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40 posts from July 2010

July 26, 2010

Should the Marlins trade Jorge Cantu?

The Texas Rangers are reportedly intensifying their efforts to get Jorge Cantu from the Marlins. Although names haven't been exchanged yet, word is the Marlins are strongly considering it. 

Jorge Cantu Cantu has 10 home runs and 54 RBI on the season, but just five homers and 29 RBI since April. He is 1-for-11 in his past three games and his average has slipped to .260. He has not homered since June 23, a stretch of 25 games. Saturday, he made two costly errors in the Braves' eight-run eighth inning. After the game, Cantu sat by his locker in full uniform while most of his teammates were showering. He waved off reporters.

The Rangers have been looking for a reliable right-handed hitter to help out at designated hitter and first base. Several reports Sunday had the AL West leaders looking hard at the Orioles Ty Wigginton (they sent three scouts to watch him on Friday) and Cantu despite his recent troubles at the plate and in the field.

"I don't think I'll be traded," Cantu told the Palm Beach Post Sunday. "Not the way I'm swinging the bat."

Cantu, who will be a free agent at the end of the season, is owed about $2.5 million for the remainder of 2010. Wigginton is a little cheaper than Cantu (and that matters to the cash-strapped Rangers) and he's got 16 homers and a .249 average. 

The Marlins are in a bit of limbo about whether or not to trade Cantu, especially after the team went 7-3 in the recent homestand to get back to .500 and in the wild card race. Even if the Rangers don't end up offering anything for Cantu, the Rockies, Angels and Giants could. 

The question is: Should the Marlins just listen or be aggressive and ship Cantu off?

If Cantu is shipped off, Chris Coghlan will likely move to third and Logan Morrison, who is hitting .306 with 6 homers and 44 RBI for Triple A New Orleans, would replace Coghlan in left field. Coghlan played third base at Ole Miss, but has been coming into his own in the outfield. Morrison, who came up as a first baseman, has only been playing in the outfield (on and off) for the past month and a half. But another left-handed bat sure would be a plus for the Fish. Coghlan by the way hasn't taken grounders since the first week of spring training. 

July 24, 2010

Marlins hope Anibal delivers some relief for 'pen

A tired Marlins bullpen will be looking for a huge assist from Anibal Sanchez tonight.

Anibal Sanchez Although it's been a fun week for the Marlins, it's also been a bit of a taxing one for the guys who sit and wait for the phone call down the right field line. With starters failing to go very deep into games lately, the Marlins have been calling down to the pen plenty.

Friday, Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez used five relievers to eat up the final 4 2/3  innings and held closer Leo Nunez out to give him a breather. Tonight, Jose Veras will get a break.

"This homestand, since we came back from the All-Star Game, the bullpen has been overloaded with work," Rodriguez said. "That showed last night. Hopefully, Anibal Sanchez can give us at least six strong innings today."

> As expected, Chris Volstad will start Sunday for the Marlins. Rodriguez had been holding off on making the decision final because he wanted to see how Volstad felt after throwing 70 pitches in a Triple A start on Wednesday. Rodriguez said all he is hoping to get out of Volstad is five to six innings, thus the importance for the Marlins pen to stay fresh.

Sent down to the minors for some tweaking for the second year in a row, Volstad was 4-8 with a 4.78 ERA this season when he was sent down on July 6. In that last start against the Dodgers, he gave up five earned runs on five hits (two homers) and he also walked three. Volstad hasn't won a decision since he beat the Rays on June 13 in Tampa. In three starts in New Orleans, he went 1-0 with a 3.17 ERA with nine walks and 13 strikeouts.

"He has to command his pitches -- sinker, fastball, slider and changeup -- better," Rodriguez said. "He was pitching behind in the count when he was here. He went to New Orleans and worked with the pitching coach there, Scott Mitchell. I think that's what they were trying to do. I don't know if it was a mechanical issue or more of a mental approach, but hopefully he'll get here tomorrow and attack the hitters more."

The Marlins will announce the move after Saturday's game.

