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16 posts from October 2010

October 05, 2010

Marlins Fete Mike Lowell with Stone Crabs, c/o Mike Redmond


            Thanks to the Marlins, members of the Red Sox feasted on Joe's Stone Crabs inside the Boston clubhouse when the team paid tribute to Mike Lowell on Saturday. The Marlins sent the crabs to Fenway Park, where they were hand-delivered to Lowell by another former Marlin, Mike Redmond.

            "I gave them to him on the field," said Redmond, whom the Red Sox invited to the tribute, knowing that the long-time backup catcher was one of Lowell's closest friends from their Marlins days together. "I was excited to be there with Mikey."

            Like Lowell, Redmond also retired this season, but not with any of the fanfare. Redmond was released by the Indians in July and quietly returned home to Spokane after 13 seasons in the majors, the first seven with the Marlins. Redmond was signed by the Marlins as an amateur free agent out of Gonzaga in 1992, spent the next six years working his way up the ladder in the minors, and made his major league debut in 1998, the year the Marlins lost 108. Lowell was called up the following season.

             "We talked about (the Marlins) a lot this weekend," Redmond said. "We talked about coming up together, and we talked about his waiting his turn with Kevin Orie playing in front of him, and just all the trials and tribulations of the first couple of years in the big leagues before we got good and finally won that World Series (in 2003)."

              They were Marlins teammates for one more season, 2004, before Redmond left to sign with the Twins. Lowell and Josh Beckett were traded to the Red Sox one year later and collected another Series title with Boston in 2007. But Redmond and Lowell remained tight and hooked up every now and then during the offseason even though they lived in opposite corners of the country, with Lowell making Miami his permanent home.

              Now, the two players who broke in as Marlins around the same time are also going out together.

              "I appreciate the Marlins so much," Redmond said. "They were the organization that gave me the opportunity to get to the big leagues, and I'll always be grateful for that opportunity. Obviously, the highlight of my career, without a doubt, was winning the World Series. That ring, everytime I look at it, brings nothing but smiles for that season."Redmond

             Redmond said he enjoys being home with his family, spending time with his wife and children. But baseball tugs at his heart still. He said he would like to become a coach or manager, maybe even work in a front office.

             "That's part of the reason why I announced my retirement, because I didn't want to go into the offseason with people thinking I was still playing," Redmond said. "I decided before the season even started that this would be my last year."

             Redmond said he and Lowell even talked about coaching on the same team one day, perhaps even with the Marlins, where it all started.

             "That's what we talked about, saying 'Wouldn't that be cool if we were able to put on those Marlins jerseys again and help the young players?,'" Redmond said. "Yeah, that would be pretty cool."

October 04, 2010

Minaya Out as Mets GM -- Should Marlins Worry?


         As expected, Mets general manager Omar Minaya was relieved of duties and manager Jerry Manuel was dismissed this morning. Thus ends Minaya's six-year reign in which he spent lavishly (and, oftentimes, unwisely) on expensive free agents but repeatedly fell short of expectations, much to the benefit of the Marlins and the rest of the NL East. Only once did the Mets make the playoffs during the Minaya regime, which began with the 2005 season. That's one more postseason trip than the Marlins made during that same period, but....


         -- The Marlins spent $212 million and totaled 483 victories since '05.

         -- The Mets spent $730 million and totaled 506 victories.

         In other words, under Minaya, the Mets outspent the Marlins by a ratio of more than 3-to-1 and have only 23 additional wins to show for it. In head-to-head meetings, the Marlins have gone 52-55 against the Mets over the past six seasons -- 23-13 over the two past seasons.

         If you're the Marlins, should you now be concerned that -- with all that money at their disposal  and Minaya out of the picture -- the Mets finally take off under a shrewder G.M.? Is the Minaya ousting bad news for the Marlins?

Marlins: The Day After


      Some mopping-up items after 162:

      -- Spoke briefly in the final-day, clubhouse moving-out mayhem with Alex Sanabia, who was diagnosed with a strained elbow ligament in his right arm. Sanabia was scratched from his scheduled start on Saturday due to forearm discomfort. "(The doctor) said if I kept throwing it could have been even worse," said Sanabia, who attributed the injury to wear and tear stemming from a career-high 170 innings. The rookie said the prescription is ordinary rest and he should be good to go for spring training, where he'll by one of the leading contenders for the fifth rotation spot.

       -- Jose Veras says he'd like to return to the Marlins, who should find him to be an affordable keeper in their bullpen re-design. Veras, who made $550,000, can expect to see a pay bump to the $1 million range through the salary arbitration process. Veras was a vastly different pitcher after being brought back from the minors in late June than he was at the start of the season. From June 25 through Sept. 20, he posted a 1.16 ERA in 36 appearances before fading down the stretch. By the end of September, Veras said he was operating on fumes. "I played winter ball and pitched from November on," Veras said. "I must have thrown 100 innings, at least, from November to end of this season. That's why I've been so tired." As a result, Veras said he will not play this winter in the Dominican. One Marlin who does intend to play winter ball: Emilio Bonifacio.

