Why can't Carlos Marmol find his arm slot or confidence at Des Moines instead of ruining outstanding jobs by Cubs starting pitchers, as if they don't have enough problems with no offensive support. If I was Ryan Dempster I'd punch Dale Sveum in the nose. Cubs fan since 1934. -- Ray Nepute Atlanta GA
I don't condone violence, Ray, but I understand your frustration. I believe Sveum has rectified the problem by removing Marmol from the closer's role, but he's hinted that Marmol's timeout could be a short one. There is no chance the Cubs will send Marmol to Iowa. And, reminder, no need to reveal how long you've been a Cubs fan.
Anthony Rizzo play the outfield at all? Perhaps instead of everyone talking about Bryan LaHair moving, Rizzo could move and we could get both of their bats in the lineup. -- Jim, Water View, Va.
I'm sure he could figure out left field, but the plan is to stick him at first when he's ready and move LaHair to the outfield. Personally, I think he's ready, but I don't get a vote.
Sveum must do three things: 1. Shave before the game and look good at the press conference. 2. Stop chewing tobacco and spitting during the game. 3. Realize that Marmol will lose more than he will save and starters can go nine innings. A Cubs fan since 1935, but I am weakening. -- Gint Herzog, Fort Wayne, Ind.
1. Sveum's look is part of his image, so I wouldn't change that. Recall that Lou Piniella used to not shave during losing skids, and we all enjoyed watching him get perturbed with an extra scratchy face. 2. Sveum is not going to stop chewing. 3. Some starters can go nine. 4. Stay strong, and again, no need to tell me how long you've been a Cubs fan.
The Cubs need to either send Carlos Marmol down to the minor leagues or trade him. He has blown too many saves because he cannot control any of his pitches. Do you think he's lost his concentration? -- Cynthia Lee, Chicago
Sometimes he loses his concentration, like letting Michael Bourn get halfway to third without a glance on that steal. I believe he stopped throwing his fastball because he didn't trust it, then he fell behind in counts, then he walked guys, then he lost confidence, and then came the concentration loss.
My question concerns whether compensation of a minor league player to the Padres was ever completed, and if so who that player was? I thought it was supposed to be accomplished toward the end of spring training. -- Frank P. Host, Sauk Village.
Truthfully, we've heard this so often now we've stopped caring enough to even ask. I don't know if that's sadder for Jed Hoyer or sadder for the Padres. Perhaps some good cigars and golf balls would suffice.
I don't understand why these Cubs managers -- Piniella, Mike Quade, Sveum -- take out the starting pitcher in the ninth inning when he's cruising along and has thrown only 100 pitches or so, in place of erratic Marmol. I hope you can come up with a funny line to this question to entertain the readers, otherwise you won't answer it. -- Ken Ruppert, Portland, Ore.
Marmol was dominant for a long stretch, despite the walks and hit batters. No one could hit him, which is why they trusted him. But Sveum had enough and had to do something after the Cincy meltdown. One thing about Marmol: He faces reporters whenever he blows games. Not everyone in the clubhouse can say that.
Do the Cubs consider Adrian Cardenas a legitimate prospect at second or third base? It appears the Ian Stewart experiment has backfired at third and they have no other decent options for the remainder of the year. Cardenas is still relatively young and has hit for a high average everywhere he has played, albeit with little power. -- Dave Brown, Chicago
The new regime made Stewart one of their first key acquisitions, so I don't think they plan on giving up on him yet. Cardenas could be a valuable role player if he can move around and not be a defensive liability, but the defense and the power thing likely will prevent him from being an everyday player anywhere but second. We'll see, especially if Darwin Barney doesn't get out of his slump.
Is it worth continuing to pitch Marmol to see if he improves, hopefully to increase his trade value? -- David Hammond, Chicago
I believe that's exactly what they're trying to do, though no one will admit it. If Rafael Dolis can handle the closer's role, there's no need to keep paying Marmol to be a set-up man, and Boston will be looking for a closer if they stay in the race.
Marmol on a short leash? What about Theo Epstein on a short leash. How long before fans turn on him and start not attending games? After all, this is a business and if people don't fill the seats, the owner looks for a new venue. Do I need to remind you of what happened in Montreal a few years back? -- Peter J. Sherman, Cary
If you're suggesting the Cubs will be run by the league, play some games in Puerto Rico and eventually move to Washington just because of a bad start in Theo's first year, I think you may be jumping the gun, or jumping the shark for that matter. Fans are not going to turn on Theo for quite some time. Sveum is the one that has to worry about Cubs fans.
Who in the Cubs organization is most responsible for keeping Marmol the last two years? -- George, Burr Ridge,Il
The man who approved the $20 million contract to keep Marmol from leaving through free agency. Also the man signs his checks. Coincidentally, both are the same guy: Tom Ricketts.
It seems like Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol, the two pitchers who have the most difficulty finding the strike zone, are also the two pitchers who shake off the most signs from the catcher. Any connection? -- David Mercury, Henderson, Nev.
Probably. I'd like to see some stats on pitchers shaking off their catchers and the eventual outcome on the next pitch, as well as stats on how pitchers perform immediately after visits from the pitching coach. My guess is mound visits are usually followed by a walk or a hit 30 percent of the time, though I've never seen any raw data to confirm this theory.
I grew up in Chicago and have followed the Cubs for 55 years. I live in California now and travel to Wrigley every summer for 3-5 games. But, if Marmol isn't gone soon, I'm thinking of canceling this summer's plans. I have seen plenty of bad Cubs teams but it's different when you are sitting there in the ninth with a lead and watch them lose again and again. I think we should define a new human category, "Baseball Stupid." Much different from regular stupid, and only MLB managers and GMs have it. -- Gust Rouhas, Santa Barbara, Calif.
OK, I give up. Please include the number of years you've followed the Cubs along with your question next time. And no Marmol questions, please. Thanks for all the relevant -- and irrelevant -- questions.
Reader Q&A: Paul Sullivan's Cubs mailbag
"Ask Paul" addresses Carlos Marmol's struggles, his concentration, why Cubs managers keep giving Marmol the ball, Marmol's options, Marmol shaking off his catcher ... and even a few non-Marmol topics.