> Hanley Ramirez still hasn't shaken himself out of his funk at the plate, but at least he's beginning to carry his weight more with his glove. Friday night, he made three impressive defensive plays, one made the eighth best play on SportsCenter's Top 10.

"He needs to realize we need his offense, but we also need him on the field making plays," Rodriguez said. "I really feel like he kept us in the game with those big plays he made last night. As long as he understands we need the offense and we also need him to be a two-dimensional player, we'll be OK."

Can another wild win save Marlins at deadline?

Last week, Donnie Murphy was just another one of those Triple A guys the Marlins called up to try and fill their bench. This week, he's Captain Comeback.

Murphy's game-winning single in the ninth off closer Billy Wagner sent the Marlins into a wild, walk-off celebration for the third time this week. But will it be enough to stop management from dealing away important chips before the trade deadline July 31? We'll have to wait and see. 

But now that they're back at .500, they may have at least bought themselves some more time. The Marlins were originally believed to be looking at this Sunday, the final day of a 10-game home stand, as the final evaluation day. But word trickling out late Friday after the win is that the team will now continue to evaluate all the way up to the July 31 deadline when the Marlins are out on the West Coast.

The team could still end up making a couple of trades. Jorge Cantu, due to make some big money next year, has reportedly drawn interest from the Giants, Rockies and Rangers. If anybody is like to go, it's him. But if they do fall out of the race, Cody Ross and closer Leo Nunez could be the next to go.

> Manager Edwin Rodriguez said postgame he thinks there is a 90 percent chance now Chris Volstad starts on Sunday, but a final decision has yet to be reached.

July 23, 2010

Two Marlins' minor leaguers suspended for PEDs

Baseball announced the suspension of five minor league pitchers Friday for the use of performance-enhancing drugs and a pair of 17-year old, right-handed Dominican minor league pitchers on the Marlins Dominican Summer League team were among them.

According to an email from the commissioner's office, Yeims Mendoza and Andy Parra will each serve 50-game suspensions for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Mendoza, 0-1 with a 6.35 ERA in seven appearances, tested positive for a metabolite of Boldenone and metabolites of Nandrolone, while Parra (0-0 with a 4.26 ERA in four appearances including one start) tested positive for metabolites of Nandrolone.

On Thursday, commissioner Bud Selig implemented random blood testing for human growth hormone in the minor leagues, making baseball the first professional sports league in the United States to take the aggressive step against doping. The feeling in the Marlins clubhouse is split on whether or not it will ever make it to the big leagues.

"Eventually, I think it will," said third baseman Wes Helms, the player-rep to the union for the Marlins. "I know they are going to try to get testing as strong as possible and the only way to get it as strong as possible is to test for that.

"You want the fans out there knowing the guys putting up the big numbers are doing it clean. The only way to do that is to have a 100-percent, fool-proof test and to test for everything."

But not everyone in the clubhouse necessarily likes the way HGH testing is performed. Catcher John Baker said he thinks have blood drawn is intrusive. He prefers urine tests.

"I think you're going to have trouble convincing guys to give blood before they go out and compete before a game. I think it's something that will be talked about and discussed and debated. Is it good enough for the greater good to have somebody take blood out of my body before I play baseball."

"Honestly, I feel bad for the guys in the minor leagues because they've always been used as guinea pigs. They have no union and sometimes it feels like they have no rights. Sometimes you're tested for things in the minor leagues, you don't get tested for in the big leagues. Great example: Tobacco. How many people does tobacco kill a year? 450,000. We can use tobacco on the field in major league baseball. It's frowned upon, but nobody calls you on it. In the minor leagues, it's a $1,000 fine if you get caught using dip. It's another instance we have a lot more rights. I don't see the union using invasive testing, especially if it isn't accurate."

Manager Edwin Rodriguez, who has spent the last eight years in the Marlins farm system, said he's all for testing at the major league level. "Like it or not, I think baseball players are role models and we have to make sure to send the right message to the people out there," Rodriguez said."

Braves series likely decides if Marlins become sellers

Jorge Cantu was asked Friday how he would feel if next week he was in a Colorado Rockies uniform. He brushed it off with a smile.

