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14 posts from December 2009

December 08, 2009

Alfredo Amezaga: A Tender Subject

    INDIANAPOLIS -- To tender Alfredo Amezaga or not to tender. That is the question the Marlins are facing with the super-utility player heading into Saturday's deadline to tender contracts to non-free agents eligible for salary arbitration. While the Marlins have 11 such players, the decisions on 10 of them shouldn't be too difficult.

    The Marlins are expected to hang on to Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, Anibal Sanchez, Cody Ross, Jorge Cantu, Leo Nunez and Ronny Paulino and possibly trade Dan Uggla, Matt Lindstrom and Renyel Pinto. That leaves Amezaga, who missed most of last season due to a left knee injury that resulted in microfracture surgery.

   "He's a tough one," one Marlins official said Tuesday at baseball's winter meetings.

   The Marlins -- from the front office to the dugout -- have always liked the versatile Amezaga. But nobody knows for sure how he'll bounce back from the operation, which was performed in July by Dr. Richard Steadman, who specializes in the procedure. After all, Amezega's legs are a great part of his strength as a player.

   Amezaga's agent, Mike Nicotera, said the player is coming along fine and will be ready to go when spring training starts.

   "He's done with the healing stage," Nicotera said. "Now he's in the strengthening stage. There's been no pain or setbacks. He even told me, right from the get-go, that the pain went away after the surgery. It'll be a normal spring training for him, like anybody else."

   But there could be a couple of sticking points. One, Amezaga can expect to see a marginal increase on his $1.3 million salary from last season, abbreviated as it was. For the Marlins, that makes Amezaga a bit of a risk. They were burned last year after signing free agent reliever Scott Proctor. Proctor, who was coming off elbow surgery when the Marlins signed him for $750,000, continued to experience elbow issues and underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery before ever throwing a pitch for them.

   Two, any decision on Amezaga could hinge on what the Marlins decide to do at second base if, as expected, they trade Dan Uggla (no strong movement on that front as of late Tuesday afternoon). If the Marlins decide to put Chris Coghlan at second, they could make Emilio Bonifacio their "super-utility" player, and there would be no need to keep Amezaga. If Bonifacio goes to second, then keeping Amezaga would be a more viable option.

   The picture should clear Saturday.

December 07, 2009

Fredi Gonzalez Goes Deer Hunting with Bobby Cox

INDIANAPOLIS -- Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez isn't ready to give hunting lessons. Not judging from comments made Monday by Braves manager Bobby Cox, who said the two went deer hunting in southern Georgia on Friday and came home empty.

"Fredi had never been deer hunting," Cox said. "He didn't pull the trigger. He didn't see one. I pulled it twice and missed twice."

    Cox will be entering his final season as manager of the Braves and quickly avoided any mention about who his successor might be.

    "I don't want any part of that," Cox said when asked if he would have any input in the decision on naming his successor.

    Gonzalez spent five seasons in the Braves organization -- four of those as third base coach for Cox -- before replacing Joe Girardi as Marlins manager in 2007. Gonzalez has two years remaining on his contract with the Marlins but went through a period of uncertainty about his job status at the conclusion of last season, leading to speculation he might be fired.

As Gonzalez keeps his home in the Atlanta area, is close friends with Cox and has strong ties with the Braves organization, it's safe to assume his name will be mentioned often as a possible replacement for Cox.


Winter Meetings: Gentlemen, Start Your Engines

    INDIANAPOLIS -- Greetings from the heart of Indiana, where baseball's annual winter meetings are underway and a big arctic storm is heading in this direction. It could be a race to see which gets here first -- the Marlins contingent or the storm, as we've been told that Larry Beinfest and his gang aren't scheduled to arrive until tonight.

   That means if Dan Uggla, Matt Lindstrom and Renyel Pinto are to be dealt between now and then, it'll have to be done by phone. Otherwise, it could be Tuesday before any news comes out of the Marlins camp.

   Lindstrom trade rumors are swirling, but I'm told that the Rangers' interest in the hard-throwing reliever is not as strong as some reports have led to believe. And the Rays' interest in Lindstrom is mild at best.

   Pinto is a goner. The question is when.

   As for Uggla, I'm beginning to think the Marlins aren't having an easy time trading him. They'd prefer a high-level prospect for the second baseman, but they might have to lower their expectations in order to complete a deal. The Marlins are known for their fast trigger finger on trades. That it has taken this long to unload Uggla tells me their asking price is probably too high.

December 04, 2009

Marlins Go Fishing for Diamonds in the Rough

  Okay. So the signing of Hector Luna doesn't exactly rank up there with the Braves' recent acquisition of Billy Wagner and the Phillies' hooking of Placido Polanco. But the Marlins have sniffed out a plum or two in the past from the large bastion of six-year minor league free agents.  

   Luna, who is an Alfredo Amezaga type capable of playing every position but catcher and pitcher, is among six signings announced Friday by the Marlins. He brings a bit of big-league experience, as does right-handerJesse Foppert.

   The Marlins also signed right-handers Kasey Olenberger and Jon Fulton, outfielder Brandon Tripp, and utility player Vinny Rottino.

   Luna, Olenberger and Rottino also received invitations to spring training.