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Posts Tagged ‘Larry Rothschild’

What’s Wrong With Carlos Marmol?

Posted by sportsmaven on July 13, 2008

Sitting in the left field bleachers for today’s Cubs game against the San Francisco Giants, I, along with 41,554 other people, am wondering what exactly is wrong with Carlos Marmol? After witnessing Marmol completely implode (with a little help from Cubs SS Ryan Theriot) the enormously feeble Giants offense completely exploded for 5 runs in the 9th inning of this afternoon’s game.  Five runs is a good week for the Giants lately, so pardon my utter shock when Marmol made the Giants lineup look like the 1929 Yankees.

Marmol clearly didn’t have it today and the Giants knew it.  For the last 3 weeks, Marmol has been unable to get his slider consistently over the plate for strikes.  Because of that, fewer batters are swinging at his slider, preferring to sit on his fastball, which he’s also struggled to locate.  Up until 3 weeks ago, Marmol was garnering considerable attention from the national media labeling him as possibly the best pitcher in baseball this season, but his stuff has all of a sudden become hittable, his ERA bloating from 1.93 to 4.13 after today’s appearance.

At one point in the 9th inning, Cubs trainer Mark O’Neal came out to the mound to inquire about a potential injury.  After a couple of supervised practice pitches, Marmol shook everyone off and proceeded back onto the mound to continue his disasterous performance.  I don’t entirely blame Marmol for his horrific outing afternoon.  Cubs manager Lou Piniella left Marmol in 4 batters too long in this game, most likely due to the unavailability of closer Kerry Wood for today’s game.  A manager’s first responsibility in this situation is to secure the victory and Piniella seemed to be willing to let Marmol try to put out the fire he created, in hindsight, not the wisest of moves.  ESPN had a great quote on their website today, highlighting the recent struggle of Marmol describing an outing in Tampa Bay a couple of weeks ago against the Rays:

Another hitless wonder dept.: Cubs reliever Carlos Marmol, June 19 vs. Tampa Bay: 0 IP, 0 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 2 HBP.

Marmol’s claim to fame: Marmol has been unhittable all year, but a lot of good it did him in this game. He was the first pitcher in the past 53 seasons to give up no hits and only two walks in a game, but still allow four earned runs — thanks to a Carl Crawford grand slam on the second pitch after Marmol departed, off a reliever (Scott Eyre) who hadn’t allowed a home run in more than a year.

So Cub fans ask as we wander out of Wrigley this afternoon with a huge sigh of relief, “What exactly is wrong with Carlos Marmol?”  You can believe that Cubs GM Jim Hendry, Piniella, and pitching coach Larry Rothschild are wondering the exact same thing.  With the All Star break next week and two more weeks after that until the trade deadline, Hendry is in a peculiar position.  He has watched his vaunted bullpen, considered a team strength, barf up a few leads in the past couple of weeks.  The stuggles of P Michael Wuertz, his demotion to AAA Iowa yesterday, the callup of P Kevin Hart, and Hart’s ieffectiveness in giving up 2 runs this afternoon is a tell tale sign.  Adding to the concern is the inconsistency of Neal Cotts, Bobby Howry getting hit harder than normal, and the yet to be defined role of Sean Marshall.  Does Hendry need to make a trade for some consistent bullpen help?  My senses tell me that’s the new hot item on Hendry’s list, although I would still love to see a Brian Roberts trade as the cherry on top of this stud Cubs lineup.

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Mark Prior Lit Up In Cactus League Opener

Posted by sportsmaven on March 6, 2007

The expectations for Mark Prior have never been lower than they were today. Mark Prior pitched in his first Cactus League game in forever and got lit up. For the Chicago Cubs, they were estatic that Prior finished his outing and walked off the field under his own power. For how the mighty have fallen. It was only 3 years ago that Mark Prior was labeled the next Tom Seaver. He was coming off an 18-win season and nearly took the Cubs to their first World Series since 1945. But since then, Mark Prior has won 18 games total over 3 seasons and has been on the disabled list as much as Kerry Wood, or 100 times, whichever is lower. And now this.

Mark Prior Gets Bombed In Cactus League Debut
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The Cubs did beat the Seattle Mariners, 6-5, but Prior did not look sharp today, having trouble thowing strikes and getting behind nearly every hitter he faced today. He gave up hits, he walked batters, and he didn’t have any strikeouts and was pulled before he could finish his scheduled 2 innings of work. After yesterday, at least he didn’t give up any homers. It is still early in the spring, but Prior has to be a concern if you are Lou Piniella and Larry Rothschild. After all, Prior is the key to the effectiveness of this Cubs rotation. When healthy, Prior has the stuff of a #1 starter. Having a #1 in Carlos Zambrano and a #1a in Prior takes tremendous heat off the remainder of the rotation. Without an effective Prior, the Cubs rotation has to pick up more slack and is more exposed. The jury is still out on Prior, but the concerns about injury and effectiveness are a constant reminder of the past 3 years for Cubs pitching….The Prior watch continues.

Kerry Wood Dominant In His Cactus League Opener
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

As for Kerry Wood, he was the opposite. He was as dominant as he’s ever been, needing only 12 pitches to complete his scheduled one inning of work for the day. He struck out one and was throwing 95-96 MPH. His line was full of zeroes today; no hits, no walks, no runs. Again, similar to Prior, it’s still early. Lets see how he handles the next few outings, but you have to be encouraged about his performance today. I believe Wood will ultimately wind up in the closer role for the Cubs, but today in middle relief, he looked very strong.

Finally, I wanted to point out that Felix Pie went 3-5 today with 2 runs scored and an RBI. I would love to see Pie in CF this season with Alfonso Soriano moving to RF and for the Cubs to move Jacque Jones. If it doesn’t happen this season, it will by next season, no doubt, but in my opinion, it can’t happen sooner if it happens now, and if I were Jim Hendry, I would be shopping Jones tomorrow morning, regardless of what Pie does for the rest of spring training.

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