« May 2008 | Main | July 2008 »

60 posts from June 2008

June 10, 2008

The Lineups -- Marlins/Phillies (June 10)

Here are tonight's lineups:

Marlins: SS Hanley Ramirez, RF Jeremy Hermida, 3B Jorge Cantu, 1B Mike Jacobs, 2B Dan Uggla, LF Luis Gonzalez, C Mike Rabelo, CF Jacque Jones, P Ricky Nolasco.

Phillies: SS Jimmy Rollins, CF Shane Victorino, 2B Chase Utley, 1B Ryan Howard, LF Pat Burrell, RF Geoff Jenkins, 3B Gregg Dobbs, C Chris Coste, P Brett Myers.


D-Railed in D-Troit


        UPDATE -- Since posting this item, the Marlins have announced that Willis has been sent down to Single A Lakeland of the Florida State League. 

         In case you missed it, Dontrelle Willis might have pitched himself out of the Detroit Tigers' rotation last night in Motown with a nightmarish performance, and fans there are beginning to question the huge December trade with the Marlins that also bagged them Miguel Cabrera.

        Willis     Here are a couple of fresh excerpts from message boards up in the rust belt:

           Wow, and who did we give up to get this clown? I seem to remember Andrew Miller maybe? Yikes. I hope Miller goes on to win 20 every season for the Marlins. Stupid trade. Cabrera, the lazy, overweight 1st/3rd baseman isn't working out so well either.


           Someone in the Marlins front office should be arrested for theft or at the least dealing under false pretences.

           The "W" in Willis also stands for walks, which he is dispensing in alarming numbers. Last night, in a start that consumed all of 1 1/3 innings, Willis gave up eight earned on five walks and three hits, two of which were home runs. On the season, he has now walked 21 in just over 11 innings, a startling ratio of nearly two walks per inning.

       Blass                           That's no ordinary black cloud hovering over Willis. It's in the distinctive shape of a mushroom. And to think that before Willis ever threw so much as one pitch for them, the Tigers locked him up for $29 million over three seasons.

           In 2005, when Willis racked up 22 wins and delivered seven complete games for the Marlins on his way to a runner-up finish for the Cy Young Award, he walked 55 in 236 innings, a shade over two walks per inning. But in 2006, his walk totals started increasing (83 walks in 223 inning in 2006 for an average of 3.34 walks per 9, and 87 walks in 205 innings for an average of 3.81 BB/9).

           Did all those innings catch up to Dontrelle? Did the World Baseball Classic throw him out of sync for good when he pitched -- and pitched poorly -- for Team USA in the March '06 tournament? Or did the dreaded "little man" land on his shoulder and infect him with "Steve Blass Disease?"

          The Tigers might not wait much longer to find out.







June 09, 2008

A man called Joe has No. 600

            There was some controversy over Ken Griffey’s 600th home run ball, which landed just inside the foul pole in right field Monday at Dolphin Stadium.

Reportedly, there was a skirmish for the ball, which ultimately ended up in the hands of a man known as Joe, who refused to be identified.

The Reds met with the unidentified man to make him an offer for the ball, but according to Reds director of media relations Rob Butcher, the man said “I have plans for it, but I’m not going to tell you what they are. Because of my circumstances, I am going to keep it.’’

Marlins president David Samson also met with the man, whom Samson said he knew.

Samson joked about the fact the man was wearing a Sergio Mitre shirt that had been a Marlins’ give-away.

“We call him Joe,’’ Samson said. “He’s been a Marlins season ticket holder since 1993. He’s made one of the great give-aways – the Sergio Mitre shirt – famous.’’

Samson said the man was in his mid 40’s.

“I know him,’’ Samson said. “I’ve seen him at a lot of our FanFests. We talked and he will call me (Tuesday), and talk about what to do with the ball. He recognizes the importance of the ball.

“He had a hunch (Griffey) might pull it off tonight and he was right,’’ Samson said. “He had a glove. He caught it and then deeked everybody out by pointing (the other way). Then he left.’’

There were reports that there had been a skirmish, but Samson said “Joe” came up with the ball clean.

“I will help him decide what’s best for him and what’s best for baseball,’’ Samson said.

Then Samson cracked a joke.

“We’re going to use the ball for cost over-runs (for the new ballpark).’’

The Associated Press reported there was a skirmish, but TV replays appeared to indicate a man wearing a Sergio Mitre shirt caught the ball, pointed and then snuck away.

Junior did it

Ken Griffey Jr. just came out for a curtain call after hitting his 600th home run in the first inning Monday. Griffey launched No. 600 on a 3-1 pitch from Mark Hendrickson into the right field seats at 7:18 p.m., becoming the sixth player in big league history to reach the 600 Club.

JJ could be here sooner than expected

Jj Those who think the Marlins are not going to last may want to pay attention to Ryan Tucker’s performance Sunday – five innings, two hits and one run.

Tucker, who was jolted out of Double A Carolina and into his first big league start, won’t save the season for the Fish, but his addition is going to help.

The man who might just save this season is Josh Johnson, because if JJ returns and resembles the guy who pitched in 2006 the Marlins will have in effect added a top-of-the-rotation starter.

Johnson’s return from Tommy John surgery was expected to be in early September or late August, but he is far ahead of that pace, and the Marlins believe he will be back around the All-Star break.

That idea received a huge boost Monday when Johnson pitched in his first game since leaving the mound July 4 with pain after throwing five scoreless innings against the Padres.

Johnson went five innings Monday and gave up five hits and one run in an extended spring training game against the Cardinals. He is set to start again in five days, and remain on a normal rotation until he is ready to join the Marlins.

“That’s good news,’’ said Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez, who plans on putting Johnson in the rotation when Johnson rejoins the team.

