Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

Guzman for closer?

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CINCINNATI - With closer Kevin Gregg into his third month of up-and-down results, and Carlos Marmol in the longest command slump of his relief career, is it time for a shakeup at the end of the Cubs' bullpen?

If so, is Angel Guzman the solution? The ninth inning looked like a good fit tonight -- albeit in a tie game and despite that two-out single.



Guzman, the Cubs' top reliever so far, already has been promoted to a seventh-inning role and has responded by pitching nothing but shutout appearances for the past month.

After tonight, he's at 2-0 with a 2.36 ERA and has the fewest walks (eight) of any pitcher who has been on the team all season, along with 23 Ks in 26 2/3 innings.

Manager Lou Piniella says he's keeping the power-pitching Guzman where is is for now, given how well Guzman has fit that role so far.

But what about down the road, even in the near future - even the closer role? It was something the Cubs considered as recently as two years ago when they toyed with moving Ryan Dempster from closer to the rotation early in the season.

``Right now, to tell you the truth, I'm just thinking about pitching in the seventh inning and getting three outs,'' said Guzman. ``I don't want to think about the future. It's all the present, and that's why I'm being successful right now. I try to get the things down I have to get done now, and in the future, whatever I'm going to be will be because of what is happening right now.''

Then he smiled and added, ``But it's a possibility that I like.''

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9 Comments

It's the cubs bullpen they have start trading people in bull pen , before it to late to caught anyone , I would put marshell ,in and wells in maybe keep Guzman but everybody who not get job there Gone , trade for Jake pevey , or Branon web know

Guzman definitely deserves a promotion within the bullpen but I wouldn't give up on him as a starter yet. The Cubs have plenty of starters and Guzman has proven valuable out of the pen but I would like to see him get another chance to win a starting spot next spring. One of the reasons he has been so good is the fact that he is more than just your typical two pitch reliever.

Trading for Gregg was just one of three major mistakes by Hendry. The Bradley acguistion was a terrible mistake. Trading DeRosa was huge and trading Cuerto for Gregg. This has not been one of Hendrys shining offseasons.

Here is how to right those mistakes. Trade Soriano for a bucket of balls, free up salary room. Go after Brian Roberts & Peavy. Pray the Padres will deal Gonzolez with Peavy. Make Guzman your closer. Waive Miles, Freel & Gregg. Keep Fox here everyday. Bring back DeRosa. Bring up Vitters.
By doing this, you actually save a ton of money and improve the team tremendously.

Do I really need to do Hendry's job for him?

Absolutely agree with Ron on Hendry's mistakes. I also agree that Soriano was a mistake and yet he is going nowhere. Miles and Gregg won't be waived either. Fox belongs in AL. Vitters isn't ready and premature call up could ruin him. I DO think Roberts would still be a good addition but I am less enthused with Peavy.

Ron, typical Cubs Fan! Maybe the Cubs can trade with the Yankees and get AROD and CC. Sebathia for some minor leaguers! What the Cubs need is a GM that knows baseball and a manager that is not sitting on his accomplishments of 19 yrs ago! Anyone that knows baseball realizes that Soriano is a joke of a player and can't hit a real pitcher. Derrick Lee is a great person, but he's 3 yrs past being productive. Oh, and let's bring in an injury-plagued DH to play right field! 101 yrs and counting! Is it true that Abe Lincoln threw out the first pitch at the last Cubs WS victory?

TO CITIZEN,
1st off, didn't I just say the same thing about Hendry. Before you critize someones opinion, have the gonads to do so under your real name. I have no respect for cowards hiding behind a computer attacking people. My suggestion was to cut the fat and add some quality. Try constructive opinion every now and then.
Hendry blew it with, Soriano, Bradley, Miles and some dumb trades. I am a true Cub fan, For Now!

Angel Guzman is not the answer to the Cubs' late-inning pitching woes (as he proved last night, in the ninth inning, against the Astros).

Carlos Marmol was told that the closer's role was his, prior to the '09 campaign...but, in typical, Machiavellian fashion, Lou "Head Games" Piniella and Jim "A.D.D." Hendry pulled the rug out from under him, for no outwardly apparent reason...no wonder Marmol doesn't have his "A" game. His confidence in himself and his team has been completely shaken by this bumbling, oh-so-typical Cubs move.

