« July 2011 | Main | September 2011 »

49 posts from August 2011

August 19, 2011

Marlins' Beinfest loses frequent trading partner in Cubs' Jim Hendry

    SAN DIEGO -- I'll never forget sitting inside manager Jeff Torborg's spring training office at Space Coast Stadium in March of '02 and listening to Larry Beinfest announce his first major trade as the Marlins' new general manager: rhp Matt Clement and rhp Antonio Alfonseca to the Cubs for rhp Julian Tavarez, c Ryan Jorgensen, rhp Jose Cueto and a throw-in minor-league pitcher, lhp Dontrelle Willis.

     Torborg looked as if he wanted to pass out as he tried to digest details of the trade, one in which Beinfest first uttered the phrase "payroll flexibility" to describe what was, in fact, a salary dump. The trade turned out to be one of the best deals in Beinfests' stewardship. Willis, to the surprise of even the Marlins, blossomed into an unexpected star.

    Hendry   The man on the other end of that deal was Jim Hendry, who later took some crticism for what was one of his first defining moves as Cubs GM. The enigmatic Willis, after all, was instrumental for the Marlins in their '03 World Series run, one that included a NCLS victory over the Cubs.

       Beinfest and Hendry would hook up for more big deals over the years. There will be no more. The underperforming Cubs announced Hendry's dismissal on Friday.

       Take a look at the following four trades between the two men:

       March 27, 2002 -- Marlins trade Clement and Alfonseca to the Cubs for Tavarez, Jorgense, Cueto and Willis.

       Nov. 25, 2003 -- Marlins trade 1b Derrek Lee to the Cubs for 1b Hee Seop Choi and a player to be named later (rhp Mike Nannini).

       Dec. 7, 2005 -- Marlins trade of Juan Pierre to the Cubs for rhp Ricky Nolasco, rhp Sergio Mitre and lhp Renyel Pinto.

       Nov. 13, 2008 -- Marlins trade rhp Kevin Gregg to the Cubs for rhp Jose Ceda.

       Who were the winners and the losers in those Beinfest/Hendry deals?              

August 18, 2011

Randy Choate likely done for season

   SAN DIEGO -- The Marlins placed Randy Choate on the 15-day disabled list with elbow inflammation, and it's unlikely the lefty specialist will pitch again this season.

   "I doubt it," Choate said after undergoing a MRI in South Florida on Thursday.

   The good news for Choate and the Marlins is that the injury is believed to be a mild strain and can heal on its own with normal care and rest. Choate is under contract next season for $1.5 million. While Choate didn't rule out the possibility of a late-season return, he said it appears highly unlikely.

    "I would love to pitch some more," Choate said. "But I don't want to do anything stupid. I'd rather be completely healed for next season."

    Choate has appeared in 54 games, going 1-1 with a 1.82 ERA. He lived up to billing as being tough against left-handers. Left-handers hit just .145 (10 for 69) against Choate. But Choate is disappointed that his season might ended on a sour note. The last pitch he threw was clobbered by Colorado's Jason Giambi for a game-ending home run in Denver on Tuesday.

     "I don't really like giving up a hit to a left-hander, especially a home run that ends a game," he said.

    The Marlins called up right-hander reliever Chris Hatcher from Double A Jacksonville to fill Choate's roster spot.

     -- Logan Morrison left last night's game at Triple A  New Orleans with a minor hamstring injury and is not in tonight's lineup for the Zephyrs. But he is expected to return to the lineup on Friday.

     -- With a home run tonight at PETCO Park, Mike Stanton will become the first player in Marlins history to homer in five consecutive games. However, he went 0 for 3 with a strikeout when he went against tonight's starter, Tim Stauffer, earlier this season in South Florida

August 17, 2011

Choate returns to South Florida for MRI on swollen left elbow

   DENVER -- The bad news just keeps on coming for the Marlins bullpen. Hours after the Marlins placed Brian Sanches on the DL, lefty specialist Randy Choate was on his way back to South Florida for a MRI on a swollen left elbow. Choate will likely end up on the DL, as well.

