Today, in a highly expected move, the Chicago Cubs finally signed Carlos Marmol on a three year deal worth a total of $20 Million. What this new contract does, is lock up their electric closer through both of his remaining arbitration years, as well as his first year of free agency. While Marmol is a key piece to the bullpen, fans across Cub Nation are split on whether or not this is, in fact, a good deal.
On one hand, baring injury or a complete implosion that we fans have come to be used to, the Cubs know exactly who their closer will be over the next three years. On the other hand, he is costing them a lot of money over the next three years combined. While the first year of his contract is a very manageable $3.2 Million, he gets a massive increase in 2012 when he will get a major pay raise to $7 Million. The contract which runs through the 2013 season, will then pay Marmol $9.8 Million in his final year. That is a major price for a relief pitcher, no matter how dominating he can be. However the best closer in baseball, Marino Rivera, just signed a new contract which says he will be making $30 Million over the next two years. In that aspect, you could very well consider the Cubs got Marmol at a discount. While pondering this, forget that Marmol is nowhere near the closer that Rivera is.
The sad thing about the arbitration years, is that no matter how much money you make, or how poorly you have played, you are guaranteed to get a raise if your current team decides to keep you. So if the Cubs and Marmol did not come to this agreement, he would have been making around $5 Million this year, and next year would have gotten another raise to likely between $7-8 Million then enter free agency, and the Cubs might have actually saved money in the long run.
Statistically speaking, Marmol is the most inconsistent pitching in baseball over the past four years, which just so happens to be his whole career. In his time with the club, we have seen the mixed bag that is the “Marmol Experience”. We have seen him walk the bases loaded on seemingly 12 straight pitches, and we have also seen him strike out the side on nine pitches. He is likely the most frustrating pitcher the Cubs have ever had, since Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams.
In order to understand just how maddening Marmol is, and to get a grip on the whole “Marmol Experience”, how about we take a look at his surprising numbers throughout his career.
First, on the plus side, Marmol has been the most dominating relief pitcher since he came into baseball. To say he is a lights out pitcher does not do him justice, because no one can get a hit off of him. Since the start of the 2007 season, Marmol leads all major league relief pitchers with 441 strikeouts and a .154 batting average against. Looking at strictly these stats, you would say that Marmol is worth every penny of the $20 Million he will be making over the next three years. However, if you are going to celebrate and embrace the greatness that is Marmol, you must also take the bad. You must also accept what makes you want to put your foot through the television set every time he takes the mound.
As dominating as Marmol has been over the course of his career, he has also been as inefficient as any pitcher over the same time frame. I said that no one can get a hit off of him, but that may be because he walks them before he allows them to get a hit.
Over the same timeframe that he has been completely lights out, leading all relievers in strikeouts and batting average against, he also leads them in some highly negative statistics. On top of those stats that make you say wow, he also leads all relief pitchers in walks allowed per nine innings. Currently, Marmol is allowing 5.63 walks per nine inning pitched, and has a grand total of 193 free passes in his four years of service. That is 60 more walks allowed than the man who holds second on the list of most walks allowed over the past four years. Ironically, that pitcher is Kevin Gregg, whom I am sure you all regret remembering. To add to the conundrum that is Marmol, he leads all relievers in hit batsmen over the same time frame, eight more than the next closest wild pitcher. Going off these stats, there is no way in hell Marmol is worth anything close to what he was signed for.
So you tell me Cub fans, with Marmol being the most inconsistent relief pitcher in baseball over the past four years, is he worth the $20 Million he will be making over the next three years? You can not argue with the fact that when he is on his game, there is no one better. But the flipside of the coin is when he does not have his “A Game”, he may very well be the worst pitcher in the game.
Either way you look at things, these next three years with Marmol will be very exciting.
PITCHERS AND CATCHERS REPORT!
Despite the feet of snow on the ground, and the below freezing temperatures which continue to haunt us, Spring is just around the corner. Right now, the thought of warmer temperatures seems to be a tale worthy of the great Greek and Roman myths, however there is no surer sign of the change in seasons than players showing up for Spring Training in Arizona or Florida. That is exactly what is happening today for your Chicago Cubs, who will have their first official workout tomorrow. Nothing warms you up more than the knowledge that baseball is just around the corner.
An off season that was filled with the realization and the disappointment of reaching the 103 year mark in the championship drought and the loss of a legend, has left the spirit of the Cub fans broken with undoubtedly a feeling that is down and out. However, today we can finally lift our heads and say, “Yes, baseball is back!” With a fifth place finish and 75 wins in 2010, many Cub fans are already bracing themselves for what will be yet another disappointing season in 2011. Despite how poor the previous season went, there are some reasons to look forward to the upcoming season.
With the birth of the 2011 season comes a few new faces, as well as the return of some former, and well loved former Cubs.
The return of Reed Johnson and Augie Ojeda (both of whom who were signed to minor league contracts) is sure to fill some fans with a warm fuzzy, for one reason or another. Nevertheless, neither one of these two is expected to make the team coming out of training camp, they were more or less signed for depth in the case of serious injury. Even then, with some potential budding stars biding their time, Johnson and Ojeda may never see the light of day on the Major League roster this year at all. Those signings are relatively meaningless in the greater aspect of things.
However, the more important player who was brought back is Kerry Wood. Unlike the other two, he was brought back to immediately improve the ball club and their bullpen. After spending the past two years elsewhere with the Cleveland Indians and the New York Yankees, Wood comes back to finish his career where everything started for him. Along with Sean Marshall, he will be setting up for Carlos Marmol, the Cubs now have a very devastating back end of the bullpen to close out games.
The off season also saw the Cubs making a key trade to bring in Matt Garza from the Tampa Bay Rays which undoubtedly improves their starting rotation. He was one of the best starters in the American League, and coming over to the National League where there is one less hitter in the lineup, logic would say that he should be better. Say what you will about the extremely high price of bringing him here, he is an improvement over the pitchers who would have been filling in the rotation. Putting him in the mix with Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster, the Cubs have a very impressive top of the rotation, and one of the best rotations in the National League. While their rotation can not compete with the likes of the Philadelphia Phillies, and lets be honest no rotations can, the Cubs do have a very formative pitching staff. Not to mention Randy Wells and a slew of other young arms all of whom will be vying for the final spot. How many other rotations can say they have two pitchers that have thrown no hitters? I know that doesn’t really amount to much in the long run, but a remarkable statistic nonetheless to throw around in conversations.
Finally, also from the Rays, the Cubs signed their new first baseman Carlos Pena. Granted his batting average has been sub par the past few years, but you can not argue with his power and run producing numbers. With him being here strictly on a one year deal, he may fit like a glove at first base and give them exactly what they need. Putting him in the middle of the order with Marlon Byrd and Aramis Ramirez and you have a potential heart attack for any opposing pitcher. Add in a young run producing Geovany Soto and an emerging super star in Starlin Castro and you have an offense which could generate a good number of runs on a daily basis.
There are reasons to be excited about the upcoming season, and these are just a handful of them. Even for the most pessimistic fans out there, you can not write off that this club does have some potential to make a little noise in the 2011 season. As the off season goes on, I will give my thoughts on each individual position on the team (even though the Cubs already did that, and stole my Spring Training Blog titles in the process), the players, as well as the potential bench and bullpen. Each player blog will be rounded up with a season prediction as well. When the series of breakdowns is over, I will write up my predication thread for the season.
Welcome to the 2011 baseball season!