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18 posts from October 2009

October 08, 2009

Marlins vs. Elite 8

As everyone knows by now, the Marlins failed to make the playoffs. But they more than held their own against the postseason teams.

 The Marlins went 22-20 against the six playoff teams they faced during the regular season: They didn't see the Twins or Angels

  Here's the breakdown:

  Team     Record

  Philadelphia Phillies   9-9

  Los Angeles Dodgers 3-3

  St. Louis Cardinals     3-3

  Colorado Rockies    4-2

   New York Yankees    2-1

   Boston Red Sox    1-2


October 07, 2009

Limo Driver: Sean West Goes for Wild Ride in Philly

The last I saw of Sean West on Saturday, he was dressing up in leather cowboy gear as part of the Marlins' annual rookie hazing. That was after the Marlins' victory over the Phillies. Well, according to a Philadelphia limo driver, things turned quite a bit wilder that night with West and his posse.

You can read all about it here.

October 06, 2009

Wiley, Fox Out as Marlins Coaches

The Marlins have offered contracts to all current members of the coaching staff, except for pitching coach Mark Wiley and first base coach Andy Fox.

Wiley and Fox have been offered positions elsewhere in the organization.

The changes come on the same day that the Marlins decided to keep Fredi Gonzalez as their manager.

  He'll be rejoined by coaches Carlos Tosca, Jim Presley, Steve Foster and Bo Porter.


Report: Fredi Gonzalez To Remain Manager of Marlins

UPDATE (11:47 a.m.) -- Have just confirmed through a team source that Fredi Gonzalez will remain as manager of the Marlins.

     Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports is reporting that Fredi Gonzalez will remain manager of the Marlins. Rosenthal is attributing the information to an unnamed major league source. The Marlins haven't said anything publicly.

   Rosenthal wrote that Gonzalez's job, according to the source, was never in jeopardy.

    "There is nothing to that — zero," Rosenthal quoted the source as saying.

   However, Marlins president David Samson on Sunday left open the possibility that Gonzalez could be fired when he would not say definitively whether the manager would return. Nor have club officials made any attempt the past two days to silence the reports and mounting criticism aimed at owner Jeffrey Loria..

   Furthermore, Bobby Valentine has done nothing to refute several reports that he has spoken to the Marlins about replacing Gonzalez.

   In an e-mail this morning to 790-The Ticket executive producer Andy King, Valentine wrote the following: "Thanks for reaching out to me.  I am on the road right now and I do not want to talk about rumors that might be out there.  Look forward to being on your show but I really don't have  anything to say at this time"




October 04, 2009

Let's Play Marlins Blame Game -- Vote!

   Okay. So the word of the day for the Marlins is "disappointing." At least that was the one being thrown around like a baseball in a game of pepper the past few days, with Marlins president David Samson describing the failure of the club to reach the playoffs as "disappointing" and Larry Beinfest, the long-titled roster architect, using the same word when discussing the team's 87-75 record and second-place finish in the NL East.

    The immediate fallout from all this is that the jobs of manager Fredi Gonzalez and his coaches are suddenly in jeopardy.

 So who's to blame for the Marlins' "disappointing" season?  Is it owner Jeffrey Loria for funding the lowest-paid team in the majors? Is it Beinfest for not using what financial resources he has to design a better club? Is it Gonzalez and his coaching staff for not squeezing more wins -- and a playoff berth -- out of his players? Or is it the players themselves for underperforming?

  Tell us what you think. In addition to casting a vote, feel free to leave a comment, as well.

SI: Marlins Mulling Managerial Change; Samson's Reaction


   Yet another story indicating a possible shake-up involving Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez and the coaching staff. According to Sports Illustrated, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is upset that the club failed to reach the playoffs and is considering a managerial change -- this despite producing a second straight winning season with a $35 million roster, the lowest in the majors.

    When asked whether Loria was upset with how the season turned out, Marlins president David Samson replied: "There's no question we felt we should have been a playoff team."

    Samson was asked if Gonzalez's job was safe. Samson said Gonzalez, who received a two-year extension last spring to manage through the 2011 season, would be evaluated like every other employee in the organization when club officials meet with Loria in New York this week.

  Asked if the Marlins had been in contact with former major league manager Bobby Valentine about a position in the organization, as was reported on Saturday by ESPN.com, Samson replied: "Not that I'm aware of."

   Gonzalez, in comments to reporters before today's game, was asked about the Valentine report;

   "You ve got to talk to Larry (Beinfest) about that one," Gonzalez said. "I don’t worry about it. He’s (Valentine) a good baseball man."


