ATLANTA -- Count Marlins manager Jack McKeon among those who would support a realignment proposal that would add another wild card team to the playoff mix.
"If I was voting for that, I'd vote for it," McKeon said.
With the Phillies trading for Hunter Pence and the Braves obtaining Michael Bourn, the disparity between the haves and the have nots in the National League is becoming even more pronounced than it was before, McKeon said.
"They needed a leadoff hitter and a center fielder," McKeon said of the Braves. "They got their guy, which will make them tougher, and it makes it tougher on clubs like the Mets, the Marlins and the Nationals to catch up down the road -- not now, but even in the future."
Adding an additional wild card team, like one that has been proposed, "would help," McKeon said.
"That's definitely going to help clubs like us and Washington and the Mets, and some of the other clubs in the Central.....because these clubs are just taking off, and they don't let you up," McKeon said. "Now you're seeing the Giants do it in the West. They're not letting up, either. They got (Carlos) Beltran and (Orlando) Cabrera. The Cardinals aren't letting up."
The Marlins began the day Sunday 10 1/2 games in back of the Braves in the NL Wild Card race. If an additional wild card team was in place this season, the Diamondbacks (58-49) would occupy that spot at the moment, with the Marlins six games behind them.
DAY OFF FOR LOGAN MORRISON -- Logan Morrison, who has been struggling at the plate, is getting a breather today. McKeon said he decided to give Morrison "a mental break," replacing him in left with Emilio Bonifacio, after spotting signals that Morrison is pressing.
"I saw him yesterday in the dugout with a towel over his head," McKeon said. "He just needs a break. Give him a mental break."
ATLANTA -- "Many" teams have spoken to the Marlins about second baseman Omar Infante in advance of today's 4 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline, but there is "nothing close" in the way of a deal, a source said.
Infante is projected to be a Type B free agent after the season, meaning the Marlins would receive a supplemental draft pick if he doesn't finish the season with them. With Emilio Bonifacio blossoming into form, the Marlins also feel they have insurance at second base for next season.
The Braves and Brewers are two teams known to have contacted the Marlins about Infante. Lefty relief specialist Randy Choate has also drawn interest from other clubs.
But most indications are, barring an overwhelming offer, the Marlins intend to sit tight through the deadline.
ATLANTA -- Every team in the majors can play this game of 'what if,' but just think where the Marlins would be now if June had never happened. Remove that 5-23 atrocity and the Marlins are 47-30 overall. Or let's pretend it this way. Let's say the Marlins had merely gone 14-14 in June (remember all those one-run losses?). If that had been the case, they would be 61-44 -- a half-game in front of the Braves in the NL Wild Card race.
Heading into their month-ending series against the Braves, the Marlins own the best July record in the National League (16-8).
If the Marlins don't play "Let's Make a Deal" before Sunday's non-waiver trade deadline -- and every indication is that they're sitting chilly -- it'll mark the first time since 2007 that they didn't complete a July trade.
Here's a look at their July moves the past three seasons:
2010 -- July 31 -- Traded Rick Vandenhurk to the Orioles for Will Ohman.
July 30 -- Traded Jorge Cantu to the Rangers for Evan Reed and Omar Poveda
2009 -- July 1 -- Traded Aaron Thompson to Washington for Nick Johnson.
2008 -- July 31 -- Traded Gaby Hernandez to Seattle for Arthur Rhodes.
-- The Marlins have received calls on about 10 players, with lefty relief specialist Randy Choate drawing most of the outside attention. But Choate is under contract for $1.5 million next season, and the Marlins don't think there's anything they could receive in return for Choate that would be more worth than that modest sum.
-- Not surprisingly, the Brewers contacted the Marlins about Omar Infante following the injury to Rickie Weeks, but the Marlins aren't interested in trading their second baseman, either.
Chris Coghlan has suffered yet another injury. This time it's his right elbow, which he hyper-extended on Wednesday in a rehab game for Single A Jupiter. The Marlins have recalled him from his rehab assignment, but word is there was considerable swelling and bruising to the elbow.
Coghlan has battled knee and shoulder injuries this season, as well.
-- Right-handed reliever Ryan Webb (DL -- right shoulder) completed his first side throwing session off a bullpen mound on Friday. Best-case scenario: he returns to the Marlins in a couple of weeks.
-- Josh Johnson (DL -- right shoulder) remains on no-throw status.