   Choate said his elbow was so swollen that it "looked like somebody stuck a baseball inside it," though he doesn't believe there to be any ligament damage. Likewise, Sanches said in a text message that he doesn't think he has any ligament damage. The Marlins are listing his injury as a strained right elbow.

   The Marlins activated right-hander Ryan Webb from the DL on Wednesday to fill the roster spot created by Sanches, but will be down two relievers tonight when they close out their series with the Rockies.

    With Choate out of the picture, the Marlins have only one left-hander in their bullpen, Mike Dunn.

    Choate gave up a walkoff home run on Monday to Jason Giambi, and he was warming up in the pen -- but didn't pitch -- on Tuesday. But he said when he woke up Wednesday, he noticed swelling in his elbow and it became steadily worse over the course of the day.

Reliever Brian Sanches goes to 15-day DL, Ryan Webb reinstated

   DENVER -- The injuries continue mounting for the decimated Marlins. Long reliever Brian Sanches has been placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactie to Aug. 10 with a right elbow strain. Reliever Ryan Webb is being reinstated from the DL to take his spot.

    Sanches (4-1, 3.38 in 58 2/3 IP) has not pitched since Aug. 9.

    The Marlins bullpen remains shorthanded, as Edward Mujica is presently unavailable due to an injury to his right lat muscle that caused him to leave Monday's game here. Mujica doesn't think his injury is serious and expects to be available in a day or two. But how many times have we hard that this season?

     Webb has been out for nearly two months with right shoulder inflammation. He last pitched on June 26.

     To update, here's how the Marlins' DL list now stands:

     C John Baker -- Rehab from Tommy John surgery, 60-day DL

     INF Donnie Murphy -- Right wrist, 60-day DL

     SP Josh Johnson -- Right shoulder inflammation, 60-day DL

     OF Scott Cousins -- Lower back strain, 60-day DL

     2B Omar Infante -- Broken finger, 15-day DL, expected back on Saturday

     SS Hanley Ramirez -- Left shoulder sprain, 15-day DL

     RP Brian Sanches -- Right elbow strain, 15-day DL

     -- Also, down on the farm, Triple A New Orleans has placed LHP Sean West on the DL with elbow inflammation, pretty much eliminating any chance he ever had of receiving a September call-up.

August 16, 2011

Infante, but not Hanley, expected to join team in San Diego

   DENVER -- Looks like second baseman Omar Infante will be activated from the disabled list and back in the lineup when the Marlins are in San Diego at the end of the week. But the prognosis for Hanley Ramirez is not as promising.

   Manager Jack McKeon said Infante is "ready to play" but that Ramirez is still experiencing discomfort in his injured left shoulder and probably won't be ready to come off the DL on Thursday when he's eligible.

   "I don't think Hanley will join us in San Diego," McKeon said. "The last report I had he was still having a little pain in his left shoulder."

   Infante is eligible to come off the DL on Saturday.

   -- Reliever Edward Mujica said he hopes to be ready when the Marlins open the San Diego series on Thursday against his former team. Mujica left Monday's game with a strained right lat muscle.


     Marlins first-round pick Jose Fernandez will be among a group of drafted pitchers heading to the Gulf Coast League Marlins to begin their pro careers. Fernandez, who signed on Monday after agreeing to a $2 million signing bonus, will be joined in Jupiter by second-round pick Adam Conley ($650,000 signing bonus) and sixth-rounder Charlie Lowell.

     "Hopefully we'll get him some innings in the Gulf Coast," said Jim Fleming, the Marlins' vice president of player development. "We won't plan beyond that. If he's been throwing enough and he's fit enough, then we can get some innings in the  Gulf Coast before the end of the year."

     The Marlins signed all but two of their top 10 picks: third-rounder Conner Barron, a shortstop who decided to attend Southern Miss, and fourth-rounder Joshua Palmer, a second baseman who lacerated his right arm in an accident over the summer.

