Thursday, April 30, 2009
Just because, here are a few of the players the Marlins have received from the Cubs in the past decade:
- Dontrelle Willis
- Sergio Mitre
- Ricky Nolasco
- Hee Seop Choi
- Ryan Jorgensen
- Julian Tavarez
- Renyel Pinto
Just because, here are a few of the players the Marlins have received from the Cubs in the past decade:
After much anticipation, the Renyel Pinto flow chart is finally here. This is not supposed to be 100% accurate, it is merely a guide and suggested activity to follow during a Renyel Pinto relief appearance.
|Since Last||6||0||2||4.93||34 2/3||5.78||3|
The Fish just pulled out an impressive 4-3 victory to take the first Marlins-Mets series in Citi Field's young history. Matt Lindstrom finished off an Alfonseca Save1 preserving the lead which was delivered by a Cody Ross 2-RBI single in the 8th. Jorge Cantu once again proved how valuable he is with another home run in the first and a couple great defensive plays to save runs and end innings. I've been hesitating to say this, but Jorge plays a nice first base. I guess the key is that he never has to overhand throw it to anybody. Anyways, nothing beats taking two out of three in New York, especially when David Wright never comes through in the clutch. Stay tuned tomorrow morning for the SPESH report.
1An Alfonseca Save is defined as a pitcher entering a save situation and instantly making it drastically tougher on himself by walking and hitting batters and getting hit all around the yard. Somehow though, the save is eventually made.
MLB announced this afternoon that the first three rounds of the amateur draft will be broadcast live from the studios at the MLB Network. The draft will begin at 6 pm on June 9 (a Tuesday), allowing seamheads to drool over not-yet-fully formed prospects and question their teams' collective IQ a la the NFL Draft. The rest of the draft will be held over the following two days via telephone conference call, which is the usual protocol.
I think this will probably be a good thing for MLB, though I doubt the MLB draft will ever approach the cultural cache of the NFL Draft (though I'm sure no one expects it to). But now that the MLB has decided to make its amateur draft a television event, who will become baseball's Mel Kiper? Judging from the MLB Network's roster of personalities, it does not appear the network has a draft guru on staff.
Allow me to throw my hat in the ring. If MLB is looking for someone to offer uncertain evaluations with uncommon certainty, somone unafraid to criticize general managers for bad picks, and someone whose unconsciounably bad hair will distract viewers, then I'm their man. I've already submitted my resume, so it's pretty much a done deal. I won't be able to do it alone, though. If you'd like to be my personal assistant, please submit a resume and cover letter in the comments.
I know, it looks like the sky is falling. But allow me to remind you that the season is 162 games long, and while the Fish probably weren't as good as their 11-1 start indicated, neither are they as bad as this 7-game losing streak. B-Face and Maybin are slumping, Hanley and Cantu can't seem to keep their hands out of the way of opposing fastballs, and the bullpen is about as scary as we expected it to be, but fear not, for the Marlins will not lose 100 games this year. In fact, I'm still standing by my 86-76 prediction.
But in case you're looking for a scapegoat, I nominate this guy.
Overview: Florida went 0 for the state of Pennsylvania, getting swept by the Pirates and the Phillies.
Positives: Hanley Ramirez is beginning to hit. He went 13 for 23 this week, notching 4 doubles and 2 RBI.
Negatives: The two blown saves by Matt Lindstrom and Leo Nunez in the ninth inning on Friday and Saturday were bad enough. But things got so out of hand on Sunday that Cody Ross had to pitch in the top of the ninth inning on Sunday. On the plus side, he only gave up a single while retiring Ryan Howard, Raul Ibanez, and Pedro Feliz.
Line of the Week: Josh Johnson's Friday night vs. Philadelphia:
|Meyer (H, 4)||1.0||0||0||0||1||0||0||3.52|
|Nunez (H, 3)||0.1||1||1||1||1||1||0||4.32|
|Pinto (BS, 1)||0.1||0||0||0||0||0||0||1.42|
|Kensing (L, 0-1)||1.0||4||2||2||0||1||0||9.82|
Jorge Cantu will likely return to the Marlins this weekend after doctors found no major damage in his sore left wrist. This gives me an excuse to run this, featuring one of my favorite nicknames:
Marlins Die-Hards: utilizing subpar photoshop skills for a couple of weeks.
Go to Walkoff Walk for context/inspiration.
For an explanation, see the first edition of this series.
