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52 posts from June 2010

June 30, 2010

Bo Porter, Noisemakers and a Future Reliever?

    Before the news was delivered to Edwin Rodriguez that he would continue to manage to the end of the season, Bo Porter was contacted one final time on Tuesday to gather his thoughts on managing the team on a short-term basis only.

     "The conversation did lead to that," Porter said, adding that the Marlins wanted to know if he would be agreeable to managing for the rest of this season only. "They wanted to know, if that was the case, what is your thought process? My thought process is I would want this year and next year, at the very least, to have an opportunity to go through spring training and implement my standards."

   Porter said "I want to make one thing clear. it was not like it (the job) was offered, take it or leave it. It was just part of conversation."

   Owner Jeffrey Loria informed Rodriguez about 30 minutes before Tuesday's game that the job was his until the end of the season, after which the Marlins will "re-evaluate" the situation and perhaps renew the search process for a permanent manager.

    -- Cody Ross said he and Hanley Ramirez didn't know what to think when, as they were limbering up on the field before Tuesday's game, they looked toward the dugout and noticed a group of teammates and coaches huddled together. "We were, like, is there a fight in there?" Ross said. Come to find out, after Ross and Ramirez joined the gang, Loria was informing the club that Rodriguez would remain their manager the rest of the season. "    

  -- Nate Robertson is not a fan of vuvuzelas, or the raucus, drum-beating, horn-blaring atmosphere common with baseball in the Caribbean. Robertson, who started Tuesday for the Marlins in their win over the Mets, finds the noise to be a distraction. "I'm from Kansas, man," Robertson said. "I am the farthest thing from Puerto Rico. All it is for me is ruckus. It's not the kind of environment I like to play in." Robertson also laughed at the notion that the Marlins are the designated "home" team in the series when the bulk of fans are cheering for the Mets. "This isn't a home game," Robertson said.

  -- UCLA lost to South Carolina in the finals of the College World Series on Tuesday, no fault of Bruins pitcher Rob Rasmussen, the Marlins' second-round draft pick earlier this month. Rasmussen,an unsigned left-hander, started and tossed six shutout innings for UCLA, which lost to the Gamecocks in the 11th inning. "We think he can move fairly quickly through the system, either as a starter or a reliever," said Jim Fleming, the Marlins' vice president of player development. "We'll see once we get him. His pitches are in place."

June 29, 2010

Might Marlins Make Edwin Rodriguez Their "Semi-Permanent" Manager?

   With it appearing highly doubtful that Bobby Valentine will work his way back into the picture, don't be surprised if the team chooses to have interim skipper Edwin Rodriguez continue to manage the club the rest of the way before re-assessing the situation after the season. It wouldn't be the first time the Marlins have gone that route. In 2001, Tony Perez took over after John Boles was fired in late May before stepping aside when Jeffrey Loria bought the team in 2002 and installed Jeff Torborg.

   -- The Marlins on Monday mailed in 800,000 All-Star ballots gathered during the club's ballot-stuffing campaign, which should cement Hanley Ramirez as the NL's starting shortstop but probably won't be a factor with any of the other positions. The campaign was so successful that the Marlins had to borrow blank ballots from the Tampa Bay Rays to satisfy demand.

   -- Catcher Ronny Paulino has started each of the past 20 games for the Marlins and been behind the plate for all but two of the 175 innings since June 4 when Brett Hayes was the starter. Paulino ranks 10th in innings caught among major league catchers, but only because he was sharing time with John Baker earlier in the season. It'll be interesting to see how well Paulino holds up with such a rigorous schedule and in South Florida's punishing summer weather (though the Marlins don't play another true home game until they emerge from the All-Star break on July 16).

June 27, 2010

Valentine is out as candidate

A Major League source told the Miami Herald that ESPN analyst Bobby Valentine is no longer in the running for the Marlins managerial position. Sports Illustrated was the first to report the news earlier this afternoon.

June 26, 2010

First Base Coach Dave Collins Resigns out of Loyalty to Fredi Gonzalez

   Dave Collins wanted one thing made clear. He has the highest respect for Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, president David Samson and president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest. But he also felt a strong committment to Fredi Gonzalez, and after the manager was fired on Wednesday, Collins felt he should step away, too.

   Collins resigned -- unexpectedly -- on Saturday.

  The reason: "Just basically, when I first came over here, my commitment was to Fredi, and I thought my job was to help Fredi keep his job. When Fredi was let go, I was really disappointed. Initially I told them I wasn't going to leave."

  But the more Collins thought about it, the more he came to the realization that it would be better for everyone, including the new manager, to resign. Collins said his departure has nothing to do with reports that Bobby Valentine is expected to get the job.

  "Bobby and I were teammates in '75 with the Angels," Collins said. "I have great respect for Bobby Valentine as a teammate and as a manager. But I certainly didn't want to be in a position where Bobby doesn't have the flexibility and freedom to bring in the people he wants. That was another reason to step away."

