Baseball analyst Tim Kurkjian sat down with Ozzie Guillen for an interview that will appear in the Dec. 12 issue of ESPN The Magazine, and the new manager for the Miami Marlins was his usual, candid self. Here are a few of the highlights from that interview, which Kurkjian has posted online here:
-- *"I like our owner, Jeffrey Loria. I've told him he can ask me anything about baseball. If he doesn't like the answer, I couldn't care less."
-- *"I've had Hall of Fame players. I've had superstar players. I know how to talk to them. As far as Hanley Ramirez is concerned, I told him, "All I want from you is to have a smile on your face, to play the right way and to show everyone how good you are." The feedback I got from some people there is that he can be immature. But I don't blame him. I blame the people around him. So we will start with a program. I'll respect him; he'll respect me."
-- *"I've never managed without a designated hitter, but I'll get used to it. I don't like the DH. I have a bulldog and named him DH because he is so lazy. He just sits there, eats and sleeps."
-- *"I want everyone with the Marlins to know I'm not who people think I am. People say, "Ozzie Guillen is the guy who throws players under the bus." I never throw a player under the bus if he's playing the right way. If he isn't doing the job, don't blame the player, blame me. I played the guy. But if he isn't doing the little things to help us win a game, I will criticize him."
I spoke to Kurkjian, who had this to say about his interview with Guillen:
"He's great to talk to, and part of me worries in our business that we get angry at managers who don't say anything and then we criticize managers who maybe say too much. And that doesn't follow to me. To me, Ozzie is hilarious. He's worth listening to on every level. My interview with him took about 45 mintues and couldn't have been better. I did sense that he was a little bit more reserved than I've heard him in the past, and maybe he should be given this is his first year with the Marlins. He didn't dodge anything."
So here's my question: Do you think Guillen will get himself into trouble with ownership, Marlins players, or fans with his outspokenness? Or do you think, perhaps, that Guillen's candor is just what the organization needs?
"You teach me baseball and I'll teach you relativity. No, we must not. You will learn about relativity faster than I learn baseball." -- Albert Einstein
Before the pages turn yellow with age on Tuesday's trade of John Baker to the Padres for Wade LeBlanc, I thought this would be an appropriate time to compile one of those "all-time" lists pertaining to the Marlins. Baker was one of the most intelligent dudes I've had the pleasure of covering during my 13 seasons on the beat. He was reading Plato the last time I spoke with him.
So it got me to thinking. Which Marlins players would you want on your Jeopardy! team? Which ones were most likely to say something fresh and witty after a big win or a tough loss? Who would you turn to for help if you were stumped on a brain teaser? You won't find the answer hidden in a slash line or contained in a complicated statistical formula that one might label "IQAR" (Intelligence Quotient Above Replacement). Based on observation over the years, here's my purely subjective ranking of the top five smartest Marlins (since 1999):
1. John Baker (2008-11) -- It's easy to see why he played his college ball at Cal-Berkley, one of the nation's premier learning institutions. He's the only player I've ever encountered that read "Atlas Shrugged" for kicks, corrected MY grammar, lamented what he perceived to be the erosion of the English language due to the proliferation of internet slang (lol, btw, ttyl, etc.) and once asked me to help him locate a dictionary from the early 1900s so that he could compare it with a modern edition in order to find out which words had become extinct over the past 100 years.
2. Mike Lowell (1999-2005) -- Graduated summa cum laude with a degree in finance from Florida International University. I remember reading something a few years ago about there being only 12 or 13 college graduates in the majors, no great surprise given the large number of teenagers drafted out of high school and Latin America. Lowell was the level-headed sort, not nerdy at all, and his smarts showed up on the playing field. He's the only player in the last 20 or 30 years to successfully employ the hidden ball trick not once, but twice. (In contrast, new Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen was victimized by the ploy three times during the course of his playing career.)
