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17 posts from November 2010

November 23, 2010

Ozzie Guillen Takes a Dig at Dolphins Fans

          If Ozzie Guillen is to manage the Marlins one day, he sure didn't do himself any favors with the hometown Dolphins by saying their fans "can learn a lot from Chicago fans." Guillen made his comments on his blog after tailgating at last week's Dolphins/Bears contest at Sun Life Stadium.Ozzietailgating Out of fairness, at least, Guillen said he wore neutral colors.

          Perhaps more interesting to Marlins fans are Guillen's comments about nearly becoming a trade pawn when the Marlins asked permission of the White Sox at the end of the season to talk to him about becoming their manager. White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf confirmed last week to the Chicago Sun-Times that he demanded a player in return.

         "The Marlins asked for permission to talk to Ozzie, and we told them we'd let Ozzie go if they gave us a particular player," Reinsdorf told the Sun-Times. "But we knew they wouldn't give us the player. We were never going to let Ozzie go, but if they would have given us this particular player, I would have let anybody go."

         Reinsdorf said the player was not Mike Stanton, though, as some had speculated.

         Wrote Guillen in his blog: "When I first heard of it, I felt very proud. It's always good to feel wanted. When you're a coach, you never think of your name being mentioned in a trade with some of the best future players in the game. At the same time, I felt very confused...I never really thought the White Sox would consider trading me for anything."

         By re-signing Edwin Rodriguez to a one-year deal, and with plans to make a grand entrance when they move into their new ballpark at the start of the 2012 season, the Marlins pretty much assured that the Guillen rumors won't be going away.

November 19, 2010

Talkin' Baseball With Glenn Geffner

         Tired of hearing about the Heat? Down on the Dolphins? Want to talk some baseball? Glenn Geffner does. The radio voice of the Marlins will fire up his mike on Saturday -- and every Saturday thereafter until spring training -- as he begins his weekly show that focuses on Hot Stove happenings, both locally and nationally.Geffner

          "Marlins Insider" will make its debut on Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m. on 790 The Ticket, and Geffner's first two guests will be worth the price of listening: Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez and president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest. Considering the amount of activity over the past week (three trades and a major free agent signing) there should be plenty to discuss and debate.

          "While it's already been a busy offseason, this is a critical offseason for the Marlins," Geffner said. "Everybody points to 2012 in the new ballpark. But I've thought all along that 2011 is a critical one. People are disappointed the way the past season ended. To me, you want to have a season at least as good as '09 to have that momentum going when you move into that new ballpark."

          Geffner plans on inviting players, front office executives, and local and national media to serve as guests. And he said the discussion won't be centered entirely on the Marlins. Fans are urged to call in and talk about any baseball issue they like, whether it involves the Marlins or some other team.

         "We want it to be a participatory show," Geffner said. "There are moves that people agree with and there are moves that people disagree with. Maybe I'll change some peoples' minds on some things. Maybe they'll change my mind on some things."

           If you can't get to a radio, you can listen online by going to www.marlins.com. The station's hotline number to ask questions during the 2-to-4 time slot on Saturday is 786-360-0790.                  

November 17, 2010

It's Official, Marlins Sign Catcher John Buck

     The Marlins made it official on Wednesday. They signed catcher John Buck to a three-year deal totaling $18 million.

      "We wanted a big, durable, experienced, frontline catcher, and we identified John early in the process," said Larry Beinfest, Marlins' president of baseball operations. "He comes with a reputation as a strong leader (and) smart game-caller."

      Beinfest said the Marlins contacted Buck's agent at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday a week ago when the free agent signing period began.

       The Marlins are not counting on John Baker to be ready for the start of the season. Baker is recovering from Tommy John surgery and will not be pushed in spring training. That means either Brett Hayes or Brad Davis will handle the back-up duties for Buck.

