January 18, 2016

Longtime sportswriter Juan C. Rodriguez passes away after three-year battle with brain cancer

            Juan Rodriguez, the Miami Marlins beat writer for the Sun Sentinel and a former Miami Herald sportswriter, passed away Monday after a three-year long battle with brain cancer.

            Rodriguez worked for The Herald and the Florida Today in Melbourne before joining the Sun Sentinel in July 2002.

Marlins President David Samson took a moment during Monday’s press conference to announce Dee Gordon’s contract extension to express the team’s condolences to Rodriguez’s family.

            “I’d be remiss if we didn’t mention today that we’re here with heavy hearts as we remember Juan Rodriguez,” Samson said. “He was a great man. We are thinking about his wife, Tiffany, his kids, Laura and Ryan. I just wanted to say that I hope Juan is in a better place now and our thoughts are with his wife and his family.”

            Rodriguez collapsed while covering the MLB Winter Meetings in Nashville in December of 2012 and was later diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Rodriguez underwent several months of chemotherapy and eventually a number of surgeries to eradicate the original and additional tumors that developed following his original diagnosis.

            Born in Madrid, Spain, Rodriguez grew up in New York City and McAllen, Texas before his family moved to Miami in 1985. He graduated from the University of Minnesota.

Rodriguez is survived by his wife, Tiffany, and their two young children Laura and Ryan.

            A fundraiser was set up to help Rodriguez’s family help cover their medical expenses during Rodriguez’s fight with cancer.

If you would like to contribute, here’s the link to donate:

https://www.youcaring.com/juan-rodriguez-and-family-429305#.Vp1Pwsgv-2Q.twitter

December 08, 2015

Numerous teams interested in Marcell Ozuna; Jose Fernandez trade rumors continue

NASHVILLE -- At least seven to 10 teams have touched base with the Marlins concerning Marcell Ozuna, sources are telling me, increasing the likelihood that the outfielder will be traded at some point. The Marlins are seeking young, controllable starting pitching in return.

But there is clearly demand for Ozuna.

One team that has shown interest is the Yankees, according to George King III of the New York Post:

According to a person familiar with the Marlins’ thinking, they aren’t opposed to dealing outfielder Marcell Ozuna, who interests the Yankees despite the 25-year-old right-handed hitter batting .259 with 10 homers, 44 RBIs and a .691 OPS last season. When the Marlins sent him to Triple-A for 33 games, he batted .317 with a .937 OPS.

The Marlins have liked Bryan Mitchell as a starter and Adam Warren as a reliever, but it will take more than that to get Ozuna because some talent evaluators believe he is on the cusp of a breakout season.

The Marlins could decide to improve their bargaining position for Ozuna by waiting for the top free agent outfielders -- Yoenis Cespedes, Alex Gordon, Jason Heyward and Justin Upton -- to sign and allow the trade market to heat up.

______________

Despite a flat-out declaration from Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill that Jose Fernandez is "not available," rumors continue to persist that the team could be looking to trade the pitcher.

ESPN's Jayson Stark is reporting this morning that, in addition to the Yankees, Dodgers and Diamondbacks, a "mystery team" is in discussions with the Marlins for Fernandez (CBSsports.com's Jon Heyman reported that the Diamondbacks are now "out.")

My strong sense is that the Marlins do not intend to deal Fernandez -- at least not now. Or not unless some team is willing to meet the Marlins' pie-in-sky demands for the ace hurler.

But the Marlins also know that Fernandez will have to be traded at some point, whether it's now, the July 31 trade deadline, or next year.

In talking with teams, could the Marlins merely be gauging the market to assess Fernandez's actual trade value for when that time comes? I posed that thought to one baseball insider with knowledge of the Marlins' thinking and was told this: "You're right on it."

When Hill was asked about Fernandez last night, with owner Jeffrey Loria and president David Samson sitting within earshot, he was emphatic. "He's not available."

That doesn't mean the Marlins aren't listening to what teams have to offer, or that they would automatically reject a bonanza haul for Fernandez. That would be foolish. But if the Marlins were really entertaining a trade for the pitcher, it's more likely Hill would have couched his comments to give himself and the Marlins some leeway if and when they deal their star.

December 07, 2015

Marlins on Jose Fernandez: "He's not available."

NASHVILLE -- The Marlins aren't trying to trade Jose Fernandez, and they're telling teams they have no intention of doing so anytime soon, according to one top team official.

