Cubs

Mooney: Cubs, Marmol agree to three-year deal

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Mooney: Cubs, Marmol agree to three-year deal

Monday, Feb. 14, 2011
Posted 1:36 p.m. Updated 4:35 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

MESA, Ariz The Cubs signed Carlos Marmol as a 16-year-old out of the Dominican Republic. It took three seasons before he was talked into converting from catcher. If they didnt know what they had then, they certainly do now.

Marmol signed a three-year, 20 million deal on Monday that avoids arbitration and buys out his first year of free agency. The 28-year-old closer could barely contain a huge smile at the beginning of a Fitch Park news conference.

I grew up in this organization. (Theyre) always here for me, Marmol said. When you trust yourself, you never know what youre going to be.

With his unpredictable slider, Marmol has emerged as a dominant force. He might have saved 50 games last year if he wasnt stuck on a sub-.500 team. He closed out 38 during his first full season on the job, posting a 15.99 strikeout ratio thats higher than any other pitcher in major-league history.

Marmol will be rewarded with an extension that breaks down like this: 3.2 million this season; 7 million the year after that; and 9.8 million in 2013.

It contains a limited no-trade clause and represents an upfront savings from the figure general manager Jim Hendry and agent Barry Praver would have otherwise settled on (4.7 million) before Tuesdays scheduled arbitration hearing.

Hendry values a closer who can handle Wrigley Fields big stage and withstand the pressures of playing in a large market.

It can be demoralizing if you blow a lot of games late, Hendry said. Hes certainly not afraid. Hes proven that. He can get out of jams, which most great closers have that ability. Hes approaching one of the best in the game. You can only go by asking the hitters in the National League who they like to face the least. And Id say a high percentage would probably start with him.

Marmols durable enough to have appeared in 238 games across the past three seasons. He can be wild hes walked 158 batters and hit 26 more during that time but also has the personality to be a closer.

The guys got very big you-know-what, Ted Lilly once said of Marmol.

Marmol loves playing in Chicago, and has put himself in position to become a free agent at the age of 31. If he continues to perform like an elite closer, he will receive an even bigger payday.

Hopefully I can sign a 10-year deal with Jim, Marmol said, sitting at a table next to the Cubs general manager. To which Hendry couldnt resist responding: Hope Im here to do it.

The bridge to Marmol

To get toward their closer, the Cubs will need left-handed reliever John Grabow, who will wear a knee brace as a precaution this season but doesnt have any limitations during camp.

Grabow pushed himself trying to live up to his contract, a two-year, 7.5 million deal that will expire at seasons end. His left knee didnt feel right, and an MRI ultimately revealed an MCL tear last August. He was shut down with a 7.36 ERA.

When theyre paying you to go out and pitch, you want (to) perform, Grabow said. After we started off so slow, youre just trying to catch up. Youre trying to pitch through an injury and things just got worse. If I look back now, I can probably learn from that. I have to listen to my body a little more.
Etc.

As insurance against an injury to Carlos Pena, manager Mike Quade said Tyler Colvin will get an extended look at first base this spring. The Cubs are thin at the position, and theres no better time to see whether the 25-year-old outfielder can handle it. Carlos Silva had a 103-degree fever and missed Mondays workout. Angel Guzman, who is recovering from a serious shoulder surgery, threw off the mound Monday. The Cubs are hopeful that the reliever will be able to throw a simulated game by the middle of March.

PatrickMooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Kyle Ryan's emergence is coming at exactly the right time for Cubs

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AP

Kyle Ryan's emergence is coming at exactly the right time for Cubs

With the MLB trade deadline two weeks away, bullpen help figures to be on the Cubs' wish list.

But thanks in part to Kyle Ryan's emergence, the Cubs don't absolutely need that reliever to be left-handed (though it would probably be ideal).