Speaking of shaking your players' confidence - Kerry Wood and Mark DeRosa (if you could read in between the lines, during the interviews they gave recently in Chicago, while talking to the local media) basically said that what was done to them by Cubs management was a world-class mistake of monumental proportions - not that anyone with half a brain could think otherwise.

The bottom line is this - Hendry blew a ton of money in an attempt to "win right now at all costs".

And 97 wins last year was great - but the window is now officially closed.

Here's why...

Hendry's hands are inextricably tied now, to the pending sale of the franchise, and his drunken-sailor spending habits are history. He's officially in fiscal rehab.

And even Hendry has to realize at this point that Lou Piniella can't get it done on the field, no matter how many players Hendry dumps in his lap - Lou whined in Seattle for years, blubbering on and on about how his GM wouldn't get him the bats he needed to put the Mariners over the hump.

But here in Chicago that whine won't get it done. Hendry gave Lou what he wanted - and THEN some - and Lou still can't get it done.

Why? Lou has no clue about late-game strategy. Lou has no grasp of mathematics.

Last night, the obvious choice was to bring Marmol in during the ninth inning of the game with Houston (Cubs lose, 2-1). That's what any big-time manager would have done in that situation (Tony LaRussa, Joe Torre, Bobby Cox, et al). And if you don't bring in Marmol, bring in Gregg. You shut the other team down and you extend the game for at least two innings and you give yourself some more at-bats and a chance to win the game.

But not Lou - oh no, not Sweet Lou...

Lou ALWAYS saves his setup men and closers for games in which he has a lead. They go into the game in the eighth, and in the ninth, but ONLY when the Cubs have a lead. (Unless they've been sitting on the bench for week-long stretches, during seven- or eight-game losing streaks, and Lou decides to get them some work.)

And this type of brain-dead approach to the game is precisely why Lou has no chance of "guiding" the Cubs to a World Series championship.

Lou thinks a five-game playoff series and a seven-game playoff series are exactly the same as regular season games, from a strategic standpoint. Get six innings out of your starter, put your No. 3 bullpen man in for the seventh inning. Use your setup man in the eighth. And then your closer in the ninth. It doesn't matter to Lou if his team has a slim lead in the fifth or sixth inning, and his starter is imploding (see Game 1 of last year's playoffs against the Dodgers, when Ryan Dempster walked the bases full and then gave up a grand slam to James Loney).

In Lou's skinny playbook, the starter stays in for at least six innings. And if the starter doesn't get it done, Lou gets mad at him. "Gotta get six innings outta my starters."

Hey, Lou, get mad at yourself. You can't continually try to force square pegs into round holes. You have to think outside the box to get the strategic upper hand.

Couple this bumbling approach to handling his pitchers, with Lou's penchant for having his hitters BUNT in crucial, late-game situations (in games that are tied, most especially - Lou had his best hitter, Kosuke Fukdome, BUNT with a runner on first and nobody out the other night, in a late-game, crucial situation) and it is abundantly clear that Lou has no grasp of probability and statistics.

Now, it would seem, on the surface, to be pretty clear to anyone who has a grasp of these two concepts, that the only thing that makes ANY sense for a Major League Baseball team ANYWHERE, is to have somebody at the tactical helm, pushing the buttons, who understands mathematics...but no, this is BASEBALL and Lou is supposedly a good baseball man. Cough cough. I'm about to blow that notion out of the water with one statistical BOOM. More on this in a minute...

Lou faced a pair of tied games in crucial, late-inning situations on the road in Atlanta just a few days ago. In the first game, he had Mike Fontenot BUNT with nobody out and a runner on first base. Fontenot popped it up. Oh boy - Lou got mad. His guys have to execute in those situations. Blah blah. Where's Lou's Prozac?

Uh, Lou, I don't know how to tell you this - bunting is the wrong move in almost ALL situations, from a statistical standpoint. You're much better off having the guy on first base try to steal second. And if he is too slow, you're much better off putting in a pinch runner, and having the pinch runner try to steal second. And if you don't have the guts to try that, well, letting the hitter swing away is still a better option. And statistics PROVE IT.

A lot can go wrong with a bunt when the other team knows it's coming - but one thing is for sure...you're going to have one out if the bunt is successfully executed. That's etched in stone. Unless the batter bunts the ball foul - twice - which happened to Geovany Soto in an identical, late-inning situation against the Braves the following night.

