In November 2012, the Chicago Cubs agreed to trade Carlos Marmol to the Los Angeles Angels. The Cubs were supposed to receive Dan Haren. When the deal fell through, the Cubs were left with a reliever who couldn’t have felt like he was wanted. Yet, with every day that passes, the Cubs appear as though they’ll enter the 2013 MLB season with Marmol trotting out in the ninth inning.
For most of his career, Marmol has been plagued with inconsistency. In 2011, Marmol blew 10 of his 44 save chances. While he converted 20 of his 23 save chances in 2012, Marmol saw a significant increase in his WHIP and walk-to-strikeout ratios. His WAR actually dropped from 2011. For his career, Marmol has averaged more than one blown save per five chances.
Many followers have tagged Kyuji Fujikawa as the closer-in-waiting. While Fujikawa has no MLB experience, there is hope that he’ll take over within the next few months. Fujikawa was a closer in the Nippon Professional Baseball League in Japan.
It’s awkward when a fan base considers a 32-year-old international phenomenon as the successor to someone who’s younger than him. It’s a testament to how fans are tired of the up-and-down nature of Marmol. Even when Marmol isn’t blowing saves, he makes it far too exciting. Closers who live on the edge will eventually fall off. On multiple occasions, Marmol has fallen into the abyss. He has just managed to survive.
At age 30, Marmol enters the final year of a three-year, $20 million contract that he signed in 2011. He has one last chance to show that he’s the long-term closer for this franchise. He has a few months to show that his erratic control is a thing of the past.
And once Marmol does that, management needs to sell high. History suggests that Marmol wouldn’t sustain that success for a prolonged period. Trade him when his stock is the highest. Don’t get suckered into thinking that he’s worth another lucrative contract.
Been there. Done that.