Cubs Notes: Marmol deal nearly complete

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Cubs Notes: Marmol deal nearly complete

Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011
Posted 5:57 p.m. Updated 7:31 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

MESA, Ariz. At this time last year, people wondered how Carlos Marmol would handle the closers job fulltime. Now hes about to cash in on a historic season.

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry met with agent Barry Praver on Sunday at Fitch Park and both sides expect the long-anticipated deal to be finalized and announced by Monday. The extension is expected to buy out Marmols first year of free agency and run through 2013.

After notching 38 saves and 138 strikeouts which translates to 15.99 strikeouts per nine innings pitched, the highest mark ever for a major-league reliever Marmol filed for arbitration at 5.65 million. The Cubs countered at 4.1 million, but neither side sees this case going to a hearing.

Praver, who also represents Carlos Zambrano, was in a good mood in the lobby of the Cubs administrative building, joking to reporters that his client was about to be traded to the Yankees.

WATCH: First day all about Quade

This would give the Cubs some cost certainty as they plan for the future and provide Marmol, 28, with a large measure of security.

Weve done a lot of deals with Barry Praver over the years, Hendry said. Weve been working on avenues (toward) a multi-year deal or a potential one-year deal. I certainly dont have any anticipation that something wont be done before (Tuesdays) arbitration date.

No. 1 starter?

Its a point of pride for Zambrano that he has made six consecutive starts on Opening Day, and Mike Quade doesnt want to offend anyone. The manager owes a lot to Ryan Dempster, who was the first player to publicly lobby for Quade to get the job. And Matt Garza was the offseasons centerpiece acquisition. Quades nowhere close to deciding on who gets the April 1 assignment.

I will milk that (as long as possible) because I have so much respect for all three of them, Quade said. My ace is the guy thats pitching that day. I guess thats easy for me to say, but I truly feel that way. Were going to need all three of those guys if were going to contend.

Leading off

Its the annual question that doesnt have an answer. Like almost every other team in baseball, the Cubs do not have a prototypical leadoff hitter. Quade will analyze that days matchups, which could mean some combination of Blake DeWitt, Jeff Baker, Kosuke Fukudome and Starlin Castro.

To be honest, I havent even thought about it, DeWitt said. You prepare yourself for anything. If they ask me to do it, Ill be more than happy to do it. Its a big responsibility, but (so is) hitting eighth.

Whos on first?

Carlos Penas one-year deal is a bridge toward 2012, so he can re-enter the free-agent market and the Cubs have the flexibility to look for another first baseman. Tyler Colvin still looms as a potential option. Quade surprisingly revealed that the 25-year-old outfielder will spend some time working out at first this spring.

I dont think he can just show up and think hes at Club Med for awhile, Quade said. Im not handing him a job. Hes got plenty of work to do, but hes a kid were excited about and he knows it. He comes to work every day expecting to earn a job and thats all you can ask.

Chemistry counts

No one can quantify the value of good clubhouse guys, but Hendry places a high value on them and sees Reed Johnson as a positive influence. The 34-year-old got deeper into the offseason and realized he wasnt going to receive a major-league contract.

So Johnson a fan favorite on that 97-win team in 2008 went with what he knows. Its a minor-league deal without any guarantees, just a chance to compete against Fernando Perez for the fifth-outfielder spot.

Its tough to go into an organization (and) start all over again, Johnson said. Ive been on a one-year deal all nine years of my career. Ive been used to having to come into spring training and fight for jobs every year.

PatrickMooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

With Ben Zobrist sidelined by sore wrist, Cubs move Ian Happ to second base

With Ben Zobrist sidelined by sore wrist, Cubs move Ian Happ to second base

LOS ANGELES – The Cubs drafted and developed Ian Happ with the idea of turning him into a Ben Zobrist-type player who would move quickly through the farm system and surface as a versatile big-league contributor and/or legitimate trade chip.

With Zobrist sidelined because of a sore left wrist, the Cubs got their first look at Happ playing second base in The Show during Saturday’s 5-0 loss at Dodger Stadium. That kind of depth – plugging in a 2015 first-round pick while a World Series MVP rests – should ultimately propel the Cubs over the course of a 162-game season.

Even as the Cubs stutter-step through a 25-23 start, there are enough choices for the best defensive second baseman on the team and a National League Championship Series co-MVP (Javier Baez) to sit on the bench.

“We know that the talent’s there,” Zobrist said. “It’s not like having any one or two guys out of the lineup is a big drop-off for us because of the talent that’s there. And we know that just because we have a lot of young players doesn’t mean that they’re not extremely capable of doing the job as well.”

Zobrist – who’s reached base in 23 straight games and emerged as a new leadoff option with Kyle Schwarber struggling – felt something on an awkward swing in the first inning of Friday’s 4-0 loss to the Dodgers. Zobrist played through it that night and called it a “day-to-day thing” that didn’t require an MRI.

[MORE: Is Joe Maddon turning Kyle Schwarber into a platoon player?

Facing Clayton Kershaw on Sunday after back-to-back shutouts will be a game-time decision.

“It’s tough,” Zobrist said. “We just haven’t strung together enough quality at-bats to score runs the last two games. It’s not just because of us. They’ve pitched well. Their pitchers are pretty hot right now. They’ve spotted up. They’ve gotten early strikes where they needed to and then gone to work pretty well on us.

“The task doesn’t get any easier tomorrow with Kershaw. We just got to keep trying to chip away.”

Preview: Cubs look to avoid getting swept by Dodgers today on CSN

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Preview: Cubs look to avoid getting swept by Dodgers today on CSN

The Cubs take on the Los Angeles Dodgers today, and you can catch all the action on CSN and live streaming on CSNChicago.com and the NBC Sports App.

Coverage begins with Cubs Pregame Live at 2:30 p.m. Then catch first pitch with Len Kasper and Ryan Dempster. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on Cubs Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: Jon Lester (3-2, 3.19 ERA) vs. Clayton Kershaw (7-2, 2.01 ERA)

Click here for more stats to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

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