Thursday, May 20, 2010

Al Yellon Wants Sean Marshall's Arm to Fall Off

The worst thing about the Cubs losing a lot is that you get the Monday morning quarterbacks (or in this case, the Thursday afternoon managers) who think they know better than the people who are paid to know better than the average fan.  Generally, the ranting and raving belongs mostly to the sports radio callers, but today, Cubs blogger extraordinaire, Al Yellon is calling out Lou Piniella for using John Grabow in the 8th inning of the Cubs' loss today in Philadelphia.

Actually, I have only one question for Lou after today's tough 5-4 Cubs loss to the Phillies.

Why wasn't Sean Marshall in this game in the 8th inning instead of John Grabow?

After all, Grabow threw yesterday and Marshall didn't, and Marshall is now -- supposedly -- the top 8th inning guy. So where was he to face Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Raul Ibanez? These are the same questions I asked last year in August when the Phillies were at Wrigley Field and Lou left an obviously off-his-command Carlos Marmol in to throw to the same LH hitters when Grabow was sitting on his butt in the pen not even warming up.

Today, Marshall was the obvious choice. Where was he? Nowhere to be seen. Result: Grabow issued a pair of walks and then the game-winning hit, a single to Ibanez; Kosuke Fukudome's throw to the plate was just a little bit off, otherwise he might have thrown Utley out.

Believe me, I am not a fan of John Grabow pitching in any games in any capacity.  If I could sell my soul to assure that I never had to watch John Grabow throw another inning, I would seriously consider it.  However, the thing is, John Grabow is on the Cubs' roster getting paid to play baseball.  The manager's job is to use the ENTIRE roster as best as possible to win as many games as possible.

The thing people (and Al) need to remember is that Carlos Marmol and Sean Marshall can't pitch every damn day.  The fact that no one else besides Marmol and Marshall can get outs on a regular basis doesn't change the fact that there is a finite amount of batters and pitches in these guys' arms before we end up having to go long stretches with one or both of them on the disabled list.

Carlos Marmol had pitched in four out of the last five days, throwing 84 actual pitches and who knows how many warm-up pitches in the process.  Marmol wasn't coming into today's game unless there was an extra-inning situation where it couldn't be helped.  So who would have closed if the Cubs had a lead in the ninth inning?  Probably Sean Marshall.

As Al correctly pointed out, Marshall didn't pitch yesterday, but Al didn't mention he did pitch the three days in a row and four out of five before yesterday. Marshall's last string of three apprearances included a two-inning stint on Monday.  So, if Marshall was going to pitch the ninth in a save situation, Al's "obvious choice" involved Marshall facing the Phillies lineup for two innings on his fourth day of work in five days?  Dusty Baker called and said he wants his pitcher handling textbook back.

We don't have to like John Grabow or Justin Berg or Bobby Howry or whatever other combustible objects Jim Hendry puts on the roster, but Lou has to find ways to use these guys as best as he can.  The Cubs already won one more game in Philadelphia than they probably should have, Lou had already used James Russell, and sending one of our right handed relievers in to face the Phillies lefty hitters would be bordering on cruel and unusual punishment.  The game would still be going on and the scoreboard operators would be trying how to represent a triple digit score in the eighth inning.  Who else was there besides John Grabow?

If you want to complain about the pitchers on the roster, be careful what you wish for.  The only reason Bobby Howry will still have a job is because he actually can't do a hell of a lot worse than the flotsam and jetsam that has already logged innings out of the Cubs bullpen.  Remember, Braden Looper is sitting by his phone waiting for the Cubs to call.

As fans we don't like to think that a team shouldn't throw every single resource they have into winning every single game, but that is how you get through a 162 game schedule.  Guys like John Grabow have to step up when the top guys have been over-used.  If they don't, the Cubs will lose. 

So, Al and fans who share his angst need to get comfortable with the fact that this team is not good, and blowing out two of the Cubs best pitchers' arms in an effort to get within four games of the Wild Card before Memorial Day isn't going to help anything.  Sometimes the Justin Bergs and John Grabows are going to have to come into a game, and if the rest of the team is playing well, it won't always be when the Cubs are getting their asses handed to them already.


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