Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Cubs fans boo Carlos Marmol on Opening Day

The Cubs didn't look too good in their home opener against the Milwaukee Brewers Monday afternoon at Wrigley Field. But then again, what do you expect? This is a Cubs team that lost 101 games a year ago, and it would be a huge surprise if they don't lose about 95 games this season.

Starter Edwin Jackson came out walking people, which is the last thing a pitcher wants to do on a windy day at Wrigley. Jackson issued two free passes in the first inning, one with the bases loaded, and coughed up four runs before the Cubs ever got an opportunity to bat. Milwaukee led from start to finish in its 7-4 victory.

But, the real story with the Cubs right now is erstwhile "closer" Carlos Marmol. Manager Dale Sveum has already made a change in the closer's role after Marmol imploded in the ninth inning in a loss at Atlanta Saturday night. Marmol gave up runs in each of his first three appearances of the season and entered Monday's action with a 27.00 ERA.

The Wrigley faithful let him have it, booing him in player introductions before the game and again when Marmol entered to pitch the eighth inning with the Cubs trailing 7-2. Believe it or not, Marmol did not give up any runs. He worked his way out of a first-and-third, one-out jam and lowered his ERA to 16.88.

Marmol's teammates were not happy with the boos. 

"You lose some respect for the fans," pitcher James Russell said. "It's your home park, they should be behind you no matter what. It's not like he's going out there trying to give up games. He's out there busting his butt every day. Personally, it gets under my skin because that's my teammate. I have his back no matter what. It kind of bugs you whenever you hear that. There's no room for it."

Well, actually, James, there's plenty of room for it. Marmol has been given plenty of chances, but all he's done is continue to solidify himself as one of the more overpaid players in the game. Right now, Marmol is being paid a salary of $9.8 million to pitch the eighth inning in a 7-2 game. I can't blame Cubs fans for being pissed about that guy not earning his money.

The situation is a tough one for Sveum to handle. Marmol is in the last year of his deal, and there's no question he will be playing somewhere else in 2014. Ideally for the Cubs, he'll be playing somewhere else by July of this year.

Thing is, in order to rebuild Marmol's trade value, Sveum needs to use him in high-leverage situations. But, if Marmol is going to continue to fail in those spots, you can't justify giving him opportunities. It's not fair to the other 24 men on the roster. It may be another rebuilding year on the North Side, but it's still Major League Baseball. A manager has an obligation to try to win the games that are there to be won.

Right now, Carlos Marmol is probably the last guy the Cubs would want on the mound with a one-run lead in the ninth inning. At some point, the Cubs might be better off releasing Marmol, eating what's left of his contract and giving that roster spot to somebody else.

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