Yesterday, manager Lou Pinella announced that Kevin Gregg had won the closer’s job over the 26-year-old Carlos Marmol.
Marmol will continue as the Cubs primary set-up man, and yet another year will go by without him in the ninth inning. This was the worst decision Pinella could have possibly made for his team.
Looking at the 2008 statistics for each player, it is clear why the race was such a close one. Gregg finished the season with a 3.41 ERA, Marmol with a 2.68 ERA. Not too far off, but at this point, the edge has to go to Marmol.
In addition, Kevin Gregg blew nine saves for the Florida Marlins in 2008. Nine! And it is not as though he had the 60 or 70 some opportunities as K-Rod did.
Gregg had about 40 save chances, so he had something below an 80 percent conversion rate. Definitely not what I want for my closer on a team that is supposedly one of the favorites for the NL crown.
I am a strong believer that you do not bring in a closer from another team, but rather bring him up through your own farm system. I think a closer must earn the position through hard work, beginning as a middle reliever, moving to a set-up man, and finally filling the closer role.
Marmol proved his effectiveness to us last year, and although he slipped up in the middle of the season, his stats overall were very strong. After not re-signing Wood, Marmol looked as though the closer spot was his for the taking without much competition from other relievers.
In promoting Kevin Gregg, Lou Pinella may destroy much of Marmol’s confidence. Marmol, like Carlos Zambrano, is a pitcher who feeds off of confidence.
When things are going his way, he is unhittable, but when he is in a rough stretch, he lets his emotions affect his pitching, and is wild and unable to hit the strike zone.
Why, Lou, knowing all of this, did you promote Kevin Gregg and leave your boy Carlos Marmol out for another year?
Spring training is spring training. That is all it is. Fabulous pitchers get beat up, and Class-A players perform like MLB all-stars.
Kevin Gregg as a fly-ball pitcher will lose his effectiveness, or what effectiveness he does have, on hot days where the wind is blowing out at Wrigley.
And who would you feel more confident with on the mound in the ninth with one out and runners on second and third? Carlos Marmol, with 114 strikeouts in 87 innings, or Kevin Gregg with 58 strikeouts in 68 innings?
The choice is obvious for me, I choose a power pitcher who has proved himself on my team any day over a power pitching wannabe who has pitched his last seasons in the spacious Dolphin Stadium.
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