   Still, the overwhelming influence to leave the Marlins was a feeling of duty to Gonzalez.

   "My reason was my respect and commitment for Fredi Gonzalez," Collins said. "That means more to me."


June 25, 2010

A Few Words With Jeffrey Loria

  Caught up with Jeffrey Loria inside the clubhouse after tonight's game, and the owner of the Marlins, in what were his first public comments since the firing of manager Fredi Gonzalez on Wednesday, made it sound as he is in no rush to name a replacement.

   "Gotta make sure we get the right guy," Loria said after the Marlins lost for the second time in three games under interim manager Edwin Rodriguez.

    Asked if he expected to conduct a face-to-face interview on Saturday with Bobby Valentine, who is considered to be the leading candidate for the job, Loria replied: "I don't expect him to be here tomorrow."

    Asked if he thought it could take a week or longer to put a permanent manager in place, Loria replied: "It'll take as long as it takes, until we come to a conclusion."

  Valentine said in an email earlier tonight that he expected to talk by phone with the Marlins.

  "Have not spoken today," Valentine wrote at 7 p.m. "Plan to soon. The process needs a little more time."

   Don't be surprised to see Rodriguez, the first native of Puerto Rico to manage in the big leagues, to remain at the helm through the upcoming Mets series in his home country, with Thursday's off day looking as a potential day for the naming of a permanent manager.

Valentine: "Process Going to Take Longer Than Expected"

    Don't expect the Marlins to name a manager tonight. And an announcement might not come for several days. While the Marlins planned to speak with Bobby Valentine by phone on Friday, they have not had a formal interview with him or met with him in person.

   "The process is going to take longer than expected, and I expect that the first interview will take place over the phone," Valentine told Hearst Newspapers in Connecticut.

   In a text message to the Miami Herald, Valentine said his interview "would be a phoner."

   Only Bo Porter interviewed in person on Friday for the vacancy. Still, Valentine is expected to land the job officially at some point. There is some sentiment within the organization to keep interim manager Edwin Rodriguez on board through the upcoming Puerto Rico series that starts Monday in San Juan.

   SI.com reported earlier on Friday that the Marlins had worked out a "tentative" deal for Valentine, but lips are sealed on the Marlins. Meanwhile, Rodriguez continues to run the show from the dugout as the Marlins prepare to open a three-game weekend series against the San Diego Padres. There's been some speculation that the Marlins might allow Rodriguez, a native of Puerto Rico, to manage in San Juan. But I've also been told that the team's top priority is putting a permanent manager in place as quickly as possible, so it remains unclear when they'll push the button.

    All signs continue to point to Valentine as that person.

    Porter, the third-base coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks, was interviewed at Sun LIfe Stadium earlier in the day Friday.

June 24, 2010

Did Nolasco save himself from another demotion?

BALTIMORE -- Lot of interesting story lines as we leave Camden Yards. The obvious ones involve the manager. But when it comes to the team, I think the biggest development was that Ricky Nolasco probably saved himself from another trip down to the minors.

Ricky Nolasco The 26-year old right-hander was getting pounded in the second inning Wednesday by the Orioles, who lit him up for four runs on six hits (including two home runs). Interim manager Edwin Rodriguez, who had 21-year old reliever Alex Sanabia warming up in the bullpen, admitted afterward he was "really close" to pulling Nolasco before he recovered. 

"He was struggling with his breaking ball," Rodriguez said. "But then after he made an adjustment, he was mixing his pitches much better."

I think it is fair to wonder if Fredi Gonzalez had still been managing if Nolasco would have been given such a long leash. Nolasco, of course, rewarded Rodriguez's faith by giving up just two hits over the next five innings and got the win to end a two-game losing streak and improve to 6-6 on the season.

But had Nolasco not recovered, he probably would have lost his third straight start -- and with the way management has talking these days -- been sent down to the minors like he was a year ago to work out his struggles.

Nolasco ended up throwing a season-high 119 pitches Wednesday, of a which a season-high 77 went for strikes. Nolasco said high pitch counts don't bother him at all. "I don't mind getting run out there quite like that," Nolasco said. "I feel like I respond well and do what I have to do in five days to be 100 percent. I enjoy being out there."

SANCHEZ ON FIRE... I asked Gaby Sanchez before Thursday's game if he was going to miss facing American League pitchers. He smiled then shot my theory out of the water.

"I'm just feeling good right now, seeing the ball well, feeling comfortable at the plate," Sanchez said. "I don't feel like its like American League or National League. It's just something that happens. You get into a little groove. I'm feeling good right now."

Sanchez should. With his 3 for 3 effort Thursday night he raised his season average .307, second-best on the team behind Ronny Paulino (.308). He should also acknowledge the fact he feasted on the AL. He went 23 for 67 (.429) in interleague play with a team-leading 15 RBI and 12 runs scored (second only to Chris Coghlan).

