Goatriders of the Apocalypse

2008 Season Recap: Carlos Marmol

Marmol

The Dramatic Prarie Dog had a dramatic season in '08.  He went from legend to lemon and back to legend all within the span of a few months, and based on the pending departure of Kerry Wood, Marmol is a likely candidate to close in 2009.  But is he fit for the job?

At this point in his career, Marmol makes me nervous, mostly because he completely disintegrated for no apparent reason last season.  Sure, he found himself and came back to pitch amazingly well, but here's my line of thinking... if'n he can blow up like that at random, see, what's stoppin' him from blowin' up when it counts?  (Sorry, broke into weird British hackney typing accent, am very tired, must sleep soon)

He basically pitched a trilogy last year.  In Carlos Owns Baseball, this legendary stud of a pitcher threw 35 innings of work, struck out 52 opponents, and posted an ERA of 1.54.

Then, on May 31st, Baseball Strikes Back made its debut.  From that date until July 12th, Marmol was a shell.  He pitched 17.1 innings of work, and he allowed 15 earned runs in that span - and, actually, he was at one point responsible for 18 runs but a retroactive decision shaved his ERA a bit.  Anyway, 15 earned in 17.1 pitched equals a 7.78 ERA - more than 6 points higher than what it had been previous to May 31.  Also over that span, he struck out 18 - still impressive, but down from his previous totals - and walked a craptacular 13 players.

This is the part of the Marmol season that remains burned into my brain.  The guy who would trot out to the mound and, failing to find his focus, started to toss ball after ball after ball after ball.  You don't want that guy in the 9th inning - or, at least, I don't.

Luckily, after an All Star appearance he probably didn't deserve, Marmol returned from the break a new man.  He was no longer that guy.  In Return of the Prarie Dog, Marmol threw 36 innings, striking out 42, and walking 16.  His ERA in this span was 1.25.

Oh, and he went from July 28th until August 21st without allowing a single hit.  He threw more than 9 innings of no-hit ball in relief.  He held opponents totally scoreless for 16 innings.

In other, shorter words, the Cubs would not have been nearly as good without him.  If he can keep his head on his shoulders - and those massive ears should surely provide some kind of support - then Marmol should step rather nicely into the closer's role next season.

Not that Marmol

shouldn't perform well, but I also have concerns over his readiness at this time. Wood may have had a rough spot here or there, but he was tough as nails and never had over a month of total sucktitude.

On the surface, Hendry's case for not resigning Wood can be argued, if it's not a bigger gamble to rely on Marmol readiness. A shut down 9th. inning is imperative to any successful team. I know on paper that the trade for Gregg should provide some backup but should the 9th. inning be where the team gambles?

The rotation will be damned if the pen doesn't hold the lead ,and the pen's ability to perform well should be a bigger concern than if the Cubs resign Dempster or trade for Peavy.

Bullpen over starters?

I disagree.

It's kinda hard to argue which of the nine innings is most important. You've got to get three outs in each of them. The 9th inning being last doesn't mean the 8th is any less important.

I definitely think freeing up money for an upgrade to the starting rotation is wise. Just in terms of innings pitched, Demp or Peavy would likely throw something in the 180-200 range; last year, Wood pitched something in the mid-60s, I think.

Also, I would put an injury to Wood at the same likelihood as I would Gregg/Marmol/another Cub reliever not being able to get the job done. 2008

Gregg has experience in the 9th inning, and he'll be surrounded, as it stands, by a bunch of young, live arms, Carlos Marmol the most notable of the bunch.

Guzman/Wuertz, Marshall, Cotts, Gaudin, Samardizja, Gregg, Marmol - your 2009 Chicago Cubs bullpen?

Chicago Tribune's Chicago's Best Blogs award