Just in time for the holidays, Marlins players will be receiving a tidy little bonus -- specifically, $10,424 per full share -- for finishing second in the NL East last season. While the amount pales in comparison to that received by the Yankees, each of whom is receiving more than $365,000 for winning the World Series, it beats an empty card.
The money comes from a percentage of the playoff gate receipts.
As a team, the Marlins received nearly $600,000 and awarded 49 full shares, 7.28 partial shares, and seven cash awards.
-- The Dan Uggla trade talks should heat up again when baseball executives gather in Indianapolis next week for the annual Winter Meetings. Not much has changed on the Uggla front since the G. M. meetings in Chicago earlier this month. Teams that have expressed interest include the Baltimore Orioles, San Francisco Giants,, Boston Red Sox and New York Mets.
-- Don't look for the Marlins to offer salary arbitration to any of their four free agents -- Kiko Calero, Brendan Donnelly, Ross Gload and Nick Johnson -- at Tuesday's deadline. However, the Marlins remain very much interested in re-signing Gload to a two-year deal similar to the one granted last year to his mirror opposite on the bench, Wes Helms.
- Not a great deal of difference between my ballot and the actual voting results, which were released earlier today. Like everyone else, I had Pujols on top. And runner-up Hanley Ramirez had the biggest chunk of second-place votes. It reminded me of the conversation I had with Ramirez in the middle of the summer when he told me Pujols was to thank for his marked improvement as a hitter with runners in scoring position. Ramirez said Pujols had given him a "secret" tip during spring training that paid off at the plate. Well, judging by the results, Pujols didn't reveal all his secrets to Ramirez. He is the most feared hitter in the post-Bonds era and deserving of his third MVP award.
Baseball Writers’ Association of America
Jack O’Connell, Secretary-Treasurer / E-mail: ---------------------
2009 NATIONAL LEAGUE
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER AWARD BALLOT
E-mail your selections to --------------- prior to the start of postseason play.
1. _Albert Pujols, Cardinals___________________________
2. _Hanley Ramirez, Marlins___________________________
3. _Prince Fielder, Brewers_______________________________
4. _Ryan Howard, Phillies________________________________
5. _Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies______________________________
6. _Pablo Sandoval, Giants________________________________
7. _Andre Ethier, Dodgers_________________________________
8. _Ryan Braun, Brewers__________________________________
9. _Adam Wainwright, Cardinals________________________
10._Chris Coghlan, Marlins______________________________
Name: _Clark Spencer________Affiliation: _Miami Herald____
DO NOT REVEAL YOUR VOTE UNTIL AFTER THE RESULTS ARE ANNOUNCED.
Caught up with Jeffrey Loria, who was on hand this afternoon at the team's turkey giveaway near the new ballpark construction site, and the owner of the Marlins touched on everyone from Bobby Valentine to Joe Girardi, and from Josh Johnson to Hanley Ramirez. He was far from effusive on any particular topic, but he touched briefly on a few burning issues, such as what his thoughts were on the pronouncement last week by Johnson's agent that there would be no multiyear contract for the pitcher after negotiations hit a brick wall over the length of the contract.
Said Loria: "You know our organization. We don't negotiate anywhere else except in the office (not in the press, in other words). I don't have any comments on any of the process. We're going to do what we have to do, and they're going to do what they have to do. We do love Josh. We'll see what happens."
Asked if the organization has an internal policy against awarding contracts to pitchers that are greater than three years in length, Loria replied: "We don't have any organizational situation about any of that. We just don't. But you have to look at numbers, and statistics, and innings, and injuries, and all the variables. That's a decision that Larry (Beinfest) is going to make with Michael (Hill) and the rest of our team. Everything is always case by case. Hanley was his own case. Now it's Josh's time to protect his family."
Loria was asked about the end-of-season reports that he was considering Bobby Valentine to replace Fredi Gonzalez. Loria's response: "I don't want to get into that. I've known him (Valentine) for 20 plus years. It had nothing to do with reality. I don't want to say anymore. Fredi's the manager and he has a contract. He's the manager, period."
Loria said he was on hand at Yankee Stadium during the World Series, after which he wrote to Girardi and members of the Steinbrenner family, offering his congratulations. Loria fired Girardi as Marlins manager after the 2006 season, his first and only one with the Marlins.