Rodriguez, who managed Sanchez in Triple A, said he sees an entirely different player, one he thinks will be with the Marlins for a long time. "The first thing you can see with Gaby Sanchez, the difference, is the way he's been working his body," Rodriguez said. "The talent has always been there. But now, he's taking care of himself more. His body fat went down. His body control, burst strength, endurance, you can see that. He's been very consistent on the field."

WEST, MORRISON UPDATES... The Marlins are obviously going to have to tinker some more with their roster if they hope to become a real playoff contender. The question is what will they do?

Rodriguez shed some light on how two of the top prospects in the organization are doing down in Triple A: left-hander Sean West and first baseman Logan Morrison. 

I tweeted this earlier, but according to Rodriguez, Morrison is now playing left field "four days a week." Makes you wonder if the Marlins are shopping him for other teams in attempt to bolster the bullpen, or if they're planning on trading a guy like Cody Ross and asking Coghlan to move to center.

"Offensively, I think he's ready for the big leagues," Rodriguez said of Morrision. "Now, it's a matter of finding him a position because it looks like Gaby is going to be there for a long time."

As for West, Rodriguez thinks he'll be ready for a return to the majors soon. "I saw him down in New Orleans," Rodriguez said. "He's been up five times. I think it's a matter of time. Whenever we need him, I think he's ready to come. I think his last start he was in Memphis, his first two innings the pitch count was up, then he made some adjustments and threw six innings, 99 pitches. Overall, his command has been good."

Marlins To Also Interview Bo Porter for Manager's Job, Likes His Chances

   Add Bo Porter to the short list of candidates the Marlins plan to interview this weekend for their managing opening. The former third-base coach for the Marlins, who now holds the same role with the Arizona Diamondbacks, confirmed to me a moment ago that he planned to interview for the job within the next couple of days. The Diamondbacks are in St. Petersburg preparing for a weekend series with the Rays. 

    While Bobby Valentine is the heavy favorite to get the job, Porter isn't counting himself out.

    "I think I have a good chance," Porter said. "I know the organization. You have a team on the cusp of really making a push, and a get-to-know-you period may not be a good thing. With me, there's no get-to-know-you period. It would be a smooth transition."

   Porter, 37, was the Marlins' third-base coach and outfield instructor from 2007-09 and interviewed last year for the Nationals' managerial position, one that Jim Riggleman ended up receiving. Valentine was also up for that job.

   Porter also spent time in the Marlins' minor-league system as manager for Single A (Short-Season)Jamestown in 2006 and hitting coach for Single A Greensboro in 2005. He said he intended to speak Thursday night by phone with either Larry Beinfest or Mike Hill and decide how to proceed from there. He said it's possible he might not meet in person with Marlins executives.

ESPN reporting Valentine to be offered 4-year deal

BALTIMORE -- ESPN is reporting that analyst Bobby Valentine will has confirmed to them he will fly to South Florida Friday night to meet with Marlins executives, including owner Jeffrey Loria, where Marlins are expected to offer the former Mets and Rangers manager a four-year contract.

Valentine withdrew his name from consideration for the Orioles' managerial job Wednesday soon after it was announced that the Marlins had fired manager Fredi Gonzalez. President David Samson said he called Valentine shortly after to let him know Gonzalez had been fired and they wanted to meet with him. Loria has known Valentine for 20 years, and has had informal discussions with Loria over the last eight months about Valentine's interest in someday managing the Marlins.

Edwin Rodriguez, the Marlins' Triple-A manager, was named the interim manager Wednesday and became the first Puerto Rican to manage in a big league game. The Marlins play the Mets in a three-game series in Puerto Rico starting Monday. A source close to the negotiations told ESPN the Marlins will have Rodriguez manage the Marlins for the three games in Puerto Rico, then name Valentine the manager.

Stay tuned for more.

Marlins Sign Reliever Armando Benitez to Minor-League Contract

   The never-ending search for inexpensive relief help has brought the Marlins back to.......Armando Benitez.

       Yes, the 37-year-old reliever and two-time former member of the Marlins is still chucking it. The Marlins have signed Benitez to a minor-league contract and will start him out at Triple A New Orleans. Benitez passed his physical and could be in uniform for the Zephyrs as early as tonight.Benitez

    A veteran of 15 major-league seasons, Benitez has 289 career saves -- including a league-leading 47 of them with the Marlins in 2004. Benitez, who hasn't pitched in the majors since he was with Toronto in 2008, also returned to the Marlins in 2007, a reunion that did not turn out particularly well, as Benitez went 2-5 with a 5.73 ERA.

     The Marlins re-discovered Benitez in the independent Atlantic League. In 17 games for the Newark Bears, Benitez had an ERA of 1.00, striking out 27 and walking four in 18 innings. He had six saves.

   Question: With Benitez back in the fold, can Jorge Julio be far behind?