3. Andrew Miller (2008-10) -- If Miller had recorded the kind of numbers in a Marlins uniform as he did in the classroom, he would have been a superstar instead of a major disappointment. Miller smoked his college entrance exams on his way to the University of North Carolina and, because of his smarts, was entrusted by his peers with the role of union player rep at the age of 23. Miller was a stand-up guy who patiently and politely answered reporters' questions after tough outings, of which there were many during his stay with the Marlins.
4. Carlos Delgado (2005) -- Erudite and charitable, Delgado wasn't really around long enough to fully appreciate. But Delgado was a connoisseur of art, literature and fine dining, a worldly figure who would rather discuss a thought-provoking book than one of his majestic home runs. A social activist, Delgado funded a charity in Puerto Rico aimed at helping disadvantaged children and participated in a program that raised public awareness of his country's educational failings
5. Burke Badenhop (2008-present) -- Arrived from Detroit with Miller and four other forgotten figures in the disastrous 2007 trade for Miguel Cabrera. Badenhop left Bowling Green State University with a degree in economics and had a job lined up with a Wall Street firm upon graduation. But Badenhop put away his business threads for a baseball uniform after being taken in the 19th round of the draft. Badenhop, Chris Volstad and Brett Hayes are the Marlins' resident crossword experts.
Baker, who was the team's primary catcher in 2009, suffered an arm injury that led to Tommy John surgery and cost him most of the past two seasons. Baker, who will be 31 in January, was arbitration-eligible for the first time and a likely non-tender candidate.
LeBlanc, who provides organizational pitching depth, has gone 17-22 with a 4.54 ERA in 52 career starts for the Padres. The 27-year-old southpaw made 14 starts last season for San Diego, going 5-6 with a 4.63 ERA. With Triple A Tucson last season, LeBlanc went 9-1 with a 4.30 ERA.
Judging from his home/road splits, LeBlanc clearly favored spacious Petco Park, where his career numbers have him with an 8-9 record and 2.97 ERA in 24 starts there. Elsewhere? LeBlanc has a 9-13 record and 6.16 ERA.
The Miami Marlins have announced their 2012 spring training schedule, which will include a pair of games against the New York Yankees in their new ballpark.
The Marlins will play 29 spring training games, starting with a March 5 contest against the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter and ending with tune-ups against the Yankees on April 1 and 2 at the new ballpark.
Marlins pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report on Feb. 22. Position players will report on Feb. 26.
Overall, the Marlins will play 17 contests at their spring training site in Jupiter.
Season-ticket plans for Marlins spring training games in Jupiter are available by calling 561-799-1345. Individual tickets for games in Jupiter will go on sale at the Roger Dean Stadium Box office and local Ticketmaster locations on Jan. 21.
A limited number of tickets for the New York Yankees exhibition games will go on sale to the general public in spring of 2012. All 2012 full-season and partial-plan holders for the new Marlins ballpark will have the first opportunity to purchase tickets to those two exhibition games.
