus doesn’t work the count very well in this at bat and jams himself hitting a weak grounder and they force the run at home. Castro also swings at a pitchers pitch and hits a short fly ball to CF and Rizzo K’d in 3 pitches. The situational hitting on this team the last couple of years is one of the worst that I have seen.

    • Ray Ray

      When DeJesus came to the plate with the bases loaded. He hacked at the first 2 pitches putting himself in a hole. Swung at a curveball in the dirt for strike one. Whiffed at a fastball for strike 2. And then Castro had a 2-1 count with bases loaded and instead of looking for a pitch to drive since he was in drivers seat….he takes a terrible cut at a 2-1 pitch. Just terrible!

      • Tony_Hall

        And perfect execution would be a great thing. But the other team is trying to keep the Cubs from doing what they want. I would need to re-watch these AB’s to see each players approach for sure. But even the best intentions don’t work all the time in baseball. It isn’t exactly a high success rate game.

        • Ray Ray

          DeJesus swung at 1st 2 pitches. That has nothing to do with what the other team is trying to do. 1st pitch was a ball. Curve in the dirt. That is on DeJesus

    • DWalker

      I only got to see the implosion on TV, listened to most of the rest on the radio and I haven’t really got to see much of any game so far. Is Rizzo looking bad at the plate right now? I heard the comment that his timing is slightly off?

      you have to worry about actually hitting before you can worry about situational hitting.

      • paulcatanese

        From what I saw yesterday I would say his timing is slightly off, and combined with two swings and misses at a slider aimed at his rear foot, to me that means he is not quite seeing the pitch yet, He could not hit either of those with a broom and has to be upset with himself after watching films of his AB’s.
        No question that he is having trouble against lefties, and is being force fed against them hoping he will come around and not end up being used as a platoon hitter.
        As long as he does not lose confidence I agree that its the smart play, one cannot improve from the bench.

  • Thomas Doughty

    Well I’m sorry ahead of time Neil, this should be on the recap from last night but everyone has migrated to this article now. Although fujikawa faltered and marmol was well marmol it was not there fault the cubs had there chances to open this game wide open but did not and when you leave a great team like the braves hang around it will come back. Maybe the shark will pitch a perfect game today I’m feeling something brewing hopefully its not backwards.

  • Tony_Hall

    Fuji time!