The Cubs have found Carlos Marmol a new home. The Cubs traded the embattled closer to the Dodgers for Matt Guerrier in a deal that also includes a swap of draft picks and financial considerations.
Marmol, who was designated for assignment June 25, will not become the Dodgers’ closer but provide a veteran arm in their revamped bullpen.
The Dodgers will pay roughly $500,000 of the remaining $5 million on Marmol’s contract. Guerrier has about $1.8 million remaining on the final year of a three-year, $12 million contract. Guerrier was designated for assignment on Sunday.
After the Cubs designated Marmol last week, a few teams had expressed an interest in the right-hander, who was 2-4 with a 5.86 ERA in 31 games. He did strike out 32, but also walked 21 and served up 26 hits over 27 2/3 innings.
Marmol, 30, began the season as the Cubs closer but lost the job after the first week to Kyuji Fujikawa. However, the Japanese pitcher had elbow problems and eventually required Tommy John surgery. Kevin Gregg has taken over as closer, replacing Marmol, who had replaced Gregg in that role in 2009. It’s also ironic that Gregg was with the Dodgers in Spring Training, but they released him.
— Carrie Muskat
The Cubs would not comment on a report Monday that the Dodgers are close to acquiring Carlos Marmol in a trade. ESPNChicago.com said two sources had confirmed that the Dodgers were close to acquiring the right-hander, who was designated for assignment last Tuesday after compiling a 2-4 record and 5.86 ERA in 31 games. The Chicago Tribune quoted a source as saying the trade was “expected” to go through but had not been finalized.
Marmol is owed nearly $5 million on his remaining $9.8 million salary.
Marmol began the season as the Cubs closer but lost the job in the first week to Kyuji Fujikawa. However, the Japanese pitcher had elbow problems that ultimately resulted in Tommy John surgery. Kevin Gregg, whom the Dodgers released after a solid Spring Training, was signed by the Cubs and is 13-for-14 in save situations.
Teams have expressed an interest in Marmol since he was designated for assignment. The right-hander has walked 21 and given up 26 hits over 27 2/3 innings this season.
— Carrie Muskat
Carlos Marmol was designated for assignment on Tuesday after the team decided it had enough. GM Jed Hoyer said they have tried to deal Marmol since last August but no takers. The right-hander compiled a 1.52 ERA after the All-Star break in 2012, and opened this year as the closer but lost the job after struggling in the first week. On June 16, he blew a three-run lead in the ninth against the Mets that resulted in a 4-3 loss, made one more appearance last Thursday against the Cardinals, in which he was efficient, throwing 11 pitches (nine strikes), and that was it.
“He had a really good second half last year, and no one bid at the August deadline, and we didn’t have any offers other than someone else’s undesirable contract for ours,” Hoyer said. “There was a lot of talk about trade value and things like that, but that something we’d given up on long ago.
“He did provide value for us pitching in the middle of the game,” Hoyer said. “He had struggles that frustrated people at the end of the game. We held out on this move for a long time in part because with his salary, he was providing solid innings in the sixth and seventh. The decision really came down to it had become a distraction. It became hard to pitch as well as he could because every time he threw two balls, he’d get booed, and I don’t think that’s easy for anybody.
“I think it became difficult for his teammates because there was a little bit of a sideshow mentality to it,” Hoyer said. “We felt it was the right time. It had become a distraction and he wasn’t able to pitch late in the game for us. That was really the decision.”
Dale Sveum said Marmol handled the news Tuesday morning professionally and thanked the Cubs.
Kevin Gregg, who is 11-for-11 in save situations since taking over the job, said he hoped Marmol could find another team.
“He was kind of beating his head against the wall here,” Gregg said of Marmol. “The chance to get that fresh start, I think, will be good for him. He’s a great guy, a stand-up guy. He wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s great with fans. You always see him signing autographs, you always see him interacting with everybody. It’s part of the game. It’s unfortunate. I think he’ll be able to turn the corner and get his feet underneath him.”
In a strange twist, Marmol had replaced Gregg as the Cubs closer in 2009, and now they’ve switched places.
“I could sympathize with him,” Gregg said. “It’s a tough position to be in. When I was in Baltimore last year, it was the same thing for me. Getting my feet underneath me and a fresh start was all I needed.”
Gregg, who began this season with the Dodgers, then was released because they didn’t have a roster opening, knows only too well the roller coaster ride closers go on.
“We do our job and nobody says anything; we don’t do our job, and everyone puts you under a microscope,” he said.
This season, Marmol was 2-4 with a 5.86 ERA in 31 games, and 2-for-5 in save opportunities. Win or lose, save or not, he was always present in the clubhouse to answer questions post-game.