"I congratulated them all," Loria said. "They did a great job, and they deserve what they got."
Loria said he was pleased with the outcome of the NL MVP vote, in which Ramirez finished second to Albert Pujols. It was the best MVP finish ever by a Marlins player.
"Somebody just texted me that. Hanley had a great year. Won the batting title, and a great young man."
Loria said he was the one to notify Chris Coghlan when the outfielder won the NL Rookie of the Year award last week.
"I said, 'Chris, I've got bad news and good news.' And I heard a slight 'oh' on the other end of the telephone. He said, 'All right, let's get the bad news out of the way first.' I said, 'The bad news is you're going to have to keep your standards up, and you're going to have to improve on what you've done. The good news is you won Rookie of the Year and I couldn't be prouder.'"
While covering the World Series, several MVP voters told me they had given Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez their second-place vote, and second is where I expect Ramirez to finish when the results are revealed later today. The Cardinals' Albert Pujols is a lock to win his second consecutive MVP title and third overall. It might even be unanimous.
They say finishing second is like.....well, I'll let you provide your own favorite analogy. But Ramirez should end up with the highest MVP placing ever by a Marlins player in the franchise's 17 years of existence. Only seven times previously has a Marlin so much as cracked the Top 10 in NL MVP voting, with Miguel Cabrera's back-to-back fifth-place showings in 2005 and '06 serving as the high-water marks.
The other Marlins producing Top 10 finishes were Gary Sheffield (tied fo 7th in 1996), Moises Alou (10th in 1997), Juan Pierre (10th in 2003), Carlos Delgado (6th in 2005) and Ramirez (10th in 2007).
Florida isn't the only NL team that has yet to produce the league MVP, as decided by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. The Brewers, Diamondbacks, Rockies and Mets are still waiting for one, as well.
Yep. It's time for the annual discussion of moving a Marlins/Mets series to Puerto Rico, though this time it appears more likely to occur. Based on information first reported by the New York Daily News and confirmed by a Marlins source, the Marlins are talking about moving one home series against the Mets next summer -- either in June or July -- to the island commonwealth.
It wouldn't be the Marlins' first trip to Puerto Rico. They visited San Juan in 2003 and 2004 to play the Montreal Expos in a pair of 3-game series.The Marlins are scheduled to host the Mets three times in 2010: May 13-16, June 28-30 and Sept. 21-22. The June series, a mid-summer, mid-week affair, is more than likely, the one under discussion.
A Marlins/Mets series in Puerto Rico was also discussed for last season but failed to materialize.
It looks like Josh Johnson could be as good as gone after the 2010 season. That's because his agent said he and the Marlins couldn't reach agreement on a multiyear contract for the All-Star pitcher, meaning the Marlins might be forced to trade him after next season.
Johnson's agent, Matt Sosnick, told ESPN.com that "there's no chance of doing a long-term deal with the Marlins" this winter after the team refused to meet his demands for a four-year contract. Sosnick said the most the Marlins would offer was a three-year deal, which would buy out only one year of free agency.
"We made it clear that it was going to be this year or it wasn't going to happen," Sosnick said of Johnson receiveing a long-term contract from the Marlins. "It was now or never. And the Marlins agreed."
Johnson has two arbitration years remaining before he becomes eligible for free agency.
"Josh made it clear that his first choice was to sign a deal and stay with the Marlins," Sosnick said. "He loves the Marlins and he loves Florida. We were willing to give the Marlins what we thought was a significant break, but they just weren't comfortable going to the fourth year."
The Marlins have extended an offer to Ross Gload, their top left-handed hitter off the bench last season when he led the majors in pinch hits. The offer is thought to be similar to the one received last year by Wes Helms, who agreed to a two-year deal for $1.9 million.
Gload said toward he end of the season that he would prefer to remain with the Marlins, especially if he could work out a deal early in the free agency process, thus relieving him of any uncertainty.The Marlins' exclusive negotiating window with Gload closes at midnight Friday, at which point any team can start discussing financial terms with the free agent.
The Marlins, as expected, declined to pick up a $2.6 million club option on the 33-year-old veteran.
Gload hit .318 as a pinch-hitter and .261 overall while appearing in a career-high 125 games, most of those occuring off the bench.
