Cubs Notes: Marmol deal nearly complete


Cubs Notes: Marmol deal nearly complete

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

By Patrick Mooney

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

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Kerry Wood couldn't resist a 5 Outs joke. 

The iconic Cubs pitcher was a huge part of that 2003 team that famously came just five outs from the World Series before a Game 6 meltdown in the National League Championship Series.

As if to toy with history and laugh in its face, Joe Maddon made the five outs drama last even longer Saturday night.

Kyle Hendricks gave up a one-out single in the eighth inning with the Cubs up five and Maddon came out to make a pitching change. 

Of course, it all turned out just fine. The Cubs went on to win and silence any talk of curses or jinxes and made Steve Bartman and that 2003 just another chapter in history.

"I was good once we got past five outs away," Wood joked with reporters outside the champagne-soaked Cubs clubhouse about 90 minutes after the Cubs clinched a trip to the World Series for the first time in 71 years.

"These guys got to experience what we didn't get to experience. We got to play in this game, we just didn't get to celebrate after. Obviously extremely happy for the city. These guys have cemented themselves in history and they're gonna be linked forever.

"It's just great. We got four more to go and it's the right group to go with."

Wood said he "felt" it coming to the game, predicting with his buddies that the Cubs would jump on Clayton Kershaw and score on him early in the game.

The Cubs scored twice in the first, once in the second and then added on with solo tallies in the fourth and fifth innings off Kershaw.

"They don't listen to the history," Wood said. "It doesn't bother them. These guys come out and seem unaffected by the history. So, obviously, we're in a good place we haven't been in a long time. It's a great night.

"It's mind-blowing. Being out there with the crowd, it's such a cool experience."

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

Wood pitched 12 seasons for the Cubs, but if you include the year he missed for injury (1999) and the time he's worked for the organization since retirement in 2012, he's spent nearly two decades on the North Side of Chicago.

So when he saw the Cubs record their final out and put history in the rearview mirror, Wood was overcome with emotion.

"Surprisingly a bit more than I was expecting," he said. "Just watching the guys do their thing on the field and celebrate. [MLB chief baseball officer] Joe Torre's talking and tryin to do his thing and the guys just split up and spread out and went and saw the fans - which is exactly what they should've done.

"It's a little more emotional than I thought it was gonna be."

Wood said he really started believing it was all possible when Addison Russell and Anthony Rizzo woke up with the bats in Game 4 in Los Angeles and the Cubs looked like they got their mojo back.

He also marveled at the team's youth and how poised they were throughout the entire season, especially in the face of adversity.

"I don't think [the weight of history affected them]," Wood said. "That's the key. And not saying it affected us. I don't think it affected us either. We'd go out there and play the game.

"S--t, half these guys weren't born when this stuff was going on. It's great. They got a young group and I think Joe leads them in the right direction and doesn't let them get caught up in the off-the-field stuff. It's just a great combination top to bottom."

Wood threw out the first pitch before the historic Game 6 Saturday night, wearing a Ron Santo jersey.

Three hours later, he was still wearing the jersey, even celebrating with fans:

And he plans right on wearing the No. 10 jersey for at least another week.

"Ronnie didn't get to see this," Wood said of Santo, who died in 2010. "He didn't get to witness this night. Definitely going to wear it all the way through. Hopefully that will let him experience it a little bit with me. 

"I expect big things and I'll see you guys in Cleveland."