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20 posts from December 2011

December 06, 2011

Ramirez told Marlins last month he was against position switch

ESPNdeportesLosAngeles.com has a report out quoting a source that said Hanley Ramirez informed the Marlins on Tuesday that he doesn't want to switch from shortstop to third base.

"Hanley doesn't want to play third base and the Marlins already know about how Hanley feels," the source said. "Rather than ask for a trade, what he did was to inform the team that he doesn't want to play another position other than shortstop."

The truth is the Marlins have been well aware of Ramirez's feelings since before then. Sources told The Miami Herald Ramirez informed the Marlins of how he felt during the general managers meetings last week in Milwaukee.

So is Ramirez asking for a trade? Not yet according to Marlins beat reporters who have spoken to Marlins brass at the winter meetings in Dallas.

Ramirez, a three-time All-Star and a .306 hitter in six full seasons, is expected to have to move third following the acquisition of Jose Reyes, who agreed to a six-year and $106 million deal with the Marlins on Sunday.

The only public comment that Ramirez has made since Reyes' deal was through his Twitter account on Tuesday afternoon. He wrote: "What I can do now is work hard and be prepared for next season because that's all that I can control, I love you all !!!!"

Ozzie Guillen salivates over a Marlins lineup anchored by Albert Pujols

            DALLAS -- Just as Ozzie Guillen was telling us he'd bat Albert Pujols in the cleanup spot if Marlins sign him, owner Jeffrey Loria and his front office posse whisked past for a meeting with the superstar's agent, Dan Lozano.

      This could be it, folks. While neither Loria nor team president David Samson would confirm the meeting with Lozano as they made their way through the lobby of the Hilton, Samson indicated a decision could be forthcoming within hours.

      The Marlins have reportedly offered Pujols a 10-year contract for MORE than $200 million. And the St. Louis Post-Disptach reported that the two sides have figured out a way to work around the player's insistence on no-trade protection and the Marlins' policy against granting such protection.

      Meanwhile, Guillen was holding court in the lobby, laying out his lineup if Pujols gets signed. Here it is: Jose Reyes ss, Emilio Bonifacio cf, Hanley Ramirez 3b, Pujols 1b, Mike Stanton rf, Logan Morrison lf, Omar Infante 2b, John Buck c and the pitcher.

       Guillen also addressed the situation with Ramirez's move to third base.

       "It's for the ballclub and he's going to be a better player with those two guys hitting in front of him. I think having this kid at third base, we're a better ballclub. He's a little bit upset about it? I don't blame him. I would be, too. But moving him to third, he's going to be fresh. He's going to take care of himself a little bit better, because shortstop moving all over the place. I don't expect him to be no Gold Glove out there."

        Guillen said he has spoken to Ramirez previously about the possibility of moving to third base, but not since the news broke about the Reyes signing because "right now, it's too fresh."

        "This ballclub is Hanley's club. Whoever we bring aboard is to help him and the ballclub. This still is Hanley Ramirez's club. I don't care who's coming aboard. It's Hanley's club. I hope he understands our situation....Like people say he's upset. No *#@%. I don't blame him. He has a right to be upset. He's a human being. He was a shortstop."

        Guillen brought laughter when he referenced a play from two seasons back that landed Ramirez in the dugout, when he loafed after the ball after accidently kicking it into the outfield. On why moving to third might relieve Ramirez of the worries that come with playing shortstop, Guillen replied:

        "Shortstop you have to worry about a lot of things. He don't have to chase balls in the outfield, kicking." 

Reports: Marlins offer 10 years to Pujols

    DALLAS -- Just when you think the Marlins can't possibly make any more noise, they rattle the baseball world again. At least two sources were reporting late Monday that the Marlins, hungry to reel in the biggest fish out there, upped their offer to Albert Pujols to 10 years.

     Yes, you read right. TEN years, or enough to keep the paychecks coming until he's 42. Twice they met with Pujols' agent, Dan Lozano, on Monday. And they are expected to sit down with Lozano again today as they try to woo Pujols away from the Cardinals, whose fans are becoming increasingly nervous.

