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40 posts from July 2010

July 17, 2010

Where's the Pop?

   Over the past nine games, only two Marlins have hit home runs: Mike Stanton and seldom-used backup catcher Brett Hayes. Other than Stanton, none of the other regulars have hit a home run since Dan Uggla went deep in Atlanta on July 4. Jorge Cantu has been stuck on 10 home runs since June 23. Ronny Paulino hasn't hit one out since May 23. Cody Ross has one blast in his last 31 games. Hanley Ramirez and Gaby Sanchez last homered on July 2.

  The 2008 Marlins hit 208 home runs, second-most in the NL

  The 2009 Marlins hit 159 home runs, seventh-most in the NL.

  This season's Marlins are on pace to hit 143 home runs this season and presently rank 10th in the NL. They haven't hit fewer than 143 since 2005 when they finished with 128 bops, which ranked 15th in the NL.

  TRENDING FLAT....The Marlins have gone 8-11 since Edwin Rodriguez took over for fired manager Fredi Gonzalez on June 23....The Marlins last eight games have gone: W-L-W-L-W-L-W-L.

  DOWN ON THE FARM....Chris Volstad won Friday for Triple A New Orleans, his second strong start since being demoted. In his two outings, Volstad has given up two runs in 13 innings. Have to figure he's not long for a recall...Logan Morrison was back in left field last night for the Zephyrs...If the Marlins intend to call up Morrison, play him in left and put Chris Coghlan in the infield, there's been no indication of it on the major league end. Coghlan hasn't taken a ground ball in the infield since the start of spring training. In fact, Coghlan said he gave away all his infield gloves not long after the Marlins turned him into an outfielder.


   Marlins: 1. Chris Coghlan, 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. Josh Johnson.

   Nationals: 1. Nyjer Morgan, cf; 2. Roger Bernadina, rf; 3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3b; 4. Adam Dunn, 1b; 5. Josh Willingham, lf; 6. Ivan Rodriguez, c; 7. Adam Kennedy, 2b; 8. Ian Desmond, ss; 9. Livan Hernandez, p.

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

July 16, 2010

Marlins Lineup is no Great Shake (Up)

  Edwin Rodriguez thought about having Mike Stanton bat sixth. He considered making Gaby Sanchez his leadoff hitter and drop Chris Coghlan into the two spot. He tinkered and re-arranged, coming up with nine new lineups in all. But when all was said and done, the only change that Rodriguez made was flip-flopping his four and five hitters, Jorge Cantu and Dan Uggla.

  Rodriguez said it came down to his: just about any new lineup he messed with created a new problem. "There was always one hole that I was missing," he said. Rodriguez said he likes the eight players he has on the field and there wasn't a whole lot he could do to re-arrange those eight players into a dramatically new lineup.

  "Pretty much the same," Rodriguez admitted.

   Rodriguez said he was "very tempted" to elevate Stanton into the sixth spot, but after giving it careful consideration, decided it was best to have Stanton stay put in the seventh spot.

 "I think he's feeling very comfortable hitting seventh and I want to keep him there," the manager said.

As for a one-two combination of Sanchez and Coghlan at the top of the order, Rodriguez said that was the least likely lineup of the nine he toyed with.

 "I'd got through a lot of lineups before I'd do that one," he said.

  So, without further ado, here's tonight's Marlins lineup as they prepare to take on the Nationals' Stephen Strasburg:

 Marlins: 1. Chris Coghlan, 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. Ricky Nolasco.

   PEP TALK....The Marlins held a brief, closed-door meeting of the pep talk variety before heading out for batting practice. "I think we have the talent to have a way better record," Rodriguez said. Rodriguez said that everyone is keenly aware of the approaching July 31 trade deadline.

July 15, 2010

Lineup Changes Looming, Plus Rotation Plans and More

Look for a new lineup when the Marlins open the second half on Friday against Super Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals. Manager Edwin Rodriguez says he wants to shake things up to generate some consistent offense.

Rodriguez said he has tinkered with about nine different lineups, so there's nothing certain for now. But he's said there's a "very good" chance Mike Stanton will move up a bit, most likely to the sixth spot. And he says he would prefer Chris Coghlan to hit in the second spot, but that creates a whole new problem of locating a leadoff hitter. Emilio Bonifacio's name came up, but in order to play Bonifacio and plug him into the leadoff spot, Rodriguez remarked someone else would have to sit, and he likes the outfield the way it is, with Coghlan, Stanton and Cody Ross.

 Could a trade be near? Stay tuned.

NEW BULLPEN FACE....The Marlins outrighted lefty Dan Meyer on Thursday and will add hard-throwing right-hander Jhan Marinez to the roster in time for Friday's game. Marinez, who ranks 10th on Baseball America's ranking of Marlins prospects, can light up a radar gun with a high 90s fastball. Rodriguez said he envisions Marinez as a one-inning guy in the 6th inning. Marinez, 21, started the season at Single A Jupiter, where he struck out 41 in 24 innings to go with a 1.48 ERA. He was promoted to Double A Jacksonville, where in 14 games he registered six saves.