"He's not available," said Michael Hill, Marlins president of baseball operations. "We haven't made him available. But it doesn't stop the phone calls from coming."

Fernandez was a hot topic on the first day of baseball's Winter Meetings, with numerous outlets reporting that at least three teams -- the Dodgers, Yankees and Diamondbacks -- had contacted the Marlins about their star pitcher.

Hill said none of that is surprising.

"When you have a talented player, you're going to get calls on them," Hill said. "And this is the place where that happens. It's all part of the winter meetings experience. For the most part, there really hasn't been anything to talk about with him."

Hill's emphatic comments all but squashed various trade rumors throughout the day involving Fernandez.
Several indicated that when approached about Fernandez, the Marlins countered with pie-in-the-sky proposals about what it would take to acquire the 23-year-old ace.

The New York Post quoted one unidentified major league executive as saying, "The cost (for Fernandez) is so overwhelming that I don't think he is really available."

The Marlins were reportedly telling teams that they would want high-end prospects and major-league-ready talent -- starting pitchers, in particular -- to help them win in 2016.

But the asking price is so great that many questioned whether the Marlins have any real intention of dealing him.

Hill told reporters last week that the Marlins aren't actively dangling Fernandez in trade discussions.

"He sits at the front of our rotation," Hill said. "We are not shopping Jose Fernandez. I don’t know what more I can say. He’s a good pitcher, one of the best in the league, so you’re going to get asked about him. But we are not shopping Jose Fernandez.”

Fernandez is under team control for three more seasons and remains relatively inexpensive. He is projected to make $2.2 million next season in what will be his first year of arbitration eligibility.

But the longer the Marlins hang on to Fernandez, the less the Marlins can expect to receive for him in a trade, as his value will diminish in coming years as he approaches free agency.

Marlins in trade talks with Red Sox for pitchers Wade Miley and Joe Kelly [UPDATE: Miley goes to Mariners]

For the second straight year, the Marlins came up short in their attempt to acquire Wade Miley. According to reports, Miley is going to the Seattle Mariners for reliever Carson Smith and starter Roenis Elias. That suggests the Red Sox were looking to deal Miley in exchange for bullpen help and the Marlins potentially would have had to give up one of their relievers (Mike Dunn? A.J. Ramos?).

NASHVILLE -- The Marlins came close to landing Wade Miley in a trade last December. Now they're continuing their pursuit for the durable lefty.

Sources said Monday that the Marlins have spoken to the Boston Red Sox about both Miley and right-hander Joe Kelly. Any trade would involve one, but not both, sources said. And it's unknown what the Marlins would have to give up in the deal.

The Marlins thought they were on the verge of acquiring Miley last year before the Red Sox swooped in at the last minute and worked out a deal with the Diamondbacks.

But after going 11-11 with a 4.46 ERA with Boston, Miley is back on the trading block. In addition to the Marlins, the Red Sox are reportedly entertaining offers from the Rangers and Mariners. Miley has consistently thrown 195-200 innings each of the past four seasons, and owns a career record of 49-46 with a 3.95 ERA.

Kelly went 10-6 with a 4.82 ERA last season for the Red Sox.

_______________

There's been a lot of trade buzz involving Jose Fernandez at the Winter Meetings. But it's not anything to get too excited about.

While the Marlins aren't shopping Fernandez, they have been approached by a couple of teams about him, namely the Dodgers and Diamondbacks. The Marlins are listening, and are reportedly asking for a pie-in-the-sky haul in return.

One executive told the New York Post that the Marlins' asking price is so great that he finds it extremely doubtful any team would bite.

"The cost is so overwhelming that I don't think he is really available," the unidentified executive told the Post.

Marlins general manager Michael Hill told reporters last week that the Marlins aren't in any hurry to deal their ace, and that he is not being shopped.

 

December 03, 2015

Miami Marlins: "Difficult decision" to non-tender Henderson Alvarez

In the end with Henderson Alvarez, it came down to a basic risk-reward issue. The Marlins saw more risk by keeping the pitcher than the reward that might have resulted in doing so. Nobody knows when Alvarez will be ready to return to the mound, and therein lay the decision Wednesday to non-tender the one-time All-Star.

"A very difficult decision," said Michael Hill, Marlins president of baseball operations.