Uggla: "Very Sad That I'm Not A Marlin Anymore"

        Several of us just got done speaking with Dan Uggla, who took the high road by not ripping the Marlins after being traded to the Braves. Uggla was vacationing in Mexico when he got word of the deal. But Uggla said that even up to the end, he thought something could be worked out with the Marlins -- even after they broke off contract negotiations when he rejected their four-year offer for $48 million.

        "I was still thinking, in a weird way, that we were going to get something done," Uggla said. "I have a lot of different emotions. I'm very excited to be a Brave, very sad that I'm not a Marlin anymore, very sad that I'm not going to be playing with all my buddies back in Florida -- with J.J. and Ricky and all the guys I came up with. So it's very tough. I grew very close to Clay Hensley this year, and it's going to be weird not being able to hang out with him every day. But it's baseball."

      Asked if he was aware he would likely be traded after turning down the Marlins' final offer, Uggla had this to say: "It was my understanding, but at the same time the trade hadn't happened yet and I was still thinking we could get something done, even though in the back of my mind I knew this was a possiblity or probably could happen. But, until it happened, I was thinking I was going to be a Marlin. Now that it happened I know I'm not going to be a Marlin next year."

       Asked how tempting the $48 million offer was to him, Uggla replied: "If they offered that to me last year or the year before, it would probably be a fair deal. I didn't think it was a fair deal. They were trying to say I was not going to get a 5-year deal, nobody my age gets 5-year deals, when Ryan Howard's my age and he gets a 5-year deal, Carl Crawford is going to get a 5- or 6-year deal minimum, Jayson Werth, you keep going down the line. They believe one thing, and that's fine. That's their thing. Don't get me wrong, $48 million is life-changing money for anybody. I totally respect that is a lot of money. But, where I'm coming in my career, that just wasn't the deal I was looking for." 

Loria: No Car For Cody

           Jeffrey Loria delivered a rah-rah speech inside the Marlins clubhouse the season before last in which he allegedly told players that he would give them his car -- a red Ferrari - if one of them was voted MVP of the National League Championship Series.

           Loria said Wednesday that that story is not entirely accurate.

           "I said whoever wins the MVP in the World Series and playing for us can have my car," Loria said. "The whole concept was to get to the World Series."Ferrari

           Those distinctions are important because Cody Ross was named MVP of this year's NLCS as a member of the San Francisco Giants. The Giants claimed Ross from the Marlins in August.

           "It's (the car) not going to somebody who goes somewhere else," Loria said. "He (Cody) called and said, 'I won (the MVP) for the NLCS. Does that count?' I said 'Not exactly' and 'You're not playing for us. But I'm very happy for you.'"      

Jeffrey Loria Talks Uggla, Bullpen, Defense and Marlins In General

          Jeffrey Loria checked into the Waldorf Astoria a moment ago for the owners' portion of the GM meetings and was intercepted by reporters in the lobby before he was able to get to his room. Loria was candid about Tuesday's trade of Dan Uggla, saying he was "extremely disappointed" that they couldn't work out an extension with the second baseman. Loria was especially miffed that Uggla never budged in his demand for a five-year deal.Loria

          "We just kept adding more and more money," Loria said of the Marlins, whose final, take-it-or-leave-it offer of four years, $48 million was rejected by Uggla. "Dan is a wonderful kid, but I can't speak for the advice he gets."

          Asked if he felt that Uggla's refusal to yield some on his original demand (five years, $71 million) was a sign he wanted out of South Florida, Loria replied: "I don't think he wanted out at all. I think this was what he was told he had to have -- five years. If somebody wants to give him five years, good luck to them. He's 31 years old. We could have set him up for a lifetime, several lifetimes."

          Loria said fans should not be disappointed that Uggla was traded.

          "Everybody gets excited about home run hitters," Loria said. "The home runs did not win enough games for us. It has a 'wow' effect. But, let me remind you, we have Mike Stanton for a full year (in 2011). He can hit a few home runs."Danny

          Loria said the Marlins likely aren't done dealing yet even though, over the past four days, they've completed three trades and are on the cusp of signing free agent catcher John Buck, making them the most active team in the majors by plenty.