Date Opponent Location Time
March 5 St. Louis Cardinals Jupiter* 1:05 pm
March 6 Detroit Tigers Jupiter 1:05 pm
March 7 New York Mets Jupiter 1:05 pm
March 8 New York Mets Port St. Lucie 1:10 pm
March 9 Washington Nationals Jupiter 7:05 pm
March 10 St. Louis Cardinals Jupiter 1:05 pm
March 11 New York Mets Port St. Lucie 1:10 pm
March 12 Boston Red Sox Fort Myers 1:05 pm
March 13 Atlanta Braves Jupiter 1:05 pm
March 14 Tampa Bay Rays Port Charlotte 1:05 pm
March 15 New York Mets Jupiter 1:05 pm
March 16 St. Louis Cardinals Jupiter* 1:05 pm
March 17 Washington Nationals (ss) Viera 1:05 pm
March 17 Minnesota Twins (ss) Jupiter 1:05 pm
March 18 St. Louis Cardinals Jupiter* 1:05 pm
March 19 Houston Astros Jupiter 1:05 pm
March 20 Tampa Bay Rays Jupiter 1:05 pm
March 21 OFF DAY
March 22 Atlanta Braves Orlando 1:05 pm
March 23 St. Louis Cardinals Jupiter 1:05 pm
March 24 Boston Red Sox Jupiter 1:05 pm
March 25 Tampa Bay Rays Port Charlotte 1:05 pm
March 26 Detroit Tigers Lakeland 1:05 pm
March 27 Washington Nationals Jupiter 1:05 pm
March 28 Houston Astros Kissimmee 1:05 pm
March 29 St. Louis Cardinals Jupiter 1:05 pm
March 30 Washington Nationals Viera 6:05 pm
March 31 New York Mets Jupiter 1:05 pm
April 1 New York Yankees Miami 1:10 pm
April 2 New York Yankees Miami 7:10 pm
(ss) – split squad
* Cardinals are home team
C.J. Wilson is making the rounds, and one of his East Coast stops will include a post-Thanksgiving visit to South Florida to meet with the Marlins, who seem to be throwing out the welcome mat for every available free agent. The Marlins met with Wilson's agent at the G.M. meetings last week in Milwaukee. According to the Los Angeles Times, at least 13 teams are interested in the free agent left-hander.
While the Marlins have spoken to the A's about a possible trade for lefty Gio Gonzalez, Oakland's demands for the Hialeah product -- specifically, some sort of package containing either Logan Morrison or Mike Stanton -- have been flatly rejected. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle suggests in her blog that the A's, based on their history, could hold out for a premium deal involving prospects for the 27-year-old All-Star (see their 2007 Dan Haren trade), and the last time I looked, the Marlins aren't exactly bursting at the seams with highly coveted prospects.
-- For the fourth straight year, the Marlins are sending a contingent of players, execs and Mermaids overseas to visit U.S. troops. Marlins players planning to make the junket to Japan, Guam and Hawaii from Dec. 1-15 are Stanton, Brett Hayes and Bryan Petersen.
-- It was six years ago this week (Nov. 24, 2005) that the Marlins traded Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell and Guillermo Mota to the Boston Red Sox for Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, Jesus Delgado and Harvey Garcia. Other Thanksgiving week deals: Derrek Lee to the Cubs for Hee Seop Choi (Nov. 25, 2003); Carlos Delgado to the Mets for Mike Jacobs, Grant Psomas and Yusmeiro Petit (Nov. 24, 2005); Jason Vargas and Adam Bostick to the Mets for Matt Lindstrom and Henry Owens (Nov. 20, 2006); Chris Resop to the Angels for Kevin Gregg (Nov. 20, 2006).
Just back from the GM meetings in Milwaukee, where the greatest stir was created by the sighting of Meg Ryan and John Mellencamp in the lobby of the Pfister Hotel. Otherwise, it was a rather slow event, as GM meetings tend to go, and the Marlins left without even making a waiver claim, as they did at the same gathering in '08 when they picked up Dan Meyer.
But Marlins executives, not used to any clamor whatsoever at these things in the past, were treated like rock stars in Milwaukee. Larry Beinfest was surrounded by no fewer than 20 reporters on Tuesday when he spoke and Jeffrey Loria, his clothes packed in a Marlins duffel bag, was mobbed by scribes and followed to the lobby elevator after he checked into the Pfister.
All eyes are on the Marlins, who have early bids in on Albert Pujols, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Ryan Madson, feelers out on C.J. Wilson, Roy Oswalt and probably many others, and are having trade discussions with other teams -- all for the sake of improving and, to be sure, making a major splash.
Which brings us to today's discussion topic. If the bidding for Pujols, Reyes and the rest goes sky high, beyond a reasonable level let's say, is it imperative that the Marlins overspend to acquire at least one of the Big Three players, given all the buzz they've created already? Would you be satisfied if they ended up with, say, Buehrle and Madson -- but not Pujols, Reyes or Prince Fielder, the cream of this year's free agent crop? Where would you draw the line? Give us your thoughts.....