"I'm sorry that Mr. Conine feels that way and I admire him for all that he accomplished in his career. :Proud to leave my skin on the field and the sweat on my uniform every night for my team, as we pursue our winning goals. End of story. We have games to win!"
WASHINGTON -- Everyone inside the Marlins dugout stopped what they were doing when Emilio Bonifacio stepped to the plate in eighth inning last night. So did everyone in the Marlins bullpen, which is located behind the wall in left at Nationals Park.
Bonifacio's teammates were on edge, hoping for the hit that would extend his streak to 25 straight games. Bonifacio was down to his last strike in his final at bat. And when that hit came on a 3-2 pitch, cheers erupted inside the dugout and bullpen.
"Everyone was cheering," said reliever Randy Choate, who was in the bullpen at the time.
Said Mike Stanton, who was inside the dugout when it erupted: "It was almost like a walk-off hit."
Marlins players will tell you that it's not hard pulling for Bonifacio, who will be bidding to extend his streak to 26 straight games this afternoon. He could very well be the most likeable player inside the Marlins clubhouse.
"I think he's everybody's favorite teammate," said catcher John Buck. "He's fun to be around. Just as a person, when you see somebody like that, having success by working hard...when he's doing something as cool as this, it makes you pull for him even more. Last night, we were all on edge for him to get it, going into that last at bat."
It's not just Bonifacio's teammates who are pulling for him. Manager Jack McKeon loves what he's seeing from his leadoff hitter. McKeon was happy that Bonifacio was able to extend his hitting streak on Wednesday, but even happier that Bonifacio nursed a walk in an earlier at bat.
"It's nice," McKeon said of the streak. "But I think you guys might overlook the fact of what a team player he is. He came up in his next-to-last at bat and took a base on balls, where he could have been very selfish and just swung at anything, saying 'I got to get a hit to extend my streak.' He was very happy to take the base on balls. I think that told me something right there about the kid, that he's interested in winning and an unselfish player. We were all rooting for him the last time up, and he got the hit. Had he not got the hit, I don't think he would have been terribly disappointed, as long as we won the game."
WASHINGTON -- One week after Marlins special assistant Jeff Conine made uncomplimentary remarks about Hanley Ramirez, the shortstop shot back with sharp words of his own, calling Conine a "chicken" and saying his goal now is to supplant the former player as "Mr. Marlin."
"I think he wants to be Mr. Marlin forever," Ramirez said of Conine, who was given that moniker during his eight seasons with the team. "It won't happen. I'm coming, baby. I think I'm going to be Mr. Marlin. That's my goal now. I wasn't thinking about that (before Conine's comments)."
While being interviewed on The Dan LeBatard Show on 790-The Ticket last week, Conine said that, if it was up to him, he would trade Ramirez and gets frustrated with the shortstop "on a nightly basis."
"I think there are some nights where he doesn't try as hard as he should," Conine said, adding that he doesn't think Ramirez respects the game enough.
Ramirez said Wednesday that Conine should have spoken to him privately instead of airing his opinions of him on the radio.
"If he's got a problem, just come over and talk to me like a man," Ramirez said. "Don't be a chicken, talking on the (radio), because whatever you say is going to stay out there."
Asked if gets along with Conine, who is a special assistant to Marlins president David Samson, Ramirez replied: "I used to, yeah."
Ramirez said he was surprised at the timing of Conine's comments, and that he feels he is being unfairly labeled as someone who doesn't care or try hard enough.
"Why now?" Ramirez said. "There are a lot of worse guys than me out there. But nobody knows because nobody pays attention. When I'm on the field, I'm just being me. I'm playing my game. It's how I've got to play. Nobody's going to change me. What I get paid for is to win, respect each other, respect the organization. That's what I do."
Ramirez is aiming higher than becoming known as the next Mr. Marlin. He said wants to remain with the team for the rest of his career, have his number retired, and go into the Hall of Fame as a Marlin.
"I'm going to make it to the Hall of Fame being in a Marlins uniform," Ramirez said. "This number (No. 2), nobody's going to wear it."
As for Conine, Ramirez said: "I'm still playing. I'm in the game. Where is he? I'm just happy to be in the game. I don't care what other people say."
WASHINGTON -- No major surprise here. Josh Johnson is likely done for the season due to persistent inflammation in his right shoulder.
