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18 posts from October 2012

October 23, 2012

Valentine, Lowell not candidates to replace Guillen

     Eliminate Bobby Valentine and Mike Lowell from the list of prospective replacements for fired manager Ozzie Guillen. Sources said Valentine is definitely not a candidate and Lowell said in an email response that, at this time, he is not interested in managing. Jeff Conine said a month ago that he, too, was not interested in managing at this time.

      "For me, managing is not on my agenda at this time," said Lowell, a popular former Marlin. "I continue to root for the Marlins and wish them great success."

      Valentine, who was recently dumped as manager of the Red Sox after one season in Boston, has also been ruled out, a source said. Loria wanted Valentine as his manager in 2010 when Fredi Gonzalez was fired and again last fall when the Marlins looked to replace Jack McKeon. Guillen ended up landing the job instead.

       Mike Redmond, a former backup catcher for the Marlins who managed last season at Single A Dunedin (Toronto Blue Jays) is a candidate. Others will also be interviewed, but no announcement is expected to be made until after the completion of the World Series.

       Guillen wasn't the only member of the field staff to get the heave-ho on Tuesday.The Marlins also decided not to retain hitting coach Eduardo Perez, pitching coach Randy St. Claire, first base coach Gary Thurman and bench coach Joey Cora.

       The Marlins plan to bring back infield coaching guru Perry Hill, who underwent knee surgery to correct a problem that led to his resignation.

Marlins fire Ozzie Guillen

    Ozzie Guillen is one and done.

    The Marlins fired Guillen on Tuesday after just one season. President of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said the team would now begin a search for what will be the eighth manager in Jeffrey Loria's 12 seasons as team owner. The Marlins will have their fourth different Opening Day manager in four years at the start of the 2013 season.

    Guillen's Marlins went just 69-93, good for a second straight last-place finish in the National League East.

    The Marlins signed Guillen last fall to a four-year, $10 million contract. They'll be responsible for the remainder of that deal, or $7.5 million over the next three years. As a result, the Marlins will likely turn to a younger and, therefore, less expensive manager to replace Guillen.

    "After careful consideration following the disappointment of the 2012 season, we decided to dismiss Ozzie," Beinfest said in a prepared statement. "Our maagerial search begins immediately and our hope is that a new manager, along with roster improvements, will restore a winning culture."

    Sources said that Loria, as well as some members of the front office, didn't care for the clubhouse culture that was created under Guillen.

    More changes to the coaching staff could be forthcoming. Given that bench coach Joey Cora has long been Guillen's right-hand man in the dugout with the White Sox and Marlins, it would seem highly unlikely he'll be retained.

October 20, 2012

Marlins trade Heath Bell

    The Marlins have closed the book on failed closer Heath Bell.

    Bell was traded Saturday to the Arizona Diamondbacks as part of a three-team deal in which Miami received minor-league infielder Yordy Cabrera from the Oakland A's.

    The Marlins agreed to pay $8 million of the remaining $21 million still owed to Bell. The A's received outfielder Chris Young from the Diamondbacks while giving up shortstop Cliff Pennington to Arizona.

    In trading Bell, the Marlins discarded a ninth-inning specialist who repeatedly turned wins into losses on the field and become a malcontent off it.

    The Marlins signed the 35-year-old reliever last December to a three-year, $27 million deal. But the former San Diego Padres closer turned out to be a huge bust, losing his job after blowing six saves before the All-Star break and eight all together.

    He finished with 19 saves, a 4-5 record and 5.09 ERA.

    Unhappy with his diminished role, Bell was openly critical of pitching coach Randy St. Claire, the training staff and even the Showtime production crew that filmed “The Franchise.” Bell said he was portrayed too negatively during the series.

    For the Marlins, the final straw with the disgruntled Bell might have come the final week of the season when Bell, in a live radio interview, said it was "hard to respect" manager Ozzie Guillen.

    The following day, Bell's teammates on the Marlins, in a show of support for Guillen, turned on the manager's weekly radio show inside the clubhouse, raised the volume, and made Bell listen to Guillen state that he no longer respected Bell "as a person."

   Cabrera, 22, was the A's second-round draft pick in 2010 out of Lakeland.

   At Single A Stockton last season, Cabrera hit .232 with three homers and mostly played shortstop. He is currently playing third base in the Arizona Fall League.

October 17, 2012

Scott Cousins claimed off waivers by Blue Jays

         Outfielder Scott Cousins, perhaps best known as a Marlin for his home plate collision with Giants catcher Buster Posey in 2011, was claimed off waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays. The Marlins also lost right-handed reliever Sandy Rosario on a waiver claim by the Boston Red Sox.