      "Pujols is next," a trusted baseball man told me yesterday after the Marlins put a ceremonial cap and jersey top on closer Heath Bell. "And (Mark) Buehrle and (C.J.) Wilson, too. They're in big on all three. You heard it here first."

      I have a REAL hard time believing that, in addition to Bell and Jose Reyes, whom they've already landed, the Marlins have the resources to unload a Brinks trunk on Pujols AND Buehrle AND Wilson. But the guy insists its possible.

      Consider: with the signings of Reyes and Bell, the Marlins have already committed $70-75 million to eight players in 2012, depending on how Reyes' contract is structured. Add in another $12 to $15 million for the five arbitration players they'll likely keep (Anibal Sanchez, Emilio Bonifacio, Edward Mujica, Burke Badenhop and Chris Volstad). That brings the total to about $82-90 million. That still leaves a dozen players needed to fill out the roster. Sure, some of those (Logan Morrison and Mike Stanton, for example) remain cheap. But if you're going to add a Pujuls and his $20 million and Buehrle and his $15 million, you're talking eight zeroes, easily topping $100 million.

      This is all owner Jeffrey Loria. He's calling all the shots, running the show, and -- yes -- emptying the team's coffers on pricy players they never before imagined. He's sitting in on all the meetings, with Lozano and every other agent, and making the sales pitches. He traveled to the Dominican Republic last month to eyeball Yoenis Cespdes and was in on the recent visits to South Florida by Pujols, Reyes, Buehrle and Wilson.

       Someone asked Loria yesterday if he was serious about all this. His response: "I'm a serious man."

       So now comes Day 2 of the winter meetings. Hold on to your seats.

December 05, 2011

Marlins meet with agent for Albert Pujols

        DALLAS -- A crazy scene just played out in the lobby of the Hilton Anatole. Reporters chased after Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and front office execs Larry Beinfest and Mike Hill when the trio-- all suited up in their Sunday best --  walked off an elevator, hustled through a horde of people, and brushed aside questions as they hurried to get to another elevator.

        "Don't have time right now," Beinfest said, deflecting questions. "We have a meeting."

        Just confirmed that the 30- to 45-minute meeting was with Dan Lozano, agent for Albert Pujols. The Marlins remain hopeful that they can somehow sign the megastar. But they are in competition with the Cubs and Cardinals for the first baseman. The Cubs met with Lozano before the Marlins sat down with the agent. The Cardinals are due to meet with him later this afternoon.

        Loria, Beinfest and Hill refused to discuss how the meeting went, or even that it was with Lozano to discuss Pujols. There is little question, though, that the Marlins mean business. They've agreed to terms on a 6-year-deal with shortstop Jose Reyes and have a press conference scheduled within the hour to formally introduce Heath Bell as the team's new closer.

        Reyes and Heath represent a total salary commitment of $133 million. It could take $200 million just to sign Pujols, and the Marlins would likely have to structure his contract creatively if they have any chance of signing him. It's interesting to note, though, that the Marlins were one of the select few teams that he would allow a trade to back when he had a limited, no-trade contract with the Cardinals.

        There's at least one Marlins player rooting for the team to sign Pujols. After emerging from athroscopic surgery on his right knee on Monday, outfielder Logan Morrison tweeted the following:   "Out of surgery. Everything went well. Have we signed Pujols yet?"

       Meanwhile, word leaked out that Jose Reyes, who agreed to a 6-year deal with the Marlins on Sunday, has a room waiting for him at the Hilton, an indication the Marlins could be planning the official announcement about his signing within the next couple of days.

        And, moments ago, closer Heath Bell arrived at the Hilton and made it official, putting signature to paper on a 3-year deal paying him $27 million. A press conference is scheduled for 2:30 pm. CST. That press conference is being carried live on the MLB Network at 3:30 p.m. EST.