Kevin Brown, P
Played for Marlins: 1996-1997
Other Teams: Texas Rangers (1986-1994), Baltimore Orioles (1995), San Diego Padres (1998), Los Angeles Dodgers (1999-2003), New York Yankees (2004-2005)
Marlins fans know him because: He was a key member of the 1997 Championship team, but he burst onto the Marlins scene in 1996. That year he led the league with a minuscule ERA of 1.89 (and an ERA+ of 216) but somehow finished second in Cy Young voting to John Smoltz. He was still dominant in 1997, which included a no-hitter and a complete game to clinch the ALCS in Atlanta. He was then quickly set adrift during the post-World Series dismantling of the team. He went to San Diego and the Marlins received some prospects, most notably Derek Lee.
Everyone else knows him because: He parlayed his uber-success in Miami (and San Diego following a trade in the 1998 dismantling) to become baseball's first $100 million player. The Dodgers signed him to that irresponsible sum of money which he actually lived up to for a couple years before starting to decline. He had some injuries and later was named in the Mitchell Report, which surely casts a doubt on his Hall of Fame cred.
Best Marlins moment: Brown threw both a 1-hitter (in his first Marlins appearance) and a dominant no-hitter, which should have been a perfect game had the sneaky Marvin Benard not been hanging over the plate in the eighth inning. It was and should remain as the greatest regular season pitching performance in team history.
Coming into the week, the Fish were riding high, sitting at 11-1 on a seven-game winning streak. Then they ran into the Buzzsaw That is the Pittsburgh Pirates. After averaging 6.4 runs/game over the first 12 games, the Marlins scored six during the entire three-game series with the Pirates, losing every game. Despite the fact that the Pirates have been perhaps the worst franchise in the National League over the past 15 years, the Marlins could not muster a single win against them. Expect the media to jump off the Marlins Bandwagon immediately.
But before we get out of control, let's all take a deep breath and calm down for a moment. The Marlins always seem to be getting swept in Pittsburgh (perhaps there is a Jim Leyland or Bobby Bonilla-related curse?). And really, it's a long season, so the team will get cold a few times. Perhaps the Fish are still feeling the effects from Monday's holiday? Hopefully, the day off tomorrow will allow the Fish to recalibrate their faulty bats in time for a home series against the Phillies.
When asked about the Marlins' sweep against the Nationals this afternoon, John Baker told the Miami Herald:
''We stole a game yesterday, we stole another one today, we stole one the first day,'' Baker said Sunday. He delivered one of the clutch hits in the latest comeback. "It's kind of like Crime and Punishment, isn't it? We're worried sneaking off the field that we're going to get arrested for stealing these games.''+1 for the literature reference, proving that he is infinitely more literate than the popular image of the ballplayer. But I'm not impressed. Dostoevsky references are obvious. When Baker starts comparing Joe Morgan to Pangloss, or Hanley to McClintic Sphere, then I'll be impressed.
Overview: Florida had a perfect 6-0 week recording their first ever sweep in Atlanta and a downright unreal sweep in Washington.
Positives: This team just can't lose. The first week saw the Marlins get it done with good hitting and starting pitching. This week it was the bullpen who did the most work, including 21 1/3 scoreless innings, and yielding just one run in the entire week.
Negatives: Again, it's hard to find much on an 11-1 team, but the starting pitching has dipped in quality. The main concern is the lack of innings they are throwing. They have been asking a lot of the bullpen but thankfully they have been bailed out so far.
Line of the Week: There are some great candidates but Jeremy Hermida's line from Saturday gets the nod as it was the largest comeback, and most stunning.
3-6, 3 R, 5 RBI, 2 HR
Highlight of the Week: Pick any moment from the ninth inning on from any of the weekend games. The Marlins were outscored in the Nationals series 12-7 in innings 1-8, but blanked the Nats 12-0 in innings 9-11. Cody Ross will get the award this week for his bases clearing double from this afternoon's contest. What a fitting end to an unbelievable weekend.
Looking Ahead: The Marlins are en route to Pittsburgh for a three game set against the promising Pirates starting tomorrow night (weather pending). After an off day Thursday, the Marlins have a quick three game home stand against the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies.
