UPDATE: The Dan Haren-for-Carlos Marmol swap is not happening

23 Comments

UPDATE: Oh boy. Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com was told by a source that the deal is off.

Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com hears that Carlos Marmol would have signed off on the trade, but the Cubs pulled the deal off the table for some reason. It could be because of the money involved or the medicals or maybe because Theo Epstein felt bad for pulling a fast one on Dipoto. In any case, the Angels are now talking to other teams and must decide by midnight ET whether to exercise Haren’s $15.5 million option for 2013. They could hypothetically pick up the option and trade him at a later date.

9:43 PM: As Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com notes, the hold-up isn’t because the Angels got cold feet, but rather because the Cubs are waiting on Carlos Marmol to waive his no-trade clause. If he agrees to join the Angels, Dan Haren will go to the Cubs.

This is a strange development, as Marmol’s comments to Dominican newspaper El Caribe earlier tonight (via Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com) made it sound like he was on board and the trade was a foregone conclusion. Apparently not.

9:30 PM: Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com is also hearing that the deal isn’t done and that the Angels continue to talk to other teams. The clock is ticking, though.

8:53 PM: Hold your horses, everybody. According to Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com, reports of a deal are premature and the Angels are still in active discussions with more than one team.

For what it’s worth, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times writes that one potential hold-up of the trade is that the Angels and Cubs are waiting for approval from MLB because of the money being exchanged. In other words, don’t assume this deal is dead. Still, this could be a long night.

8:15 PM: Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com writes that the Angels could contribute all or part of Haren’s $3.5 million buyout. Wait, shouldn’t the Cubs be covering part of Marmol’s salary here? Epstein may have pulled a heck of a Jedi mind trick on Jerry Dipoto.

7:59 PM: Dan Haren said earlier this week that he expected to be traded before tonight’s midnight deadline on his $15.5 million club option for 2013. Not only is he being traded, but there’s an interesting twist involved.

Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times and Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago are reporting that the Angels have traded Haren to the Cubs for Carlos Marmol. Yancen Pujols was first to report that Marmol was involved in a trade.

No word yet on how much money will exchange hands or if other players will be involved. Marmol is set to make $9.8 million next season. Meanwhile, the Angels were prepared to buy out Haren’s option for $3.5 million if they couldn’t find a trade partner.

Getting Haren is a major coup for Theo Epstein and company, even coming off a down season where he posted a 4.33 ERA over 30 starts while showing diminished velocity and dealing with a back issue. If he can rebound, the Cubs could flip him for a pretty nice haul at the trade deadline next year.

As for Marmol, the erratic right-hander is coming off a season where he posted a 3.42 ERA, 20 saves and a 72/45 K/BB ratio over 55 1/3 innings. Most expected the Angels to be in the market for a closer this offseason, but that may no longer be the case with Marmol and Ernesto Frieri in-house. That would take away one potential destination for Rafael Soriano.

The Cubs are in desperate need of relief

Associated Press
Leave a comment

Tonight in Chicago Yu Darvish of the Dodgers will face off against Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs. If this were Game 1, we’d have a lot to say about the Dodgers’ trade deadline pickup and the Cubs’ budding ace. If this series continues on the way it’s been going, however, each of them will be footnotes because it has been all about the bullpens.

The Cubs, you may have heard, are having tremendous problems with relief pitching. Both their own and with the opposition’s. Cubs relievers have a 7.03 ERA this postseason, and have allowed six runs on eight hits and have walked six batters in seven innings of work. And no, the relief struggles aren’t just a matter of Joe Maddon pushing the wrong buttons (even though, yeah, he has pushed the wrong buttons).

Maddon pushed Wade Davis for 44 pitches in Game 5 of the NLDS, limiting his availability in Games 1 and 2. That pushing is a result of a lack of relief depth on the Cubs. Brian Duensing, Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. all have talent and all have had their moments, but none of them are the sort of relievers we have come to see in the past few postseasons. The guys who, when your starter tosses 80 pitches in four innings like Jon Lester did the other night, can be relied upon to shut down the opposition for three and a half more until your lights-out closer can get the four-out save.

In contrast, the Dodgers bullpen has been dominant, tossing eight scoreless innings. Indeed, Dodgers relievers have tossed eight almost perfect innings, allowing zero hits and zero walks while striking out nine Cubs batters. The only imperfection came when Kenley Jansen hit Anthony Rizzo in Game 2. That’s it. Compare this to the past couple of postseasons where the only truly reliable arm down there was Jansen, and in which Dodgers managers have had to rely on Clayton Kershaw to come on in relief. That has not been a temptation at all as the revamped L.A. pen, featuring newcomers Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson. Suffice it to say, Joe Blanton is not missed.

Which brings us back to Kyle Hendricks. He has pitched twice this postseason, pitching seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but getting touched for four runs on nine hits while allowing a couple of dingers in Game 5. If the good Hendricks shows up, Maddon will be able to ride him until late in the game in which a now-rested Davis and maybe either Strop or Edwards can close things out in conventional fashion, returning this series to competitiveness. If the bad Hendricks does, he’ll have to do what he did in that NLDS Game 5, using multiple relievers and, perhaps, a repurposed starter in relief while grinding Davis into dust again. That was lucky to work there and doing it without Davis didn’t work in Game 2 on Sunday night.

So it all falls to Hendricks. The Dodgers have shown how soft the underbelly of the Cubs pen truly is. If they get to Hendricks early and get into that pen, you have to like L.A’s chances, not just in this game, but for the rest of the series, as bullpen wear-and-tear builds up quickly. It’s pretty simple: Hendricks has to give the Cubs some innings tonight. There is no other option available.

Just ask Joe Maddon. He’s tried.