“The guy gave four really, really good seasons to the Cubs,” Hoyer said. “It kind of bums me out when I read some of the comments people make about his career in Chicago because they forget how dominant he was for four years. Frankly, I feel a lot of his ineffectiveness now is related to the fact that he was ridden so hard when he was at his best.
“He gave a lot to the Cubs and had a really good Cubs career,” Hoyer said.
The Cubs now have 10 days to either place Marmol on waviers, release him or trade him. Gregg is hoping Marmol finds a new team.
“I’m excited for him,” Gregg said. “I think it’s what he needed. He wanted to do it here. I think this is going to be good for him. As a friend, I think this is his chance to step back and look at himself in the mirror and say, ‘I can still do this’ and that little breath of fresh air will help him out.”
— Carrie Muskat
The Cubs designated Carlos Marmol for assignment, and selected the contract of outfielder Brian Bogusevic. Marmol, 30, lost his job as the closer after the first week of the season, and was 2-4 with two saves and a 5.86 ERA in 31 relief appearances this season. The game that may have decided his fate was June 16 in New York when he blew a three-run lead in the ninth in a 4-3 loss to the Mets.
“I feel great,” Marmol said last Thursday. “I’m waiting for the opportunity to pitch. We’ll see.”
He did get in a game in the eighth that day against the Cardinals, and retired the first two Cardinals batters before Pete Kozma reached on an infield single. Pinch-hitter Ty Wigginton then lined out to Marmol to end the inning. It was efficient, which is how Marmol had been in four outings prior to the June 16 implosion.
— Carrie Muskat
Carlos Marmol has not pitched in the Cubs’ three games since he blew a three-run lead in the ninth against the Mets on Sunday, which resulted in a 4-3 loss to New York.
“I feel great,” Marmol said Thursday. “I’m waiting for the opportunity to pitch. We’ll see.”
This season, Dale Sveum has tried to get Marmol back in a game the day after he has a rough outing. Not this time.
“We’ve got a lot of guys in the bullpen,” Sveum said of the Cubs, who have been carrying eight relievers since Saturday when outfielder David DeJesus was put on the disabled list. “The other times, I did want to get him back on the mound. [Sunday’s game] to me, wasn’t like some of the other outings. He just got hit [on Sunday] more than imploding and throwing balls all over the place.”
Marmol, who has walked 21 and given up 25 hits over 26 2/3 innings, has been working on the side with bullpen coach Lester Strode, who has been with the right-hander since he signed with the Cubs in 1999.
“I’ve been through this,” Marmol said of the tough outing. “I’m working out, talking to Lester. He knows me better than anybody here. We’ll see.”
In the seven games when Marmol has pitched with zero days rest, he’s posted a 1.35 ERA, and is 2-0. Those numbers change dramatically when he pitches on one-day rest. In those 11 games on one-day rest, Marmol is 0-4 with a 15.26 ERA.
“I love to pitch,” Marmol said. “I can’t make that decision, though. I have to wait for my opportunity.”
Said Sveum: “It’s not a priority [to get him back in a game] or anything.”
— Carrie Muskat
You won’t see Carlos Marmol closing for the Cubs any more. Manager Dale Sveum said Marmol, who blew a three-run lead in the ninth on Sunday against the Mets subbing for Kevin Gregg, will be back in his role as a late inning reliever.
“[Marmol] has pitched well in the seventh and eighth, and even pitched well in some tie games in the ninth and the 10th inning, too,” Sveum said Monday. “Obviously, he’s having difficulty with the last three outs and a save. We have our closer [in Gregg] when he has his rest. [Marmol] is back in the same role he was in.”
Sunday was Marmol’s first save opportunity since April 25, when he was successful against the Marlins. The right-hander began the season as the Cubs closer but lost that job after the first week of the season when he struggled against the Braves in the opening series. Gregg was not available on Sunday after pitching four straight days.
This is the last year of Marmol’s three-year contract with the Cubs, and he’s being paid $9.8 million. Releasing him is not an option, Sveum said.
“People don’t realize [closing] is not really his job any more,” Sveum said.
The Cubs manager knows his decision to stick with Marmol after Marlon Byrd’s leadoff homer in the ninth on Sunday wasn’t well received by fans.
“That’s people prerogative,” Sveum said. “I don’t really care what people think about me. That’s part of this job to be second-guessed. There’s nothing you can do about that. Players are put in positions to perform and if they don’t, the decision making will always be second-guessed. It doesn’t matter what the situation is. If I would’ve put somebody else in who has never closed a game before and they give it up, I’d be in the same boat [hearing criticism].”
Marmol was a successful closer for the Cubs in 2010 and 2011, totaling 38 and 34 saves, respectively. But in close and late situations this year, teams are batting .308 against the right-hander, and in other situations, they’re hitting .191.
“We know that those three outs are very, very difficult to get for some reason,” Sveum said.