Could Hanley Ramirez and Jorge Cantu part ways after the weekend "I don't even want to think about that," Cantu said. "Right now, I'm in a Marlins uniform. I want to think about being a Marlin."

Cantu's future as well as those of others like Cody Ross and Dan Uggla could ultimately hinge on how the Marlins finish this home stand this weekend against the first-place Braves. Although manager Edwin Rodriguez said he hasn't received notice from anyone upstairs, the genuine feeling in the Marlins clubhouse is getting back to .500 after this weekend is important for many reasons.

"We are very aware of the importance of this game and this whole homestand," Rodriguez said. "We've already been approaching it that way. It's hard for me to tell how [management] is thinking. They haven't said anything to me. I think if we [win] the series, it's not the end of the season. I think as a team we'll keep pulling together. Now, if we lose the series, they'll have some decisions to make. It's up to them.

"It think it's very important [for us to get back to .500]. If we want to get back in the race, we have to first get back to .500. So, it's very important. It could be today. It could be on Sunday. We want to get back to .500. From there on, we have to keep doing what we've been doing lately."

VERAS MOVING TO SETUP ROLE?: There was a time not too long ago when Jose Veras was setting the stage for Mariano Rivera. Now, it looks like he'll be doing the same for Leo Nunez. 

Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said Friday Veras has been pitching so well of late he's strongly considering using him to replace the struggling Clay Hensley in the eighth inning. 

"We've been thinking about that not because of Hensley, but because of Veras," Rodriguez said. "Veras has been doing an outstanding job. Every time we call on Veras, even in tough situations, he's been shutting down the hitters."

Veras, signed to a minor league contract in the offseason, has pitched 12 2/3 scoreless innings since being recalled from Triple A New Orleans on June 25. He's allowed just six hits and three walks with 16 strikeouts during the span.

Hensley, meanwhile, who had been spectacular for the Marlins most of the season, has faltered of late. He gave up the tying run Thursday in the eighth inning, the fifth time this season the Marlins have let a lead slip away on a day when ace Josh Johnson has pitched. In his previous appearance for the Rockies, Hensley walked two before giving up a three-run homer in a game the Marlins also rallied to win in the ninth.

"I think the biggest thing we've noticed is they're sitting on my off-speed pitches," Hensley said. "I'll get strike one, then they're waiting for the curveball or changeup. You're going to have that happen over the course of a season. I just have to mix it up more."

> HANLEY'S STRUGGLES: Rodriguez said Friday he thinks Hanley Ramirez's struggles lately have a lot to do with him being tired and having participated in the home run derby and All-Star Game. Ramirez hasn't had an extra base-hit since he homered July 2nd in Atlanta. Ramirez, who is hitting .274 with only 3 RBI in July, disagrees. "I was struggling all year long, even before the home run derby," Ramirez said.

Rodriguez is hoping a day of Thursday refreshed Ramirez. "I just think he needs to regroup and have that compact swing he's always had," Rodriguez said.

> SUNDAY STARTER STILL UNDECIDED: Rodriguez said he expected to have a decision on Sunday's starter before the start of Friday night's game. "The first option is still Chris Volstad," Rodriguez said. "Another option is using a bullpen day. [Burke] Badenhop is an option. But that's probably the third or fourth option. We're going to try to bring Volstad. But we have to wait and see how he feels. We need to know because of the way we're going to use the bullpen the next two days.

July 22, 2010

Should Emilio Bonifacio Start?

       You might say this has been perhaps Emilio Bonifacio's finest week as a Marlin since his very first week with the club when, for a fleeting moment, he made the Josh Willingham/Scott Olsen salary-dumper with Washington look like a winner. That was last year and it's been a long time since for Bonifacio.

        But, out of nowhere, Bonifacio has re-emerged, and in a big way.Bonifacio

        On Sunday, he started in place of injured left fielder Chris Coghlan and came up with a leadoff double that led to the Marlins' only run in their 1-0 victory over the Nationals.

        On Monday, Bonifacio went 2 for 5 and drove in the Marlins' first runs in their wild 9-8 victory over the Rockies.