          "Stay tuned," Loria said, adding that more moves could be made to improve the bullpen even though the Marlins have acquired four relievers in the three deals. "We're not done yet. We lost 27 games after the seventh inning, 27 games! If we won 10 of those games because of the bullpen and four of them because of the defense, that's a different story. We're not fooling around. Defense, bullpen (are needs being addressed). We made four great strides in our bullpen already. And the infield is suddenly a different infield and, with Perry Hill coming, it will be a different and better situation."

         Loria declined to specify why he gave only a one-year deal to manager Edwin Rodriguez, saying only that Rodriguez said he wanted to be given a chance and "it was the right thing to do." Loria said he thought Rodriguez did a good job after taking over from fired manager Fredi Gonzalez even though "he wasn't working with a full deck" due to a rash of late-season injuries.

         "He said, 'Give me a chance,'" Loria said of Rodriguez. "And I thought about it. And I said, 'You know what, I am going to give you a chance.' He's not a household name, but he did a very nice job with these kids and they feel good playing for him. It was the right thing to do. We had to be fair. And to be fair, I thought 'I'm going to give you a chance.'"

          Loria said he is pleased with the Marlins' starting pitching staff but did not rule out the possibility of the team going out to find another arm to fit into the rotation. Asked about reports that the Marlins could be interested in Arizona outfielder Justin Upton, Loria replied that it was the first he heard of it.

             On the infield and rookie third baseman Matt Dominguez in particular, Loria had this to say:

             "I don't want to put any pressure on the kid (Dominguez), but he's probably one of the best defensive third basemen around. He hasn't played yet. Can he hit? He can hit, but that's a touch-and-go thing, and he's gonna have to work his way through that. So if you put that defensive star at third, and you have Hanley (Ramirez) at short, (Omar) Infante and Gaby (Sanchez) at first, suddenly it all changes. Perry Hill is gonna work a little magic to it, too. It's an overhaul, but in the right direction."

November 16, 2010

Marlins Trade Dan Uggla -- And You Say.....?


             Dan Uggla is gone, dealt to the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday for Omar Infante and Mike Dunn, after he and the Marlins reached an impasse on a contract extension. It'll be interesting to see if Uggla regrets the four year, $48 million offer he rejected -- leaving money on the table is always a dangerous thing -- or if he cashes in with the Braves. But that's a story for another day.

             For now, the Marlins are dealing with the loss of a consistent 30-home run hitter, their greatest home run hitter in terms of the total, and a blue collar workhorse who seldom missed a game. It's the reason why Braves manager, and former Marlins skipper, Fredi Gonzalez was ecstatic when he heard the news.

             "This is a big bat in our lineup and he's a tremendous clubhouse guy, as blue collar as they come," Gonzalez told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "He plays the game one way. He tries to beat you. I spoke to him an hour ago and he's all excited."

             So let's hear it from you. What do you think about Tuesday's trade?          

Marlins Closing In On 3-Year Deal for Catcher John Buck

      ORLANDO -- It appears that the Marlins are on the verge of satisfying their catching needs as sources are confirming that the team is closing in on a 3-year deal for free agent catcher John Buck.

        The seven-year major league veteran enjoyed his best season in 2010 when he hit .287 with 20 home runs for the Toronto Blue Jays and earned his first All-Star appearance.

         Buck spent his first six seasons in the majors with the Kansas City Royals and owns a career batting average of .243 to go with a low .301 on-base percentage, which is partly the result of his high strikeout rate of about one whiff in every four at bats.

         With uncertainty surrounding John Baker, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, the Marlins decided to make catching a priority. Ronny Paulino handled most of the catching chores last season for the Marlins before receiving a 50-game suspension for testing positive for a performance enhancing drug. 

         Buck's deal is reportedly worth more than $15 million, according to Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports.

         Because Buck is classified as a Type B free agent, the Marlins will not be required to forfeit a draft pick.