Who will close for the Cubs when Gregg isn’t available? One option in the current series against the Cardinals is lefty James Russell.
“This is a team you could do it against because there’s no rhyme or reason to matchups or anything,” Sveum said. “They’re so good against both right-handers and left-handers that you go to maybe your most reliable guy. This is a time where you could use Russell because there’s no real matchups here.”
— Carrie Muskat
With Kevin Gregg unavailable Sunday after pitching four days in a row, Dale Sveum turned to Carlos Marmol in the ninth with a 3-0 lead against the Mets.
Sveum felt the Cubs’ 3-0 lead was enough cushion for Marmol, who entered in the ninth. But Marmol gave up a solo home run to Marlon Byrd, then walked Lucas Duda and served up a single to John Buck. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who was batting .103, then hit a three-run homer for the walkoff win.
“All the other innings, he’s done a pretty good job,” Sveum said. “He’s having trouble with those last three outs.”
Marmol said: “You blow the save and lose the game. It’s tough. I left the pitch up, and it was right down the middle.”
One thing to keep in mind, Marmol has not been horrible every time he’s pitched, but when he doesn’t have success, it usually is late in games, and dramatic. In the month of May, Marmol compiled a 3.48 ERA over 11 games, giving up four earned runs — and three of those came in one game, May 4 vs. the Reds — on eight hits and four walks over 10 1/3 innings. Prior to Sunday’s game, he had appeared in six games, including an outing June 1 against the Diamondbacks when he was charged with four runs in one-third of an inning. Since that outing, he appeared in five games, had given up two hits and one run while striking out three.
Since April 8, which was his first outing after having the closer job taken away, Marmol has appeared in 27 games, and has not given up a run in 25 of those outings. Eleven of the 13 earned runs off Marmol since April 8 have come in three appearances (May 4, June 1, Sunday).
Teams were hitting .229 against him going into Sunday’s game.
This season, Marmol has thrown 58 percent sliders, 42 percent fastballs. When he’s ahead in the count, he throws 72 percent sliders, and when he’s behind, he’ll throw 52 percent sliders. With two strikes, he throws his slider 87 percent of the time.
Another stat to consider: Batters are making contact on 47 percent of his fastballs, compared to 39 percent of his offspeed pitches.
For those who want the Cubs to trade Marmol, remember they need to find another team who feels the right-hander can help them. We’ll find out more about what Sveum and the Cubs do now with the right-hander later today in St. Louis.
— Carrie Muskat
Carlos Marmol could only laugh at an Internet report Wednesday in which someone overheard the Cubs pitcher saying he wanted out of Chicago and a fresh start.
“I don’t know who that guy is and why he tweeted that,” Marmol said of the alleged conversation, which was reported to have happened in the lobby of his apartment building.
Marmol did meet with his agent, Paul Kinzer, on Wednesday but denied they were talking about finding a way to get the pitcher out of Chicago. Marmol lost his job as the Cubs closer after the first week of the season.
“I’m not going nowhere,” Marmol said. “I’m very happy here. I can’t wait until they do something so I can stay here. I always talk about how I love Chicago, I love being here, I love my teammates, I love everybody here.”
It would be understandable if Marmol was upset considering his role has changed.
“I’m ready in the first inning,” Marmol said. “I always put that in my mind. It’s not easy [to not be the closer] but I can handle it. I’ll pitch whenever.”
Is he bothered by the false report?
“That didn’t come out of my mouth,” Marmol said. “I feel good here. I’m here, and I’m not going nowhere.”
— Carrie Muskat
As we celebrate the anniversary of the last cycle by a Cubs batter (Mark Grace, May 9, 1993, vs. the Padres), it’s time for a Cubs Inbox. Have a question? Send it to: CubsInbox@gmail.com. Here goes.