(image via AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Watching the Marlins' last two games against the Nationals brought back to me memories of the Marlins, c. 1999-2001, when the team was assembling the components of its 2003 World Series team, while experiencing many growing pains along the way. The Marlins had talent on those squads; Alex Gonzalez had been an All Star, Luis Castillo was becoming known around the league, and the pitching staff included prospects Brad Penny and AJ Burnett. But the team still had plenty of weak spots, and young talent does not always yield desired results.
The Marlins blew many games in those years. They would lose a game 1-0 one night, then 8-6 the next. They would very rarely put together a complete game; one night the pitching would be great but the defense would commit four errors, the next night the offense would not be able to overcome a starting pitchers' bad outing. The team seemed to lose four out of every five one-run games. They were not bad. In fact they were kind of alright. But they combined a propensity for careless mistakes with bad luck. Watching them in those years could be intensely painful if not for the intermittent games in which they would put everything together and renew your faith.
This year's Nationals squad has the same tendency to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Friday night, despite a dominating performance from starter John Lannan, the Nationals could only put two runs on the board, failing to plate anyone against the Marlins' bullpen after Ricky Nolasco exited before the fifth inning. The Nats blew a 2-1 lead with one out in the ninth, only to see Cody Ross erase it with one swing. The following inning, the Marlins pulled ahead for good on three straight singles.
Saturday, the Nationals scored six runs in two innings off of Josh Johnson, and had to be feeling good with a 4-run lead after the second. But they did not muster a single run afterward, and only managed one base hit over the final nine innings. The Marlins grabbed one run in the 5th when Nick Johnson dropped a routine pop-up with two outs and a runner on third. Then, in the ninth, the bullpen blew another save on a two-run home run to Jeremy Hermida. Hermida repeated the feat with two on in the 11th, sealing another victory.
The losses must be particularly heartbreaking to a fanbase who had little to cheer as the Nats started the season 0-7. The Nats are not a terrible team. They have some decent talent and a few promising young arms in the rotation. But their luck thus far has been terrible, exacerbated by some unfortunate but unforced errors in the last two games. Marlins fans were rewarded with their patience in 2003, we shall see if the Nationals will be able to match the feat.
On Sunday, they struck out 13 times against Johan Santana -- and beat him. In their next game Tuesday, they whiffed 12 times against Braves starter Javier Vazquez -- and beat him, too.Everyone knows about the team's propensity for strikeouts, and now we know how historically significant their tendency to strike out is. And in the four games since facing Santana and Vasquez, the Marlins have continued the pattern:
We combed through baseball-reference.com's fabulous Play Index and couldn't find any other team since 1954 that won back-to-back games in which it fanned that many times against the opposing starting pitcher. In fact, we found just three other teams that did that within the same week:
1967 Red Sox (Catfish Hunter 12 K Sept. 12, Mickey Lolich 13 K Sept. 19)
1977 Blue Jays (Dennis Leonard 12 K Aug. 14, Nolan Ryan 13 K Aug. 19)
1990 Phillies (David Cone 12 K Sept. 7, Sid Fernandez 12 K Sept. 14)
Gary Sheffield, 3B, OF
Played for the Marlins: 1993-1998
Other Teams: Milwaukee (198-1993), San Diego (199-1993), Los Angeles (1998-2001), Atlanta (2002-2003), Yankees (2004-2006), Detroit (2007-2008), Mets (2009-)
Marlins fans know him because: He pretty much tripled the Marlins' legitimacy when he was traded to the team during the inaugural year. Sheffield was the team's first star, and played on the 1997 World Series team. He also holds the team single-season home run record, hitting 42 in 1996. Sheffield was traded to the Dodgers in the infamous Mike Piazza trade.
Everyone else knows him because: He has one of the most violent swings in baseball history. Sheff hit his 500th career home run last night, and we congratulate him. Implicated in the BALCO scandal, Sheffield was also not afraid to say that he was under more scrutiny than Mark McGwire because he was black, which ruffled some feathers. Sheffield was also a 9-time All Star and 1992 NL batting champ.
Best Marlins moment: I had a hard time thinking of a single moment, until Ted reminded me of Sheffield's game-saving catch off of Sandy Alomar in Game 5 of the 1997 World Series. Gary had a good series, going 7 for 24 with 8 walks, one home run, 5 RBI, and a .943 OPS in 7 games.
