Feb. 14, 2011RATTO ARCHIVE MLB PAGECSNCHICAGO: Cubs, Marmol agree to three-year dealRay Ratto
Somewhere, there is a tortured link between Billy Beane deciding to make a pitching staff with nine relief pitchers and closer Carlos Marmol just getting a three-year, 20 million contract from the Chicago Cubs.
Three-year deals for relievers have been mocked (but still offered) as violent non-prudent for years now, except maybe for your Mariano Rivera, who got a four-year deal earlier in his career and just finished a three-year re-up. The job is too volatile, the ups and downs are too Rorschach-ky -- just a bad business decision by any standard.
But Beane, who is very much a new wisdom-becomes-conventional guy and has decided that relievers are the new undervalued commodity, just finished stocking the As with bullpen creatures like they were canned goods and we just went to Alert Status I-See-Rockets-On-The-Horizon!
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Now whether Marmols deal, which seems borderline nuts based on what we know about relievers not named Rivera, was the Cubs way of acknowledging that relievers are baseballs new flavor-of-the-month is an open question.
Beane, though, chunked down a little over 17 million (out of an estimated payroll of 66 million, or 26 percent) to give himself the kind of preposterousimpressive bullpen depth that the As havent had since Dennis Eckersley roamed the earth. And the one thing we know about Beane, other than his misplaced sense of the critical importance of the Sex Pistols, is that when he sees what he perceives as a market imbalance, he tends to become over-exuberant.
Or in this case, more like uncharacteristically exuberant.
All that said, the As still enter the new year with the usual lack of fanfare, especially when compared to that of the defending blah-blah-blah-de-blah-blahs across the bridge, but they already seem to be putting their stamp on the market.
That is, unless you believe the Cubs so value Marmol that he will be one of the special ones that will be brilliant for years and years and years . Like Rivera, and . . . well, when you throw in that third years, you sort of run out of other folks. The better plan now seems to be making a Costco bullpen like Beane did, buying in bulk for the just-in-case.
Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.