     "Obviously it's a big disappointment," Fleming said of Barron not signing. "You want your third rounder. But the one good thing about the third round is if you don't sign him, you get a pick next year. And we knew when we drafted him that it wasn't a slam dunk. He just decided in the end he was better off going to school."



     Marlins: 1. Emilio Bonifacio, ss; 2. Bryan Petersen, lf; 3. Mike Stanton, rf; 4. Greg Dobbs, lf; 5. Gaby Sanchez, 1b; 6. Mike Cameron, cf; 7. John Buck, c; 8. Jose Lopez, 2b; 9. Anibal Sanchez, p.

     Rockies: 1. Dexter Fowler, cf; 2. Mark Ellis, 2b; 3. Carlos Gonzalez, rf; 4. Troy Tulowitzki, ss; 5. Todd Helton, 1b; 6. Seth Smith, lf; 7. Chris Nelson, lf; 8. Chris Iannetta, c; 9. Jhoulys Chacin, p.

Bloop Hit + Bad Throw = Marlins Loss

    DENVER -- Leo Nunez was one strike away from wrapping up a 4-3 victory over the Rockies on Monday when Dexter Fowler's bloop single changed everything. Not only did Fowler dump a single into no man's land in shallow center on a 3-2 pitch, but he ended up second after Greg Dobbs misfired on his rundown throw to first.

    The result: Fowler scored the tying run on Carlos Gonzalez's two-out double off Nunez and, two batters later, Jason Giambi clubbed a three-run home run off Randy Choate for the walk-off victory at Coors Field.

     "We made a mistake and that cost us the ballgame," said manager Jack McKeon, referring to Dobbs' throw.

     Here's how Dobbs described it after Fowler singled and made an aggressive turn around first:

     "Both middle infielders are running out on that play," said Dobbs, who was playing third. "Second base is vacated, so I'm sure (Fowler) was seeing that. It's my job to get there (to second) in that situation. We work on that and practice it. What surprised me was when I got the throw, when I turned to look at him out of the corner of my eye, he was running (back) to first. But then he stopped and turned as I'm in the motion of throwing it. So it threw me off."

       Dobbs said he he released the ball as his arm was slowing to a halt, causing his throw to go wide to the left. First baseman Gaby Sanchez reached to his right to make the catch, but Fowler took advantage of the poor throw and made it to second.

        "In retrospect, I should have just held the ball and ran at him," Dobbs said.  "But I was thinking he was trying to get back to first. That's my instinct. At the last second, I saw him stop and looking at me. But I was already in the motion."

       The inning deteriorated from there. Gonzalez doubled to score Fowler, Troy Tulowitzki was walked intentionally, and lefty specialist Choate was brought in to face Giambi, who fell homered to right for the win. Giambi had gone 0 for 5 in six career plate appearances against Choate before the home run.

August 15, 2011

Marlins teammates told LoMo to tone it down

    DENVER -- In his final tweet before boarding the plane that would take him to New Orleans and the minor leagues, Logan Morrison wrote: "Just went through security at FLL. Forgot to take my belt off. As reward I was given a Deep Tissue massage by Bob from TSA."

    Morrison's tweet happened to be shown on a television inside the Marlins clubhouse here at Coors Field, and it brought chuckles from his teammates -- some of the same teammates who pulled Morrison aside at various times this season and told him to tone down his act.

    One of those was catcher John Buck, who said he was one of several veterans to advise Morrison more than once to make baseball his primary focus, not any of the extracurricular stuff -- the tweeting and bold comments and opinions -- that have identified him as much, if not more, than his stats.

    As Buck pointed out, Morrison's demotion to Triple A New Orleans probably wouldn't have generated a ripple if not for his popularity and outspokenness.

    "He's an awesome dude, a great teammate and a great person," Buck said. "I don't think anybody's telling him not to do the things that he does. I think it's, just don't let it be the main focus of who you are, because you're a pretty dang good baseball player. That, for him, I think that should be good enough. And the other good stuff coming out of him, being who he is, should be icing on the cake. It shouldn't be flip-flopped, which I think it has become."

