On Sunday afternoon, the Chicago Tribune reported that Lou Piniella has named Kevin Gregg as the closer for 2009.
For two years, Marmol has been lights out in the setup role and looked like a shoo-in for the Cubs closer role in the future. Kevin Gregg, on the other hand, has pitched well, but doesn't have nearly the talent that Marmol has.
Most people are surprised with this decision, as the closer battle in Spring Training seemed more like a token contest rather than an actual competition for the role.
Cubs nation is plagued yet again with another poor decision by Cubs management.
It seemed impossible to mess up, but somehow the Cubs picked the wrong closer, as they will undoubtedly find out during the first few weeks of the season.
First, the Cubs balked at the opportunity to acquire Jake Peavy, an error that will become more significant when Rich Harden inevitably goes down and the Cubs end up with Sean Marshall as the fourth starter
Cubs management also failed to resign closer Kerry Wood, although this situation wasn't ideal due to contract issues.
Ultra utility man Mark DeRosa, who carried the team during some stretches last season, was dealt and replaced by Aaron Miles, who is essentially a worse version of DeRo.
Soriano stayed in the leadoff spot. Again.
Carlos Zambrano, who is 0-5 on opening day, gets the nod again this year even though a strong case could be made for Ryan Dempster.
All of these errors, combined with Derrek Lee's age, Fukudome and Soriano's inconsistency, and a lack of overall depth on the team all point to a disappointing year, despite playoff predictions.
Now, the Cubs have picked the wrong man to finish the game. Although Marmol can have a higher WHIP that the Cubs would like, he still manages to finish games and get hitters out. He has immensely more talent than Gregg and is younger.
The Cubs' saving grace might be that they play in a poor division, but management has hurt this team far more than it has helped going into 2009, and it is uncertain whether the Cubs will meet their high expectations.