"We think so," Johnson's agent, Matt Sosnick, replied in a text message when asked if Johnson was being shut down the rest of the season. "They (the Marlins) are not saying it's 100 percent (certain)."
Larry Beinfest -- president of baseball operations for the Marlins -- said through a team spokesman that it was "news to him" that Johnson's season was over.
After making only nine starts, Johnson went on the disabled list in May with a shoulder problem and has remained there ever since. He had started a throwing program in June, but shut it down again after visiting Dr. James Andrews. He has not picked up a ball since.
Andrews found no structural damage.
The pitcher is making $7.75 million in what is the second year of his 4-year deal. But 2012 is when the big money kicks in, as Johnson is due to make $13.75 million each of the next two seasons.
WASHINGTON -- Because he's constantly breaking them into splintered pieces with his ferocious swings, Mike Stanton goes through bats more than most Marlins. But now that Logan Morrison is using them to swat home runs with, the team might have to start ordering even more.
Morrison has clearly taken a liking to Stanton's lumber, what with home runs in each of the past three games using the borrowed equipment.
It all started last season when Morrison decided to use one of Stanton's bats when the Marlins faced Brewers pitcher Chris Capuano in Milwaukee.
"I used one of Mike's bats and I got a base hit off of him," Morrison said.
When Capuano showed up on the mound for the Mets on Saturday, Morrison decided to try it again.
"I said, 'You know what Mike, i'm going to borrow a bat,' and i got a base hit and a home run with it," Morrison said. "I stuck with it."
Morrison homered again on Sunday using Stanton's model, which is two ounces heavier and a half-inch shorter than his own, and did it again last night against Nationals starter Jordan Zimmerman.
With Sunday's non-waiver trade deadling fast approaching, Greg Dobbs knows his days with the Marlins could be numbered. Teams interested in a low-cost lefty bat for their bench might find Dobbs appealing, especailly after watching him go off last night.
Dobbs drove in a career-high five runs with three hits, including a home run, in the Marlins' 11-2 victory over the Nationals.
"It's crossed my mind a couple of times, but it's something I can't control," Dobbs said of potentially being traded. "If it happens, it happens. I love these guys like brothers. It's been up and down, but it's been a lot of fun also to be around these guys and to friend all of them. Who knows what the future is going to hold."
With the arrival of Mike Cameron and Jack McKeon's insistence on employing Emilio Bonifacio at the top of the order after taking over as manager, Greg Dobbs' playing time has diminished greatly over the past month. He hasn't started regularly since June 26. Last night was only his fourth start this month, and it came about only because Gaby Sanchez was a late lineup scratch due to a tight left hamstring.
"i knew that was going to be my role coming in at the beginning of the year," Dobbs said of his bench role. "That left-handed hitter off the bench, pinch-hitting guy. spot start, give some guy some breaks....I ended up playing a little bit more than I think anybody expectetd, which was great. Now, because of the new additions, i was back to my role as it was before. But nothing changes. i've done htis job for a while so i know what i need to do to get ready."
Hamstring injury causes Gaby Sanchez to miss first start; McKeon vs. Johnson in senior citizen managing showdown
WASHINGTON -- Gaby Sanchez's name was on the lineup card as it always is when it was first posted inside the Marlins clubhouse this afternoon. But that's before Jack McKeon was informed Sanchez is dealing with a tight left hamstring, prompting the manager to scratch his first baseman and replace him with Greg Dobbs.
It'll be Sanchez's first missed start of the season.
"Knowing him, he never wants to get out of hte lineup, so he's probably not feeling good," McKeon said. "When somebody told me it was hurting him, I asked him, 'You all right?' He said 'I'm trying to do some things and it's pulling a little bit.' And I said, 'You better take a day,' because I don't want to lose him for no week."
McKeon said Sanchez would probably be available to pinch-hit and would likely return to the lineup on Wednesday.
At a combined 149 years and 57 days, McKeon (80) and Davey Johnson (68) of the Nationals will have the highest combined age for two managers in any major league game since 1950, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
In 1950, there were 25 games -- all of them involving 87-year-old Athletics manager Connie Mack, against either Joe McCarthy (Red Sox) or Red Corriden (White Sox) -- with higher total ages for the two managers.
Said Johnson, who was hired last month by the Nationals: "I don't look at (McKeon) as old. Jack, he doesn't change much."