Courtesy of SI's Jon Heyman:
Yankees manager Joe Girardi seems to have adapted the philosophy of the manager he most admires strategically, Tony La Russa, which is to empty his pen when he can. This stratagem generally works better with trustworthy relievers, however, and the first full inning without Sabathia produced a nine spot for the Indians, making them feel somewhat better about their 3-7 start.And in a slightly different vein, but hilarious nonetheless:
It's always nice to see the Mets' one true Hall of Famer, Tom Seaver, come back to Flushing. But just so everyone understands, he's paid for these appearances.Then again, you'd have to pay me to watch the Mets, too.
This story comes from Forbes Magazine via Yahoo! Sports, with a hat tip to Big League Stew which is where I found it
Forbes Magazine recently ranked all 30 Major League ballparks based on several predictable categories such as food and affordability. When I first stumbled onto the article and starting reading, I knew our precious Dolphin Stadium would be somewhere in the bottom five and sure enough, not only did it achieve that, but it was rated the worst. Judging by the wording below, it wasn't close.
Okay, that quote from Shapiro was kind of a low blow and really doesn't make sense but it doesn't matter. Let's take a look at how the stadium fared in the five categories.
Any debate about the relative merits of ballparks is sure to set off a slew of arguments between purists and casual fans alike. But there wasn’t much contest for the title of baseball’s worst ballpark. That dubious distinction went to Dolphin Stadium, home of the Florida Marlins, which earned poor marks in every category besides affordability. The designation comes as no surprise for an arena whose main purpose is to host football games.
“What’s the point of going to a ballgame and feeling as if you are waiting to see them kick a field goal?” asks Shapiro.
Intangibles: DIt's actually better than the grades I would probably give. There are no real intangibles that count positively. The building has character . Fan participation getting a "D" is right on, although the low number of people that attend games are every bit as passionate as most baseball crowds. I'm surprised Accessibility got a "C" because I wouldn't call it average. The location is in between the two big population areas and there is no public transportation remotely close to it. It would be better off firmly entrenched in one area (which the new park will be). Affordability is about all the stadium and the team have going for it and it's only because they have to. It's just simple supply and demand. Once attendance goes up, I'm sure the prices will too. Finally, I don't know what food they are eating but I'd love to know. That subject would get a failing grade from me.
Fan Participation: D
The Marlins beat the Braves 6-2 this afternoon, completing the team's first ever three-game sweep of the Braves in team history. Apparently, this is impressive enough for every Marlins beat writer to mention. The Fish are also 8-1 for the third time in team history. The other 2: 1997 and 2004. Ah yes, early 2004, back when some of us thought Hee Seop Choi could be an everyday first-baseman...
If you do not know what this is about, please refer to the first edition of this series, which debuted last Thursday
|Since Last||6||3||1||2.95||36 2/3||6.11||2|
Mike Stanton, OF
Acquired: Selected by Florida in the second round of the 2007 amateur draft.
Will he live up to the hype? Last year in High-A Greensboro, Stanton OPSed .993 and hit 39 home runs as an 18-year-old, establishing himself as a man among boys. In his annual Spring-Training survey of "baseball people," Peter Gammons said Stanton was the most mentioned player when asked which young players have made major impressions. Certainly there are few prospects in Major League Baseball with more potential. His success may be determined by how well he hones his batting eye, as he struck out 153 times in 468 at-bats last year (he did walk 68 times, which is a bit reassuring).
How long do we have him? Considering the Marlins were unwilling to give him up for Manny Ramirez last year, Mike will probably be sticking around for awhile.
Future Reason for Leaving the Marlins: Since Stanton's Marlins debut is still far off (he has yet to turn 20 years old), it is concievable that he will join the big club around the time the new stadium opens. With that in mind, if Stanton performs as well as the front office hopes, he could get a Hanley-sized long-term contract when the team increases payroll. This would keep him with the Marlins until around 2020, whereupon he will sign a free-agent deal with the Dodgers. That's what I'm hoping for, anyway...
Image via News-Record.com
First off, a hat tip to Tim Dierkes and company at MLB Rumors. It's a great place to find bullet points of what everyone is writing about and all speculative trade rumors as well. It is through this site that I have noticed that Ken Rosenthal is really insistent on telling us Emilio Bonifacio won't be good.
In his April 8th column for Fox Sports he tears down Lastings Milledge for a few things, most notably his misplays in centerfield against the Marlins and specifically the balls Bonifacio hit. At the end of that section he throws in a nugget about what one scout thinks of Emilio which ends with, "he's just a guy." Okay, thanks for the warning Ken. Only a few days into the season it was understandable that people might get carried away with his hot start and it's nice of you to notch us down a peg on the enthusiasm.
