« Phillies Go Cold at the Plate After Putting Away Binoculars | Main | Hello to Last Place »

Marlins and B.P.: The "Junk Shot" Strategy

   By calling up Jorge Sosa, Jay Buente and Taylor Tankersley in a bid to stop the leak in their bullpen, the Marlins are employing a "junk shot" strategy similar to the one B.P. is using to plug the gusher in the Gulf of Mexico: jam the pipe full of miscellaneous material and pray the bleeding stops. It's worked in the past for the Marlins, who received late-season relief help from veteran arms with worn treads, like Chad Fox in 2003 and Brendan Donnelly last season. Then again, it doesn't always work (see Billy Koch in 2004, Ron Villone in 2005 and Armando Benitez, 2007). Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said that Sosa, who is on his fifth team in the past five years, will be used in long relief.

    But it's probably safe to believe that the Marlins, if they're still lingering in contention, will go searching for lefty bullpen help approaching the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline. A couple of names that might interest them -- left-handers playing for sub.-.500 teams that could be looking to unload -- include Baltimore's Will Ohman and the White Sox's Matt Thornton. Both have trade-favorable contracts and would represent major upgrades over what now exists. The Marlins have gone after bullpen help in the past at the trading deadline, most notably during their 2003 World Series season when they snagged Ugueth Urbina from the Rangers. They had to give up Adrian Gonzalez for Urbina, but nobody with the Marlins regrets that trade even today. That half-year of Urbina was instrumental to that championship.


    -- Hanley Ramirez said he doesn't know whether Atlanta's Tim Hudson was taking dead aim at him when he plunked him with a pitch in the first inning on Thursday. But Marlins broadcaster Tommy Hutton questioned it immediately, and at least one other observer with the Marlins said he felt the pitch might have been intentional, perhaps for the "disrespectful comments" Ramirez made toward Gonzalez and Marlins teammates in the wake of his recent benching, as Ramirez and Hudson don't have any prior history of unrest. Hudson, who is said to be old-school in his thinking and was with the Braves with Gonzalez in 2005 and '06, looked immediately into the Marlins dugout after plunking Ramirez, who was none too pleased about it. Ramirez promptly stole second, pointing at himself as he stared toward the mound. And he made a pointing gesture toward Hudson when he crossed home plate later in the inning. "If he was trying to hit Hanley on purpose to make a statement," one Marlins player said of Hudson, "it kind of backfired on him."

    -- So let's say the Marlins call up Mike Stanton in early June, as most believe they will. Who would he replace? And if Chris Coghlan was to be sent down, who would bat leadoff? Gonzalez said he can't think of anyone other than the usual suspects -- Coghlan and Cameron Maybin -- to bat in a spot that has been highly unproductive for the Marlins this season. Ramirez has leadoff experience, but the Marlins don't want to revisit that role with their No. 3 hitter. Marlins leadoff hitters rank 29th of 30 teams with a .280 on-base percentage, just ahead of San Diego's .279 OBP from the leadoff spot. Last season, thanks to Coghlan, the Marlins ranked seventh in the majors -- and second in the NL -- with an OBP of .361 from the top hole.


   Marlins: 1. Chris Coghlan, lf; 2. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Jorge Cantu, 3b; 5. Dan Uggla, 2b; 6. Cody Ross, rf; 7. Ronny Paulino, c; 8. Cameron Maybin, cf; 9. Chris Volstad, p.

   Phillies: 1. Shane Victorino, cf; 2. Wilson Valdez, ss; 3. Chase Utley, 2b; 4. Ryan Howard, 1b; 5. Raul Ibanez, lf; 6. Ross Gload, rf; 7. Greg Dobbs, 3b; 8. Carlos Ruiz, c; 9. Kyle Kendrick, p.