“If he’s healthy he will be a starter,’’ Gonzalez said.

Johnson went 12-7 with a 3.10 ERA in 2006, but he was one of the biggest reasons the Marlins came back from their 11-31 start and became a playoff contender. From May through August – when the Marlins made their biggest push – Johnson went 11-4 with a 2.77 ERA.

He can be a difference maker.

The biggest reason Florida fell into last place a year ago was the loss of Johnson, Anibal Sanchez and Ricky Nolasco – 3/5 of the rotation.

Nolasco is back is 5-4 with a 5.05 ERA, and although he has had an uneven season, Nolasco has had his moments. He won four in a row last month with a 2.56 ERA in those games.

Sanchez is coming back from shoulder surgery and is behind Johnson in his rehab. But Gonzalez said Monday the “Sanchez is close to pitching in a game.’’

It might be a while for Sanchez to return, but Johnson could be on the mound in the middle of July. By then Andrew Miller will have another month under him, and Tucker may be a better pitcher than we saw on Sunday.

One more shot for Junior

Ken Griffey Jr. will start the fourth and final game of the series Monday night against the Fish, still looking for No. 600.

Griffey is 5 for 8 (.625) with a home run against Marlins starter Mark Hendrickson.Griffeys

Ken Griffey's family has been in town all weekend, and Ken Griffey Sr. has been here as well to see Jr. hit 600.

The Marlins will try to be the first team this season to score more than two earned runs off the big league ERA-leader Edinson Volquez

Here's a look at the lineups:


Ramirez SS

Hermida RF

Cantu 3B

Jacobs 1B

Uggla 2B

Gonzalez LF

Ross CF

Treanor C

Hendrickson P


Hairston SS

Bruce CF

Griffey RF

B. Phillips 2B

Dunn 1B

Encarnacion 3B

Votto 1B

Bako C

Volquez P

June 08, 2008

Rabelo should play the lottery: He's that lucky

Mike Rabelo must have a charmed life, because he could have made three outs in the third inning, and ended up scoring the first run for the Marlins.

He led off the inning by striking out, but raced to first on a passed ball on the third strike.

He went to second on Hanley Ramirez's single, but was almost doubled off second when Jeremy Hermida flew out to center. Rabelo took off for third and the throw to second actually beat him, but second baseman Brandon Phillips was not on the base and stepped on it just late.

Then Jorge Cantu singled to left and the throw home beat Rabelo by several feet. But Reds catcher David Ross, who started the whole Rabelo run-around-the-bases, missed the tag and Rabelo scored.

Not much intrigue in sending Hopper to the pen

The Marlins decided Friday night to make the move to bring up Ryan Tucker and start him Sunday against the Reds.

It appeared as if it was a dramatic last-minute decision, because Burke Badenhop was scheduled to start Sunday’s game, and the Marlins made no announcement of any change.

That’s why it was a surprise to see Badenhop come out of the bullpen to pitch the ninth inning Saturday night. After Saturday’s game, the Marlins announced they were bringing up Tucker to pitch Sunday.

But the decision was made after Friday’s l1-3 loss to the Reds. That’s when the Marlins decided to go back to 13 pitchers and call up Tucker.

They told Badenhop Saturday afternoon (about 2:30 p.m.) that he would be in the bullpen and not be starting Sunday.

Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said he would stay with 13 pitchers, which means the Marlins have one less bat on the bench, through the interleague games on the road.

The Marlins have a nine-game road trip (June 13 through June 22) through Tampa Bay, Seattle and Oakland in which they will use a designated hitter. Gonzalez won’t have to worry about using his bench to pinch-hit for his pitcher so he can have an extra pitcher in his tired and over-worked bullpen.

Junior starts Sunday

Caddyshack_carl There was some speculation Ken Griffey Jr. wouldn't start Sunday because he would be coming back from a late game Saturday night, but Junior was in the lineup for the third game in a row against the Marlins. He's still looking for No. 600, and he might get it today against Ryan Tucker, who was just called up from Double A Carolina.

The ball travels well in day games, so Griffey -- as Caddyshack Carl would say -- "he's got that going for him.''

Griffey would like to hit it here, because his family has come down from Orlando for the weekend.

Here are the lilneups


Ramirez SS

Hermida RF

Cantu 3B

Helms 1B

Uggla 2B

Gonzalez LF

Ross CF

Rabelo C

Tucker P


Hairston SS

Bruce CF

Griffey RF

B. Phillips 2B

Dunn LF

Votto 1B

Encarnacion 3B

Ross C

Harang P

June 07, 2008

Cantu's Friday night feat


It is so rare that Jorge Cantu can’t ever remember doing it – or even seeing it done.

            But in Friday night’s game against the Reds Cantu hit a long foul ball that would have been a home run if it had stayed fair, and then hit the next pitch over the scoreboard in left-center field for a home run. He hit another home run later for his fifth multi-home run game of his career. But the foul ball/home run sequence was more impressive than the two-homer night.

“It’s one of the rarities in baseball,’’ Cantu said. “They have a saying in baseball: When you hit one like that and it goes foul you usually end up striking out. That’s what usually happens.

“I wasn’t thinking about striking out, but I wasn’t thinking about hitting a home run. I was just trying to get a pitch to hit.

“I don’t know if I will ever do that again.’’

Cantu is off to a better start than Miguel Cabrera. He has more home runs (11-8) and is hitting better (.276-.271).

But the real difference is in salary: Cantu is making $500,000 this season. Cabrera, who signed an eight-year deal worth $152.3 million with the Tigers, is making $11.3 million this season.

And then Cantu hit another home run Saturday, three in two days. 

Cabrera hasn't hit a home run since May 27 and has hit three homers over his last 32 games.