      -- The Marlins ($47 million payroll), Los Angeles Dodgers ($102 million)  and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim ($121 million) finished with identical 80-82 records.

      -- The Marlins were night and day depending on the quality of their opponents. They went 53-32 against losing teams compared to 27-50 against those with winning marks. The Marlins went 20-39 against the six postseason teams (everyone but Minnesota and the Yankees) they ended up facing. Within the division, they mopped up on the Mets and Nationals (25-11) but were no match for the Phillies and Braves (12-24).

      -- Yeah, yeah. ERA isn't everything. But it's interesting to note that for all the negativity surrounding the Marlins bullpen this season, Florida relievers actually finished with a lower ERA (4.04) than the team's starting pitchers (4.14).

      -- If Edwin Rodriguez doesn't return, the final 17 Marlins games might have involved matchups of managers who won't be keeping their jobs: Atlanta's Bobby Cox (retiring), Pittsburgh's John Russell (dismissed), Chicago's Mike Quade (interim, uncertain), Cardinals' Tony La Russa (uncertain), Milwaukee's Ken Macha (dismissed) and the Mets' Jerry Manuel (dismissed). There could be more than a dozen managing changes -- including the Marlins -- this offseason. In his state-of-the-season discussion with reporters on Sunday, president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said the organization is keenly aware of the competition. "It's a good year to be a free agent manager it sounds like," Beinfest said. "Can you be beat by your competition? Sure. But that goes with players, trades...It's the nature of the game. Could it make it make it a little bit tougher? Absolutely, if there's a number of teams looking for managers and we're all fishing in that same pond."

October 03, 2010

Larry Beinfest: Marlins "Never Really Got It Going"


            Just had our annual, end-of-season sit-down with president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest. Some of the highlights from the 30-minute season debriefing:

            -- Beinfest said it was apparent even before the rash of injuries toward the end of the season that the Marlins weren't a playoff-caliber team. Said Beinfest: "We never won a bunch in a row. Never lost a bunch in a row. Never really got it going. I think a lot of people will focus on the last six weeks and the injuries and say, maybe that's why. But when you look back on it in total, we never really got it going. It was never sustained winning. We never really made a big push. Even when you look at the most basic things, where we rank in batting average and ERA, we're just in the middle of the pack. And that's where we ended up. We ended up in the middle of the pack, right around .500."

            -- Beinfest said the offseason would be spent trying to improve the bullpen: "We definitely need to upgrade the bullpen. There needs to be more depth. There needs to be more quality. There needs to be more balance in terms of left/right. From my perspective, I think one of the greatest challenges for this organization is putting together a bullpen. It's probably one of our greater challenges." 

             -- On catching: "I think (Brett) Hayes and (Brad) Davis have done a really nice job in September. Obviously we need John Baker back. We need (Ronny) Paulino unsuspended. We're going to have to fortify the catching."

             -- On defense: "We still did not make the strides defensively. So now we have to spend the offseason saying: Are these people going to continue to get better? Was it good enough? Or was it actually the personnel? Are we going to have to change out some of the personnel to improve the defense to get it to the level that we need?"

             -- On the third-base situation, with Chris Coghlan penciled in for that position: "Let's face it, Matt Dominguez is coming. He played very well in the second half. Defensively he is well above average. We know Chris can play the outfield if something happens in the offseason that we want to make some changes. We know he can go back out there. As of today, we'll start hitting some ground balls when he's healthy and getting him ready."

             -- On the timetable for naming a permanent manager: "As quickly as possible I think would be the organization's preference, to have the manager and coaching staff in place. We met with all the coaches, explained the situation to them. Our pitching coach, Randy St. Claire, is under contract for this year so he will be back. The other coaches....will be considered." Beinfest said he has not yet asked other teams for permission to speak with prospective candidates.

             -- On the performance of Hanley Ramirez: "You can ask him, but coming from .342 to where he is today, he's going to finish at .300, I think we ask a lot of Hanley. I think we have high expectations only because of his talent. Hanley, his arm's bothered him for a good part of the year and he hung in there. Did he hit .342? No. I think he is going to be an elite player for a long time, whether that means he's going to be somewhere between .300 and .342, that's how we judge him, I don't know. He will probably tell you at times he had down times that he wasn't accustomed to. But that happens in this game. I think sometimes we lose some appreciation for it, the impact of the player in total, the way he can run, the way he can command a game. At times he can just take over because of his talent." 

October 02, 2010

For Edwin Rodriguez, Let the Waiting Begin


                Edwin Rodriguez has an 8 o'clock flight waiting to take him home to Puerto Rico on Sunday. He said he'll drive his 15-year-old daughter to school on Monday. And then he'll begin his wait to find out which way the Marlins go in the search for a manager. Will they keep him? Or will they go after someone else, a Tony Pena or Ted Simmons or Bobby Valentine?

