Cubs part ways with Carlos Marmol
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com June 25, 2013 10:45PM
Updated: June 25, 2013 11:56PM
MILWAUKEE — The Cubs swallowed $6 million in outstanding payroll Tuesday to clean up two of the front office’s messes — one inherited, one its own making.
And neither pregame move involving the departures of Carlos Marmol and Ian Stewart did much to inspire confidence in last winter’s four-year, $52 million investment in Edwin Jackson (3-10), who struggled again in a 9-3 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers later that night.
For now, the Cubs will settle for easing the pain of Marmol and the fan base by cutting ties with the beleaguered closer, whose struggles became too much of a “distraction” and “sideshow” with his latest, biggest blown save June 16 in New York.
Marmol, who had pitched only once since then, was designated for assignment by the club, which has 10 days to seek a trade for essentially nothing in return before releasing him through waivers.
“The decision really came down to the fact that it had become a distraction, I think, for him,” general manager Jed Hoyer said.
“I think it became hard for him to pitch as well as he could because every time he threw two balls to the first hitter, he was getting booed. I don’t think that’s easy for anybody.
“And I think it became difficult for his teammates because there was a little bit of a sideshow mentality to it.”
The Cubs have unsuccessfully tried much of the last two years to get something of value in return for Marmol, who makes $9.8 million in the last year of a three-year, $20 million deal.
Cutting ties with Marmol almost finishes off the Theo Epstein regime’s roster housecleaning, which has only Alfonso Soriano remaining from the big-contract era of GM Jim Hendry and Tribune ownership.
“Listen, the guy gave four really, really good seasons to the Cubs,” Hoyer said. “It kind of bums me out when I read some of the comments people make about his career in Chicago because they forget how dominant he was for four years. And, frankly, I think a lot of his ineffectiveness now is related to the fact he was ridden so hard when he was at his best.”
Marmol, a 2008 All-Star as a setup man, had 97 saves over his 3½ seasons as the Cubs’ primary closer through last season, and in 2010, he set what was then a major-league record with 15.99 strikeouts per nine innings.
He also was among the league leaders in appearances from 2008 to 2011.
One byproduct, Hoyer and manager Dale Sveum said, was the transformation of a slider once considered among the best in the game to what Hoyer calls “simply an OK slider.”
Marmol, who lost his closer job the first week of the season, was 2-4 with a 5.86 ERA and two saves in five chances.
The move surprised some teammates, including closer Kevin Gregg, who thinks Marmol will recapture confidence and success elsewhere.
“His stuff’s too good,” Gregg said. “It became a mental issue more than anything physical. . . . I think he was kind of chasing his tail in this situation here. Hopefully, a fresh start’s going to be what he needs to get back on track.”
Last week, Marmol stopped short of admitting he wanted a fresh start after the fallout that came with what admittedly was his worst blown save, against the Mets.
“I think it’s best for everybody concerned,” his agent, Paul Kinzer, said of the move. “Marmol can go somewhere and just start fresh.
“This isn’t the end of the road for Marmol.’’