Pujols over Pitching? Possibly

     DALLAS -- As if things aren't crazy enough already with the Marlins, the latest word I'm hearing is that the Marlins remain interested in Albert Pujols despite signing Jose Reyes and Heath Bell to hefty contracts. It would seem incomprehensible to think it possible. But it's true.

    The Marlins remain hot on the Pujols trail despite committing $106 million to Reyes over the next six years and $27 million to Bell over the coming three. But in order to haul in Pujols, which would turn the baseball world upside down, the Marlins might have to forget about upgrading their rotation.

     The Marlins like Mark Buerhle. But the veteran lefty is demanding  no-trade protection and the Marlins are (so far) sticking to their guns in not conceding that contract condition. As a result, they are not overly optimistic about signing him. C.J. Wilson may be asking for too much, though given the way the Marlins are handing out cash, maybe not. Next thing you know they'll be entertaining thoughts of Manny Ramirez.

     How surreal is it that the Mets, long the big spenders, were brought to their wimpering knees by the Marlins in the contest for Reyes? Or that the lead story on SportsCenter on Sunday night wasn't Tiger Woods winning his first golf tournament in two years? Or that the BCS championship matchup of LSU-Alabama had been determined. It was the Marlins and Jose Reyes.

      Sounds like a Twilight Zone episode to me.

      So what if the Marlins ignore pitching in order to sign Pujols? Do you agree with that thinking? Or do you think the rotation is in bigger need of help than the lineup in this particular case?

December 04, 2011

Jose Reyes a "done deal" for Marlins

     DALLAS -- The Marlins didn't wait for the winter meetings to start before making a splash here in Big D. They jumped the gun on Sunday -- one day before the start of the annual gathering -- by agreeing to terms with Jose Reyes on a 6-year, $106 million deal.

      Reyes needs only to pass a physical for the deal to become official.

      That the Marlins won out on Reyes hardly ranks as a surprise considering they have been courting him since one minute after midnight on Nov. 3, the very moment free agents could start talking to other teams.

       The signing of Reyes, which follows that of closer Heath Bell, will surely put total payroll for next season in the $100 million range.

        Reyes joining the Marlins forces the move of incumbant shortstop Hanley Ramirez to third base. Because it's a move that doesn't exactly thrill Ramirez, who fancies himself a shortstop, it'll be interesting to see how the situation develops during spring training. Keep in mind, too, that Ramirez is coming off surgery to his non-throwing shoulder. But the Marlins have NO intention of trading Ramirez.

        So tell us what you think? Do you like the Reyes signing?

Marlins go for the knockout, up Reyes offer to more than $100 million

    DALLAS -- The Marlins are showing Jose Reyes the money.

    Sources have confirmed an ESPN Deportes report that the Marlins have increased their offer to the free agent shortstop to more than $100 million -- a figure that gives the Marlins the clear advantage in the bidding sweepstakes for Reyes.

    UPDATED: Have just confirmed through sources that the Marlins and Reyes have agreed to terms on a six-year deal, pending a physical. "Done deal," said a source.

     The Marlins' initial offer to Reyes was a six-year deal for just under $90 million. But the Marlins have been courting Reyes since Day 1 of the free agent signing period and upped their offer on the eve of the winter meetings here in Dallas.

      According to ESPN Deportes, the Marlins offered Reyes a six-year contract worth $105 million that includes a team-option seventh year for an additional $22 million, which comes with a $5 million buyout. The Marlins are anxious for Reyes to make up his mind, and its entirely possible that the latest offer is their final one in an attempt to get him to decide.

      The Mets, who who were considered the Marlins' top competitor for Reyes, were reportedly willing to offer the shortstop no more than five years and $85 million, and there is already speculation that the Marlins -- with their latest offer -- are bidding against themselves.

        If the Marlins are successful in signing Reyes, incumbant shortstop Hanley Ramirez will be forced to third base, a position switch that doesn't appeal to him.

December 01, 2011

Marlins agree with closer Heath Bell to 3-year, $27 million deal according to reports

The Marlins appear to have a new closer.