     Buck said he and Morrison's teammates are hoping the demotion will do him some good, and that he'll come back a better player.

     "He just needs to be LoMo and play the game, and not let the other stuff get in the way," Buck said.

     Meanwhile, the player's union is investigating his demotion at the request of Morrison's agent, Fred Wray, and will determine whether there is grounds to file a grievance. 

August 14, 2011

LoMo's agent looking into possible grievance issue over demotion


     The agent for Logan Morrison says he intends put a call in to the players' union on Monday to see if the Marlins committed a violation when they demoted the outfielder to the minors.

      "It's in Logan's best interest to make sure that his rights are protected," said Fred Wray, who represents Morrison. "Everything I know at this point doesn't add up. People feel this wasn't right. We're going to turn over some rocks."

      Morrison was optioned to Triple A New Orleans on Saturday, the same day he didn't show up for a meet-and-greet with season-ticket holders. That same night, veteran utility infielder Wes Helms was released. Wray said Helms -- the Marlins' union representative -- informed Morrison that he didn't have to attend the function.

      The Marlins said Morrison was demoted and Helms was released due to performance. Morrison is hitting .249 (only .200 during the second half), but his 17 home runs rank second on the club and his 60 RBI puts him third on the team. Helms was hitting just .191.

       But the timing of the two moves has raised eyebrows, as did comments by Larry Beinfest, president of baseball operations. Beinfest, in explaining the moves on Sunday, said that "(Morrison) will be a good player for a long time. The talent is there. He just needs to work on all aspects of being a major leaguer."

       Some have interpreted that statement as one directed at Morrison's off-field activities. He's been not only one of the most outspoken Marlins, but operates an extremely popular Twitter account in which he often expresses his opinions.

        But Wray wonders if the demotion all stems from a chain of events over the past few days. Morrison's charity bowling event scheduled for Thursday was postponed, Wray said, when the Marlins' Community Foundation "dropped the ball" when it sold only eight of the 34 lanes that had been reserved.

     "If it had gone off, it would have been a subpar event, which Logan was not happy with," Wray said.

     Wray said Morrison was asked to participate in two events on Saturday, a signing with several other players that ran over its time allotment by 30 minutes, and the meet-and-greet with season-ticket holders. Wray said Morrison participated in the first event, but not the second, after discussing it with Helms.

          "He was a little disgruntled," Wray said of Morrison. "He sat down and spoke with (Helms), who said, 'I wouldn't do it if I were you. No team functions are mandatory. So Logan chose not to attend. He felt he was owed an apology from the community foundation, which he has not received."

          Wray said Morrison met privately with Marlins general manager Mike HIll before Saturday's game to discuss the situation.

          Following Saturday's game, Morrison was demoted and Helms was released. Wray thinks it smells fishy.

           "I think Logan has gone above and beyond to accommodate fans and attract fans to the ballpark," Wray said. "But these guys do a lot. They have a signing in the afternoon and a meet-and-greet before the game -- two in one day prior to a baseball game in which you're facing Tim Lincecum, who has been absolutely on fire. It's just ironic to me. They want to point to Logan's Twitter (as a) distraction. Everyone wants to point to Logan's Twitter as being the powder keg. But are there other distractions from the front office here?"

         Wray intends to investigate the matter with the union.

         "We plan to explore this with the union, get their take on it," he said.

Giants Spoil Billy's Birthday, Beat the Marlins 5-2

Billyblimp The Marlins got into a home run battle with the defending World Series champions on Sunday afternoon. It didn't work out well.

The Giants took two of three from the Marlins by winning the series finale 5-2 on Sunday, San Francisco getting all of its runs off balls that left the yard.

Former Marlins fan favorite Cody Ross got things started with a two-run shot in the third as the Giants handed the Marlins their ninth loss in 10 home games. Mike Stanton gave the Marlins their only lead with a blast to center field in the first inning.

