Marmol Aida

I don’t know that it came down from Mitch and Murray, maybe just Hendry…but finally Piniella took a stand and made the switch to Marmol as the Cubs’ closer.  Grabow and Guzman were considered but this round goes to Marmol.  Just like anything else, I’m sure it could play out to a situation by situation component of the Cubs pitching staff.  Lou was quoted as saying that Grabow and Guzman will get opportunities to close games as well and that there is no timetable for how long Marmol closes. 

But now what.  How will Marmol respond?  Will he step up and be the guy I’ve seen him as in the closer role in my mind?  Or will he let the pressure go to his head as he’s had some mental toughness issues this year?  29 opportunities and six blown saves by Gregg.  Finally Lou admitted it was time to go after these close ballgames different and secure some tough wins as opposed to constantly sweating tough losses.  The Cards are real strong right now and are considering bringing on Smoltz.  Out of the bullpen that will only make them stronger.  Why the Cubs didn’t make another pitching move to bolster their own pitching (you can never have enough) I don’t know.  At least if the pieces don’t change, we can rearrange and maybe finally figure out how to successfully put his puzzle together.

It’s good too to hear Lou admit they’ve been headed in the wrong direction with Gregg.  A lot of admittance going on in the Cubs clubhouse with Lou speaking up and Z finally admitting that perhaps he’s not exactly the spokesperson for 7 minute abs.  Now if only we can get him to admit he’s not paid to hit home runs during batting practice.  That would be a real accomplishment.

I actually thought we were in decent shape last night until we were defeated by of all things, an inside the park home run.  Is there any other way to lose a ball game that we haven’t seen already this year?  Have we seen them all?  Anyone else notice that whomever is at the plate, whichever team it may be, always scores or does something positive when MLB Network checks in on a game?  It says it’s live, but I feel like any time I’ve seen them check in on a game, like last night’s Cubs game for instance…they score.  I was watching MLB and they checked in on the Cubs game.  Soriano was up, Cubs down 3-2.  And it kind of took the drama away because I just knew they were going to tie it up with the way the check-in’s work.  Sure enough, bloop single by Soriano, RBI, tie game.  Just saying…anyone else notice this?

Good to see Dempster putting up 10 K’s.  Would be better to see him get the W as well.  A lot of that of course comes down to the bullpen taking better care of leads.  Let’s hope Marmol and the newly organized bullpen do just that.  Second place may be a set of steak knives, but as Gregg found out…third place is you’re fired. 

On a more amusing note…I’ve never been to San Diego.  However, if ever there were a time I wished I was, it would be seeing Piniella get stopped for jaywalking.  How he restrained himself from firing his hat down and kicking dirt on the traffic cops shoes would have been a hilarious sight to see.

Harden up tonight.  Here’s to him getting over the .500 mark.  Go Cubs Go!

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No Coffee for you Gregg

Did I know much about Gregg before the Cubs signed him?  Not really.  I knew he looked like a goon.  I knew he pitched for the Marlins.  I knew that he was coming in to replace a Cubs favorite.  I knew he’d be challenging Marmol for the closer job.  I knew he was the wrong choice.  I thought I knew Lou knew what he was doing.

And now here we are.  29 opportunities and six blown saves later, the goon who is not Wood nor Marmol is blowing are shot at ’09.  Killed me to wake up and see that the Cards beat the Dodgers last night.  Unbelievable.  Pujols is having an unreal year, the Cards are soaring and here we are, doing our best to simply keep up.  We do pretty well, he hand it over to our closer in the toughest sitch a closer can be in…the one run lead.

Goon gets to one strike away.  Boom.  Blown save.  Boom.  3 run walkoff for the Padres.  The same Padres who hurt us by not beating the Cards in their previous series have shown up once again to hurt us by beating us directly.  The same Padres franchise that crushed us in ’84.  I hate the Padres.  Especially right now.  More so though, I hate Gregg.

Lou, enough already.  Borrow Gregg’s goon goggles if you have to.  Please see that he is not the guy for the ninth.  It’s amazing that fans have been saying it all year yet here we are, in August, and you’ve still got that goon blowing saves.  I know, I know.  After last night you FINALLY said maybe you’ll make a switch as to how you handle the late innings.  That would be great and about time.    You finally made some changes in the lineup and we did marginally better.  Make the change to Marmol, sit Gregg altogether if you have to and move Guzman to the eighth.  At least if you decide to throw Gregg in the seventh we have a shot at making up the runs he gives up.  I swear, nothing upsets me more than seeing L – Gregg in the pitching results.  L – Gregg?  So wait….we were up and that goon blew it AGAIN!?!  Drives me nuts.

