Showing posts with label Carlos Marmol. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Carlos Marmol. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Cubs did well at bottom of pitching market

It's easy to roll your eyes and think of Edwin Jackson when talking about the Cubs' big free agent pitching additions last year. Kyuji Fujikawa's contract might not inspire the same belly laughs as Jackson's pact, but it probably gets a guffaw.

Despite those big misses higher up on the free agent food chain, the Cubs actually did pretty well in cobbling together reclamation projects.

Scott Feldman was the obvious winner in the retread lottery. For a modest one-year, $6 million deal after an injury-stunted year in 2012, the Cubs got 91 good innings (3.46 ERA) before spinning him for Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop.

Strop showed a marked improvement in his command once arriving at Wrigley Field, and might be a solid addition to the Cubs' bullpen. Arrieta posted only a superficially good ERA (3.66), but at least gives the team a low-cost option for the back end of the rotation, or maybe another bullpen piece if shift to relieving can help him harness his control problems and home run tendencies.

The other retreads the Cubs tried out didn't pan out nearly as well. Scott Baker (1 year, $5 million), who had done plenty of good work with the Twins, never got healthy enough to contribute. Carlos Villanueva (2 years, $10 million) did what he's always done, which is pitch well enough as a low-leverage reliever, not so well as a starter. Dontrelle Willis was sent packing after spring training.

If you think one out of four on those kind of projects is a bad rate of return, you're wrong. Especially for a team like the Cubs, which didn't block any real prospects from their rotation by doling out innings, or waste any staggering amount of money.

(To help put the money in perspective, the money givein to Feldman, Baker, Villanueva and Willis was less than what the $16.8 million paid to Carlos Marmol the last two seasons.)

It's all worth considering as the Cubs haven't been linked in rumors to many big free agents this winter, but have been linked to a few names like free agent Joba Chamberlain, and trade targets like Nationals pitchers Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard.

Once the dust settles, with the Cubs still looking to fill out a rotation and closer spot, there will probably be other names. And why not? For a team with job openings that doesn't want to commit another colossal contract blunder, taking a chance on a player that's fallen on hard times can be a cost-effective way to build value for an organization that sorely needs to do just that.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Cubs trade Scott Feldman to Orioles; Carlos Marmol headed to Dodgers

The Cubs began their much-anticipated midseason trading frenzy Tuesday afternoon with a pair of deals.

First, the North Siders sent pitcher Scott Feldman and catcher Steve Clevenger to the Baltimore Orioles for starting pitcher Jake Arrieta (pictured), reliever Pedro Strop and international bonus slots No. 3 and No. 4.

In a second move, the Cubs dealt reliever Carlos Marmol  and international signing bonus slot No. 4 to the Los Angeles Dodgers for reliever Matt Guerrier.

I like what the Orioles did here. Baltimore enters Tuesday's play at 47-36. The Orioles have won four in a row and sit just 2 1/2 games back of the Boston Red Sox in the competitive AL East. But, you have to wonder whether Baltimore can stay in the hunt with such poor starting pitching. Orioles starters have a 4.79 ERA this season; that's the third-highest mark in the American League. That's not what you want as a contending team.

Feldman will help. He is having one of his best seasons, having gone 7-6 with a 3.46 ERA in 15 starts with the Cubs. He's been pitching well above his career norms -- his career ERA is 4.66. But even if he crashes back to reality, he provides Baltimore with a more consistent option than Arrieta or any of the other guys who have toiled at the back end of the Orioles rotation. If I'm Baltimore, I'm still looking for another front-line starter to solidify things, but I'm also feeling better about my chances after adding Feldman in exchange for a couple guys who weren't in my plans.

From the Cubs' perspective, I would guess the international bonus slots are what they coveted in this deal. They are probably angling to sign a prospect or two as international free agency opens this week. Certainly, neither Arrieta nor Strop gives fans any reason to get excited.

Arrieta went 1-2 with a 7.23 ERA in five starts with Baltimore this season. The hard-throwing right-hander owns a career 5.46 ERA in 69 games (63 starts) over parts of four seasons with the Orioles. Arrieta was once considered a top prospect, but now he's nothing more than a 27-year-old reclamation project who will spend some time in Triple-A Iowa.

Strop, 28, had solid overall numbers in 2012 -- a 2.44 ERA in 70 appearances as Baltimore's primary setup man. A closer look reveals he actually had an outstanding first four months, followed by some horrific struggles down the stretch. From April through July of last season, Strop compiled a 1.34 ERA. In August and September, his ERA was 5.12.

It has only gotten worse for the right-hander in 2013. He is 0-3 with a 7.25 ERA in 29 relief appearances. He's been battling back problems throughout the season. Recently, he complained about the home fans booing him off the mound in Baltimore. 

Both Arrieta and Strop seem to be on the fast track to nowhere. The best the Cubs can hope for is a change of scenery getting both back on track.

Speaking of the need for a change of scenery, Marmol is finally out of Chicago. The 30-year-old headcase was 2-4 with a 5.86 ERA in 31 relief appearances before the Cubs designated him for assignment on June 25. Marmol is owed more than $5 million on his $9.8 million contract for this season, and the Cubs will send some cash to the Dodgers for doing them the favor of taking Marmol off their hands. In return, the Cubs get the 34-year-old Guerrier, who is 2-3 with a 4.80 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP in 34 relief appearances this year.

Guerrier will not be part of the solution on the North Side, but hey, he's not as bad as Marmol and he'll eat up some innings in middle relief. That's probably the best thing you can say about his acquisition.

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.