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59 posts from August 2008

August 19, 2008

Marlins hit the road looking for some hits

         Phillies manager Charlie Manuel was so frustrated with his team’s hitting that during a pre-game session with the media last week, Manuel turned to the Phillies beat writers and said: “Recommend something, I might just try it.’’

            Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez hasn’t asked for help from the South Florida media – yet. But his Marlins began a nine game road trip in San Francisco looking for some help at the plate.

            Gonzalez said after Sunday’s loss to the Cubs that it’s not a matter of his team’s approach at the plate.

“I think guys are trying to do too much,’’ he said.

That’s the same advice veteran outfielder Luis Gonzalez has for the young Marlins.

            “Everyone is trying to come up with the big hit,’’ Luis Gonzalez said. “We’re putting too much pressure on ourselves. Our pitching staff has really stepped up and now it’s up to us to step up and start scoring some runs.’’

            The Marlins have trouble manufacturing runs, but Luis Gonzalez said it’s because the team was built that way.

“This is a different type team,’’ he said. “We don’t have a lot of guys who put the ball in play. We’re pretty much like an American League club. We hit a lot of home runs, and when we don’t hit the home runs the strikeouts are magnified a little more.’’

They led the majors in home runs for most of the season, and at one point the Marlins were on pace to set a new home run record, but those bats have gone silent of late. The Marlins aren’t just failing to hit the long ball, they’re not hitting much at all, and are once again are on pace to set a new record for strikeouts.

The Marlins are hitting just .222 for the month of August and have hit just 10 home runs and scored only 53 runs this month. They scored only 19 runs in the recent seven-game homestand

But if you think the Marlins are bad, just look at the Phillies. They Marlins are ranked 15th in the NL in hitting for the month of August. The Phillies are 16th – hitting just .202 for the month with a lineup that is loaded with big hitters. Philly has hit just 14 home runs and has scored only 49 runs for the month.

Had the Marlins played well, they could have run away from the Phillies. Instead, they begin the nine-game road trip four games behind the Mets, who are hitting .270 in August with 19 home runs and 76 runs.

“It’s just one of those funks,’’ said Marlins veteran infielder Wes Helms. “It happens to everyone. Good teams pull themselves out of it. I think these guys just need to slow the game down a little bit, and don’t try to knock in four runs.with one swing of the bat.

“We’re going on the road and we are going to get a start fresh,’’ he said. ‘We are still in the mix and we’ve got a lot of games to play (38). I believe this is a good team and we will pull ourselves out of it.’’

The Marlins batted. just 200 over their recent seven-game homestand, and hit just .152 in their weekend series against the Cubs, but even with those pathetic numbers, the Marlins could have won all three games against the Cubs and if not for some meltdowns from the bullpen, they could have gone 5-2 instead 2-5 on the homestand.

Obviously, Renyel Pinto, who allowed seven runs in two appearances covering 1 2/3 innings, cost them the chance to win two of those games. Pinto took the well-deserved losses in both, and closer Kevin Gregg blew a 5-3 lead Friday when he gave up a three-run homer to Cubs pinch-hitter Daryle Ward. 

But the Marlins are going to have to start hitting if they plan on winning the NL East, and there is no better time then this road trip .

“It’s not that we don’t want to (manufacture runs),’’ said Marlins center fielder Cody Ross. “We are trying to move runners and get guys in from third base, but we have just been in a funk. I think we will get out of it. There’s too much talent on this team. We’re going to hit again and we’re going to score runs again.’’

Ross has changed his approach at the plate and he is spraying the ball to all fields more now. But the problem with the Marlins is they are hurting up and down the lineup. It’s not one player, but a collection of players who just aren’t hitting.

The one exception is Hanley Ramirez, who after a 10-game home run drought, hit two homers on the recent homestand. Ramirez batted .450 (9 for 20) over the seven-game homestand and had a .621 on-base-percentage. Teams are beginning to pitch around him, He had nine walks during the homestand, and it will become even more important for the No. 2 hitter in the lineup to produce behind Ramirez.

Fredi Gonzalez has tried to mix it up lately, and he has used Ross and Luis Gonzalez in the No. 2 spot. Another option might be Paul Lo Duca, a veteran who knows how to give a team a professional at-bat.

This is a road trip that could see the Marlins make up some ground. They are playing two sub-500 teams, starting the trip with the Giants and ending in Atlanta. They play three games in Arizona this weekend, but the Marlins have had success against the Diamondbacks and went 5-1 against them at home this season.

“We need to start swinging the bats and we need to put together a streak of seven or eight games,’’ said Marlins first baseman Mike Jacobs. “I think this team can have a streak like that. That’s what we need to do to get right back in this.’

