Javier Vazquez was named the NL Pitcher of the Month for September, and deservedly so. Vazquez went 5-0 with a 0.71 ERA in the final month and broke a 17-year-old franchise record for consecutive scoreless innings pitched. As Jack McKeon aptly put it the other day, Vazquez went from serving as the No. 4 or No. 5 pitcher in the Marlins' rotation to their No. 1. That says something about the absence of Josh Johnson. But it also says volumes about Vazquez.
On June 16, after he lost in Philadelphia to go to 3-7 with a 6.85 ERA, I was thinking Vazquez was finito. I was waiting for my phone to vibrate with the official notice from the Marlins that the 35-year-old pitcher had been released. But, for perhaps for lack of any better alternatives, Vazquez remained in the rotation, and a good thing for the Marlins he did. Vazquez not only went 10-4 with a 1.85 ERA over his final 18 starts, he did it at a time when the rest of the team was tanking in the standings. The Marlins won only 38 games after June 16 and Vazquez was the starter in more than a third (13) of them.
But Vazquez, without actually saying so, has given every indication that this is his final season. He longs to spend time with his wife and children in Puerto Rico. He said he's pretty much made up his mind. I've spoken to other players, wondering whether Vazquez really intends to call it quits, and they have all said without a doubt he's hanging up his spikes.
Vazquez is 35. He maintains a rigorous training program to stay in shape between starts. I see no reason why he couldn't pitch two or three more years.
During Wednesday's season finale, the Marlins honored with a video tribute during the game, and Logan Morrison basically had to drag the modest pitcher out of the dugout to take a bow.
If I'm the Marlins, I get down on my hands and knees and beg Vazquez to come back for one more season. Pay him another $7 million, or whatever it takes. Set up a college trust fund for his kids. Allow him to fly home to Puerto Rico between starts. Anything to keep him around another year.
The Marlins obtained 20-year-old right-hander Ricardo Andres from the White Sox to complete the deal for manager Ozzie Guillen. The Marlins sent infielder Ozzie Martinez and right-handed pitcher Jhan Marinez to the White Sox as compensation for Guillen.
MLB is talking about adding an extra wild card team to the playoff mix and could implement a new 10-team format as early as next season. Just think if had already been in place. The so-called "greatest night in regular season history" would have been just another night, with nothing more at stake than home field advantage. The Braves and Red Sox would still be kicking as those extra wild cards.
Saw Hanley Ramirez during yesterday's post-game ceremony. The shortstop, who had shoulder surgery a week ago, said he's having trouble sleeping due to the pain but was scheduled to begin rehab on Thursday. He said he'll be ready for spring training....In case you missed it, here's the all-time Marlins team as voted on by fans: 1B -- Derrek Lee; 2B -- Luis Castillo; SS -- Hanley Ramirez; 3B -- Mike Lowell; OF -- Gary Sheffield; OF -- Miguel Cabrera; OF -- Jeff Conine; C -- Ivan Rodriguez; SP -- Kevin Brown; SP -- Livan Hernandez; SP -- Al Leiter; SP -- Josh Beckett; SP -- Dontrelle Willis; SP -- Josh Johnson; RP -- Robb Nen; Utility -- Alfredo Amezaga. The only one surprised me was Pudge. One season in a Marlins uniform earns you "all-time" status? I would have thought Charles Johnson bags that position.