        On Tuesday, his first-inning single was one of only three Marlins hits in their 10-0 loss.

        On Thursday, having returned to the bench, it was his pinch-hit leadoff triple in the ninth that set up the Marlins' 3-2 walkoff win -- their second in four days -- over the Rockies.

        In addition to missing a few games recently with a back injury, Coghlan has been in a rut at the plate. He is 2 for his last 20 and is hitting .160 for the month with 1 RBI.

        Easy question here, ladies and gents: Should Bonifacio start in place of Coghlan?

July 21, 2010

Nate Robertson Is Out; Brett Hayes to the DL


    No major surprise here. Left-hander Nate Robertson was designated for assignment on Wednesday following a rough outing the night before in which he gave up eight runs -- six in one inning -- in a loss to the Rockies. The Marlins are calling up reliever Jorge Sosa for now but will have to find a starter to replace Robertson in the rotation -- most likely Chris Volstad -- for Sunday's game against the Braves.

    Robertson made 19 starts for the Marlins and went 6-8 with a 5.47 ERA -- the highest ERA in the N.L. among the 47 pitchers with at least 100 innings -- after the Marlins obtained him from Detroit before the season for minor-league reliever Jay Voss. The Tigers picked up all but $400,000 of the pitcher's $10 million salary.

   In addition, the Marlins placed back-up catcher Brett Hayes on the 15-day disabled list with a left wrist injury and promoted catcher Brad Davis from Triple A New Orleans to take his place.

July 20, 2010

Can the Marlins Play Connect Four?

   Incredibly, the Marlins are riding just their third three-game winning streak of the season and will be gunning for only their second four-game win streak tonight when they take on the Rockies. Their only other four-game winning streak came in early May when they swept the Mets at home in a long series. Other than that, though, it's largely been a back-and-forth season.Connectfour

   Just a thought, but I'm wondering if this won't be Nate Robertson's final hurrah for the Marlins when he takes the mound tonight. Robertson is a free agent after the season, Detroit is paying almost his entire salary, and the Marlins didn't give up that much to get him (Jay Voss). Wiith Chris Volstad and Sean West primed and looming in the wings at Triple A New Orleans, it would seem that Robertson's time here is short.

   Don't expect Clay Hensley to be available tonight. Hensley was pitching for the third straight day on Monday and, as manager Edwin Rodriguez said afterward, "Clay Hensley was a little bit tired today and he showed that." Hensley gave up a home run and a pair of walks that turned into runs in the Rockies four-run eighth. Rodriguez told reporters beforehand that he intended to stay away from Jose Veras on Monday to give the reliever a breather. As a result, when Hensley folded, Rodriguez turned to Jhan Marinez -- probably not the best of situations in which to test the rookie. (Rodriguez said he didn't go with Burke Badenhop with the lefties Carlos Gonzalez and Jason Giambi due up after Jonathan Herrera, a switch-hitter).

   Had the Marlins not won Monday, Rodriguez said he was prepared to call a team meeting to go over all the mistakes that were made before Donnie Murphy's feel-good homer. "I think overall it was a very bad game for us," Rodriguez said. "We played very bad defense. We even threw to the wrong base twice. We didn't back up throws at home plate. It was a very bad game. It was nice to pull that out but, then again, I wasn't pleased with the way we played. It was a good thing we won that game because I was a little bit irritated and I think I would have said something today before the game, just to let them know we weren't pleased with the way they were playing."

    Chris Coghlan said his back was feeling much better Tuesday and he took some swings in the batting cage. But Rodriguez decided to give it another day. He said Coghlan could probably pinch-hit tonight. But it appears that Coghlan should be back in the lineup on Wednesday.

    Marlins: 1. Emilio Bonifacio, lf; 2. Wes Helms, 3b; 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Dan Uggla, 2b; 5. Jorge Cantu, 1b; 6. Cody Ross, cf; 7. Mike Stanton, rf; 8. Ronny Paulino, c; 9. Nate Robertson. 