         The Marlins are moving quickly this offseason to revamp the roster. On Friday, they traded pitcher Andrew Miller to the Boston Red Sox for left-handed reliever Dustin Richardson. On Saturday, they dealt outfielder Cameron Maybin to the Padres for right-handed relievers Ryan Webb and Edward Mujica.

          And they're presently gauging trade interest in second baseman Dan Uggla, who turned down their four-year, $48 million contract offer.

Marlins Discussing Multi-Year Deal w/Ricky Nolasco

              Matt Sosnick, the agent for Ricky Nolasco, said he is "optimistic" that he and the Marlins will work out a multi-year deal for the right-hander.

             "I would say certainly nothing's going to happen soon," Sosnick advised. "But I would be surprised if something didn't end up happening. We have had some conversations and I think we've made some progress."

      Nolasco                                       The Marlins are believed to be discussing a 3-year contract for Nolasco, which would buy out one year of free agency.

              Perhaps most telling of all is that Sosnick said he is more confident that a deal will get done with Nolasco than he was at this same point a year ago when he was handling the negotiations for Josh Johnson. Those discussions ended up stalling over demands for a fourth year which, ultimately, the Marlins ended up granting to their ace.

               Johnson, by the way, finished fifth in voting for the National League Cy Young Award, which was announced on Tuesday. Philadelphia's Roy Halladay was the unanimous winner, receiving all 32 first-place votes. The Cardinals' Adam Wainwright was second, followed by Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez, Atlanta's Tim Hudson and Johnson.

               Johnson received five third-place votes, five fourth-place votes and nine fifth-place votes in voting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.     

The Dan Uggla Watch -- Live from the GM Meetings

              ORLANDO -- Greetings from the GM Meetings at the luxurious Waldorf Astoria Hotel, baseball rumor central for the next two or three days. Of course, Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla is receiving a fair share of the buzz, what with the Marlins dangling him like a raw filet on a hook to see what bites.

              And so far, what we know is that the Marlins are getting plenty of nibbles. At least five teams -- the Braves, Cardinals, Nationals, Tigers and Blue Jays -- have reportedly inquired about Uggla. And those are the teams that we know about. There could be others.

             What's interesting about this apparent feeding frenzy is that a year ago the trade market for Uggla was relatively flat. The Marlins tried their best to trade him then, couldn't find any deals that met their demands, and ended up holding on to him for another season. So why, all of a sudden, is Dan Uggla in vogue?

            The answer is power. Or, in Uggla's case, staying power. Did you happen to notice what happened last season, the so-called "Year of the Pitcher" when perfect games and no-hitters were a dime a dozen? The slugger went the way of the dinosaur. Okay, that's overstating. But their numbers diminished. Hmm. Steroids testing equals???? Well, you can do the math, but these are the facts: the number of players pounding out 30 or more dingers dwindled from 30 in 2009 to 18 last season. In 2000, that number was 47. And Uggla's 33 homers in '10 wasn't some one-year wonder sort of aberration. He hits 30 pretty much every year. At least he's done so for the past four seasons. Suddenly, Dan Uggla is some kind of attractive, even with his reputation as a defensive liability.

           So here we sit, with sharks circling the Marlins boat, waiting for the big one to bite. Walking into the Waldorf this morning, a couple of us spotted Larry Beinfest talking on his cell phone. When he noticed us, lurking at a polite distance and waiting for him to finish his call, he got up from his seat and walked away, not wanting to be disturbed. We'll be talking to him at some point this afternoon. For now, though, it's wait and see.

           There's a part of me, though, that isn't entirely convinced Uggla will be moved. I mean, the Marlins DID offer him a four-year, $48 million extension, one that he rejected. It's not often that the Marlins throw around that kind of money, and they would never do so unless they were dead serious about keeping the guy. But the Marlins will NOT bow to Uggla's demands for a fifth year, even as a vesting option. And if it's five years or else for Uggla, well, there's no better time to trade him than now -- especially while the waters are churning.