Heath BellAccording to multiple sources, the Marlins and All-Star Heath Bell agreed on a three-year deal Thursday night estimated at $9 million per, all pending a physical Friday here in South Florida. ESPN first reported the story.

With the future of incumbent closer Juan Carlos Oviedo (formerly known as Leo Nunez) up in the air, the Marlins have apparently been working behind the scenes on Bell for awhile.

The 34-year-old right-hander is coming off a 43-save season with the Padres that made him the only closer in baseball who has saved 40-plus games in each of the past three seasons.

Bell was 43 of 48 on save opportunities last season and finished the year with a 2.44 ERA and a WHIP of 1.15.

Assuming he passes the physical, Bell would be the first major free agent the Marlins will have signed since changing their name to the Miami Marlins and moving into the new ballpark.

The Marlins' have wined and dined All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes, first baseman Albert Pujols and veteran pitchers Mark Buehrle and C.J. Wilson this offseason.

While Bell's strikeout rate declined in 2011, from 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings in 2010 to 7.3 this year, his average fastball velocity (94 mph), WHIP (1.15), ERA (2.44) and opponent average (.223) were all in line with his previous performance.

The Marlins led the National League in blown saves in 2010 with 25 and improved last season to sixth fewest with 19. The Marlins also owned the sixth lowest bullpen ERA in baseball (3.44) despite the fourth most innings worth of work (515 1/3). 

By signing Bell, the Marlins can now keep Edward Mujica, Steve Cishek and Mike Dunn in setup and late inning roles. Mujica went 9-6 with a team-leading 17 holds and a 2.96 ERA. Cishek was a pleasant rookie surprise, posting a 2.63 ERA while picking up three saves late in the year. Dunn went 5-6 with a 3.43 ERA.

Oviedo, meanwhile, remains in the Dominican Republic where he continues to sort out immigration issues. It wasn't certain that even if Oviedo were cleared soon the Marlins would have tendered him an offer. He stands to make up to $6 million through salary arbitration. It's likely the Marlins will now part ways.

Marlins' Logan Morrison to undergo "routine" knee surgery

     Logan Morrison slammed into one too many outfield walls last season. The result: Morrison is scheduled to undergo "routine" surgery on his right knee on Monday, according to the outfielder's agent, Fred Wray.

     "Nothing major," Wray said. "Kind of a routine scope. They'll clean whatever needs to be cleaned up. They say he'll be back on a bike in a week and be ready for spring training."

     Morrison injured his knee in two separate collisions into the outfield wall last season. He also suffered a gaping wound near the knee when teammate Emilio Bonifacio spiked him accidently while chasing after a pop fly. As a result, Morrison has been bothered by lingering tendinitis, Wray said.

     Surgery is to be performed by Dr. Lee Kaplan, the Marlins' team physician.

     "It was something that had been bothering him," Wray said. "He didn't feel 100 percent, so they're going to go ahead and scope it. Sounds like a better-safe-than-sorry thing. This is not major."

Report: Marlins meet with Heath Bell

       This should come as no surprise, as the Marlins appear to have eyes for every free agent that breathes. But Jon Heyman of SI.com is reporting via Twitter that the Marlins have spoken with closer Heath Bell. In another tweet, Heyman reports that Ryan Madson declined to meet with the Marlins because he didn't like their initial offer.

        Earlier reports have indicated that the Padres don't believe they'll be able to re-sign Bell, who has averaged 44 saves over the past three seasons with San Diego.

        The Marlins clearly lack a closer. Juan Carlos Oviedo (formerly Leo Nunez) remains in the Dominican Republic, where he continues to sort out immigration issues. And even if Oviedo were to be cleared soon, it's not certain that the Marlins would tender him an offer as he stands to make up to $6 million through salary arbitration. The Marlins' current in-house candidates -- Edward Mujica, Steve Cishek and Mike Dunn -- are not exactly appealing options for the ninth-inning role, either.

        Bell would not come cheap. There have been reports suggesting that Bell could command a three-year deal worth more than $30 million. And Bell has stated publically that he would prefer to remain on the West Coast.