Today I clicked over to Rosenthal's April 14th column and he again tries to cool everyone's high about Bonifacio. I was interested to see what new scouting report or quotes he had, but there was none. It was the same exact quote. Read the columns for yourself. This time Ken prefaces it by saying, "Hate to be a spoilsport."
Look, I myself still have doubts about Bonifacio and whether he can stay consistent and do what he's doing, especially because it's tougher to hide hitting leadoff than it is if he were hitting seventh or eighth. But as it has been pointed out by Marlins broadcasters and other reporters, speed shows up every day. Last night's infield hit was a good example of how those types of plays will keep his batting avergae and on base percentage up. That was a routine play up the middle but because Escobar was playing a little in and he had a very slight double clutch on the throw, Bonifacio beat it easily. I'd be real surprised if his batting average dipped towards that .240% mark.
As for his fielding, they may be right but some of his errors are offset by web gems we have seen that not many third basemen would make, specifically fielding bunts. Plus, I think as Marlins fans we have become well acustomed to the fact that we will make many errors at third base. It doesn't faze us. By the way, I have a prediction that I won't disclose yet that would involve Bonifacio moving from third base to a new position with the primary reason not being poor defensive play. More on that at another time.
Once again, I don't mind Ken playing devil's advocate and trying to warn us, and if he and the scout end up being dead on, I'll give a big tip of the cap and a slow cap to them. But, for each warning there should be new information or more quotes from different scouts to make the points more vaild and believable.
This entry is the first of a feature that will appear between two and three times a month, profiling how the media and general baseball fans feel about the Marlins.
Before the season it seemed like most publications and television shows set up a Marlins bandwagon but just weren't ready to hop on. They would be talked up like they had a chance to compete but when it came down to it, most said something to the effect of, "not this year, too young, just not good enough." All that seems to be changing though after an impressive 5-1 opening week. The sweep over the Nationals wasn't a great feat (The Braves just duplicated it) but it was the way they did it that made the league notice. They got solid starting pitching and just pounded out hits and runs cruising to two easy wins and one easy turned mildly difficult triumph. Sure the media gave credit for the 3-0 start but it was still accompanied by, "here come the Mets, this will be a real test." Well, there was some great baseball played this weekend and the Marlins were able to win two close ballgames while dropping the middle contest. The starting pitching was even better while the hitting was less productive but more timely. Now a lot of the "maybes" are turning into "probables" when referring to whether the Marlins can be in the hun into September. I'd say the Marlins bandwagon is about 60% full. Many have come aboard, but there is still plenty of room. The midweek series against the also 5-1 Atlanta Braves will go a long way towards people deciding which NL East team will be the third wheel to the Mets and Phillies this year.
Josh Johnson has basically gone from Cy Young third tier watch list to one of the leading candidates. Baseball Tonight even pretty much declared if he stays healthy all year (which is a concern) he will the win the award.
Emilio Bonifacio received much praise this week and his bandwagon basically went from empty to full. Hell, even I was skeptical with him as the leadoff hitter but he has proven everyone wrong. He is exactly the table setter we need at the top of the lineup and his speed does change games. Being consistent will be the issue now and I wouldn't be surprised if his bandwagon had the largest gains and losses of occupancy of any other player this year.
This will be a series throughout the season profiling the identity of last year's team and determining whether the offseason changes in roster and philosophy result in actual differences in these areas. We expect to update after every couple of series, about once a week on average.
There's a bit of hate going around concerning the Mets-Marlins series opening up tonight in Miami, so I thought I'd add to the fun, and present, via YouTube, the final out at Shea Stadium, in which the Marlins officially eliminate the Mets from the playoffs (for the second year in a row). Once the final out is recorded, the fans in the stands can't quite decide whether to cheer, boo, or cry, but eventually they settle on booing. It's mass action at its dimmest.
And the first save of the season is recorded by
Matt Lindstrom Brett Carroll. A good start by Chris Volstad and a huge 3-RBI double by Dan Uggla gave the Marlins a 5-2 lead heading into the later innings. In the 9th though it was Uggla combining with closer Matt Lindstrom in an attempt to throw the game. Lindstrom walked two (including Adam Dunn with the bases loaded1) sandwiched around a fielding error by Uggla. With the lead cut to 6-4 and the bases load with only one out, Stormy2 was able to K Josh Willingham. On the next pitch Austin Kearns laced a liner into left that Carroll lunged and caught after first being frozen. It was a tough play with the game on the line and it was a huge out to record the win and the sweep. I'll leave it at that for now but stay tuned as we will have two new features to debut during tomorrow's off-day.
