Carlos Marmol, Alfonso Soriano and third base are among the topics in this week's Cubs Inbox. Got a question? Send it to CubsInbox@gmail.com, and please include your full name and hometown.
Any word on why the deal to send Marmol to the Angels for Dan Haren fell through? I've seen a couple potential trades I thought would benefit the team fall through now, and it's kind of disheartening to see that. Why are Jed [Hoyer, Cubs GM] and Theo [Epstein, president of baseball operations] hesitant to pull the trigger on a deal like that?
-- Kevin S., Fort Wayne, Ind.
The two deals that did not happen -- Marmol to the Angels and Ryan Dempster to the Braves -- both involved players with no-trade clauses. It's safe to say Hoyer and Epstein won't be offering those any more. Not only did the Cubs need to agree to terms with the other team but also needed the player's approval. Even though Marmol told the Dominican media he was being dealt, the right-hander apparently was reluctant to approve going to the Angels, according to his agent. Maybe the Cubs didn't like the medical reports on Haren, who had back problems, or they couldn't agree on financial details. Maybe it was both. Knowing how thorough Hoyer and Epstein are, they had good reason.
The deal between the Cubs and Angels fell through and Marmol is ours. It must be tough to come back, knowing your team was close to getting rid of you. How about trying him out as a starter? I think the reason not to start him is that he throws too hard but it's worked for Joba Chamberlain in New York. I think that would give him better confidence knowing, "Hey, you can still help us, we're in need of starting pitching. How about trying this new role?" I remember either in '05 or '06, he came up as a starter when Kerry Wood and Mark Prior were hurt, and if I'm not mistaken, he hit a home run.
-- Jesus J., Richmond, Ind.
Marmol was a starter in 2006, and did hit a home run on Sept. 7 that year, but that was his last hit (he's 0-for-7 since). I don't think the Cubs are looking for starting pitchers who can hit. Remember that Marmol was a converted catcher. He seemed to find his groove in '07 and '08 pitching as a setup man. He had a 1.69 WHIP in '06, which isn't good, and this season, finished with a 1.54 WHIP and his highest pitches per inning number (20.1) ever. If Marmol was a starter, he probably wouldn't last beyond the fourth inning. Marmol is able to shrug off blown saves. I think he can handle the trade rumors as well. According to reports, he was laughing with Cubs management after the botched deal to the Angels.
Why was Soriano passed over for the National League Gold Glove for left field? Defensively speaking, he was better than all of the other qualifiers. In fact, statistically speaking, the three finalists were the three worst defensive left fielders. Who makes these decisions anyways?
-- Josh O., Wyatt, Ind.
The Rawlings Gold Glove Award winners were determined by votes cast by each Major League manager and up to six coaches on their staffs. They picked from a pool of qualified players in their respective league, and they could not vote for players on their own team. Soriano does rank first in fielding percentage among National League left fielders at .996 percent, he only made one error, had 12 assists, turned six double plays and posted an .867 zone rating. The Rockies' Carlos Gonzalez, who won the Gold Glove, had a .982 fielding percentage, made four errors, had seven assists, zero double plays and an .852 zone rating.
But the stats don't tell the whole story. Soriano did make huge strides in his defensive play, but anyone who watched him knows there were balls he couldn't get to and plays he didn't make because of his balky knee. Managers and coaches know that.
I see the Cubs are playing the Texas Rangers on April 16-18. Why are they playing an Interleague game so early in the season?
-- Dane S., Harvard, Ill.
With the Astros moving to the American League next year, there will be 15 teams in both the American League and National League, and the schedule will have Interleague series scattered throughout the year to accommodate the uneven number. For example, the Reds open 2013 against the Angels on April 1, and the Tigers will end the year against the Marlins in Miami from Sept. 27-29.
What are the chances the Cubs might go after a free-agent third baseman?
-- Paul M., Longmont, Colo.
It's one of the options but the pool of free-agent third basemen is a little shallow. It includes Geoff Blum, Miguel Cairo, Eric Chavez, Mark DeRosa, Brandon Inge, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Placido Polanco, Mark Reynolds, Scott Rolen and Kevin Youkilis. How weak is it? MLB Trade Rumors ranked its top 50 free agents, and Chavez was the only third baseman on the list at No. 49. When the Cubs traded for Ian Stewart, they knew he had been slowed by his wrist, but also saw a solid defensive player who had some power. The question is, how much did the wrist hold him back? If healthy, Stewart could deliver 25 homers and 70 RBIs, which he did in '09 with the Rockies.
Alex Rodriguez is a free agent after the World Series. Are the Cubs interested in signing him?
-- Robert C., Huntington, Ind.
Rodriguez is not a free agent; he has five years, $114 million remaining on the 10-year, $275 million contract he signed in December 2007 with the Yankees.
Why can't the Cubs try out Bryan LaHair at third? Countless players have gone from first to third or third to first in their careers, and it would be a way to keep his bat in the lineup. That infield would be sick: Anthony Rizzo, Darwin Barney, Starlin Castro and LaHair.
-- Anderson J., Charleston, S.C.
LaHair has been asked about third base and said no.
With the disappointment of Brett Jackson's brief debut, the possible departure of Soriano, the need for power hitting, and the Cubs having good salary space, do you think the Cubs will be in the running for Josh Hamilton?
-- Nathan, Erie, Pa.
No. Hamilton is too expensive and high maintenance. I look at Jackson's debut as something to build on, similar to what Rizzo experienced in 2011 with the Padres. That said, the Cubs are still in the market to add an outfielder this offseason.
When will the Cubs announce the 2013 Spring Training schedule? I want to know if they will be playing one weekend in Las Vegas this year.
-- Tim K., Hillside, Ill.
Last year, it was released Nov. 20. As soon as it's available, we'll post it on Cubs.com.