BYE-BYE BENITEZ.....So much for another Marlins comeback for Armando Benitez. The veteran right-hander, who is trying to get back to the majors, has been released at Triple A New Orleans after a brief audition there.

UPCOMING ROTATION....Ricky Nolasco will start Friday, followed by Josh Johnson on Saturday, Alex Sanabia on Sunday, Anibal Sanchez on Monday and Nate Robertson on Tuesday. Because Johnson threw 29 pitches in Tuesday's All-Star Game, Rodriguez said the decision was made not to push matter by having him start Friday. With an upcoming slate of 17 consecutive games, Rodriguez said Johnson will make four starts whether he went Friday or Saturday.

July 13, 2010

More All-Star interviews

ANAHEIM -- Didn't get a chance to upload these last night. But here are some interviews from Monday including what Hanley Ramirez talked about after finishing second to David Ortiz in the home run derby. 

Here is Mets third baseman David Wright talking about Hanley and Marlins ace Josh Johnson.

Here is Braves catcher Brian McCann.

July 12, 2010

Hanley, JJ talk at All-Star media Monday

ANAHEIM -- Here are a couple All-Star interview highlights from Monday involving Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson.

Report: Cantu, Ross on the Trading Block

    Ken Rosenthal at FoxSports is reporting (see his story here), that based on information gathered from major league sources, that the Marlins are dangling Jorge Cantu and Cody Ross but are holding off on Dan Uggla and Ricky Nolasco -- at least for the moment.

    There are no surprises in this group. Cantu is eligible for free agency after the season while Ross (and Uggla) will be entering their third year of arbitration eligiblity. If it's the Marlins' intention to go with an outfield in 2011 of Mike Stanton, Cameron Maybin and Logan Morrison (don't be surprised if he's called up soon) and Chris Coghlan moving back to the infield, then Ross figures to get traded. He wouldn't be hard to deal. He plays all three outfield positions competently and, perhaps most importantly, won't cost an arm and a leg for the team that gets him. I spoke to a major league scout last week about Ross, Cantu and Uggla. Here's what he had to say about Ross:

    "Cody Ross is a guy that every person says, 'Boy, I'd love to him as my fourth outfielder.' He's got that fourth outfielder label and I guarantee you, people are looking him, either as a fourth outfielder off the bench or in a platoon with a lefty. I think you'd get second-tier prospects, not front-line guys, for Ross. But he's marketable."

    The scout is more taken with Cantu:

    "Cantu, I'd be inclined to put him at first base if I were another club and just let him hit. Out of the three of them (Ross, Uggla), the one I'd like to have is Cantu because now that they're peeing in that little cup, it's hard to find guys that can hit consistently and with power. He's got value in the American League, too. I think he's a prime DH. You don't have to worry about hiding him defensively like you do with Uggla. You can put him at first -- not a good third, but he can play it."

   Here's the scout's viewpoint on Uggla:

    "Uggla, he's going to get paid because of those offensive numbers, but the defense is so bad. But with Uggla, I'd think you'd get a player in return that's closer to the top tier.  Here's the thing: you're one injury away from all three of those guys going up in value. That's why teams why so long to make deals. With injuries (to other teams), those guys go up exponentially in value. LIke the Padres. If  (David) Eckstein goes down, Uggla's value goes up for the Padres."

Manuel picks Jimenez over JJ to start All-Star Game

ANAHEIM -- Although he said it was a tough pick, National League manager Charlie Manuel chose Rockies right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez over Marlins ace Josh Johnson to start Tuesday night's All-Star Game at Angel Stadium. 

"Josh Johnson is a very talented guy, we have some real talented pitchers on the National League squad. But this guy [Jimenez] is 15-1. His record speaks for itself. He threw a no-hitter and has completed three ball games. He's what I call a horse.

"So, is Josh Johnson. It was a tough pick. But [Jimenez] is a guy I chose because as soon as he came into the big leagues, he's always stood out. He's definitely my favorite pick."

Jimenez (2.20 ERA) owns the best record in baseball. But Johnson (9-3) owns the lowest ERA (1.70) and has only more than one earned run once in his last 11 starts. 

> Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who will leadoff for the NL for the third year in a row Tuesday night, said his of his strategy for tonight's Home Run Derby: "I'm going to try as hard as I can, swing as hard as I can."

Here's a short interview with Miami's own Alex Rodriguez discussing his All-Star selection.

July 11, 2010

Larry Beinfest on Marlins: "Frustrated. Disappointed."

   It was clear from listening to Larry Beinfest that he and the rest of the front office are not happy with the team's performance and roster changes could very likely occur before the July 31 trade deadline. He said there have already been talks within the organization about what direction to take, but didn't go into specifics.

   Here are a few of the highlights:

   -- “Will we be active? Yes, always and it’s already starting. The chatter has picked up in the last week. Teams now have a pretty good idea of who they are and what they’re going to be heading into the break. I would have liked to have seen a run here on this road (trip) but were just kind of.. not giving us a sustained streak."