          CousinsCousins, the Marlins' third-round pick in 2006, was vilified by some Giants fans after his hard -- but within-the-rules -- collision with the All-Star catcher in San Francisco in May, 2011. Posey broke his leg and missed the rest of the season, and Cousins received hate mail and death threats.

         The outfielder never could get on track after that, going just 1 for 13 at the plate following the collision and ending the season on the disabled list with a back injury. Cousins hit just .163 this season for the Marlins, with three of his total 14 hits coming in one game at Tampa Bay in June. Overall, Cousins hit .231 with two home runs in parts of three seasons with the Marlins.

         Rosario had an ERA of 15.26 in 10 career relief appearances for the Marlins.

         The Marlins also announced on Wednesday that infielders Donnie Murphy, Nick Green and Gil Velazquez were outrighted to Triple A New Orleans.

         With the moves, the Marlins now have five openings on the 40-man roster.  

October 16, 2012

All quiet (for now) on the Marlins front

    Just a brief update on the inactivity involving the Marlins. Ozzie Guillen is still the team's manager. Larry Beinfest is still head of baseball operations. And owner Jeffrey Loria, upon whose shoulders rests any and all personnel decisions involving front office executives and members of the field staff, is overseas. He'll return late next week to conduct organizational meetings, at which time we should learn more.

    Though I have nothing concrete on which to base this on, it is my belief that as more time passes, the greater the likelihood Guillen keeps his job. Some others I've spoken with share the same sense. The rest of the coaching staff is another story, and I would not be surprised to see changes made there. Coaches are under contract only through the end of this month. Guillen has three years remaining on his contract (to the tune of $7.5 million) and ditching him after one season might raise more questions about Loria's acumen in hiring managers than it would Guillen's ability to successfully manage a team. It becomes much more an indictment of Loria than it does of Guillen.

    Only the Seattle Mariners have gone through more managers than the Marlins since 2002, the year Loria took over. Here's a look at the number of managers for each MLB team since '02. (Notes: I counted only managers who either started a season with a team or managed at least 50 games. Jack McKeon is counted twice. The list does not reflect current vacancies or hires made since the end of the regular season, such as Bo Porter in Houston and Terry Francona in Cleveland):

     Mariners 8, Marlins 7, Cubs 6, Orioles, 6, Diamondbacks 5, Reds, 5, Royals 5, Brewers 5, Mets 5, Blue Jays 5, Astros 4, Indians 4, Tigers 4, Dodgers, 4, A's 4, Pirates 4, Nationals 4, Rangers 3, Red Sox 3, White Sox 3, Rockies 3, Giants 3, Rays 3, Braves 2, Yankees 2, Phillies 2, Padres 2, Cardinals 2, Angels 1, Twins 1.

    Given the fact the Marlins barely qualified as a major league outfit after the July dispersal of six members from the Opening Day roster (including three of the four infielders) and late-season injuries to key fixtures Emilio Bonifacio, Logan Morrison and Giancarlo Stanton, it's hard to assign blame to Guillen for what was an unqualified disaster of a season. The blueprint was bad, period.

    With the Nationals/Expos and Orioles ending lengthy playoff droughts, the Marlins moved closer to the top of the heap of teams that have gone the longest without appearing in the postseason. Here's a listing of each MLB team and number of years since last playoff appearance:

     Royals 27, Pirates, 20, Blue Jays 19, Mariners 11, Marlins 9, Astros 7, Mets 6, Padres 6, Indians, 5, White Sox 4, Cubs 4, Angels 3, Red Sox 3, Dodgers 3, Rockies 3, Twins 2, Rays 1, Phillies 1, Brewers 1, Diamondbacks 1. All others: 0.

October 04, 2012

Third base (again) is top priority for Marlins

      Quick. Who was the last player to make as many as 130 starts at third base in one season for the Marlins?

      Time's up. The answer is Miguel Cabrera, who yesterday completed the first "Triple Crown" season in the majors since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.

      How does that little nugget make you feel as you wake up from the nightmare that was the 2012 Marlins? Has there ever been a more awful trade involving a future Triple Crown winner? Why, yes. There actually was.

      The Cincinnati Reds dealt Frank Robinson after the 1965 season to the Baltimore Orioles for Jack Baldschun, Milt Pappas and Dick Simpson. And Robinson didn't wait five seasons -- five seasons for that trade-induced migraine to subside even a little -- to make Reds fans sick by nailing the hitting trifecta: home runs, batting average and RBI. Robinson went off in his very first season with the O's. Not only did he capture the Triple Crown, but the Orioles won the World Series that year and Robinson was the Series MVP.