1 In retrospect, the walk wasn't the worst thing in the world. It was a long at bat, and if a strike was thrown it may have ended up as a go-ahead grand slam.
2 I've heard this used as Lindstrom's nickname a couple times and if it indeed is, then so far it's fitting. The end to this game was like running for cover in a thunderstorm.
Luis Castillo, 2B
Played for Marlins: 1996-2005
Other Teams: Minnesota Twins (2006-2007), New York Mets (2007-current)
Marlins fans know him because: He holds many club records based on his unparalleled longevity with the club, including games played, at bats, hits, and runs scored. He was the only player remaining on the Marlins from the 1997 championship in 2003 (Jeff Conine was on both but left the club in between).
Everyone else knows him because: He was the batter for the infamous Bartman play in the 2003 NLCS. The foul ball wasn't made an out and he later walked, which helped propel the eight run inning. He also had a well publicized 35-game hitting streak in 2002 that remains the longest for any Latino player or second baseman (Chase Utley has since tied this). He also did it with the defense, winning three straight Gold Gloves between 2003 and 2005.
Best Marlins moment: I'm going to break my own rule because a hitting streak isn't exactly a moment, but it's astonishing to realize that in the 100+year history of the league, only ten people have a longer streak than Castillo. An actual memorable moment to me was when the streak ended. The Marlins came back from either four or five runs in the ninth inning to beat the Tigers and the game ended on a sacrifice fly with Castillo on deck. It was a weird mix of emotions to get a huge win in the middle of the season, but have a historic streak ended like that.
An honorable mention for best moment has to be the recent revelation that Castillo played in the 2003 World Series despite the unfortunate passing of his brother. He didn't have a great series (understandable), but just being able to play and keep the lineup stable is mind boggling. If he was absent, Mike Mordecai would have had to fill in at second base and the lineup would have undergone drastic changes. He still played a key role in the decisive game six, singling home Alex Gonzalez for the first run of the ballgame in the fifth inning.
(image via si.com)
Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci released his annual list of pitchers susceptible to the Verducci Effect (he still humbly calls it the Year After Effect, but I'm not afraid to give the man his due). As expected, no Marlins made the list this year, but four other NL East pitchers made the list, including the previously mentioned Cole Hamels, along with the Mets' Mike Pelfrey and Jon Niese, as well as the Braves' Jair Jurrjens. Also making the list were two of the game's premier young arms, Tim Lincecum and Jon Lester.
Should any of these guys, their teams, or their fans be worried? I'll let Verducci take this one:
Over the previous three years I red-flagged a total of 24 young pitchers at the start of those seasons. Of those 24 at-risk pitchers, 16 were hurt in that same season. Only one of the 24 pitchers managed to stay healthy and lower his ERA: Ubaldo Jimenez of Colorado, a guy I said would be less at risk because of his powerful body type.Yikes.
Starting tonight, Josh Johnson is:
UPDATE: Josh backed up my artwork, going scoreless over 6 and 2/3 while striking out 8 for the W. I would have hated to have to retire that photoshop after one bad start...
The Marlins beat the Nationals 12-6, led by home runs from Jorge Cantu and Jeremy Hermida, a grand slam from Hanley, and an inside-the-park home run from Emilio Bonifacio. Bonifacio may have been the first man to hit an inside-the-parker for his first career home run on Opening Day. Nolasco pitched 6 innings, giving up 5 runs (4 earned) on 6 hits with 6 strikeouts. The Fish were in their usual form - lots of home runs with ok-enough pitching (though it is not recomended you extrapolate too much off of a win against the Nats). Usually when I watch the Marlins on tv (which is infrequent, given my living in Virginia), they lose. Today was a nice deviation from the norm.
Image via Miami Herald
I'm using bullet points here, so I won't go into as much detail as Ted did.
This is the biggest strength of the team. Most people would say the power hitting, but I disagree. The top three of the rotation has a chance to be great. Ricky Nolasco was an ace last year and sliding in right after him are Josh Johnson and Chris Volstad who had impressive half seasons last year and also have high ace potential. Even fourth and fifth starters Anibal Sanchez and Andrew Miller have ace potential, but because of where the lie in the rotation, they don't need to be all stars now, just decent.
