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20 posts from December 2011

December 22, 2011

Gio to Nats -- now what for Marlins?

      Another starting pitcher slipped through the Fish net today when the Nationals landed Gio Gonzalez in a trade with the A's. Washington paid a handsome price for the All-Star lefty, handing over three top prospects to Oakland. So where does that leave the Marlins, who continue sniffing around for a starter to bolster their rotation?

       How about Joe Saunders?

       Or Matt Garza?

       Or Wandy Rodriguez?

       Or Roy Oswalt?

       Or.......? All of the above?

       Simply put, there's not a pitcher out there the Marlins haven't asked about. Said one National League source, "Anytime you hear a pitcher's name, you can safely say the Marlins are in."

       The Marlins loved Gonzalez, who hails from HIaleah. But they don't have the pieces -- at least not at the minor-league level -- capable of pulling off such a deal. Look at what the Reds gave up to pry Mat Latos from San Diego, specifically Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal, not to mention Edinson Volquez. Consider what the Nationals surrendered -- namely pitchers Brad Peacock, A.J. Cole and Tom Milone -- to get Gonzalez. The Marlins don't have prospects of that high caliber down on the farm. As a  result, other teams  are asking them to include Logan Morrison or Mike Stanton in any deal, and the Marlins don't wish to part with either.

        While the Marlins signed Mark Buehrle, he essentially fills the vacancy left by Javier Vazquez, who is likely retiring. As it now stands, the five-man rotation for the Marlins is identical -- with the exception of Buehrle -- to their rotation at the start of last season.

        If you're the Marlins, what would you do to improve the rotation? With Gonzlaez now out of the picture, who would you target?

December 21, 2011

Reyes signing questioned by former Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez

      Former Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez questioned the Jose Reyes signing in a satellite radio interview on Wednesday and believes the team is going to have a "tough time" convincing Hanley Ramirez to move to third.

      Rodriguez, who stepped down as Marlins manager last summer, made his comments on the MLB Network Channel on Sirius/XM this morning. Here's what Rodriguez had to say:

      When asked how he thought Ramirez would handle to the switch to third, Rodriguez replied: "I think it's going to be a very interesting situation, to say the least. Knowing Hanley, he's a very proud player. It's going to be very hard for him to move out of shortstop. He's a big-league shortstop. He's an All-Star shortstop. In my opinion, I think they are going to have a tough time trying to convince him to move to third base. Even if he does that, move to third base, beginning of the season, I think it's going to be very interesting to watch how everything develops, how Reyes takes the front pages and how the people start talking about the All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes It will be very interesting to see how Hanley will handle that."

      Rodriguez then went on to question the Reyes signing.

      "In my opinion, I don't think that was the right move to sign Jose Reyes," Rodriguez continued. "You already have an All-Star shortstop. Why spend money on another All-Star shortstop? Why not put the money in another player like Albert Pujols or somebody else, one frontline pitcher?"

      On the other hand, Rodriguez said he believes Ramirez would excel at third base and the Marlins, from an offensive standpoint, would have one of the best left-side infields in the majors.

      "I would say yes," Rodriguez replied when asked if he thought that Ramirez could be a successful third baseman. "I would say he will be a very successful third baseman. I think it will make him a better offensive player. If he wants to make that adjustment and commit to that new position, I think that he will be a very solid third baseman. If he's willing to do that -- and I think the Marlins in that case are taking the right approach -- if they move him to third base, that left side of the infield is going to be one of the best, if not the best, offensive production in the big leagues."

      In November, Rodriguez was hired by the Cleveland Indians to manage their Single A affiliate, the Carolina Mudcats.

December 20, 2011

Marlins' Cousins to discuss Posey collision on MLB Network

     Marlins outfielder Scott Cousins will discuss last season's collision with Giants catcher Buster Posey on MLB Network's "Hot Stove." The show airs at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday and marks Cousins' first TV interview since his run-in with Posey in San Francisco last May.

     Though the Giants are in favor of a rule change that would protect catchers in the future, it appears their request isn't going anywhere. The topic didn't come up at the Winter Meetings in Dallas earlier this month and Joe Torre, vice-president of field operations for MLB, doesn't seem inclined to push for a new rule.

     Here are a few excerpts from Cousins' interview with MLB Network's Matt Yallof, which was taped earlier this month near Cousins' alma mater, the University of San Francisco. Joining Cousins was his college coach at USF, Nino Giarratano:

     On trying to speak with Posey after the game:

     "I immediately tried to call over to their trainer. (I) couldn't get a hold of him but I just knew somthing wasn't good there and I wanted to make sure, you know. I wanted to reach out and let him know that I was thinking about him."

     On Posey telling Bob Costas in July that he didn't have the chance to talk with Cousins since the collision:

     "Maybe he didn't. I don't know what he was up to. He was very busy. I know that. He was trying to get his leg fixed and he was on the verge of having twins. I know that, so maybe he didn't have the chance. Maybe he still doesn't have the chance. I don't know. That's up to him."