Florida now embarks on a seven-game road trip to Colorado and San Diego. Going on the road may not be too bad considering the Marlins came into their long homestand with wins in six of eight on its previous road trip with visits to Washington, Atlanta and New York. The Marlins scored just 25 runs during their 10 game run in Miami Gardens.

“You can't score two runs, four runs in three games,'' said manager Jack McKeon, whose team was shut out on Saturday. “We'll be fine, but we're a different ball club. We're beat up. We're not making an excuse because these guys are major league players. We can't depend on one guy. We're going on the road and hopefully our offense gets going. Our pitching has been relatively good.''

San Francisco entered the day with 77 home runs – ranked 12th in the National League – but belted four on Sunday. Chris Volstad (5-9) surrendered three of them in his five innings. Brandon Belt, recently recalled from Triple A Fresno, got his second of the day in the eighth off Michael Dunn.

The two-run shot by Ross ended a major-league record streak of 21 consecutive solo home runs hit by the Giants. San Francisco had not hit an extra-run home run since July 6. The last three home runs hit by San Francisco on Sunday came with no one on base.

Volstad gave up a total of seven hits, walked two and struck out seven in his short outing. 

“I think they hit four balls into the air and three of them went over the fence,'' Volstad said. “Everything else was on the ground or strikeouts. That's just the way it goes sometimes I guess.''

Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong (10-2) had a fairly easy outing. The Marlins didn't get their third hit of the day until new cleanup hitter Greg Dobbs singled in the seventh. Vogelsong had retired 17 straight prior to that. 

Vogelsong eased his way through seven innings and change before Emilio Bonifacio doubled to left with two outs in the eighth to score Bryan Petersen after he walked to lead off the frame. 

Vogelsong walked Alfredo Amezaga, prompting manager Brian Bochy to bring in Santiago Casilla. The Marlins had both Bonifacio and Amezaga in scoring position after Casilla's first pitch got past catcher Eli Whiteside, but the threat came to a close when Stanton grounded to third. 

Brian Wilson didn't leave the bullpen – his 35 saves are second most in baseball – as Casilla got the first two outs of the ninth before turning things over to Jeremy Affeldt with a runner on. Affeldt walked pinch-hitter John Buck with Ramon Ramirez coming in as the third pitcher of the inning. Ramirez struck out Brett Hayes for his second save of the year.

Prior to the eighth, the only problems Vogelsong seemed to encounter came when he was batting. He wasn't happy about being plunked by Marlins reliever Burke Badenhop with one out in the seventh. Badenhop said “that's the last thing I wanted to do.'' 

After being hit, Vogelsong threw down his bat and turned toward the mound. Marlins catcher Brett Hayes stepped in and escorted Vogelsong to first base, choice words offered by both. Once he got there, first base coach Roberto Kelly and Gaby Sanchez continued to try calming him down. 

Vogelsong moved into scoring position on Ross' single, but Jeff Keppinger grounded into a double play to end the threat. 

“He reacted, but who wants to hit Vogelsong? Come on,'' McKeon said. “If you're going to drill some one, it would be the big guy. Maybe we should have drilled him. No big deal. Guys get carried away. Vogelsong, Volkswagen -- whatever his name is – he's lucky he didn't have to face Gibson or Drysdale or one of those guys and get a haircut and a shave. He would have gone down the next time.''

Marlins Demote Logan Morrison, Says he "Needs to Work at all Aspects of Being a Major Leaguer" ... Infante Should Return this Week, Hanley Not Likely

Lomo George Richards here covering a little baseball. 

Good to have some news on what should have been a slow and quiet Sunday:

Marlins Notebook

With the exception of reliever Randy Choate and a few others walking around in undershirts that read “LoMo Camp for a Cure,'' there was little evidence of Logan Morrison's presence in the Marlins clubhouse early Sunday morning. 

The Marlins sent the outspoken left fielder to Triple-A New Orleans following Saturday night's loss to the Giants. Florida also cut veteran Wes Helms on Saturday. Helms' double locker near the entrance to the clubhouse was occupied on Sunday by New Orleans call-ups Ozzie Martinez and Jose Lopez. 