The Marlins tendered contracts to eight of their 10 arbitration-eligible players, including Jose Fernandez, Dee Gordon and Adeiny Hechavarria. But Alvarez and reliever Aaron Crow were told 'no thanks,' allowing each to become a free agent. The price tag to keep Alvarez alone would have been about $4 million, and given the uncertainty surrounding the quirky right-hander as he works his way back from shoulder surgery made him a risky investment.

Best-case scenarios have Alvarez missing the first month or so of next season, and the Marlins -- on their limited budget -- are in no position to cross their fingers and wait.

"As we looked into the offseason, we are going to need depth (in the rotation), and we're going to need innings," Hill explained. "He's not going to be able to provide those for us for some time."

Alvarez only began playing catch this week.

"It was step one in a long process," Hill said. "It was playing catch. It was not even to the point where you could even envision or gauge when he would be able to return. Given our challenges, we have to have our dollars on the field, performing for us. We felt like we could better allocate the dollars in other areas."

Hill said the Marlins are open to the idea of re-signing Alvarez and Crow at reduced salaries. Crow, who missed all last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, stood to make $2 million in arbitration. But other teams will also have a shot at the two pitchers.

"We hope to keep the lines of communication open with both," Hill said. "Both are free agents. But if there is a creative way to keep them both, we'll look to do that."

 

 

December 02, 2015

It's decision day for Henderson Alvarez

Henderson Alvarez was an All-Star in 2014 and the Marlins' opening day starter last year. But he could be a goner -- flicked away like the spent ash at the end of a cigarette -- come midnight tonight.

That's the deadline for teams to either tender -- or non-tender -- contracts to their arbitration-eligible players, and the fate of Alvarez [stats] hangs in the balance. The Marlins have 10 arbitration players to consider, and nine of them are no-brainers.

Jose Fernandez, Dee Gordon, Adeiny Hechavarria, A.J. Ramos, Tom Koehler, Bryan Morris, Carter Capps and David Phelps are all keepers. Reliever Aaron Crow will almost certainly be non-tendered given that he missed all of 2015 after undergoing Tommy John surgery but still stands to make about $2 million -- precious money to the Marlins -- in the arbitration process.

Alvarez, though, is the interesting one.

According to projections provided by mlbtraderumors.com, Alvarez is positioned to receive about $4 million through arbitration. And therein lies the quandary for the Marlins. Alvarez is coming off shoulder surgery and -- assuming there are no setbacks along the way -- likely wouldn't be ready to pitch again until a month or two into the season.

Even if the Marlins felt convinced that Alvarez will make it back and give them 20 or so starts, there's no guarantee he'll be the same pitcher he was before. On the other hand, $4 million isn't a lot to pay for a No. 2 or No. 3 starter, not in the current free agent climate in which the J.A. Happs of the world are landing three-year deals paying them $36 million. If Alvarez returns the same pitcher he once was, he's a bargain.

The Marlins, who are looking to upgrade the rotation with one or two starters, have no intention of spending big bucks on a mid-rotation arm. So they'll either go after the low-hanging fruit that remains after the pricier free agent starters are gone, or trade (Marcell Ozuna?) to acquire a pitcher.

For now, though, the clock is ticking on Alvarez.

Should the Marlins roll the dice and hang on to Alvarez? Or should they fold by cutting him loose?

What would you do?

 

November 19, 2015

Bombers in Miami, Marlins in Puerto Rico

The Yankees are coming to Miami. The Marlins are going to San Juan.

The Marlins announced today that the New York Yankees would play two spring training games at Marlins Park on April 1 and 2.

In addition, the Marlins will head to Puerto Rico to face the Pittsburgh Pirates in two regular-season games on May 30-31.

The Marlins will be returning to Puerto Rico for the first time since 2010. In three previous series at Hiram Bithorn Stadium, they have gone 7-2.

Regarding tickets, here's what the Marlins have announced: 

"For the second time since moving to Marlins Park, the Marlins will wrap up Spring Training with two contests against the New York Yankees at Marlins Park. All current season ticket holders that are affected by the change will have the option to replace the Pirates games with the Yankees exhibition games to their plan. Fans interested in purchasing season ticket plans that include these newly added Yankees games should go to Marlins.com/Tickets or call 305-480-2525.

 "Single game tickets for the Yankees games and the 2016 regular season will go on sale at FanFest, which will take place on Saturday, February 20, 2016 at Marlins Park."

 

November 17, 2015

Yankees, Red Sox on home spring training schedule for Marlins

We're not even to Thanksgiving, but spring has sprung. Well, sort of.

