It's time for Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and any other Cubs executive who needs to sign off on this to simply say to themselves, "We can't get anything out of Carlos Marmol, either for producing for our team, or in swapping him to someone else," and just release him.
Yes, that means eating over $6 million worth of his contract that remains. In my view, doing that would be worth it, just to not see any more meltdowns like the one Marmol had in the eighth inning of the Cubs' 12-4 loss to the Diamondbacks, which was actually a well-pitched, close game until he entered. Instead, it was a blowout loss -- the team's biggest margin of defeat of 2013 -- that didn't end until one minute into Sunday morning, in front of a few hundred of us who remained through the whole mess.
He threw 30 pitches. Just 14 of them were strikes. He issued four walks, the last of which loaded the bases and was followed by the inevitable, a grand slam by the D'backs' Paul Goldschmidt. I'm not a pitching coach and I couldn't begin to tell you what's wrong with him, but it does appear that Marmol's mechanics are all over the place; he simply can't throw strikes and everyone knows it. Hitters simply stand there and take pitches, and when he finally does leave one up and out over the plate, they do what Goldschmidt did. Or what Gerardo Parra did -- smash a double to the base of the wall in right-center field, that failed to score a run only because of quick thinking by David DeJesus, who "lost" the ball in the ivy. Marmol has now faced 101 batters this year, walked 17 of them and given up four home runs, the same number of homers he allowed in 2012, facing 2½ times as many hitters.
Enough. Seriously, enough. I don't really care who replaces him; whoever that is could hardly be worse.
Well, unless that pitcher is Zach Putnam, who had a ninth inning just as horrific as Marmol's eighth, only allowing hits instead of walks. The last three innings of the game took an hour and 35 minutes as Cubs pitchers allowed 11 runs in those innings on nine hits and six walks.
Before that, it was actually a close, well-pitched game on both sides. More on that in a moment, because before that, several tremendous thunderstorms blew through the north side, delaying the game two hours and 21 minutes. At one point, an announcement over the PA system ordered everyone to the concourse due to anticipated severe weather, although only a small amount of thunder and lightning occurred. The PA system also entertained those of us there by sounding the Blackhawks' goal horn every time the Hawks scored, and also after their Game 1 win over the Kings was completed.
Jeff Samardzija allowed a home run to the first batter he faced, Gerardo Parra, and then settled down until the seventh. From Parra's hit until he was finally lifted, Shark allowed just six other hits and struck out 11. Unfortunately, his command wasn't as crisp as in his previous outing, and he also issued four walks. The D'backs left the bases loaded twice, as Samardzija got out of those innings with K's. Meanwhile, the Cubs got four of the first five men on base in the bottom of the first and scored three runs -- only to then see the next 17 men go down in order.
Shark he had to leave with a high pitch count (115) in the seventh with runners on first and second and one out; James Russell got the first man he faced, walked Martin Prado and was within one strike of getting out of the inning when Jason Kubel doubled, clearing the bases and giving Arizona the lead at 4-3.
Still, that's not an insurmountable lead, and Nate Schierholtz promptly tied the game up by leading off the last of the seventh with a home run. It would be the Cubs' only hit after the first inning. That must have pleased a man wearing a Schierholtz jersey and carrying a bag full of high-end camera equipment, taking photos of Nate in right field. Looked like he might have been a relative of Nate's, as that's the first time I've seen anyone with a Schierholtz jersey outside of Nate himself. He certainly got plenty of action shots of Nate running after baseballs in the late innings.
Which brings me back to Marmol. While there aren't any tremendous prospects ready for the big-league bullpen, the Cubs could surely give recently-acquired Eduardo Sanchez an extended tryout. I've said other players are "done" and been wrong, but if I say Carlos Marmol is, I don't think I'll get many dissenting votes. Thanks, Carlos, for a great 2010 season when you were nearly unhittable (40 hits allowed in 77⅔ innings, just 11 of those for extra bases), but it's time for you to go.
A couple more notes on Saturday's mess: first-base umpire Toby Basner, one of the minor-league vacation-relief umpires, made what appeared to be a couple of really, really bad calls at first base (though they had no eventual impact on the score, except for making Shark throw more pitches). Dale Sveum came out to argue both calls, and after the second, plate umpire Joe West trailed after Sveum as Dale headed back to the dugout, eventually ejecting him. This sort of behavior from umpires has to end. It appeared clear that West wanted to cause a confrontation and toss Sveum, and he got his wish. Beyond West's bad behavior, this is, again, something that would be eliminated if we had replay review.
And can we get the Cubs off Fox Saturday games, please? Beyond the fact that if Saturday's game been scheduled for noon, it would have been completed long before a single raindrop fell on Chicago, the Cubs have not won one of these regionally-televised matches since 2011 (0-2 so far this year, 0-6 last year, and yes, I know the game result has nothing to do with what TV channel the game is on. Still.).
The Cubs can still win this series Sunday, although facing Patrick Corbin, who has been one of the best pitchers in the National League this year, will not be an easy task. The weather forecasters say any rainshowers should be out of the area by game time.