In Defense of Sweet Lou - as if he needs it
Kurtis, Kurtis....how could you have forsaken thee?
I love Uncle Lou with every fiber of my body, except maybe my pee pee. I have agreed with everything he has done in his tenure, INCLUDING his Game 1 decision with Zambrano, INCLUDING his decision to leave Marmol in there last week, and especially including his decision to bring him out there yesterday in the ninth.
Kurt is convinced that Marmol's problems are fatigue-related, which explains his stance that Lou is running him into the ground, which explains why he would drop an (edited) f-bomb in his name. For shame!! Que cosa! As my high school Spanish teacher would say. Ya lo crea! The idea of swearing at Uncle Lou..
..lookee here. Kerry Wood is going on the disabled list, backdated a week, so we will not have him around for the next two series. We are playing probably the "best" performers of the "rest" of the National League, the D-backs and the Fighting Fish. We have traditionally needed all hands on deck against these two foes - these will be tough series, in which a closer will be necessary.
The short term answer is to bring in Howry - which is what most of us so-called internet GMs would advocate. I guarantee you that Lou is fully aware that Bob Howry has closing experience, and that he is available. He isn't the greatest closer ever, either, you know. Plus, he's 37 or so...is he the Future of the Cubs Bullpen?
No. Marmol is. And contrary to Kurt, I am as convinced as he is about what might be wrong with Marmol, and in my view, it ain't fatigue. It's all about Confidence, and the man that SHOULD know the most about it, Lou Pinella, seems to agree with me.
Eventually, Lou knows that the kid is going to be the closer, sooner or later. It would be nice for all of us to imagine the 31-year-old Wood settling in for a nice 8-year-run as the Cubs closer, ala Eckersley, Hoffman, Percival, and some other guys you can name who closed close to their 40's. It ain't gonna happen. If it isn't blistered fingers, sore shoulders or gamey elbow ligaments, it will be something else with Wood (who I love), but is more of a emotional, "dealing with adversity with class" hero than a "performing physical feats on the field of play" hero.
Smart baseball men do not count on Kerry Wood to hold positions of grave importance on their rosters.
Thus, we need to groom Marmol sooner or later. But which one is it, sooner or later? Do we throw him out there this week in ninth inning save situations? Is he ready? Will he succeed, and close out vital games in this 2008 pennant run, bolster his confidence, and gain vital experience for 2009, 2010, or whenever he becomes the full-time closer? Or does he blow the games for us, dropping us out of the NL Central lead, and shred whatever confidence he has left? How do we know? How COULD we know?
Welllll.....we could hook him up to a simulator on a PS3, let him take the controls for a ninth inning save. OR, we could send him down to Iowa to let him save a game there? OR, maybe we run him out in the ninth inning yesterday. I understand that none of these situations are ideal, but which one of the three will most closely simulate the type of action he should expect in a major league save situation, while at the same time be logistically feasible, and, oh incidentally, helps us close out a win we desperately needed to salvage an otherwise depressing series coming out of the All-Star Break?
If Marmol went out yesterday and crapped himself in a Hawkins-esque fashion, then all Lou has to do is send in Cotts or Howry to clean up, and he pretty much has his answer as to: 1) whether Marmol is ready to close this next week, and 2) how close is he to becoming the full-time Closer of the Future. Because if you have some tissue attached to your brain stem, and if you read this here blog, you must know by now that Closing is about 10% physical and 90% mental, and if you doubt that, then tell me how the hell Rod Beck was able to log 53 saves in 1998 with a piece of raw fish hanging from his right shoulder joint?
Lou isn't just paid to win in 2008 - he has to know how he is going to do it next year, too. He needs to know exactly what he has in Marmol. He KNOWS he can throw caked-on-dirty sliders...but he needs to find out once and for all what he has between his huge Mickey Mouse ears, and also what he has hanging in his jock.