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Marlins facing decisions as Johnson, Bell falter again

    SAN DIEGO -- You couldn't tell by Ozzie Guillen's demeanor that the Marlins had just posted their fourth consecutive win, a 9-8 victory over the Padres in 12 innings. He sounded exasperated after poor outings by Josh Johnson and Heath Bell.

    "I just wonder if he not feeling good," Guillen wondered aloud of Johnson, who was knocked out in the third inning after giving up six runs to the low-scoring Padres and squandering a 5-0 lead. "He says he feels good, but his stuff is not there. A lot of bad pitches. I think right now what is killing him is he does not have any command with his pitches."

    And then there is Bell, who blew his fourth save.

    "We'll check tomorrow about what's going to be the situation with the closer," Guillen said. "We've got to do something about it. We can't be waiting anymore. Tomorrow we might talk to him about the situation. If we're going to be in the pennant race, he's got to be better. Tomorrow we'll have a better idea what to do with him."

     Bell and Johnson said afterward that they're fine physically.

     This much is all but certain. The Marlins will likely announce moves in the morning, calling up either one or two pitchers from the minors as reinforcements for an overworked bullpen. Chris Hatcher said via Twitter early Saturday morning that he is being promoted from Triple A New Orleans. Steve Cishek covered the final three innings Friday to get the win, and Guillen says that means he probably won't be available for the rest of the series. Guillen also said that Edward Mujica won't be available on Saturday.

     "Physically I feel good," said Johnson, who is 0-3 with a 6.61 ERA. "When you throw the ball over the middle of the plate, you're going to get hit. I felt good out there. Just can't throw the ball over the middle of the plate. It was terrible. Really frustrating. Can't put it into words. Wearing the bullpen out kills me. Get the five runs early and to squander the lead like that, it's unacceptable."

     As for Bell, here's what he had to say:

     "I'm having some bad luck right now," he said. "I think I made some pitches when I needed to. What can you do? I just have to keep my head up and keep going. Physically I'm fine. If I was hurt, then I could actually explain my bad luck. Nothing is going right for me now. I feel like I can get the job done. I just got to keep believing in myself and keep going. I feel really bad because I feel like I keep letting my teammates down. But they keep patting me on the back and say keep going, you're going to be the guy."

     Hatcher and Sandy Rosario, another call-up possibility, are both at Triple A New Orleans and are on the 40-man roster. Rosario has nine saves and a 2.13 ERA for the Zephyrs in 13 appearances. Hatcher has a 1.20 ERA in 11 outings.



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Is it time to demote JJ and bring up Wade LeBlanc?

And Bell, man he is useless. Gets shown up by a rookie who can hold the game for three innings.


it is time to trade JJ, he has not regained his old form and I do not think he will. In watching him pitch this year, he seems like another pitcher. His breaking balls do not break, his location is terrible and his velocity is down. Did he come back to early, does he need to be shut down? I dont think so, not everyone comes back 100% from Tommy John surgery. As for Bell, big mistake but lets do something NOW.
YANKEES need a closer, BINGO here is your trade partner, ADMIT the mistake and move on. Rather this scenario that trying to dump him latter on the year and get nothing back. As long as they pick up his salary and throw in a minor leaguer, TRADE THE SOB. No Command at all, SORRY BYE BYE DONT LET THE DOOR HIT YOUR A-- ON THE WAY OUT.


wait until the Marlins get threw this powderpuff stretch in their schedule and play real teams.They will be blown off the field. Season over by July 1st.

DC Marlin

Josh Johnson = Mark Prior.

Trade him before he loses all value. There is somebody out there that would be willing to trade a top prospect and maybe a lower prospect.

Maybe a package of JJ and Bell to the Yankee's? I don't know their farm system, but they usually have good prospects.


before too long both Johnson and Bell will be lights out..sports is a funny thing..there is such a fine line between winning and losing..a bounce of the ball caroming left instead of right can mean the difference..Johnson deserves the chance to work this out and Bell is a proven closer...sometimes you've got to keep riding the horse til it draws clear...better days ahead for both of these proven winners...