MILWAUKEE -- An Opening Day seat could be a tough ticket when the Marlins open their new ballpark on April 4. Marlins president David Samson said the team might conduct a lottery to sell about 2,000 seats. But the rest will likely end up being sold to fans buying season-ticket packages.
Those buying season-ticket plans, whether it's a full-season plan or a 20-game plan, are being given the option of buying a ticket to the Miami Marlins' first game in their new ballpark. Samson said the team will likely hold back about 2,000 seats to sell through a lottery, however.
"We'll have a lottery of some sort," Samson said. "But the way season tickets are going now, I think that Opening Day is going to sell out with just ticket holders. The best way to get a (Opening Day) ticket is to buy a plan."
In other words, fans won't be able to buy Opening Day tickets at FanFest, which is tentatively scheduled for March 3, like they have in the past. Samson said the lottery would likely occur after March 3.
MILWAUKEE -- Anytime agents are involved, salary figures have a tendency to get inflated, and such appears to be a case with a couple of reported offers involving the Marlins.
Am hearing now that the six-year,$90 million deal the Marlins reportedly offered to shortstop Jose Reyes is slightly inflated and that the nine-year, $225 million deal the team supposedly offered to Albert Pujols is greatly inflated.
Don't know the exact figures yet, but I do know that the offer to Pujols was for less than $200 million -- which means it could be anywhere from zero to $199 million. Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, have learned that the Marlins contacted the agent for C.J. Wilson on Nov. 3, the first day free agents could start talking to other teams. Don't think the Marlins are as high on Wilson as they are on Mark Buehrle, but he could be a fallback option.
MILWAUKEE -- Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports wrote that the Miami Marlins are believed to have offered Albert Pujols a nine-year deal, perhaps for $225 million. I have a hard time believing that. In fact, I spoke with someone this morning who said that figure is vastly inflated. But, who knows? It's all hush-hush on the subject. The Marlins aren't saying a thing. Either is Pujols' agent.
Here's what we do know: the Cardinals made Pujols a nine-year, $198 million offer BEFORE the start of the 2011 season. He turned it down. Now we're to believe that the Marlins are not only prepared to blow the bank on Pujols, who turns 32 in January, but made that staggering offer on their opening bid to him? The World Series champs are planning to sit down again with Pujols, and I suspect they remain the favorites to ink a deal.
The Marlins are concentrating their efforts on Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle, and they are anxious to get one or both of the deals done soon so they start piecing together the rest of the roster puzzle -- or come up with a Plan B -- based on the payroll parameters given to them by owner Jeffrey Loria. Buerhle's agent met with the Marlins on Tuesday here at the GM meetings, but he is also expected to talk with other suitors.
Though I consider Pujols to be a bit of a long shot, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Marlins' payroll for next season eclipse $100 million -- possibly surpassing the payrolls of both the Mets and Dodgers. Only twice -- in 1996 and '97 -- have the Marlins had a higher payroll than the Mets. Since 1997, the Mets have outspent the Marlins threefold.
MILWAUKEE -- Not a whole lot of baseball news spilling out of the Pfister Hotel today, the first day of the GM meetings. But we know that the Marlins spoke again with Jeff Berry, the agent for lefty Mark Buehrle.
Buehrle hasn't grabbed headlines the way Jose Reyes and Albert Pujols have for the Marlins, who have offered contracts to all three. But the Marlins, who have made it clear that their priority this offseason is pitching, are making a strong push for Buehrle.
One advantage the Marlins have going for them: Buehrle gets along well with Ozzie Guillen, his manager with the White Sox since 2004.
-- The Marlins made an offer to Greg Dobbs before the end of the season. But Dobbs, who re-discovered his hitting groove with the Marlins last season, is testing the market in search of a multi-year deal. The Marlins still hope to land him.