Bears

Theo: Its on Marmol to fix the problem

757644.png

Theo: Its on Marmol to fix the problem

Theo Epstein has vowed that his front office will block out all the noise while making decisions. But the Cubs president certainly pays attention to what is written and what is said.

Wrigley Field has no patience for Carlos Marmol anymore. You can hear it from the crowd at the first sign of trouble. This probably isnt the best place for a demoted closer to try to win back his job.

But Marmol was back beating his chest late Monday night after escaping an eighth-inning jam in a 5-1 win over the Atlanta Braves. He said the negative reactions from the fans forced him to focus after walking the first two batters.

Epstein who inherited Marmols 20 million contract, which still has a balance of more than 15 million through next season liked that response.

He put it well, Epstein said Tuesday. The way to work through it in this environment is to take the feedback that he gets sometimes and turn it into a positive. Last night he said that the booing kind of motivated him, because he knew he had to get it right and thats a mature approach.

Ballplayers are mainly (driven internally), but you cant help but notice when things like that are going on. So you might as well turn it into a positive.

Marmol earned that big contract with a lights-out season in 2010, saving 38 games in 43 chances and notching 138 strikeouts. Last year he led the majors with 10 blown saves. He entered Tuesday with a 5.06 ERA and 15 walks in 10 23 innings.

Everyone has to recognize he wants to succeed as much as anyone else, Epstein said. No one wants to go out there and fail, especially in a role where you let your teammates down. But hes paid a lot of money to do a job and hes got a lot of support around him. So its up to him to put the work in to go out and fix himself.

But I havent seen any signs of him backing down. So as long as he gives the effort and faces his challenges head-on, were going to support him and help him get where he needs to be.

People whove followed Marmols career since he was just a young kid out of the Dominican Republic remember how long it took the organization to finally convince him to convert to pitching.

Marmol viewed himself as a better hitter than the talent evaluators did. Theres still a stubborn streak, a reluctance to go away from his slider, the one pitch that once made him one of the most dominant relievers in baseball.

Since the start of spring training, manager Dale Sveum and his coaching staff have been trying to get Marmol to trust his fastball. Even if that happens, theres not necessarily a guarantee that the bullpen will take the same shape again.

I didnt say he did have to (go back in the closers role), Sveum said. Theres a possibility if hes throwing well and hes throwing his fastball and he shows me that hes capable of doing it again.

Kerry Woods right shoulder still isnt ready to handle pitching on back-to-back days. The Cubs like the poise and stuff shown by Rafael Dolis, a 24-year-old rookie. Closing is in the DNA of left-hander James Russell, whose father Jeff saved 186 games in the big leagues.

They will be given an opportunity to borrow a phrase from the front office to grab the job by the throat.

If Dolis is doing well and Russell (succeeds) in that role, Sveum said, Im not going to make change (just) to make change.

Maybe Marmol will find more motivation in that message.

Saints DE Cam Jordan really wants to hit Chase Daniel, but swears it's out of love

Saints DE Cam Jordan really wants to hit Chase Daniel, but swears it's out of love

All signs this week have pointed to Mitch Trubisky returning for the Bears’ Week 7 matchup against New Orleans, which should be exciting news for Chicago fans (right?).

Cam Jordan and the Saints defense, for their part, won’t be happy to see Mitch under center, but maaaaybe not for the reason you’d think. In an appearance on NFL Total Access this afternoon, Jordan was asked by Lindsay Rhodes what the difference between facing Trubisky and backup QB Chase Daniel is for New Orleans, and he laid out a pretty compelling case for preferring Daniel:

 

“I’ve been meaning to hit Chase ever since I got to the league,” Jordan said. “I’ve already hit Mitch.”

Jordan was quick to clarify that he “love[s] Chase” from his days sharing a locker room with him in New Orleans early in each of their careers. Daniel backed up Drew Brees from 2010-2012, overlapping with Jordan’s rookie and sophomore seasons (2011-2012). 

“He brought so much juice to our locker room when he was here,” Jordan continued. “I can’t wait for a chance to hit him. That’s how I show love to my friends.”