@ E & DC,

Just trade em' right? Where do you two get this stuff from? Both guys have been atrocious and JJ is coming off a season where he played less than 1/3 of the year. Bell hasn't been able to close under the pressure of the Marlins and you expect the Yankees to believe he'll be able to do the job in New York. Perhaps you didn't see where the Yanks traded Montero for Pineda and Pineda is already out with a torn labrum. "Fans" I love it.

Yes, JJ may in fact be Mark Prior but I think other GMs would make that same observation, wouldn't cha as well? As far as Bell, well the Marlins made their bed and now get to lie in it and hope this is nothing more than a blip. And somehow they've won 4 in a row.
Trade for what 10 cents on the dollar right now? Go Fish!


when ozzie did one of his many stupid things like, do a senteria ritual, focusing on his team he really put the team in a bad spot spiritually. what other explination is there. the talent is there and the history of the talent evident.....


A lot of nonsense flying around here today. Thanks, rbleigh, for injecting a modicum of common sense.

George S

Marlins are benefitting from playing two weak teams in the Giants and the Padres. just so hard to believe that JJ, who rarely receives good run support, wasted a 5 run lead heading into the bottom of the 1st!!! How often does that happen? I'm not too concerned with JJ because I truly believe his stuff is extraordinary and he'll be fine as the season goes along. Bell, however, hasn't really shown us he has any good stuff left. Johnson at least makes some nice pitches and great movement, velocity, etc. But Bell, again, just looks so flat, so useless out there.

Jimmy the Geek....

anybody got a winner in the Derby today? 3,4,14,15 box.

Stan M

Watched the whole game. Sound of bat on ball for Stanton was entirely different than Hanley, and Hanley hit his very hard too. Was so happy to see Hayes catching, but it sure wasn't his day. Couldn't recognize low outside slider was a ball, and couldn't hit it either. Seemed to strike out every time up. And was that pitch to Bass with and 1-2 count his call? JJ would probably have been pulled but pitcher was up for first time in his career and Ozzie probably thought he would get out of it. It sure looked like Stanton misplayed his route to that "triple". Reyes seems to be playing his butt off and that should pay off in the long run. Gabby just isn't his old self. Can't see Sanabia staying in AAA much longer...it would be impossible for him to be any worse than JJ. League is now hitting .359 against him. I watched Bell closely. Fast ball was clocked at 94 mph. And later in the inning his curve had an excellent break to it. It's got to be in his head. I wonder if he would consent to go to AAA to get some meaningful work, for the potential is still there. It could ruin the team's morale (if it isn't ruined already) to try to rehabilitate him in major league games. Buehrle better go 8-9 innings tonight.

Stan M

If Marlins win tonight and Mets and Phillies lose, I believe they will be tied for 3rd place.


Best performer for Marlins this early season is Omar Infante. He has been Mr. Consistency and a top infielder to boot. The Ugla trade makes sense now for him. What ever happened to Javier Vasquez, who had a very productive second half of the eason last year? Did he decide to retire. Good influence on team ands sorry he is not with us.
Hanley is still shaky as a hitter for average anymore. A homer once in awhile is not the answer for the future. Glad we resigned Dobbs and need to play Hayes more vs. Buck. i never thought I would want to see Leo Nunez (or whatever he goes by) not as the closewr, but he is looking good. Trade Bell and hopefully get another pitcher.


The Derby is even tougher this year than most. Just close your eyes and point. I'm going to box Bodemeister with Daddy Nose Best.
If the law requires any disclaimers, I hereby make them.


Next time BELL blows a save, deduct from his salary. Say, $50,000 a game. That should work.


The way I see it Anabel is the ace of the staff. Hope Jeff, Dave & Larry get with his agent to sign him with a nice deal.

Not now but maybe in the near future....The Marlins should give some thought as JJ being the closer. He hasn't been able to put a string of good innings together. He can pitch lights out for one.


Nice thought about JJ. Replace the Marlins' weakest starter and a closer who can't close in one fell swoop. Bring up LeBlanc or Sanabia to fill out the rotation and let Bell try his hand at being the first guy out of the 'pen. I'm too lazy to do the research (and the Kentucky Derby is about to start), but I wonder if that would give the Fish the most expensive bullpen in the league.