Report: Bobby Valentine talking to Marlins

    Returning from the game last night, I encountered a mugging on the steps of City Hall in downtown Philadelphia. A group of teenagers threw a homeless man to the sidewalk, punched him in the face a few times, and left him there bleeding. I called 911, spoke to the cops, and waited long enough to make sure the guy was all right before continuing on to my room.

    Once there, I discovered this  ESPN story, which reports that Major League manager Bobby Valentine is "in communication" with the Marlins over a "possible position." It doesn't specify the position, leaving it up to the imagination to decide. But Valentine, who has spent the past few years in Japan, has mentioned a possible return to managing in the majors.

 On top of that, members have the Marlins' coaching staff have not been told whether they would be re-hired for next season, something that normally takes place before closing day. Larry Beinfst, the Marlins 'president of baseball operations, said the coaching situation wouldn't be resolved until sometime after the season. What are they waiting for?

  Manager Fredi Gonzalez remains under contract through 2011. He received a two-year extention last spring training. But who knows what the Marlins on top are thinking. While all of the other heavy hitters in the Marlins' organization (Beinfest, David Samson, etc.) are in Philadelphia for the final series, owner Jeffrey Loria has been conspicuously absent.

  On Saturday, Beinfest told reporters that the organization was " disappointed" with the team's failure to reach the playoffs even though it will finish with the third-highest win total in franchise history. Beinfest began his remaks by discussing "the negative side of things" -- not the positive.

  The Marlins have ended up winners in four of the past six seasons --  2004, '05, '08 and this season -- yet failed to reach the playoffs in any of them. I asked Beinfest if spending more money on payroll might help get the team over the hump. Once again, the Marlins had the lowest payroll in the majors this season: $35 million.

   His reply: "I don't think so. We've never used payroll as an excuse. We look at those trades the last week of spring training for Gload and Paulino. They didn't cost a lot of money and they became very vital parts of this team. So I think there are ways to do it."

But look at the teams going to the playoffs and it's not hard to see that money talks. The Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, Cardinals, Phillies and Dodgers all spend big bucks. Detroit, too, if they manage to get in.

    Gonzalez and his coaches aren't as bad off as the bloodied man I saw last night. But they can't be feeling too comfortable this morning as they hear the rumblings about Valentine and without knowing whether they'll return next season.

October 01, 2009

From Mickey Welch to Ricky Nolasco, with Jiminy Cricket in between

   Tom Seaver I know about. Jake Peavy I know about. Ricky Nolasco I certainly know about, having watched him pitch the past four seasons.

   But Mickey Welch? Now there's a name I wasn't familiar with when it popped up earlier tonight as Nolasco was playing ninepins with the Atlanta Braves.

   Nolasco became the fourth pitcher in major league history to strike out at least nine straight batters, joining Seaver, Peavy and Welch. Seaver holds the record, striking out 10 straight Padres in a 1970 game.

   Peavy whiffed nine in a row in a 2007 game. Welch did his "9" thing in 1884.


    So who's this Welch guy? Well, he was a pretty good pitcher before the turn of the century -- the first baseball century turn -- and was the third hurler to notch 300 wins. He was eventually elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee.

   Another interesting fact about Welch: known as "Smiling Mickey": he is credited as being the first player ever used as a pinch-hitter, serving in that role in a 1889 game. He also pitched in the first game ever played at the Polo Grounds in 1883. He went the full nine innings in his first 105 major league starts, was one of the first pithers to throw a screwball, and served as a ticket taker at the Polo Grounds after his playing days were over.

   In a 1884 game, he struck out the first nine Cleveland Blues batters. The consecutive-whiff streak held until Seaver came along.

   That's him to the left. Kind of an odd pose, as if he has about to toss the baseball like a hand grenade.

   One more thing on Nolasco's performance. It should be noted that he set the Marlins franchise record, of course, for rconsecutive strikeouts. The old mark of seven in a row had been held by Jesus Sanchez. The reason I mention this is that Sanchez's name managed to come up twice this week.

  Remember on Monday when Anibal Sanchez walked eight? Well, that was the most walks issued by a Marlins pitcher ine one game since -- you guessed it -- Jesus Sanchez walked eight. I don't know which Marlin it was, but one of his teammates nicknamed Sanchez "Jiminiy Cricket" because of the spiffy outfit and bowler cap he always wore on road trips.


So here's to Ricky Nolasco. And to Mickey Welch and Jesus Sanchez, as well.