“Thx guys 4 all of ur kind words & support,'' Morrison posted on his Twitter account at 2:22 a.m. Sunday. The thank you note was the only post Morrison put up on Sunday. 

On Saturday, Morrison alluded to various off field issues that led to his demotion. Morrison apologized via Twitter account for missing an photo session with season ticket holders prior to the event on Saturday.

Larry Beinfest, the team's president of baseball operations, refused to comment on that absence. Morrison's avatar on Twitter the past few months is a drawing of himself in a Marlins cap with duct tape over his mouth, the word 'censored' in all capital letters. 

The 23-year-old converted first baseman was 0-for-3 on Saturday, but had two hits in each of his previous games and was second on the team with 17 homers and third with 60 RBI despite missing time with an injured foot. Morrison was also third on the team in slugging and fourth in on-base percentage. 

“I'm not going to get into the he-said, he-said thing,'' Beinfest said. “We have what we felt were solid good reasons that will be good for him in sending him down. I'll leave it at that. He just needs to concentrate on playing baseball and working his way back. We thought this was the right thing to do for Logan. .-.-.  [Morrison] will be a good player for a long time. The talent is there. He just needs to work on all aspects of being a major leaguer. He's a much better hitter than he's shown."

Manager Jack McKeon said Marlins management made the decision. McKeon says he didn't know about the move until being told a change was being made following Saturday's game. McKeon, who nicknamed Morrison 'Twitter', said sometimes young players need a breather the minors can provide.

“If there is a message, it's 'don't get comfortable','' McKeon said. “Don't think you have it made. You have to work at this game. Too many young guys think they have it made, are darlings of the media, run their mouth. Tend to your business, get better at your craft. The record books are full of one and two-year phenoms. Don't believe me? Look it up.''

Morrison's willingness to speak out has most definitely caught the attention of team management, with president David Samson saying in May that Morrison needs to be careful in what he posts on the site. Morrison's teammates have obviously noticed the attention he's brought on himself as those players who did speak about the situation on Sunday did so in hushed tones and with choice words. 

“The organization thought they needed to do it and they did it. There's nothing else really to say,'' said first baseman Gaby Sanchez. “It happened and that's about it. .-.-. This is a family and what happened is in-house. We all understand it, all know it. You have to choose your words wisely, you can't be blurting things out. These are things the happen in-house. It happened and that's it.''


Shortstop Hanley Ramirez continues to rehabilitate his injured left shoulder at the Marlins' complex in Jupiter with McKeon saying he doesn't know when Ramirez can return to the lineup. Ramirez was injured on Aug. 2 and was put on the 15-day disabled list. He's eligible to come off on Thursday although Beinfest isn't optimistic he'll be ready then. 

“I can't tell you. He's over in Jupiter. It's something he's going to have to answer,'' McKeon. “Does the shoulder still bother him? I don't know. I hope the rest does him some good, the therapy is going good, not taking three or four at-bats a night is beneficial. He's hurt that shoulder before. That's his concern. He doesn't want another operation.''

-- The Marlins have until midnight on Monday to sign some of their top draft picks including Jose Fernandez (pitcher, first round) and Adam Conley (pitcher, second). Fernandez is committed to play baseball at USF in Tampa if he doesn't sign with the Marlins by the deadline. Conley, who is committed to the Gators, was reported to have signed a deal with the Marlins although Beinfest said only that the two sides were close. 


Clay Hensley has lost his past two starts, but is 4-2 lifetime against the Rockies in seven starts. Hensley hasn't started against the Rockies since 2007 as a member of the Padres, however, but has made a total of nine appearances against them in the subsequent seasons. 


Monday: Marlins RHP Clay Hensley (1-4, 4.50 ERA) at Colorado Rockies RHP Kevin Millwood (0-1, 3.86).Tuesday: Marlins RHP Anibal Sanchez (6-6, 4.00) at Rockies RHP Jhoulys Chacin (9-9, 3.39).