                Rodriguez said he met Friday for about 10 or 15 minutes with Larry Beinfest and Mike Hill, who told him he would be considered for the permanent job. Beinfest and Hill also met with members of the coaching staff and told them the same thing: hang loose.

                "They're going to go through the process and they're going to interview people and they say I am in the mix, I am a strong candidate, and they will let me know," Rodriguez said of his meeting with Beinfest and Hill.

                The Marlins have gone 44-46 since Rodriguez took over from ousted manager Fredi Gonzalez. But Rodriguez and the Marlins have endured a never-ending litany of injuries that have crippled the club and left it reeling the final few weeks.

                 As a result, Rodriguez said he would be disappointed if he wasn't retained as manager.

                 "I would be very disappointed because I think I made my case," Rodriguez said. "But, then again, I don't know what they're looking for. Maybe there's more elements, more factors that they're taking into consideration."

                 Rodriguez said that in meeting with Beinfest and Hill he gained a sense that they were satisfied with the job he's done under adverse conditions.

                 "They say they were pleased," Rodriguez said. "They looked like they were a little bit surprised about the whole outcome, dealing with the injuries and all that. They didn't say that. But I can read body language, and I can read faces and all that."

                 SANABIA SCRATCHED.....Alex Sanabia was hoping the tightness he felt in his right forearm when he pitched in Atlanta on Monday would go away. It didn't. Sanabia informed the training staff Friday night that his arm didn't feel right, he underwent a MRI on Saturday, and he was scratched from tonight's scheduled start against the Pirates. Jorge Sosa will take the ball for the Marlins.

                 "Hopefully it's nothing serious, which I doubt," Sanabia said. "I tried to ride it out for as long as possible and see if it would go away. But after I made that last start, it didn't go away."

                 Sanabia has thrown 170 2/3 innings this season between the minors and majors, or about 70 more innings than he totaled the previous season.


                 Marlins: 1. Emilio Bonifacio, cf; 2. Ozzie Martinez, ss; 3. Logan Morrison, lf; 4. Dan Uggla, 2b; 5. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 6. Mike Stanton, rf; 7. Chad Tracy, 3b; 8. Chris Hatcher, c; 9. Jorge Sosa, p.

                 Pirates: 1. Andrew McCutchen, cf; 2. Jose Tabata, lf; 3. Neil Walker, 2b; 4. Pedro Alvarez, 3b; 5. Garrett Jones, 1b; 6. John Bowker, rf; 7. Ronny Cedeno, ss; 8. Chris Snyder, c; 9. Charlie Morton, p.

October 01, 2010

Josh Johnson "Cool" With ERA Title


         A year after Hanley Ramirez won a batting title, Josh Johnson will be the only Marlin to lay claim to a major statistical "title" with his 2.30 earned run average. Johnson can't be caught between now and the end of the regular season on Sunday.

         "It's one of those (stats) people look at -- the wins and then the ERA," Johnson said. "To be ahead of the guys that are behind me, it's pretty crazy."

         Johnson said he especially admires the Phillies' Roy Halladay, who is third in ERA at 2.44 (the Cardinals' Adam Wainwright sits in second with a 2.42 ERA) and piles up the innings like there's not a tired bone in his body. Halladay leads the majors with nine complete games -- more than any TEAM in the NL.

          "You see Halladay, how many innings he has," Johnson said of Halladay, who leads the majors with 250 2/3. "Even when he's losing games, he's going seven, eight innings every time out. That's the guy you're just in awe of."

           Typical of Johnson's season, he was the loser to Halladay in a game in which he did not allow an earned run. But Halladay emerged the winner in the 1-0 duel by throwing a perfect game. The Marlins bullpen lost seven leads that Johnson handed to them. There went seven potential victories.

            "You think about it, but there's nothing you can do about it," Johnson said. "It seems like it happened in some weird times, like in Atlanta (on Aug. 29), where I'm saying 'We won this game.' And then, bam, it's gone. I don't sit there and go back and say, I should have won this one. No point in doing that now. It's over, done with."

            NUNEZ SAVES HIS 30TH...Leo Nunez said he thanked manager Edwin Rodriguez after he tallied his 30th save in Thursday's victory over the Pirates. "I said to the manager, 'Thank you for the opportunity for 30 saves,'" Nunez said. Rodriguez said he wanted to see Nunez notch that milestone figure. "The plan was to let Nunez get his 30th save," Rodriguez said. Rodriguez said that Clay Hensley would return to the closer's role, however, for the remaining games.

            CEDA RETURNS HOME....Reliever Jose Ceda returned to the Dominican Republic to be with his wife and witness the birth of their child. He is not expected back before Sunday's finale.