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26 posts from September 2012

September 07, 2012

"Tragic" number is 1 as Marlins send out 104th different lineup

     WASHINGTON -- A loss tonight makes it official. With a defeat to the Nationals, the Marlins will be mathematically eliminated from winning the franchise's first-ever division title. Not that there's been much doubt since about, oh, the first week of July -- or about the time of Heath Bell's 19th blown save and the appearance of Giancarlo Stanton's "loose bodies." Maybe sooner.

     "We were two different ballclubs," manager Ozzie Guillen said of the last-place Marlins and first-place Nationals. "I think you get what you deserve, and the way we played, we don't deserve to be in the pennant race. And the way they played, they should be there."

      Guillen said that when he looked at the schedule back in spring training, he figured the Marlins would be playing important games in September, not ones that have become little more than glorified spring training scrimmages designed to judge talent while looking ahead.

      "I thought this series was going to mean a lot for both teams," Guillen said. "I really did. I thought we were going to be fighting all the way to the end. It wasn't that way. Unfortunately, things didn't go the way we thought. I thought the race would be a little bit closer in this division. But I think Washington has outplayed everyone in this division."

      Guillen is sending out his 104th different lineup (excluding pitchers) of the season in tonight's series opener at Nationals Park. According to Baseball-Reference.com, the team record belongs to the 1999 club, which had 121 different lineups. Conceivably, the Marlins could break that mark, though they have only 27 games after tonight's.

      Bench coach Joey Cora, who actually writes in the names on the lineup card, doesn't believe it will happen. Cora doesn't foresee there being much tampering with the lineup between now and the end of the season.

      "To be honest with you, I'm kind of surprised it's not more after all of the trades that we made," Cora said. "But I don't think it's going to be broken. I don't think it's going to change much. It's going to stay the same pretty much."


     Marlins: 1. Bryan Petersen, lf; 2. Justin Ruggiano, cf; 3. Jose Reyes, ss; 4. Giancarlo Stanton, rf; 5. Carlos Lee, 1b; 6. Greg Dobbs, 3b; 7. Donovan Solano, 2b; 8. Rob Brantly, c; 9. Jacob Turner p.

     Nationals: 1. Jayson Werth, rf; 2. Bryce Harper, cf; 3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3b; 4. Adam LaRoche, 1b; 5. Michael Morse, lf; 6. Ian Desmond, ss; 7. Danny Espinosa, 2b; 8. Kurt Suzuki, c; 9. Stephen Strasburg, p.


September 05, 2012

Beinfest says he's fair game for job speculation

  In a radio interview this morning on 790-The Ticket, Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest sounded very much like someone who wouldn't be surprised if he lost his job in the aftermath of what's been a colossal bust of a season.

  "When you sign up for this job and you don't win, you know you can be in the crosshairs and you can lose your job. That's just the way it is," Beinfest told 790 hosts Marc Hochman and Jonathan Zaslow. "The blame and disappointment and all those things fall squarely on my shoulders, and I fully understand that."

   Speculation is growing that Beinfest, who is under contract through 2015, could either lose his job or be reassigned to a new position by Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria. While it's been suggested that a possible replacement for Beinfest could be Dan Jennings, the team's vice president of player personnel, another possiblity is general manager Michael Hill. Like Beinfest, Jennings and Hill are under contact through '15.

    "When you don't win, you're open to scrutiny, both publicly and internally, and that's exactly what's going on, and it's not unexpected," Beinfest said.

    When Loria was asked about Beinfest's job security earlier in the week, he said the question was "unfair" and did not elaborate further.

    Beinfest said during Wednesday's radio show that the only thing he can worry about is the team's performance.

     You can "worry about things you can control, and obviously the control part of this for me would be to win more games and to do a better job and putting the organization in a position to win and, hopefully, play in October," Beinfest said. "And that didn't happen.

      "I don't think it's really productive to sit and speculate," he said. "There's all kinds of speculation about managers and GM's. That's just the way it is this time of year if your team's not doing well, and we're in that category."

September 04, 2012

A.J. Ramos gets first MLB call-up

About to finish his fourth season in the minors, Jacksonville Suns pitcher A.J. Ramos was looking forward to going home to Lubbock, Tex. this week.

But just days before he was to depart for home, there was a change of plans.

Suns manager Andy Haines told him the team had cancelled his flight from Memphis to Lubbock and Ramos now had two options. 

The first option was to drive from Memphis to Jacksonville to catch a flight to Lubbock.

The second option was to fly to Miami and join the Marlins.

“[Haines] shook my hand and it was just an amazing feeling – feelings I’ve never even felt before,” Ramos said of his first call-up. “It was crazy.”

Ozzie Guillen said that Ramos, who had 21 saves and a 1.44 ERA in Double-A, had impressed him all year long.

“This kid has had a great year,” Guillen said. “I’ve liked him since spring training and I think he deserved to be here right now. He earned it. He’s one of the best pitchers in the organization.”

Wearing an MLB jersey for the time, Ramos attributed his improvement this year to a higher degree of confidence in his pitches, which helped him increase his velocity.

“My velocity was great this year,” Ramos said. “Before, I was always focused on not throwing balls. This year I knew I could throw strikes, so I was more confident and I was able to let it go in the strike zone.”

Ramos was picked by the Marlins in the 21st round of the 2009 Draft after playing at Texas Tech.

September 03, 2012

Marlins go to 6-man rotation

     The Marlins have decided to go with a six-man rotation for the remainder of the season, with Wade LeBlanc jumping back  into the starting mix. LeBlanc will start Tuesday against the Brewers while rookie Jacob Turner, who was scheduled to go Tuesday, is being pushed back to Friday.

      "LeBlanc will start just because we worry about Turner's innings," said Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen.