Daniel took the rib in stride, tweeting out a light-hearted response to the clip of Jordan a few hours later:


Jordan responded to that by saying he has "nothing but admiration" for Daniel and implored him to be the Brett Favre to his Michael Strahan. (Favre, you'll remember, famously crumpled in a heap at the feet of Strahan in Week 17 of the 2001 season, with Strahan needing only one sack to break the single-season record. That record of 22.5 sacks still stands to this day.) Chicago fans would certainly sign on for Daniel granting Jordan's wish, in the event of a blowout Bears victory.  

Whether it’s Trubisky or Daniel leading the Bears’ huddles on Sunday, though, the Saints defense will prove a formidable matchup, and Jordan is a big reason why. The four-time Pro Bowler has already racked up five sacks (tied for eighth in the NFL) and nine quarterback hits six games into the season.

Optimistically, the hope is Jordan never gets the chance to set his sights on any Bears quarterback this Sunday. Unrealistic? Definitely. But one can dream.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.

MLB proposing colossal changes to minor leagues, including eliminating dozens of teams

1018_minor_league_zack_collins.jpg
USA TODAY

MLB proposing colossal changes to minor leagues, including eliminating dozens of teams

If Major League Baseball gets its way, there could be seismic changes coming to the minor leagues.

According to a report from Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper, the league has proposed a host of sweeping changes to the minor leagues, including the elimination of 42 affiliated teams.

The proposal is merely the beginning of what are expected to be lengthy negotiations over a new version of what’s called the “Professional Baseball Agreement,” basically the contract that keeps the major and minor leagues connected and minor league teams stocked with players employed by major league clubs. The existing edition expires at the end of the 2020 season, and so a new one will need to be hashed out.

Major League Baseball is looking for control over how the minor leagues are organized, with an eye on improving facilities and clustering affiliates and leagues from a geographic standpoint to cut down on travel costs. There’s also expected to be an increase in salaries for minor league players, which has long been a talking point thanks to the increasing number of descriptions of how financially difficult life can be for those trying to reach the majors.

To accomplish those goals, Major League Baseball is proposing drastic solutions.

The one that will grab the most attention is the elimination of more than a quarter of the existing affiliated teams in the minor leagues, removing affiliated minor league teams from more than three dozen cities across the United States and getting rid of more than 1,000 jobs for minor league players. Simply, the entire short-season rookie ball (excluding squads that play at team-owned facilities in Arizona and Florida) would be eliminated, leaving only four levels of affiliated teams: Low Class A, High Class A, Double-A and Triple-A.

If you’re wondering what would happen to those 42 teams, the proposal is for them to form something called a “Dream League,” which would essentially serve the same purpose as an independent league, allowing players without jobs to keep playing and try to get a job with a major league team.

Additionally, Major League Baseball is proposing radical restructuring of existing leagues in order to cluster teams closer together. That could include changing the level of certain teams, such as making a Class A team a Triple-A team based on the quality of facilities and what makes the most geographic sense. Leagues could also gain or lose a large number of teams, with the Triple-A International League growing to 20 teams and the Triple-A Pacific Coast League shrinking to just 10 teams. One Class A league was described as being reduced to just six teams, while the rest of its current teams would be put into a brand-new league.

As for how the White Sox and their affiliates would be affected, team-specific information was not included in the report. One read of the details of this proposal could see something such as the White Sox affiliates being relocated to Midwestern cities. Another, however, could see the White Sox affiliates mostly staying how they currently are, given those teams are all geographically close to one another, with all but one located in North Carolina.

Buried in all of this is another big change, a proposed move of the draft from June to August, giving players a couple more months to show off for major league teams, and a reduction in the number of rounds from the current 40 to somewhere between 20 and 25. That, and the elimination of short-season rookie ball, would likely prevent draftees from playing minor league baseball in the same year they’re drafted.

It’s all something to keep an eye on, for sure, as many fans across the country who closely follow minor league teams in their hometowns could experience a dramatic shakeup.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.