Tag:Carlos Marmol
Posted on: August 18, 2009 8:53 pm

Marmol in, Gregg out as Cubs closer

Out of patience following another jarring, walk-off loss Monday night to start a crucial West Coast trip, Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella has demoted Kevin Gregg from the closer's role. Carlos Marmol will replace him.

"He pitched in the set-up role last year and this year, he has some experience closing, it's a natural progression," Piniella said of Marmol, who is 2-2 with a 3.51 ERA and four saves this season.

As for Gregg, Monday's was his sixth blown save this season in 29 opportunities. Three of those, however, have occurred this month. In eight August outings, Gregg has three blown saves and an 11.25 ERA.

"Look, we needed to try a different approach," Piniella said. "We've been very patient, if you want to use that word. We've lost some tough, tough ballgames. Marmol deserves an opportunity and we're going to give him that chance."


Posted on: March 29, 2009 2:48 pm

Cubs name Gregg as closer

 MESA, Ariz. -- Chicago manager Lou Piniella said Sunday that Kevin Gregg has won the Cubs' closer job, with Carlos Marmol being relegated to the set-up duties he performed last season for Kerry Wood.

"We said we'd let both pitchers compete in the spring, and both have pitched very well," Piniella said Sunday morning after informing Gregg and Marmol of the decision. "I'm fortunate that I have two pitchers I have confidence in."

Piniella was being generous to Marmol in his assessment of the spring. While Gregg hasn't allowed a run in 8 1/3 innings this spring (four hits, 10 strikeouts, one walk), Marmol has allowed four runs in eight innings and, most noticeably, has had difficulty with his command. Marmol has hit five batters during his eight innings.

"I think, leaving spring training, we're a better team the way we put this together," said Piniella, whose Cubs open next Monday in Houston. "Now, what we have to do with Marmol in the set-up role is find a couple of pitchers who can help him so we can get to where we don't have to used him as much as we did (early) last year."

Veteran Aaron Heilman, who should see a lot of work in the seventh innings, figures prominently in that mix. Piniella also mentioned Luis Vizcaino and lefty Neal Cotts. Right-handers Chad Gaudin and Jeff Samardzija are two others who could factor in, but the Cubs aren't certain how the last spot or two in their bullpen will shake out.

Gregg, 30, compiled 61 saves over the past two seasons combined for the Florida Marlins. Marmol, 26, has eight career saves -- seven last year. Though Piniella did not mention the World Baseball Classic as factoring into the decision, Marmol spent part of this spring away from Cubs camp, pitching for the Dominican Republic. He struggled there as well, blowing a save opportunity in the Dominican Republic's 2-1 loss to The Netherlands.

"I told him the better he does his job, the better we'll be as a team," Piniella said of his message to Marmol. "I told him not to be disappointed, that there will be plenty of opportunities down the road for him for him to close. I told him to improve and maintain, and a lot of good things will happen for him in his career."

Besides, in a perfect Cubs world, if they win as often as they hope, Marmol may still get a chance to close at times because Piniella hopes to refrain from using Gregg more than two or three days in a row.

Of course, worse-case scenario is that Gregg stumbles early and a full-blown controversy develops.

"We're not going to tiptoe through the tulips with this thing," Piniella said. "We've made our decision. We're going to give (Gregg) every chance to succeed, and I'm sure he will."

Piniella added: "I couldn't go wrong either way, I really couldn't. I thought about this for a long time. It's tough to bring a young man into this office like that (and tell Marmol he lost the job), especially someone who's played such a big role in our success."

Likes: How can you beat this upcoming week: Bruce Springsteen's new tour kicking off on Wednesday night, the Final Four games on Saturday, Braves at Phillies in the season opener on Sunday, 28 major-league clubs opening on Monday and then the NCAA championship hoops game on Monday night. If you can't find some things to smile about in there, you may as well give it up. ... Aaron Boone continuing to do well following open-heart surgery last week. ... Clubs like the Cubs making final roster decisions. ... Jordan Zimmerman in the Washington Nationals' April rotation. Why not? What, they've got somebody both more experienced AND better. ... Villanova. What a great, gutsy team.