The Marlins released their 2016 spring schedule, which features visits to Jupiter by the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers.

As usual, the Marlins will open their spring slate with an exhibition at Roger Dean Stadium against the University of Miami on March 1. Then comes the Grapefruit League.

The first workout for pitchers and catchers is Feb. 19, with position players joining the fray for the team's first full-squad workout on Feb. 22.

Here's the complete spring schedule:

March 1 -- University of Miami -- Jupiter

March 2 -- OFF DAY

March 3 -- at St. Louis -- Jupiter

March 4 -- Washington -- Jupiter

March 5 -- St. Louis -- Jupiter

March 6 -- at Detroit -- Lakeland

March 7 -- at Washington -- Viera

March 8 -- New York Yankees -- Jupiter

March 9 -- at St. Louis -- Jupiter

March 10 -- Atlanta -- Jupiter

March 11 -- at Minnesota -- Fort Myers

March 12 -- at Boston -- Fort Myers

March 13 -- New York Mets -- Jupiter

March 14 -- OFF DAY

March 15 -- New York Mets -- Jupiter

March 16 -- Washington -- Jupiter

March 18 -- at Atlanta -- Orlando

March 19 -- Detroit -- Jupiter

March 20 -- at St. Louis -- Jupiter

March 21 -- at New York Mets -- Port St. Lucie

March 22 -- Boston -- Jupiter

March 23 -- at St. Louis -- Jupiter

March 24 -- Minnesota -- Jupiter

March 25 -- Washington -- Jupiter

March 26 -- at Houston -- Kissimmee

March 27 -- St. Louis -- Jupiter

March 28 -- at Washington -- Viera

March 29 -- at New York Mets -- Port St. Lucie

March 30 -- St. Louis -- Jupiter

Ticket information can be found at the Roger Dean Stadium website -- www.rogerdeanstadium.com -- as well as the Marlins' official website -- www.marlins.com

 

October 29, 2015

Marlins, Mattingly have reportedly reached deal, which won't be formally announced until after World Series

According to Vice Sports, the Marlins have hired former Dodgers manager and Yankees great Don
Mattingly to be their next manager.

Citing a source, the news outlet said Mattingly's deal is for four years, making him the
club's eighth manager since 2010. The announcement isn't expected to be made until after the
World Series, per baseball's policy to keep all the attention on the Fall Classic during this
time of year.

During his five seasons in Los Angeles, Mattingly guided the Dodgers to a 446-363 record (.551
winning percentage) and led the team to three consecutive division titles.

Of course, Mattingly also had the benefit of managing the highest paid team in baseball
($272.7 million in 2015) each of the last two seasons. The Marlins were dead last in payroll
($68.5 million) last season.

Reached by text, a Marlins spokesman said he could not confirm or deny the report. 

October 04, 2015

Batting race coming down to the decimal between Gordon and Harper

PHILADELPHIA -- Barring a closing-day no-hitter for a third straight year, the only drama involving the Marlins as they close out the season will be the battle between Dee Gordon and Washington's Bryce Harper for the NL batting title.

It could not be any closer: Harper leads Gordon, .3307 to .3306. That's right. It's down to 1/10,000th of a point. And decimals count -- even beyond the third number on the right side of the point -- when it comes to deciding a champion.

If Wikipedia is to be trusted, here's what it has to say about close batting title races in the past:

The closest finish in a batting race came in 1945 when Snuffy Stirnweiss batted .309, topping Tony Cuccinello's .308 average for the American League title by .00008.[21][22] George Kell beat out Williams in 1949 by .00015.[21] The closest race in the National League came in 2003 when Albert Pujols held off Todd Helton on the last day of the season by .00022.[21][23] The closest National League race before that was in 1931 with Chick Hafey edging out Bill Terry by .00028.[21]

What makes this race especially interesting is that all MLB games today are starting at the same time. So it could create for some interesting strategy. Say Gordon bangs out hits in each of his first three at bats and Harper is 0 for 3. Does Marlins manager Dan Jennings  take out Gordon to ensure the title for the second baseman? Does Nationals manager Matt Williams do the same if the scenario is reversed?

The Phillies are sending Dave Buchanan to the mound. Gordon has gone 2 for 6 against Buchanan. Harper will be facing the Mets' Jacob deGrom. Harper has gone 6 for 17 against deGrom. Advantage Harper.

So sit back and enjoy. But keep a calculator handy.