     On Giants GM Brian Sabean saying after the game that Cousins tried to be a hero:

     "It hurt, I"m not gonna lie. It's my hometown. The Giants were the team I grew up watching and wanted to play for but....people sometimes in the heat of the moment say things that they regret. We talked a little bit and he expressed to me that he regretted the things that he said on-air and that we were all gonna move forward. And that, that meant a lot to me, that he reached out to me to explain himself."

     On what it will be like during his next game at AT&T Park:

     "Who knows? I anticipate a lot of boos but hopefully Buster Posey's catching and I can give him a pat on the back and let him know, 'You know, I'm happy for you that you made your comeback and that you're doing well.' That's what I hope and that's what I anticipate." 

December 14, 2011

Stanton and Reyes are "wow" players

       Mike Stanton and Jose Reyes are two of the six nominees for this year's "Wow Factor of the Year" award, one of 19 to be given out Friday at the annual Greatness in Baseball Yearly Awards. The GIBBY's, for short, honor the best players and must-see moments from the previous season. Voters for the awards included media, front-office execs, former players and fans.

        The other nominees for the "Wow" award, which recognizes "the game's most exciting stars," are Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro, Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino and Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano.Mantis

         Not many Marlins to be found on this year's ballot. Other than Stanton and Reyes, who did his wowing with the Mets last season, the only other Marlins-related moment up for an award is the praying mantis dugout incident in D.C., which is a nominee for "Oddity of the Year."

         Winners will be announced on the MLB Network and MLB.com at 9 p.m. on Friday.

         Gotta figure Stanton has a shot at the "Wow" award, right?

December 13, 2011

Marlins Ballpark Photos and Video

     The media was given a tour of the new ballpark this morning and, while much of the work is complete, quite a bit still needs to be done.

     View from the press box:


    View from center field:


    View from seats from first base side:


    View from first base side, looking toward foul pole in right:


    Ballpark exterior, west side:


    Press box:


    Indoor batting tunnel (see-through glass will enable fans to watch players take B.P.):


    Marlins clubhouse is teardrop shaped:


    Whirlpool baths for Marlins players:


    Marlins training/treatment room:



    Video, taken from behind home plate:  

December 12, 2011

Marlins trade Burke Badenhop, sign Aaron Rowand to minor-league deal

      The Marlins traded long reliever Burke Badenhop to the Rays for minor-league catcher Jake Jefferies and also signed veteran outfielder Aaron Rowand to a minor-league deal. The Badenhop trade was completed within hours of the midnight deadline for teams to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players. Badenhop was one of those.

      The team tendered the following arbitration-eligibles: Anibal Sanchez, Emilio Bonifacio, Chris Volstad, Edward Mujica and Juan Carlos Oviedo. Clay Hensley, who had already been designated for assignment, was non-tendered and becomes a free agent.

       Badenhop was arguably the most successful of the six players the Marlins received in their 2007 trade with Detroit for Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis -- and was also the last remaining player for the Marlins from that trade. He appeared in 151 games for the Marlins (including 10 starts), going 13-15 with a 4.34 ERA.

       Jefferies was the Rays' third-round pick in the 2008 amateur draft. In four minor-league seasons, Jefferies, who bats left-handed, has hit .254 with 13 home runs. He spent most of last season at Single A Charlotte in the Florida State League.

       Rowand, an 11-year major league veteran, was released in August by San Francisco. According to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com, the Giants will be eating his $12 million salary in 2012 less the major league minimum.

       Rowand plays all three outfield positions and the Marlins could employ him as a right-handed bat off the bench. Though he hit just .233 for the Giants last season, he went 9 for 26 with three home runs as a pinch-hitter.

         The Marlins also announced the signing of infielder Donnie Murphy to a minor-league deal.

December 09, 2011

For Jeff Allison and the Marlins, the ballgame is over

    I remember the first time I saw Jeff Allison. In fact, it was one of the only times. It was shortly after the Marlins took the highly touted 18-year-old pitcher from Peabody, Mass., in the first round of the 2003 draft. When the Marlins traveled to Boston to face the Red Sox at Fenway Park later that same month, he was invited to sit with owner Jeffrey Loria in a box near the dugout. During batting practice, he stood on the grass in foul territory, talking to reporters and shaking hands with Marlins players.

   Jeffallison Turns out that was as close as Allison ever got to the big leagues.

    Allison's eventual downfall (and near death experience) from illegal drug use has been well documented, and there is no need to again go into those details that are already so familiar to many. But drugs are what decimated Allison as a baseball player, robbing him of his athletic talents and reducing him to a career minor-leaguer. Though he has always remained the property of the Marlins system, he didn't play at all in 2004, 2006 and 2007 due to his bouts with substance abuse. When he finally beat his addiction and returned to the diamond, he wasn't the same pitcher. His fastball was gone.