Q: Who leads Major League Baseball in blown saves since 2008 — individual and by team — and where do the Cubs and Carlos Marmol rank? I know it’s not a friendly stat but I am curious. — Steve T., Phoenix, AZ
A: Here you go:
Most blown saves: 2008-13
1. Heath Bell, Jonathan Broxton, Chad Qualls, 30 each
4. Kevin Gregg, 29
5. J.J. Putz, 27
6. Carlos Marmol, 26
7. Juan Carlos Oviedo, 24
8. Rafael Betancourt, Tyler Clippard and Jonathan Papelbon, 23 each
12. Jon Rauch and Fernando Rodney, 22 each
Most blown saves, teams 2008-2013
1. Brewers, 123 blown saves
2. Nationals, 121
3. Orioles, 119
4. Marlins, 117
5. Rockies and Mets, 113
7. Mariners, 112
8. Angels, 111
9. Cubs and Cardinals, 110
This season, the Diamondbacks have two pitchers who lead MLB in blown saves: J.J. Putz (4) and David Hernandez (3). The Cubs’ Shawn Camp and Carlos Marmol both have two blown saves. Here are the individual leaders since ’08:
2012: John Axford, Brewers, 9 blown saves (Marmol 3)
2011: Marmol, 10 (tied with Angels’ Jordan Walden, 10)
2010: Tyler Clippard, Nationals, 10 (Marmol 5)
2009: Brad Lidge, Phillies, 11 (Marmol 4)
2008: Manuel Corpas, Rockies, and Kevin Gregg, Marlins, 9 each (Marmol 2)
2012: Brewers, 29 blown saves (Cubs 21 blown saves)
2011: Nationals, 27 blown saves (Cubs 24)
2010: Orioles, 27 blown saves (Cubs 14)
2009: Mariners, 28 blown saves (Cubs 18)
2008: Mariners, 31 blown saves (Cubs 24)
Q: Carlos Marmol had all spring to get it together. I say, release him, and bring up Chris Rusin. What say you? — Louis M., San Marcos, CA
A: Marmol went through the same rough start last year. The difference this season is that Dale Sveum acted sooner. Since the May 4 game against the Reds, Marmol has made two appearances, given up two hits and walked one over 2 1/3 innings, and has not allowed a run. It seems he needs to hit rock bottom. Last season, Marmol was able to get back on track after the All-Star break, posting a 1.52 ERA in 30 games, and going 12-for-13 in save situations. Marmol has to realize he’s not unhittable.
“He thinks that guys are going to swing at every pitch out of his hand, and he tries to make every pitch a two-strike pitch and that’s part of the problem,” pitching coach Chris Bosio said of the right-hander. “He tries to bury the pitch and overthrow the pitch. He needs to back off. A lot of times, doing too much can be a deterrent. You’re not relaxed, you’re not getting the spin on the ball, you’re not working over the top of the ball, you’re working under the ball. Get him to relax and get him to where he was the second half of last year. That’s where we all want him to be and that’s where he wants to be.”
This is the last year of Marmol’s three-year contract, and he is being paid $9.8 million. It’s too early in the year to just dump him. He’s one of the seven pitchers in the Cubs’ bullpen, and Bosio and Sveum have to figure out a way for him to contribute.
As for Rusin, I’d keep him at Triple-A Iowa and let him develop as a starter. He has a bright future.
Q: I’m wondering why Scott Hairston is not being considered an every day outfielder after hitting 20 home runs last year? How many at-bats is he projected to get this year? — Anthon S., Seattle
A: I can’t give you a number for how many at-bats Hairston will get this year but do know he hasn’t done enough to warrant every day status. Hairston batted .172 (10-for-58) this spring, and he’s batting .132 (5-for-38) so far. Plus, he’s been used in a platoon against left-handed pitchers, and is 3-for-30 and all three hits have been home runs.
Q: After this year, what will happen to Fitch Park and HoHoKam Stadium in Mesa? Do the Cubs own either facility? Would any other Major League team be interested in coming in and rehabbing the facilities? — Don W., Simpsonville, SC
A: The Athletics will be moving into HoHoKam and Fitch after signing a 20-year lease with the city. However, there won’t be spring games scheduled there for 2014. The A’s have plans to do some remodeling at HoHoKam, including widening the seats, installing a video scoreboard and updating the clubhouse. The Cubs have to remove all of their stuff from the two facilities at the end of this year.
Q: I just wanted to say, three years ago, I got a 4×4 Cubs alternate jersey logo tattooed over my heart. I cannot wait to put “World Champions” over it when we win it all. — Chuck L., Janesville, WI
A: I’m sure the Cubs appreciate the support but I think I would’ve gone with “Mom” instead.
The Cubs are no longer going with a closer by committee. Kevin Gregg has won the job. Gregg is 5-for-5 in save situations since he joined the Cubs April 15. The right-hander was in the Dodgers’ Spring Training camp, then released on April 3. He signed with the Cubs on April 14.
“The problems we had, it was a great, great pickup and he’s ran with it, and done a heck of a job,” Dale Sveum said of Gregg, who has replaced Carlos Marmol, who was replaced by Kyuji Fujikawa. “[Gregg] is a veteran guy who doesn’t panic. He’s been in those situations before. Those last three outs aren’t made for everybody. He throws strikes and has some life on his fastball. He can work both sides of the plate, that’s the good thing about it.”
Marmol began the season as the Cubs closer but was removed after the first week of games. Fujikawa took over, but then went on the disabled list April 13 with a strained right forearm. Fujikawa was to make his second Minor League rehab outing on Wednesday and rejoin the Cubs in Washington this weekend.
So, is Gregg the Cubs’ closer?
“He seems to be,” Sveum said. “Gregg’s our closer. That’s pretty much the way it is right now. He’s obviously earned it and there’s a bigger sample out there now to know that.”
— Carrie Muskat