This could be a trouble area. The lefties are a bit of a question mark and a lot of other pitcher's roles haven't been defined yet. Even closer Matt Lindstrom has a minor health concern and hasn't yet been a full time closer. There is plenty of talent in the organization and there is always the possibility of a move before the trade deadline but this should be the area to ay attention too.
Starting Position Players
The front office has a done a good job trying to get players who fit the philosophy of the organization. Gone is some power hitting, but in should be a better on base percentage and better small ball geared to win tight games. Hanley Ramirez may have a tough month or so adapting to the three-hole, but after that he should be a major run producer. The major question mark when it comes to the position players remains defense. Jorge Cantu slides over to first base and even though Emilio Bonifacio is new to third base, he should be an ugrade. Also the outfield should be improved with Cameron Maybin covering a lot of ground in center field.
This is another area of concern. Roles are undefined here and there is also a new face who wasn't even in the Marlin's spring training (Ross Gload). As Dave pointed out, the acquisition of Ronnie Paulino should allow for a nice platoon at catcher, but after that it gets foggy. Brett Carroll is the fourth outfielder, but as good as his defense is, he has yet to rove he can hit in the big leagues. It may once again be up to Alfredo Amezaga to be the man at literally every position.
The starting staff should kee the team in a lot of games and win a lot of games on their own. The offense should be pretty good but I do think there may be significant slump that you often see with young teams. Ultimately I think the club will win between 78-82 games and finish short of the division and wild card race. But that doesn't mean the season won't be fun. The mix of established players and young potential should be a joy to watch, as long as we don't act like we are a real baseball town or anything like that.
We'll be making our own predictions for 2009 soon, but here is a sample of what everyone else is predicting for the Marlins in 2009.
Looks like Ted was right, Andrew Miller will start the season in the bullpen. The team named Anibal Sanchez the fourth starter, and Miller will join the rotation as the fifth starter on April 15. It seems like a sensible move to me, as Miller is still working on his motion so as to not throw across his body. Some extra time in the pen and some long relief duty in garbage time will give him an extra few weeks to iron out the kinks. Miller could become an ace, so there's no rush in getting him two extra starts in 2009.
Meanwhile, the Marlins picked up RHP Hayden Penn from the Orioles in exchange for Robert Andino in a rather unsurprising exchange of players out of options with no spots on their former teams. Hopefully Andino will find room to grow in the Orioles organization. As for Penn, he hasn't shown much promise in scant major league action, but in my mind, relievers are mostly a crapshoot: sometimes they put it together for long stretches, and sometimes they're Jorge Julio. Since the Fish would have been forced to release Andino, at least they got something in return.
The Fish also traded popular Player to be Named to Kansas City for first-baseman Ross Gload. Gload is being penciled in as Jorge Cantu's backup at first, which I am interpreting as disappointment in Gaby Sanchez. He had the first-base job all but locked up in the spring, but will open the season in Triple-A New Orleans. Surely, we will see him again by September (and maybe sooner), but in the meantime, the Marlins needed someone whose primary position was first base (with Wes Helms and Jorge Cantu being natural third-basemen).
So with Opening Day fast approaching, the roster appears all but set, with the injury status of Alfredo Amezega being the major remaining question.
The Marlins traded for catcher Ronny Paulino over the weekend, sending RHP Hector Correa to the Giants in return. The move effectively closed debate on the catchers the team will employ on opening day, as Mike Rabelo was optioned to AAA-New Orleans the same day. The Marlins will have John Baker starting, with Paulino playing backup.
While it would seem odd that the Fish would target a catcher via trade, their intentions become a bit more clear when you look at Paulino's and Baker's batting splits. Against left-handed pitchers, Paulino has hit .355/.417/.498 over his career, with 8 home runs and 42 RBI in 259 at bats. Meanwhile, Baker has hit .327/.417/.487 against right-handed pitchers, with 4 home runs and 24 RBI in 150 at-bats. If their career numbers hold up (which is not a given, since both have small sample sizes), this could turn out to be an effective platoon combination at the plate. However, if Paulino cannot develop a good relationship with the pitching staff, he could see less playing time. We'll have to watch this situation play out, but with Larry Beinfast's track record (he did pluck Cody Ross seemingly out of thin air), I'm willing to give the Marlins the benefit of the doubt on this one.
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