Marlins: 1. Emilio Bonifacio, 3b; 2. Omar Infante, 2b; 3. Greg Dobbs, 1b; 4. Hanley Ramirez, ss; 5. Logan Morrison, lf; 6. Mike Stanton, rf; 7. Mike Cameron, c; 8. John Buck, c; 9. Ricky Nolasco, p.
Nationals: 1. Roger Bernadina, cf; 2. Danny Espinosa, 2b; 3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3b; 4. Michael Morse, 1b; 5. Jayson Werth, rf; 6. Laynce Nix, lf; 7. Wilson Ramos, c; 8. Ian Desmond, ss; 9. Jordon Zimmerman, p.
What are the chances that Hanley Ramirez reaches the Hall of Fame? Pretty darn good, according to an ESPN.com story.
In his analysis looking at the Hall of Fame chances of players currently under the age of 28, Dan Symborski of Baseball Think Factory projects Ramirez's chances of getting to Cooperstown at 62 percent. In fact, Ramirez is one of only three under-28 players that Symborki rates as having a better than 50 percent chance of eventual enshrinement. The others: Seattle pitcher Felix Hernandez (80 percent) and Tampa Bay third baseman Evan Longoria.
Symborski applies WAR (wins above replacement) and the ZiPS projection system to come up with his results, which are contained in his story for ESPN.com Insider subscribers only.
Those in Symborski's second grouping of players on the "fence" (or those with a 25- to 50-percent chance of punching their Hall tickets one day: Dustin Pedroia, Troy Tulowitzki, Brian McCann, Ryan Bruan, Prince Fielder, Joey Votto, Ryan Zimmerman, Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Zack Greinke.
Having already traded away one young star on a Hall of Fame career path -- Miguel Cabrera -- and receiving little in return, what would justify trading Ramirez, as well?
There are no mulligans in baseball, but if not for a few tough starts, Ricky Nolasco would rank among the National League’s ERA leaders. Removing three games from Nolasco’s season slate would drop his ERA by more than a run.
“Sometimes it’s just a slight adjustment from maybe a hitter or two,” manager Jack McKeon said.
Nolasco, who is 6-7 with a 4.08 ERA, is coming off what he described as “probably the worst start of my career,” when he allowed nine runs in 1 1/3 innings against the Padres on Wednesday. But before Wednesday’s drubbing, Nolasco was having arguably the best stretch of his career. In his four prior starts, Nolasco allowed just two earned runs over 32 innings.
“He’s got the potential to be a 20-game winner,” McKeon said. “He’s got the stuff.”
Without Wednesday’s start and two others — May 29, when he allowed eight runs in five innings against the Dodgers, and a three-inning, five-run outing against the Diamondbacks on June 13 — Nolasco’s ERA would be a paltry 2.80.
“I look at [Nolasco] a little bit like [Brad] Penny — How bad do you want to be a 20-game winner?” McKeon said. “Do you want to be content with winning 14 and losing 10? But he’s better than that.”
McKeon’s memory is both impressive and intriguing. In 2003, Penny’s fourth season in the big leagues and the year McKeon took over for Jeff Torborg, Penny was 14-10. In 2010, Nolasco’s fourth full major-league season, he posted a 14-9 record. Penny went on to lead the NL in wins in 2006 with 16.
The Marlins recalled right-handed reliever Jose Ceda from Triple A New Orleans before Sunday’s game to take Chris Volstad’s spot on the 25-man roster.
Ceda, 24, made three appearances for Florida earlier this year, giving up six earned runs on six hits in 4 1/3 innings while walking four and striking out seven. The Marlins optioned hard-throwing righty when they acquired Mike Cameron from Boston in early July.
“We had him here and he didn’t get too many opportunities,” McKeon said. “He’s got a good arm. If he throws strikes, he’ll be alright. I hope to get him a little work if we can. If he would’ve been here a couple of days ago he would’ve gotten plenty of work. We would’ve tested him.”
Ceda, who was 2-1 with a 1.26 ERA and 23 saves for New Orleans, was originally acquired in 2008 in a trade for closer Kevin Gregg. Ceda recorded 48 strikeouts in 35 2/3 innings with the Zephyrs.
McKeon said he was unsure how long Ceda would spend with Florida. The team needs a starting pitcher on Thursday against Washington and Ceda might not have to be sent down if the team promotes a starter.
“It depends on what we do for a starter,” McKeon said. “He could be here for awhile and back, or he could be here and someone else goes.”