The Cubs began the week with three southpaws in their bullpen, but at some point this weekend, Ryan may be the lone lefty remaining. Mike Montgomery was traded to the Royals late Monday night and with Carl Edwards Jr. progressing in his rehab (he threw again Tuesday), he might take Randy Rosario's spot in a couple days. 

The Cubs like Edwards against lefties and they also feel confident in Pedro Strop against either handed hitter when he's on. But Ryan has worked his way into Joe Maddon's Circle of Trust and is currently the only lefty residing there.

That's not to say the Cubs don't need another reliable southpaw in the 'pen, but Ryan looks like he's going to get some big outs for this team down the stretch.

"He's done a great job for us since he's been here," Jon Lester said of Ryan last month. "I don't think he gets enough credit for what he's been able to do."

Ryan impressed the Cubs with his work as a multi-inning reliever in Triple-A last season and turned heads again in camp this spring. Still, Rosario made the Opening Day roster over him, though Ryan got called up on the team's season-opening road trip and made his first appearance on April 6.

Since then, he's been a mainstay while Montgomery battled injury and ineffectiveness, Rosario and Tim Collins have bounced between Triple-A Iowa and Chicago and veteran Xavier Cedeno's time off the injured list was short-lived.

Ryan looked to be finding his way throughout his first month in the bullpen, but after his infamous "freeze" moment against the Marlins, he endured some struggles (7 runs allowed on 12 hits in 7 innings from May 8 through June 1).

He's righted the ship since then, permitting only 1 run over his last 17 appearances (14 innings) and lowering his season ERA to 3.21 to go along with a 1.31 WHIP and 33 strikeouts in 33.2 innings.

A big part of that recent success can be tied to Ryan's increased improvement against left-handed hitters. 

Lefties hit .344 with a .405 on-base percentage off Ryan through June 5. But since then, Ryan has surrendered only 3 hits — all singles — and zero walks to the 19 left-handed hitters he's faced (.158 AVG).

He credits part of that turnaround to working on a changeup, which he thinks has helped lock in the "feel" of all his other pitches as well as his mechanics. 

As he works to add a new pitch to his repertoire, Ryan has leaned on Cubs bullpen coach Lester Strode and pitching coach Tommy Hottovy for assistance, while also picking the brains of veterans like Cole Hamels, Kyle Hendricks and Brad Brach who have all thrown changeups for quite a while.

But even with all that work, he still hasn't resorted to using the changeup much in games. The pitch is so foreign that it's still being picked up as a sinker, including on the Wrigley Field video board Sunday when he threw one in his inning of work.

"Eventually, I'm gonna find the changeup and it's gonna be a comfortable, confident pitch," Ryan said. "But I do think it's gotten me behind all the rest of my pitches and it's maybe a little bit better feel for everything. It's gonna stay where it is for a while. I'm gonna keep trying."

Ryan said one of the things he likes about the changeup is that it can eventually be a nice weapon because it "goes in the opposite direction" of all his other pitches.

We'll see if the new pitch can ever become a factor for the 27-year-old. But if it's helped lock in his other pitches, that's great news for the Cubs, especially as they look to fortify their bullpen this month.

Cubs Talk Podcast: The Yu Darvish 1st Wrigley win and post-ASG hot start podcast

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: The Yu Darvish 1st Wrigley win and post-ASG hot start podcast

On the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, Kelly Crull and Tony Andracki discuss Yu Darvish's 1st win at Wrigley, Cole Hamel's status, and Kris Bryant playing better than he did in his MVP season.

01:00     Darvish picking up 1st win at Wrigley

03:30     Cole Hamels injury update

05:00     Starting rotation after the All-Star break

06:00     Cubs defense looking sharp

07:30     How the Cubs will approach the weekend and the expected heat

09:30     Kris Bryant playing above his MVP level

12:00     How the NL Central stacks up

14:00     Upcoming road trip to San Francisco, Milwaukee and Saint Louis

16:00     Addition to Martin Maldonado

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Cubs Talk Podcast

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