Meanwhile, add catcher Ronny Paulino's name to the list of Marlins that have attracted trade interest from other clubs. Paulino shared catching duties with John Baker and ended the season with a .272 average and eight home runs in 239 bats. Interestingly, the Marlins obtained Paulino and Gload in separate trades, four days apart, at the end of spring training last year.
Along with Paulino, the Marlins have also received nibbles on Dan Uggla, Jorge Cantu, Cody Ross and Ricky Nolasco.
The Marlins' spring training schedule is up on the Roger Dean Stadium website, and the Grapefruit League slate features at least one game of interest in Jupiter, a visit by the always popular Boston Red Sox on March 9. Word of warning, though. Don't expect the Sox to send over their big stars. The game is being contested so early in spring training that you're more likely to see guys wearing numbers found most often on the backs of football linemen. The BoSox also have a March 12 game in Jupiter against the St. Louis Cardinals, who share the facility with the Marlins.
With the Baltimore Orioles moving out of Fort Lauderdale and across the state to Sarasota, Roger Dean is now the spring training site closest in proximity to South Florida.
For the Marlins, the action begins when the University of Miami heads up for a March 3 exhibition.
For the Marlins full spring training schedule,check out the Roger Dean site here.
Dan Uggla's agent has launched a warning flare, going on record as saying the All-Star second baseman would balk at being moved to another position if traded. Even though Uggla would have no real leverage, that revelation could have a chilling effect on teams interested in trading for Uggla and turning him into either a third baseman or outfielder.
"Danny Uggla's been a full-time second baseman for the last four years," Uggla's agent, Jeff Borris, told Yahoo! sports columnist Tim Brown. "He's performed exceptionally well at the position. Although he has the athleticism to play other positions, he's performed remarkably over these four years at second base and there should be no reason to consider a position change at this time."
Which is the last thing the Marlins want to hear as they shop Uggla around in order to unload a salary that is expected to climb toward $8 million through arbitration. The Baltimore Orioles, and San Francisco Giants have been rumored as possible trading partners, with both clubs said to be looking at Uggla as a possible third baseman. The Boston Red Sox have also been mentioned as a possible landing spot for Uggla, with the idea of putting him in left field if Jason Bay isn't re-signed.
Uggla has played only second base during his four seasons with the Marlins. But he played 220 games at third base and 20 in the outfield while in the minors. Last season, Uggla committed 16 errors -- the second-highest total among all major league second basemen.
Let the baseball awards season begin.
The Marlins' Hanley Ramirez won the Silver Slugger Award for the second consecutive year as the National League's "top offensive producer" at the shortstop position -- hardly a surprise considering Ramirez won the NL batting title with a .342 average and led all league shortstops with 106 RBI.
Ramirez is the Marlins' third repeat winner for one of the shiny bats, joining outfielder Gary Sheffield (1993 and 1996) and Miguel Cabrera (in 2005 as an outfielder and in 2006 as a third baseman). Third baseman Mike Lowell also won the award as a Marlin in 2003.
The winners were decided by a vote of Major League managers and coaches.
Through his agent, Ramirez issued the following statement: "I'm very happy about my award. I'm thankful to God and my family for their support, the Marlins organization, and my great teammates for their help in my getting this award. It's all a result of hard work and dedication, and I always strive to get better and to do what I can to help my team succeed."
Here's the complete list of 2009 Silver Slugger winners:
NL: 1B -- Albert Pujols, St. Louis; 2B -- Chase Utley, Philadelphia; SS -- Hanley Ramirez, Florida; 3B -- Ryan Zimmerman, Washington; OF -- Ryan Braun, Milwaukee; OF -- Andre Ethier, Los Angeles; OF -- Matt Kemp, Los Angeles; C -- Brian McCann, Atlanta; P -- Carlos Zambrano, Chicago.
AL: 1B -- Mark Teixeira, New York; 2B -- Aaron Hill, Toronto; SS -- Derek Jeter, New York; 3B -- Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay; OF -- Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle; OF -- Jason Bay, Boston; OF -- Torii Hunter, Los Angeles; C -- Joe Mauer, Minnesota; DH -- Adam Lind, Toronto.
Coming up next week: the Baseball Writers' Association of America annual awards (MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year). The Marlins' Chris Coghlan is a leading contender for ROY while Ramirez should receive plenty of runner-up support for MVP, an award Albert Pujols is heavily favored to win.