Soto managed to move a runner to third base in that case, via a ground ball, and the Cubs eventually won the game - but Lou tried his damnedest to prevent that from happening.

Statistics prove overwhelmingly that bunting is the worst way to go in almost EVERY situation in a baseball game, versus letting a hittter swing away (with a runner on first or second, or runners on first and second, and nobody out), or letting a runner on first try to steal second, or letting runners on second and third attempt a double steal. And these statistics are readily available to anybody who can think outside the box, and then take the time to run them down.

But, since Lou doesn't know this, and since I want to do my part to help the Cubs improve their chances of winning, I'll provide Mr. Piniella with some of that data, right here -

http://baseballanalysts.com/archives/2006/07/empirical_analy_1.php

As Lord Kelvin once said, "When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind."

My point is this - Lou should already know these things about the game of baseball. Lou should know that there are certain things you have to do, certain fundamental approaches you have to take, in order to give your team the best statistical chance to win in EVERY situation.

But Lou doesn't know these things.

And Jim Hendry hired him.

So the jig is up for both of these men - unless Lou can rapidly change his tactical approach to the game of baseball. Or unless Jim Hendry manages to land Jake Peavy, Dice K, and Johan Santana in the next few weeks. (Which, if he can swing it, will get Lou that "six innings out of his starters" that he so desperately seems to need.)

But if neither of those things happen, the '08 season is the best that the City of Chicago will ever witness for our beloved Cubbies for a long, long time - or at least until Hendry and Piniella are long gone.

And this is not speculation, it is pure mathematical fact - and the numbers tell the story for anyone who can see.

Ah well - wait till next year.

Its not gonna matter who closes ......they need to learn how to Bat first!!!!Im ashamed of the whole lineup and i dont even wear my derrick lee jersey anymore....Big LOU better suit up lmao!!!!

I agree on the Marmol assessment of being given the opportunity to close. He was promised this by the organization & as usual they didn't live up to the agreement. Marmol has a 9th inning mentality & should not be brought in the 8th inning. Almost every Cub fan wants to see Marmol have a shot at this closer role. Its obvious to me that Hendry, Lou, & Larry are bitter that he played in the WBC event over spring training & they really hold this against him. Guzman has been our most consistent pitcher out of the pen but I think Guzman should setup the 8th with Marmol do the finishing. Move Gregg & Marshall to the 6th/7th inning if need be as a nice righty/lefty combo. Mamol has confidence & an air of arrogance that is needed as a closer. If you look at Gregg, he seems scared in the bullpen everytime he comes in. 40,000+ in Wrigley compared to 10,000 in Miami can be a shock to you if your not ready. Also, Guzman will
throw to 1 or 2 batters with ease & we take him out. Wells throws a 2 hitter in the 7th with a 5-0 lead & is taken out. Lou & Larry give no positive confidence to the staff. They tear down these guys all season long with stupid piching changes. It's like they want to show the fans they are in charge & earning their coaching pay. Look at the losses this season that will haunt us in the end unless we get back to Cubs coaching sensibilty not Budweiser drinkability.

As far as hitting goes, it was time for Perry to exit & I hope Joshua can change some of these overpaid hitters that Hendry brought in. I have been told by an ex-Cub executive familiar with the minor league organization that Richie Zisk might be the best batting coach in our minor league system. My suggestion is use them both and lets get some bunting & stealing fundementals into our offensive scheme.
The players who came up from Iowa have confidence in Joshua.

The Derosa / Wood trades are mind boggling. Both had positive Karma & charisma both on & off the field. Derosa is better than Fontenot & Wood is more talented than Gregg. We pay Wood to sit for 3 years then he has a good year & we leave go of him. Does that make any sense or loyalty to Cubs nation. Ramy is without a doubt our MVP as the offense & defense really miss him. There is a catcher in Daytona that hit 2 grand slams in a game & followed it the next day with 2 more home runs. Roll some dice & gamble on him. His batting coach is Richie Zisk. It's class A but who really cares.

I hope someone with connections can deliver some of these messages to the dugout. Some suggestions are worth listening too.

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This page contains a single entry by Gordon Wittenmyer published on June 6, 2009 10:19 PM.

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