    He made it to Double A, but no higher. Last season, he went 3-4 with a 6.26 ERA for Jacksonville, after which he became a 6-year minor league free agent. The Marlins have no intention of hanging on to him any longer. His agent, Jeff Berry, also happens to represent Mark Buehrle, and when I asked him at Buehrle's press conference on Friday about what Allison's plans might be, he said he was unsure. There is a chance Allison could simply call it quits and bow out quietly. Only he knows.

    Every baseball person I've spoken with recently shakes his head sadly and says Allison has lost any chance of ever reaching the majors. But, in return, they all say he's reclaimed the most important gift of all: his life.

December 08, 2011

Marlins were high bidders on Pujols and Wilson

    DALLAS -- Who says money talks? Okay, it's not like Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson are heading to the poor house. But as the dust begins to settle on their decisions to sign with the Angels, it appears that they were enticed by more than the monetary value of the offers each received.

    According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Marlins actually had the highest bid for Pujols, who accepted a 10-year, $255 million deal to go to the Angels. But because California has a state income tax -- and a hefty one at that -- and Florida has no such tax, Pujols would have done better financially by coming to the Sunshine State. Bob Nightengale of USA Today is reporting that the Marlins offered Pujols a 10-year, $275 million deal. That seems suspiciously high to me, but....One other difference: the Angels included a no-trade clause in their contract while the Marlins refused to do so.

    Wilson also would have been a richer man had he chosen the Marlins instead of the Angels. The Marlins reportedly offered Wilson a 6-year deal for $98-99 million, and his agent said Thursday that owner Jeffrey Loria was prepared to go even higher. But Wilson instead took a 5-year, $77 million deal from the Angels to be closer to home. Wilson is a native Californian.

    "If it was about the money, I'd be a Florida Marlin," Wilson said.

    So would Pujols.

Angels -- not Marlins -- get Pujols and C.J. Wilson

    Good morning from Dallas, where the winter meetings are wrapping up with a bang. The big news, of course, is that the Angels -- the "mystery team" from two days ago -- have reeled in both Albert Pujols AND C.J. Wilson with a couple of huge contract offers.

    According to reports, the Angels landed Pujols with a 10-year, $250-60 million offer that includes a full no-trade clause. They got Wilson with a 5-year deal worth about $75 million. The Marlins withdrew their offer for Pujols on Wednesday and lost out to Wilson on Thursday when the Angels swooped in to grab the lefty.

    The vibe I was getting from Marlins people on Wilson was never optimistic. While they extended a 6-year offer to the pitcher, they felt the California native's desire was always to play on the West Coast.

     Even though the Marlins lost out on Wilson, it doesn't mean they're closing up shop with their rotation. Spoke briefly this morning with Larry Beinfest, who said the Marlins "have some things going" on other fronts, which I took to mean the trade front. But after the flurry of activity of the past few days, don't expect anything to transpire soon.

     "We still have some stuff cooking," Beinfest said. "I don't know that it will be at the pace that we just saw -- the pace or the magnitude."

     Some other business: the Marlins weren't involved in the major league phase of the Rule 5 Draft. They created no openings on their 40-man roster to make a selection, and they did not lose any of their players in that phase of the draft. Remember, it was at the 2005 winter meetings in Dallas that the Marlins plucked Dan Uggla out of the Rule 5 draft.

     All right, gang. Time to give us your thoughts. After four days in which the Marlins have hooked Heath Bell, Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle (he'll be formally announced Friday in South Florida, assuming he passes his physical), how would you grade the Marlins' offseason so far? Are you disappointed that they failed to land Pujols? Are they better off that they didn't, and were therefore able to get Buehrle? What else would you like to see them do?

     Here's your chance. Let's have it......

December 07, 2011

If Marlins lose out on Pujols, Buehrle could be next (Reyes update)

      UPDATE: The Jose Reyes press conference is scheduled for 12:15 EST

      DALLAS -- The Albert Pujols Watch continues this morning as both the Marlins and Cardinals wait for Prince Albert to make his decision. There's a growing sense, though, that Pujols will remain with St. Louis. His agent is meeting once more with the Cardinals this A.M. and we could have a resolution before the end of the day, if not sooner.

      The offer made by the Cardinals -- a reported 10-year deal for $220 million -- is roughly equal to the one presented to him by the Marlins in terms of total dollar amount. The Marlins, unlike the Cards, refuse to incorporate a no-trade clause into any contract. Not entirely certain that's a deal-breaker for the Marlins but it has to be a factor in any decision.

       If the Marlins don't land Pujols, look for them to move quickly on either Mark Buehrle or C.J. Wilson. Of the two, I'm hearing they prefer Buehrle because they can lock him up for fewer years. Buehrle can likely be had for three years while it could take six to get Wilson.

        One way or the other, this figures to be a busy day for the Marlins. In addition to the Pujols drama, they're expected to officially introduce Jose Reyes and manager Ozzie Guillen is scheduled to sit down with the media.