The Cardinals are no joke this year.  The Cubs aren’t a joke, but we’re grasping at straws here.  Our line up can’t hit when it matters.  Our starting pitchers can’t stay healthy.  Our closer can’t close.  And our fans can’t hold on to their beer.  Enough already.

I feel like I need to put this clip up for Gregg.  No coffee for you Gregg.  Coffee’s for closers. 

Unbelievable.  Come on Lou.  Enough already.  Gregg doesn’t deserve these leads.

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Wood Gets His Back Scratched

I’ve been pushing for Marmol this entire Spring and I’ve never felt better about it than I do right now.

In the past week I’ve made a few comments about how it doesn’t make any sense for Wood to claim the closer role for the Cubs. The stats show he shouldn’t and personally, that’s all you should need to make your decision. But then Piniella more or less implies (through his BS statements of having 3 guys he’d feel comfortable with as the closer) that the gig is Wood’s if he can close out the last two weeks of Spring strong (pun intended) and if he can prove that he can get it done on consecutive days. I figured, OK, fine…let’s see.

Cut to Day One: Today. Result: Wood is scratched from the game due to back spasms.

I nearly have no words. With Marmol’s Spring and a sidelining result by Wood when first asked to pitch on consecutive days…could we please put an end to this already?

Sure, Marmol struggled today but the fact is, he got out the jam, only giving up one run. This game was beyond ‘saving’ anyway considering Hart got blown out of the water (1/3 IP, 4ER, 2H, 2BB) the inning prior. (Too bad for him too, he’s been looking good as of late). I honestly think Lou needs to simply make the decision to announce Marmol as the closer and enough already. Why have these questions linger any longer than need be?

Having the exact opposite day of Wood was Dempster who once again proved my point that it should be he and Marquis picking up the last spots on the Cubs rotation. He was lights out today going 5.1 IP, 1H, with 7K’s! Lieber’s pitching in the nightcap and the game just started so it will be interesting to see if he steps up with his own claim on the prize this evening in response to Dempster’s day. Lee finally showed some life today hitting his first home run of the spring. Having Lee hit his the day after Ramirez finally went yard is nice to see. Maybe the two of them are finally ready to get ready for ’08. But honestly, could Gallagher have looked any worse today? I’m sure he didn’t impress any Baltimore scouts adding to futher delay this ridiculously prolonged trade scenario.

I must say, besides it being a pleasure to see our offense start to get off the ground with Lee and Ramirez, it was also good to see that Fukudome had an outfield assist. The simple fact that he can make a play like that the day after getting hit in the neck is a good sign of his ability to bounce back from injuries/play with pain, etc. And keeping with the Japanese theme, apparently Zambrano had his name transcribed into Japanese and the symbols for his name translated into “to hunt”, “the road” and a few together that figuratively meant something to the effect of “ripping his clothes off and dancing on the mound”. Zambrano’s road starts could be very entertaining if all of that is true. Watch out Papelbon…this season your river dance has nothing on the Big Z Shuffle.

Great game today aside from Hart’s poor performance…all eyes on you Lieber! Go Cubs Go!

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I’m Sorry, Did You Say Wood?

Apparently Wood has become the favorite to be selected as the Cubs closer.

I’m sorry, what?

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I’m still expecting Marmol to be announced as the Cubs closer. Piniella is talking as if the set up role is almost more important lately and that Marmol would take that position because Howry has barely shown anything this Spring. I have a hard time believing this decision will actually go this way (and will until it is official) and since Lou’s only been around the organization for a year, I can’t assume its to be attributed to organizational loyalty to Wood. Therefore it has to be performance based and if that’s the case, then I don’t understand. Again, here are the numbers:

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Wins: Marmol Edge. ERA: Marmol Edge. Games: Tied. Saves: Tied (1). IP: Tied (7) Hits: Marmol Edge. Runs: Marmol Edge. ER: Marmol Edge. HR: Tied (1). Walks: Wood Edge. K’s: Marmol Edge (8-4).

Does anyone have any idea why he’s leaning towards Wood? He says if Wood shows he can do it in consecutive days then he’s the guy. Why? Because he’s hitting 95-98mph on the radar? So what, so can Marmol. I wonder if Marmol is going to get the consecutive days test as well this week. If he does, and he passes, I see no reason to give the closer role to Wood. Judging by their Spring numbers listed above, Marmol has a huge edge over both Wood and Howry (Howry’s numbers are so far behind, I didn’t even bother include him in the Edge Comparisons.

As for today’s game, it’s great to see Soriano have a 3-4 day including a HR…and in the 2-hole nonetheless (guessing Lou was loving that too). Another horrible day for Lee and the best thing that happened to Pie was an 0-1 appearance for Fuld. Zambrano looks great, very excited about that…nearly perfect through five innings.

I couldn’t wait for baseball to return and Spring Training is always a great appetizer. But at this point, March 31st can’t get here fast enough!

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