You read that right, with Mariano Rivera done for the year, and considering his age maybe his career, the New York Yankees need a new closer; or at very least a new setup man. No one makes more sense than former Chicago Cubs closer Carlos Marmol. This is not me being a “Marmol Backer” or a Cubs homer, I am being completely honest. Look at his statistics, follow the timeline and put two and two together and you will see my point. If you are still baffled by all of this, allow me to explain.
Since coming up to the majors in 2006, Marmol has been the most frustrating pitcher in the league. He has spent the past five years frustrating batters, fans and management. However, take a closer look at those stats and what do you see? Between the years of 2007-2010 when the Cubs converted him into a relief pitcher he was the most dominating relief pitcher and closer the Cubs have had in a long time. In 2010, he might have had the greatest statistical season of any pitcher in Major League history with his 16 strikeout per nine inning average, an ERA of 2.55 and a sparkling WHIP of 1.185. He also had 38 saves while only blowing five to make that an amazing season. Looking at his first four seasons as a relief pitcher and closer his stats are still golden. An ERA of 2.54, a WHIP of 1.158, a massive 12.9 strike outs per nine innings while converting 61 saves and blowing 12 other chances. That breaks down to three blown saves a year, which is not all too bad.
Now unfortunately Marmol has not been effective since the end of the 2010 season as fans can clearly see in his very poor statistics these past two years. What is even more unfortunate is that he was signed to a new three year deal at the end of that record breaking season which will make him nearly impossible to move without the Cubs eating a vast majority of that contract. If you remember way back when he was signed, I was not overly thrilled with that extension because of he was the most inconsistent pitcher in baseball history. Sadly, that contract was extended to him, and he has fallen off the face of the earth as far as ability to close out a game. But the key is looking at his first four years coming out of the bullpen, and remembering how dominating he was in that era.
Something happened between the end of the 2010 season and the start of the 2011 season which turned him into frustratingly dominant to just plain frustrating. Perhaps what happened was players figured out they did not have to swing at the unhittable slider. If he hit his mark, they had no chance to hit the ball anyway, and if he missed they got walked. Or maybe his problems go just a little deeper than batters smartening up. Perhaps there was a big change that took place which turned him into the joke of a closer that he is now.
As much as fans hate him and blame him for all the pitching woes the Cubs have ever had, Larry Rothschild was one hell of a pitching coach and I stand by my statement that he is one of the best in the game. A simple look at the pitching staff’s statistics will prove my point, but alas no one wants to look at stats and want to use their own bullheaded opinions and blame him for injuries to pitchers which were not his fault. Rothschild was Marmol’s pitching coach when he was at his best, he knew how to hone the best that Marmol had and turned him into a feared closer because of that slider. Could Rothschild’s departure and Marmol’s struggle all be a coincidence? Perhaps, but remember under Mark Riggins most of the pitching staff struggled and appeared to have fallen off. Maybe losing Rothschild had a bigger impact than fans would like to admit. Granted, under Chris Bosio Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza and Jeff Samardzija (who is the only pitcher who improved under Riggins) have been fairly dominating this season; especially Dempster who has an ERA under 1.000, though he is still without a win due to a combination of bad a bullpen and a poor offense.
But why does this matter? Why do those first four years with Rothschild matter? He is the pitching coach for the Yankees, and if anyone can fix the mess that Marmol has become, he is the guy.
I don’t want to hear that no pitching coach would ever want to touch him, because that is a flat out lie. Some of the most egotistical men in baseball are the pitching coaches. They always feel like they can fix anyone and figure out what is wrong with them. If there is a pitching coach who can do that with Marmol, Rothschild is the man for the job. After all, he figured out what was wrong with him in the first place, why would he not be able to save Marmol’s career again?
The problem would ultimately be how much of the near $15 Million he is still owed would the Cubs have to eat to make the deal happen; unfortunately they would likely have to eat a vast majority of his contract to make the deal happen. Either that, or include something else they desperately need, a starting pitcher.
Dempster is pitching out of his ass this year and has been nothing short of dominating. Having turned 35 yesterday the chances of the Cubs re-signing him at the end of the year are slim. That makes him the ultimate trade chip. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer should be calling the Yankees today and offering up Marmol and dangling Dempster along with him. You want Dempster, you have to take Marmol. These package deals are not unheard of, as the then Florida Marlins made the Detroit Tigers take Dontrelle Willis if they wanted Miguel Cabrera. A package deal would bring the Cubs back a better package, or could ease the amount the Cubs would have to pick up in the Marmol contract.
If you disagree with the Dempster trade idea (which I will get into closer to the trade deadline) why? The Cubs are not going anywhere this season and he will not be re-signed. The Cubs need to trade him to help continue to rebuild and so they get something for him when he leaves.
Marmol to the Yankees is a long shot, no matter who is or is not included in the deal. But the move makes sense from both sides. The Cubs would benefit by getting rid of him, and the Yankees would get a low risk high reward pitcher. With how much the Cubs would have to eat to make the deal happen, they would be able to cut him without blinking an eye. But if he did work out, and Rothschild could fix him, the Yankees now have a very cheap and dominating relief pitcher for the next two years.
This idea may never even see the light of day, but Epstein and Hoyer should at least give Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman a call, even if they are only laughed off the phone.