Here’s a look at the NL East contenders  in August

TEAM                         BA                   R                      HR                   OBP

Mets                            .270                 76                    19                    .334

Marlins                         .222                 53                    10                    .314

Phillies                          .202                 49                    14                    .303

            

August 17, 2008

SUNDAY'S LINEUPS

HERE ARE SUNDAY'S LINEUPS

MARLINS 64-60

RAMIREZ SS

GONZALEZ LF

CANTU 3B

JACOBS 1B

UGGLA 2B

HERMIDA RF

ROSS CF

BAKER C

VOLSTAD P

CUBS (75-48)

SORIANO CF

THERIOT SS

LEE 1B

RAMIREZ 3B

FUKUDOME RF

SOTO C

FONTENOT 2B

JOHNSON CF

DEMPSTER P

August 16, 2008

There's a reason Kevin Gregg is the closer

Should the Marlins keep Kevin Gregg in the closer role?

Before you rush out to replace Gregg, or rip into Fredi Gonzalez for using Gregg, there are a few things to consider.

I know there are a lot of Marlins fans who want to vote Gregg off the island today after he blew Saturday night's game by giving up a three-run homer to Daryle Wardr.

Gregg has blown seven games this season, but there’s a reason he is this team’s closer. That job was up for grabs a year ago, and he is the one who stepped up and took it.

There are 14 pitchers in the big leagues with at least six blown saves, including All-Star George Sherrill of the Orioles and Mets closer Billy Wagner. Even Francisco Rodriguiez, who is on a record-breaking pace, has blown five games this season.

Gregg is not a lights-out closere. No one will ever confuse him with Mariano Rivera or even Bryan Harvey, but he is the best the Marlins have, and they will live and die with him over the stretch run.

Gregg has had his problems, but no one in the Marlins’ bullpen has been consistent enough to replace him in the role. Matt Lindstrom and Joe Nelson have been effective at times, but Nelson has blown three saves in three save opportunities, and Lindstrom blew his only save opportunity. In fact, the Marlins’ bullpen has combined to blow 12 saves in 12 save opportunities.

Here are the stats:

Name                                                   Save Opp.        Blown Save

Joe Nelson                                           3                      3

Logan Kensing                                     2                      2

Taylor Tankersley                                 2                      2

Renyel Pinto                                         1                      1

Matt Lindstrom                                     1                      1

Justin Miller                                          1                      1

Doug Waechter                                    1                      1

Ryan Tucker                                         1                      1

            

Ross moves to the No. 2 spot/Hermida dropped to 7

Fredi will try anything to try to jump-start the Marlins, who have scored 15 runs in the first five games of the homestand. He has moved Cody Ross into the No. 2 spot behind Hanley Ramirez and moved Jeremy Hermida from No. 2 to the No. 7 spot. Hermida has a better on-base-percentage (.324-316) than Ross .But Hermida is 0 for his last 16, and the last time he had a hit is when he went 2 for 2 in New York Sunday when he hit in the No. 7 spot in the order. Hermida did kill the Cubs in Chicago, where he went 4 for 12 with three home runs and a double. Ross is one of the few productive hitters for the Marlins of late. He is 4 for 11 with a home run during the homestand.

“It doesn’t make any difference to me where they hit me in the lineup,’’ Ross said. “It’s not like we come in every day and look at the lineup and go ‘oh, look who’s who’s hitting where?’  That’s what you guys (the media) do.’’

Lou Pineilla made some changes, and started Daryl Warrd at first base. Ward has made just three starts in the past since July 1, but he was hitting .316 (6 for 19) in his last five starts, dating back to June 27. Of course, Ward is getting the start after beating the Marlins Friday night with a three-run pinch-hit ninth-inning home run.

Here are the lineups:

MARLINS (63-60)

RAMIREZ SS

ROSS CF

CANTU 3B

JACOBS 1B

UGGLA 2B

WILLINGHAM LF

HERMIDA RF

BAKER C

SANCHEZ P

CUBS (75-47)

SORIANO CF

THERIOT SS

EDMONDS CF

WARD 1B

FONTENOT 2B

FUKUDOME RF

DEROSA 3B

BLANCO C

MARSHALL P

         

August 15, 2008

Lo Duca On The Way

             The Marlins announced following Friday's loss that they had optioned reliever Justin Miller to Triple A Albuquerque and were calling up catcher Paul Lo Duca, who signed a minor-league deal only last week.

             The move helps to balance the roster and provide the Marlins with more options off the bench. They have been going with 13 pitchers and only 12 position players, which has put them in a bind more than once.

             Other than back-up catcher Matt Treanor, who was being kept in emergency reserve, Alfredo Amezaga was the only bat left on the bench in the ninth when the Marlins had two runners on with two outs. Amezaga struck out for the game's final out.

            Lo Duca, who was hitting over .400 for the Isotopes, rejoins the Marlins after being traded away following the 2005 season.

Clubhouse Closed

            Fredi Gonzalez politely shooed reporters out of the clubhouse a moment ago so that he could have a closed-door chat with the lads. Gonzalez was upbeat to scribes beforehand, telling us that he felt confident the Marlins had a winning run left in them.

            No news, otherwise. Matt Treanor is out of the lineup for the fifth game in a row, but says he's physically fine and ready to go. Gonzalez said Treanor would be in the lineup on Saturday when they face Cubs lefty Sean Marshall. Catcher Paul Lo Duca, meanwhile, continues to tear it up with Albuquerque, where he has gone 11 for 24 (.458) since signing a minor-league contract a week ago.

