6/25 Marmol “sideshow” is over
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