  --  "I don't think we're going to force anything. Now we're 18 months away from the new building (ballpark), so we have to keep an eye on that as well. We want to get our core, our base that we think is gonna head into the building and start to look forward."

   -- “We’re not writing of the season. You can get hot, things can happen — the old Colorado Rockies thing. It’s just been frustrating because we haven’t seen that coming yet and it’s hard to foresee it at this point.”

   Beinfest noted that if the Marlins traded any of their players, it would not be a salary dump. (Keep in mind, the Marlins signed an "agreement" with MLB and the union over the winter to maintain player payroll at a reasonable level).

July 10, 2010

Ronny Paulino is Pooped, Post All-Star Rotation, Etc.

    All that time behind the plate without a break has finally caught up to catcher Ronny Paulino, who ceded Saturday's start to Brett Hayes and might do so again on Sunday. Manager Edwin Rodriguez said Paulino, more than any Marlin, needs the upcoming All-Star break to recharge his batteries for the second half.

   "For pretty much one entire month, he was catching every day, and it's showing now," Rodriguez said. "Everything is slowing down. Whenever I see him on the field, he's not the same, not only offensively, but defensively. I think his action is not there. I think he needs to recharge. He needs more rest than anybody, because when we come  back, we're going to go 17 games in a row, so we're going to need him fresh."

    Paulino has gone 2 for 24 at the plate over his past six games and 5 for 38 over his past 10.


    Depending on how much Josh Johnson is used in Tuesday's All-Star Game, he'll receive the start for the Marlins in either their first or second game coming out of the break. Rodriguez said that if Johnson throws 30 pitches or fewer, he'll likely start Friday when the Marlins go against the Nationals and rookie Stephen Strasburg. If he throws more than that, he'll probably start the second game of the series on Saturday, with Ricky Nolasco going Friday.

  It remains uncertain who the Marlins will turn to as their fifth starter. Alex Sanabia, who makes his first big-league start on Sunday, is one candidate. Another is Chris Volstad, who was sent down to Triple A New Orleans following his outing in Los Angeles. Sean West, who is also at Triple A, is yet another candidate.


   Rodriguez has now managed more games (16) in the majors than he played in the big leagues (11). In the small world of baseball, former Marlins manager Jack McKeon traded for Rodriguez when he was with the San Diego Padres. Trader Jack obtained Rodriguez and Dennis Rasmussen as players to be named later from the Yankees for John "The Count" Montefusco.


   .There's "absolutely" no truth to the rumor that the Marlins will open the 2011 season in San Juan against the Mets, according to Marlins president David Samson. The Marlins are expected to return to Puerto Rico for a series at some point during the '11 season, but have no intention of giving up one of their biggest gates of the season -- Opening Day -- to make another trip to the island commonwealth. Samson said the Marlins will open the season in South Florida next season for what will mark the final baseball Opening Day ever at Sun Life Stadium.


July 09, 2010

Hanley Ramirez Says He's Played Like !@#$%^ in 1st Half

    In what ranked as one of his most revealing interviews since becoming a Marlin, Hanley Ramirez said he feels like he's played like "(expletive)" this season. Let's just say that word, which cannot be printed in a family newspaper, is a compound word using "horse."

    The National League's reigning batting champion is hitting .292, or 50 points lower than the average he finished with last season. He's struggled against left-handers, in particular, batting just .217 against southpaws, far below his .309 career average against lefties, and is hitting only .244 with runners in scoring position, Hanley

   "I know what I've got to do to get back on track," Ramirez said. "It's not like I don't know what I'm doing wrong. I know what I'm doing. I don't know what's going on against lefties. I used to crush them, me and (Miguel) Cabrera my first and secondyear."

  Ramirez said that in trying to be aggressive, he is chasing bad pitches "and getting myself out."

   "I don't like being a .200 (sub-.300) hitter," Ramirez said. "It's not me."

  Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez senses that Ramirez is battling fatigue.

  "I have to say he is a little bit tired," Rodriguez said. "I don't think it's a lack of effort on the field. His body is tired. And it's showing on the field. It's showing on his swing. He's a little bit late on his swing. So he needs to get over that, more mentally than physically I would say. But, being Hanley, he knows how to get over that, especially now, three games before the All-Star break."

  Rodriguez said he has been asking Ramirez if he needs a day off, but the shortstop always refuses.

  One day after saying he was undecided about participating in Monday's Home Run Derby as part of All-Star festivities, Ramirez said he would likely take part.

    But Ramirez said he is more concerned about improving in the second half.

    "I feel it in my heart we're going to have a good second half," Ramirez said. "And I want to be there."

    Ramirez feels pitchers are attacking him differently than they have in the past.

    "The only thing is pitchers say 'Don't let Hanley beat you,'" Ramirez said. "And I'm going to have to start taking my walks, and let Cantu and Uggla (drive in the runs). Because I think last year I was getting a good pitch to hit, and this year there's not a lot of mistakes, so it's not easy."