BALTIMORE -- Larry Beinfest has kept himself busy trying to solve the Marlins bullpen woes for the past month. Before Tuesday's night game against the Orioles, the team's President of Baseball Operations was in the clubhouse introducing himself to his two newest relievers and getting them to sign contracts.
While Beinfest admits he never would have imagined the Marlins needing to call on 17 different relievers before the end of June, he isn't ready to give up on the team by any stretch. After all, the Marlins were 33-36 after 69 games last year, too. And, he believes the starting pitching could ultimately be good enough to carry the team through.
"A year ago we were trying to get the starting pitching organized at this point," Beinfest said Tuesday. "The previous month of May a year ago was really challenging because we were trying to find people to start and give us five innings. Now, the bullpen has taken a step backwards. We just need to keep going and I think it will be OK. I think the starting pitching gives us a lot of hope. It will take pressure off the bullpen and it has."
Still, with the July 31st trading deadline a little more than five weeks away, he said its time for the team to turn the corner.
"The clock is ticking toward the 31st and that's when teams talks business and make decisions," Beinfest said. "As they say, it's not early anymore. It's important for this team. I think we've gone through a real tough stretch, a lot of tough road opponents, tough interleague opponents. I think we need to start playing good baseball, and try winning a little more consistently.
"We just haven't found that area where we can just perform, win series, win a couple in a row. We don't seem to be streaky at all. Streaky teams can be worrisome.
"I know there's a lot of attention on the bullpen, but there's other parts that have struggled. Runners in scoring position, whatever. But that happens over 162 games. Hopefully, we'll get hot and start knocking some people in, have a few blowouts. It's been a challenging stretch, but no challenging than any other season."
"I still think there's a lot of confidence that if the starting pitching continues the way it has, we have a good shot to win games."
Beinfest shed some light on a few other topics...
> Although the Marlins released Hunter Jones on Tuesday to make room on their 40-man roster for Alex Sanabia, Beinfest said the left-handed reliever is still in their plans for the future. Beinfest said Jones, who suffered an elbow injury pitching for Triple A New Orleans on June 5th, was in Alabama Tuesday meeting with Dr. James Andrews to see if he'll need to have Tommy John surgery.
"We've already made an offer to resign him. We just haven't heard back," Beinfest said. "It looks like he's hurt, let's kick him to the curb. It's not that. It's just the way it is sometimes. We needed the spot. He'll probably be out for a year. Nothing against the kid at all. We like him. He just got hurt."
> Beinfest said left-hander Sean West, who went 8-6 with a 4.79 ERA last season for the Marlins in 20 starts, has done really well in his four starts for Triple A New Orleans since coming back from injury. "He's throwing strikes," Beinfest said of West, who is 3-1 with a 1.90 ERA, 22 Ks and 6 walks in 22 1/3 innings.
Still, manager Fredi Gonzalez said West likely needs more time before being recalled. "Yesterday was only on his fourth start in Triple A," Gonzalez said. "Right now, he's not ready."
Of the previous relievers to lose their jobs in the Marlins 'pen and get sent down, Beinfest said right-hander Burke Badenhop (0-1, 3.27 ERA in 11 IP for Triple A New Orleans) is likely the closest to making it back. "Badenhop is getting better," Beinfest said. "[Rick Vanden Hurk] is throwing OK. So, we'll see. We'll give those guys time to get it back, get confident and reevaluate them before bringing them back."