Oh those shifting Marlins.
The shift is a part of the game these days. You see it all the time as more and more teams are using dramatic shifts to face big pull hitters such as Boston’s David Ortiz and others.
The Marlins have their own shift for those big left-handed hitters, and they unveiled it Friday against the Reds and Ken Griffey and Adam Dunn.
In the basic shift against lefties managers move their shortstop to the second base side and put their second baseman in short right field, stacking to the right side of the infield against the lefty while leaving the third baseman alone to cover the left side of the infield.
The Marlins used that shift early in the game Friday, but Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez started thinking about it during the game, and ran his idea past infield coach Andy Fox in the dugout. Fox liked the idea.
The next time Griffey came to the plate, Fredi shifted, but instead of moving shortstop Hanley Ramirez to the right side of second, Fredi put third baseman Jorge Cantu there, and left Hanley by himself to cover the left side of the infield.
Cantu has played second base in his career and Ramirez has much better range.
Fredi said the Marlins would continue to use this shift in the future.
This is just a subtle thing, and it won’t make many headlines, but this is just the kind of thing Fredi has been doing all season – little tugs and tweaks to make this club better.
Earlier in the season, he tinkered with his rotation and made sure the young kids Andrew Miller and Burke Badenhop didn’t pitch in back-to-back games. It was a small thing but made the rotation much better.
Fredi handled the Mike Rabelo/Matt Treanor problem about as well as he could have, starting Rabelo and giving him a lot of playing time early. Treanor didn’t complain, and just waited for his shot.
The Marlins had to play Rabelo early to see just what kind of catcher they got in the trade, and Fredi ran him out there without much fanfare.
There wasn’t much fanfare either when Treanor started getting more and more playing time. At this point Treanor has clearly emerged as the starting catcher, but there wasn’t a lot of soap opera antics along the way.
Fredi has also handled this pitching staff better than anyone could have imagined, and the results have stunned baseball. No one expected this team to contend. The Marlins have hit the wall lately, and the bullpen that carried them early has been the biggest disappointment during this recent slide.
But it’s June and Gonzalez if they were voting today for Manager of the Year, Gonzalez would win it.
He’s winning with a $22 million payroll, and not getting much credit for it.