           Cubs: LF Alfonso Soriano, SS Ryan Theriot, 1B Derrek Lee, CF Jim Edmonds, C Geovany Soto, 3B Mark DeRosa, 2B Mike Fontenot, RF Reed Johnson, P Carlos Zambrano.

          Marlins: SS Hanley Ramirez, RF Jeremy Hermida, 3B Jorge Cantu, 1B Mike Jacobs, 2B Dan Uggla, LF Josh Willingham, CF Cody Ross, C John Baker, P Josh Johnson.

August 14, 2008

Rain, Rain, Stay Away -- Tarp is Off

JrsrainSome dark clouds overhead here at Miami Gardens Stadium, the Marlins and Cardinals hoping for an on-time start to the finale of this four-game set. St. Louis has won two of the first three.

Cards were taking BP, but the rain has started falling the tarp is coming out. The tarp is now off (6:10 p.m.) and the infield is being worked on. Game on?

Not a whole lot of news around here today, although Fredi G has tinkered with the lineup. Luis Gonzalez remains in there and is batting second for the second straight day, although he's moving to left to replace Josh Willingham (who is available). Mike Jacobs continues to bat cleanup with Dan Uggla following; Jeremy Hermida, who is back in right after taking last night off, is batting sixth (which is strange.) John Baker behind the plate batting seventh, Alfredo Amezaga patrolling center and batting eighth.

-- Cody Ross says his bruised left arm feels much better today, Fredi telling us that Cody couldn't do much yesterday. Cody can now throw the ball again, so he can go in if need be. Fredi says Cody's back in the lineup tomorrow.

-- Now, the lineups.

St. Louis (67-56, 3rd in NL Central): Joe Mather CF; Ryan Ludwick RF; Albert Pujols 1B; Troy Glaus 3B; Yadier Molina C; Felipe Lopez LF; Aaron Miles 2B; Todd Wellemeyer P; Cesar Izturis SS.

Florida (63-58, 3rd in NL East): Hanley Ramirez SS; Luis Gonzalez LF; Jorge Cantu 3B; Mike Jacobs 1B; Dan Uggla 2B; Jeremy Hermida RF; John Baker C; Alfredo Amezaga CF; Scott Olsen P.

August 13, 2008

Pinto's problems

            Sure, Pinto had that impressive April, but now that games mean so much more he has turned he has lost his effectiveness. His ERA since the All-Star break is a whopping 6.99.

         He has been even worse lately. He blew it again Wednesday by coming into the game and turning a 2-2 game into a 4-2 deficit. He has given up five hits and a walk to the last 11 batters he has faced, and he has given up six runs over his last five appearances. That’s six runs over a total of two innings, or an ERA of 27.00.

Wednesday in Miami

MiamistadiumGeorge Richards here covering the Fish for the next few nights, and there is a little bit of news to share this afternoon in the Gardens.

Not surprisingly, Cody Ross is out of the lineup tonight after getting nailed in the left arm by a pitch on Tuesday night. Said it hit him just above the elbow, and he's got it all taped up. Said the area where he was plunked swelled up on him during the night, although he's good to go if needed.

Fredi G says Cody will spend the game in the room getting treatment, but is available.

Also, Luis Gonzalez replaces Jeremy Hermida in right field tonight, also taking Hermida's second slot in the lineup. Fredi says it's not because Hermida is struggling, but that he wants Luis to get some more ABs.

-- Spoke to Doug Waechter today in the clubhouse, says he feels good and is aiming toward coming back from his rotator cuff inflamation by his target date of Aug. 22. He'll start tossing the ball on Thursday, so we'll know a little more how he feels then.

-- Tonight's lineups: St. Louis (66-56, 3rd in NL Central) -- Aaron Miles SS; Skip Schumaker CF; Albert Pujols 1B; Ryan Ludwick RF; Rick Ankiel LF; Troy Glaus 3B; Jason LaRue C; Braden Looper P; Adam Kennedy 2B. Florida (63-57, 3rd in NL East) -- Hanley Ramirez SS; Luis Gonzalez RF; Jorge Cantu 3B; Mike Jacobs 1B; Dan Uggla 2B; Josh Willingham LF; John Baker C; Alfredo Amezaga CF; Ricky Nolasco P.

-- Also, Bill Parcells is here, but since he works for the Dolphins, don't know if that constitutes as news or not. He's a Cardinals fan...

August 12, 2008

Rhodes won't miss any time

Marlins reliever Arthur Rhodes ripped into an umpire in his final game with Seattle just before he was traded to the Marlins on July 31 for Gaby Hernandez. Rhodes will have to pay for his behavior, but won’t have to miss any time with the Marlins. Rhodes was ejected from that July 30 game, and has been fined $350. Rhodes had been worried that he would be suspended and it would affect the Marlins. Based on the way he has pitched since joining the Marlins, Rhodes would be missed. Entering Tuesday’s game Rhodes had faced five batters and had struck out three and also induced a double play.