      Guillen said the six-man setup will come at a cost of about one start to each member of the rotation.

       "I don't want to burn bullets with a guy when we don't need it," Guillen said. "They're only going to miss one start, the big boys. It gives us an opportunity to rest those guys and see the kids."

       Guillen said he also plans to stick with Jose Reyes and Giancarlo Stanton as his 3-4 hitters the rest of the season.

       "Reyes has been a leadoff hitter all his life," Guillen said. "But to me -- this is my opinion -- it fits us good that he's the third hitter. He's a free swinger and can put the ball in play. And, besides, he's not afraid to drive a run in."

September 02, 2012

Marlins surprise Tom Koehler with call-up

      A few days ago, pitcher Tom Koehler was convinced he was heading home for the winter. The right-hander for Triple A New Orleans was told he probably wouldn't be among the Marlins' September call-ups, and so began junking his equipment.

      "I originally was told it wasn't going to happen," Koehler said. "I got a little frustrated and threw away some of my cleats and stuff. This was probably a couple of days ago and I thought the season was over. And then they called me when I was on the bus back to New Orleans to let me know that it was happening. I was a hoarder, so I had plenty of stuff in my locker, luckily."

      Koehler was one of two players the Marlins promoted Sunday from NOLA. The Marlins also recalled left-handed reliever Dan Jennings. Whether more are coming remains to be seen. Double A Jacksonville was eliminated from postseason play on Saturday, so those players are now free to go. One player the Marlins might consider: Suns reliever A.J. Ramos, who recorded 21 saves and a 1.44 ERA while striking out 89 in 68 2/3 innings.

      Koehler was used as a starter at New Orleans, where he went 12-11 with a 4.17 ERA this season. But, given the overflow of starters on the Marlins roster, he figures he'll be pitching out of the bullpen.

      "I'm going to assume I'm going to be in the pen with there being 13 starters right now," Koehler said. "But, whatever way they use me, I don't care. It's pitching regardless of whether it's one inning or six."

      It's been a trying past couple of weeks for Koehler and the rest of the Zephyrs. They were forced to move their next-to-last series from New Orleans to Round Rock, Texas, due to the approach of Hurricane Isaac. The team's final home series this weekend was then canceled because of the storm, bringing their season to an early end.

      "I don't know if there can be a worse week in professional baseball than that week," Koehler said. "We started in Omaha, leaving Omaha at 5 o'clock in the morning to fly back to New Orleans. We got on the plane, and the plane broke. We had to get off the plane. Then we had to fly to Chicago at 2 o'clock, so we had to sit in the airport for seven hours. Got back to New Orleans at about 7. Got on a bus to Round Rock at 9. We had like a 26-hour travel day, and then had to play a doubleheader. We did not win a single game from there on out. We lost four straight. It was tough. A lot of guys were worried about the flooding (in New Orleans) and everything. It was kind of tough to focus on baseball. When you spend a whole year somehwhere, you start to become a part of the community."

      Perhaps even more interesting than the players the Marlins decided to call up or those they didn't, such as outfielders Chris Coghlan and Scott Cousins, for example, as well as catcher Brett Hayes. The Marlins, at the moment, now have an odd roster mix, with 15 pitchers and only 12 position players. 


      Today's lineup has one slight new twist. Giancarlo Stanton returns to the cleanup spot:

      Marlins: 1. Bryan Petersen, lf; 2. Justin Ruggiano, cf; 3. Jose Reyes, ss; 4. Giancarlo Stanton, rf; 5. Carlos Lee, 1b; 6. Greg Dobbs, 3b; 7. Donovan Solano, 2b; 8. Rob Brantly, c; 9. Mark Buehrle, p.

      Mets: 1. Ronny Cedeno, ss; 2. Justin Turner, 2b; 3. David Wright, 3b; 4. Scott Hairston, rf; 5. Ike Davis, 1b; 6. Kelly Shoppach, c; 7. Jason Bay, lf; 8. Andres Torres, cf; 9. Chris Young, p.

      Umpires: HP -- Gary Darling, 1B -- Paul Emmel; 2B -- Scott Barry; 3B -- Jerry Meals


September 01, 2012

The Zero Factor

     Jose Reyes repeated the number -- 15 -- and shook his head in disbelief. The Marlins were shut out Friday night for the 15th time this season and that, ladies and gentleman, is a club record. The inaugural 1993 Marlins team was blanked 14 times, as was the fuzzy-cheeked '06 team that was stockpiled with low-paid rookies. Those teams were supposed to stink.

      But this, the $100 million Marlins -- the richest Marlins team ever assembled -- sunk to a new franchise depth with Friday's 3-0 whitewash. And there's STILL A MONTH TO GO.

      "It is hard to believe because the team we put out there was supposed to score runs every single day," Reyes said. "Nobody's perfect, but 15 times is a lot."

      Yes it is. Only the Oakland A's have been blanked as many times as the Marlins have this season. But the trend is pointing in the wrong direction for the Marlins, who were shut out five times in August.

      Like Reyes, manager Ozzie Guillen said he, too, is surprised, "Especially with the ballclub we started the season with. Right now we've got a lot of kids in the lineup. Try this. Try that. But that's the reason we're in last place, the biggest reason we're in last place. We haven't hit with men on base."

      But, when you get right down to it, the Marlins haven't hit period, no matter the situation. Their .244 team average ranks 13th in the National League, ahead of only the Padres, Cubs and Astros. Their .246 average when no one is on base also ranks among the bottom half of NL teams. They're 10th in home runs and 14th in runs.

      Keeping in mind that the upcoming free agent market is noticeably thin and the Marlins probably weren't going to splurge even if it wasn't, how do they fix the problem? Perhaps the better question is, in the short term, can the problem even be fixed?