Dislikes: Watching Pittsburgh (and so much of the Big East, for that matter) play basketball. Grab, push, shove, hip-check ... it's all brawn, little artistry. But the Panthers sure do have onions, as television commentator Bill Raftery would say.

Sunblock day? Partly cloudy on Sunday in the desert, actually. I suppose it sunblock wouldn't hurt, but it's been on the cool side.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Hey Frank, won't you pack your bags
"And meet me tonight down at Liberty Hall
"Just one kiss from you my brother
"And we'll ride until we fall
"We'll sleep in the fields
"We'll sleep by the rivers
"And in the morning we'll make a plan
"Well, if you can't make it
"Stay hard, stay hungry, stay alive
"If you can
"And meet me in a dream of this hard land"

-- Bruce Springsteen, This Hard Land




Posted on: June 4, 2008 1:41 am

Cubs need relief -- even in winning streak

Cubs fans, manager Lou Piniella stepped into your shoes for a few minutes before his team drilled San Diego 9-6 on Tuesday night.

Yes, riding an eight-game winning streak -- nine now -- and proud owner of the best record in the majors, Piniella nevertheless took a few minutes to look at the glass as half empty.

Hey, it's his job.

You think major-league managers can relax even if their club has held the lead in 25 consecutive games (and counting)? It's the Cubs' longest such streak since 1935. Yet. ...

"We've had a good problem here -- we've led 24 games in a row," Piniella said a few hours before the streak reached 25. "Which dictates that you're in the ballgame, and when you're in the ballgame, you have to use your better pitchers.

"That's what we've done, but there comes a time and a place where you have to back off a little bit, too. And we're about there."

It may sound silly, but sometimes, for the greater good of the long term, it's better if managers don't do everything they can to win in the short term.

Piniella was looking at that exact scenario Tuesday when he declared set-up man Carlos Marmol would not be used, even if the situation called for it. Marmol had pitched three times in four days, and four times over the past five days.

Marmol and closer Kerry Wood each had worked in 30 games, tied with two others for third in the NL.

As Piniella noted, "Look, it's a good problem to have when you're winning, but when you're winning you're using your best pitchers more."

Situations also are conspiring to tempt Piniella and pitching coach Larry Rothschild to lean hard on their key pitchers -- too hard, Piniella worries. Eight of the Cubs' past nine games had been decided by two or fewer runs and dating back to May 17, 13 of their past 16 games had been decided by the same slim margin.

And, Tuesday's 9-3 lead melted to 9-6 with Padres on base in the late innings. Though Piniella stayed true to his word to avoid Marmol, he did summon Howry and, to close, Wood -- for his 31st appearance.

Though the Cubs owned the best record in baseball, their starting rotation -- currently Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly, Jason Marquis and Sean Gallagher -- ranked only seventh in the NL in innings pitched.

"Our starting staff is not what you would classify as an innings' staff," said Piniella, whose club had recalled right-hander Kevin Hart from Triple-A Iowa earlier in the day to add another arm to the bullpen. "That's why I like the idea of young kids with strong arms coming up here to help out."

Because as Piniella said, "I just can't try to sneak an extra inning (regularly) from my starters. I just can't. I've got to keep them going out there every five days."

After Jason Marquis went five innings -- and he needed 100 pitches to do that -- Piniella ripped through five different relievers trying to slam the door on the Padres. One of them was Michael Wuertz, whom the skipper had singled out before the game as one of the relievers outside of the Marmol-Bobby  Howry-Wood circle to step it up.

Wuertz, 1-1 with a 2.96 ERA, has walked 12 batters (against 16 strikeouts) in 28 innings.

"We need Wuertz to kick it in some," Piniella said. "The walks are starting to be a problem. He's certainly better than what he's pitched.

"We'd like to see him get better to where we can count on him for an inning or two."

In the midst of a nine-game winning streak, it doesn't seem like that big a deal.

Measured against all of those innings left to be pitched the rest of this season, it is a huge deal.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com