Everyone needs to tke a deep breath, and calm dowm.

Both JJ's and Bell's problem is the command. Once they are able to throw their breaking pitches for strikes and keep the fast ball down they will both be fine. Hitters are not swinging at anything that is spinning and they're waiting for a fat fastball down the middle when the pither gets behind in the count. It's as simple as that.

I believe that they are probably ok physically.

My solution: Give JJ another start and if he again falters, send him down to triple A for two or three starts to find his command and to get his head right, like they did with Nolasco a couple of years ago. As for Bell, he should lose his closer role until he can pitch several good innings as a regular guy out of the bullpen, perhaps using him in late innings in games that are not close while he proves the team can depend on him again.

I am optimistic that it will work itself out.

Mr Reality..

JJ and Bell both have lost it and all the coaching in the world wont bring back what they once were.

jimmy the geek

Laurelbowie...see you are going with the Beyer Speed picks...better have a full tank of gas. Good Luck.


I've been reading Andrew Beyer's columns and books for 35 years, and I don't remember that he ever picked a Derby winner yet. I figure he's due.

Stan M

Last year I suggested that JJ could be an unbelievable closer. Was sort of talking threw my hat because he was so good for short stints, but pitch counts prohibited him from being effective beyond about 6 innings. So I agree with Spitballer. He damn sure isn't our ace anymore. Golly, folks, I hope Nunez isn't considered to be an answer to our woes. If anything, his ineffectiveness is the reason we signed Bell in the first place.

Several posters are recommending that we trade Bell and maybe even JJ. I suggest that these people make believe that they are the GM of the other team and consider if they would even consider the possibility of wanting them. It would have to be somethiing like Soriano and Marmol for JJ and Bell...yea, I think the Cubs would do that. Now think of it from our point of view. Would we want those two losers? Well that's the way others would look at JJ (at least for right now) and Bell. Bell is currently untradable and whereas many would take a flyer on JJ, we would get too little in return to make it a better choice than trying to rehabilitate him ourselves.

Stan M

The good book says that we shouldn't wish ill upon others...I think! But somehow I feel a certain justification in Pujol's travails in California. He left a city that loved him, a team on which he was respected as an immortal, and what for? A few extra million that he could never even count, no less spend in this lifetime. Does he insist upon having 8 cars instead of only 6 or something like that? Or does he equate salary with respect and greatness? Well the home town fans seem to be showing their disagreement. The man had a sterling reputation. Has it been tarnished beyond hope. Wait till he's 40 something and waving at fastballs; think they'll boo then, too?

I Wonder

Does anyone have confidence that St. Claire can turn JJ around, like he did last year with Vasquez?


That's the problem with JJ. He no longer has that 96-97 mph fastball that used to just blow hitters away, so he now has no confidence anymore. He's scared to throw the fastball he has now because hitters are getting around on it. They never got around on his old fastball; he just intimidated everybody. Now he has to learn how to pitch, and that means throwing the fastball on the corners, not right down the middle like he used to when he had that explosive rising heater. So he's lost confidence in his fastball, and he's trying to throw more sliders and change ups. The problem with that is that hitters don't respect those pitches if they know that JJ is leery of throwing the fastball.

Until JJ gets it through his head that he can still be a dominating pitcher without that 96-97 mph fastball (Halladay is dominating throwing 92-94), he is not going to succeed.


Pitching is very much a mental position; in order to succeed as a pitcher you have to trust your pitches. You have to have confidence that you have good stuff and you can get hitters out. It's not easy for JJ to have to accept that he no longer has that devastating fastball that just blows hitters away. That fastball has been his bread & butter his whole life, it's what got him to the major leagues, and suddenly he no longer trusts that pitch. Losing that blazing fastball is like losing his best friend. Now he has to change his whole style of pitching, and that's not easy.

He can still be great, but now he's going to have to learn to pitch to location rather than relying on pure heat to blow hitters away. He needs to stay away from pitches up in the zone and has to be a guy who can paint the corners. This really is like learning how to pitch all over again.

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