   

July 18, 2010

Coghlan Out Indefinitely, Bonifacio Takes Over in Left

            Manager Edwin Rodriguez says he wants to be extra-careful with Chris Coghlan and it "might take three to four days" before he's able to play. Coghlan left Saturday's game with a bad back, and while no MRI has been taken yet, Rodriguez didn't rule out the possibility of Coghlan going on the DL if the inflammation hasn't subsided within a few days. On the other hand, Rodriguez said there's also an outside chance that Coghlan could be available to pinch-hit Monday.

            Coghlan believes he strained his back when he made a diving catch on Friday. He suffered a similar injury in April when he made a diving catch on the warning track. But Rodriguez said he doesn't want Coghlan to change his style of play. "You want him to be aggressive and you don't want to take that aggressiveness away," Rodriguez said.   Coghlan

             Rodriguez said he had an interesting exchange with Coghlan Saturday night. "He came into my office and he asked me why I took him out," Rodriguez recalled of the conversation. "I said it was obvious you were hurt.' He said, 'Okay, I just want to make sure it wasn't because I was 0 for 20 or whatever.' I said uh-uh."

             Coghlan is 0 for his last 16 and 3 for his past 36 at the plate.

             "I was thinking about that, too," Rodriguez confided to reporters.

             With Coghlan out, Emilio Bonifacio will start in left and bat leadoff. Rodriguez said Bonifacio is "average" defensively in the outfield. The manager said he prefers keeping Cody Ross in center over Bonifacio.

             MINE! MINE! MINE!...Rodriguez blamed everyone -- third baseman Jorge Cantu, catcher Ronny Paulino and pitcher Clay Hensley -- on the foul pop that nobody laid a glove on in Saturday's eighth inning. Somebody, Rodriguez said, should have taken charge. "All three were wrong," Rodriguez said. With Hensley on the mound and a man on first, Josh Willingham skied a foul pop about halfway down the line between home and third. Cantu and Paulino converged on the ball, but merely watched as it fell to the ground in foul territory. Fortunately for Hensley and the Marlins, Willingham lofted a lazy fly ball to center on the next pitch that was caught for the first out of the inning.

             PETERSEN RETURNS....The Marlins recalled outfielder Bryan Petersen on Sunday to replace Mike Lamb, who was designated for assignment. Rodriguez said Petersen would come off the bench as the Marlins' four outfielder and probably would not see starting time. Petersen was up earlier in the season with the Marlins and went 1 for 16, including 1 for 10 as a pinch-hitter.

             LINEUPS:

     Marlins: 1. Emilio Bonifacio, lf; 2. Gaby Sanchez, 1B, 3. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 4. Dan Uggla, 2b: 5. Jorge Cantu, 3b: 6. Cody Ross, cf; 7. Mike Stanton, rf; 8. Ronny Paulino, c; 9. Alex Sanabia.

             Nationals: 1. Nyjer Morgan, cf; 2. Cristian Guzman, ss; 3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3b; 4. Adam Dunn, 1b: 5. Josh Willingham, lf; 6. Roger Bernadina, rf; 7. Adam Kennedy, 2b: 8. Wil Nieves, c; 9. Craig Stammen, p.

             Umpires: HP -- Dan Bellino; 1B -- Tony Randazzo; 2B -- Brian Gorman; 3B -- Paul Nauert.

Bad Back Sidelines Coghlan; Mike Lamb To Be Designated for Assignment


Chris Coghlan left Saturday's game with a back strain stemming from a diving catch on Friday. Coghlan won't play Sunday and it's possible he could be out longer. Emilio Bonifacio took over for Coghlan and manager Edwin Rodriguez said Bonifacio would start Sunday and bat leadoff.

 Coghlan said he felt discomfort while taking batting practice before Saturday's game but felt okay to play. Rodriguez detected an awkward swing when Coghlan struck out swinging in the fifth and decided to take him out.

 The Marlins also announced after the game that Mike Lamb, their lefty pinch-hitter off the bench, will be designated for assignment, effective Sunday. He'll be replaced on the roster by outfielder Bryan Petersen, who was with the Marlins earlier in the season and is hitting .259 at Triple A New Orleans.