        CabreraCabrera took over at the hot corner for the Marlins in 2006 after Mike Lowell, who had manned the position for seven years, was traded to Boston. Cabrera started 157 games at third in 2006 and 153 in '07 for the Marlins. In Cabrera's final season, the Marlins drafted third baseman Matt Dominguez, believing him to be their third baseman of the future and knowing that they had no intention of paying Cabrera superstar money. They were also tired of dealing with Cabrera's off-field habits, which later surfaced in Detroit.

       Third base has been an issue ever since. The Marlins have started 14 different players at third in the five seasons since trading Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to Detroit for six humans.

       Take a look at this year-by-year chart showing the Marlins' third basemen since 2006 and the number of starts each of them made there:

        2006 -- Miguel Cabrera (157), Wes Helms (5)

        2007 -- Miguel Cabrera (153), Aaron Boone (5), Alfredo Amezaga (4)

        2008 -- Jorge Cantu (129), Helms (30), Dallas McPherson (2)

        2009 -- Emilio Bonifacio (82), Cantu (44), Helms (35), Andy Gonzalez (1)

        2010 -- Cantu (81), Helms (50), Chad Tracy (22), Bonifacio (4), Donnie Murphy (3), Hector Luna (2).

        2011 -- Greg Dobbs (84), Bonifacio (30), Helms (17), Matt Dominguez (13), Luna (10), Murphy (8).

        2012 -- Hanley Ramirez (89), Dobbs (30), Murphy (17), Gil Velazquez (15), Donovan Solano (8), Nick Green (3).

        Of course, the Marlins thought they had this whole third base thing figured out this season. They signed Jose Reyes and shoved Hanley Ramirez over to third, where he played all of 89 games before he and the remainder of his contract ($38 million) were dealt to the Dodgers.

        Look, Cabrera is certaintly no Gold Glover. His dWAR (defensive wins above replacement) was a minus 0.2. Among third basemen who started as many as 81 games, or half the season, only three finished with a poorer defensive figure: Hanley Ramirez (-0.4), Alex Rodriguez (-0.4) and Chris Johnson (-0.7).

        When it comes to finding a solution at third base, there are no easy answers for the Marlins as they head into the offseason. They have identified third base as their top priority, with improvement to the bullpen next on the list. But the list of prospective free agents at third appears rather sickly (Scott Rolen, anyone?).

        Most likely, the Marlins will look to acquire a third baseman through a trade -- the same manner in which the Tigers acquired this year's Triple Crown winner.  


October 02, 2012

Greenberg homers in B.P.; Guillen decision could linger

     Adam Greenberg -- the one-at-bat man for the Marlins -- said he was more nervous about having to stand up and sing in front of Marlins players (while wearing a skimpy bathing suit) than he was about facing the Mets' R.A. Dickey later on.

      Greenberg was the center of attention in the clubhouse and during batting practice heading into tonight's cameo appearance, when he'll step into the batter's box in a major league uniform for the first time since 2005 when he was hit by a pitch at Sun Life Stadium while making his big league debut with the Chicago Cubs.

      Greenberg looked uncertain fielding the outfield during batting practice. But it's unlikely he'll see any playing time in the field. Instead, manager Ozzie Guillen indicated that, more than likely, Greenberg will pinch-hit at some point during the middle innings.

       The 31-year-old player looked much better in the batting cage, where he ended his session with a home run to right on the last pitch thrown to him.

       As for Guillen, there's a good chance no announcement concerning his future with the team will be made before the season finale tomorrow. Guillen hasn't been told anything, one way or the other, and is going overseas for vacation on Thursday. He said that while he has spoken with Marlins over Jeffrey Loria the past couple of days about what needs to be done to improve the team, his job status has not been discussed. There's always a chance that Loria, should he decide to keep Guillen -- who is under contract for three more seasons -- makes no formal announcement of any kind.

        With that, here's some video of Greenberg in the cage:   

October 01, 2012

Josh Johnson done for the season, LeBlanc pitching instead

Although Josh Johnson was scheduled to start on Monday night, Ozzie Guillen said Johnson has a small hamstring injury and the team does not want to risk him getting more injured. Wade LeBlanc will pitch in his stead this evening.

“J.J. is done [for the season],” Guillen said. “I think J.J. has been pitching the past couple of starts with a bad hip flexor. It started to bother him the last game. It was very sore. He continued to have some problems and I don’t think we should it’s worth it to try to [put him out there].”

Johnson finishes the season 8-14 with a 3.81 ERA after 31 starts. Coming back from a long-term injury Johnson struggled in April – his ERA was 5.34 at the end of the month – but he rebounded later in the season, posting a 2.91 ERA in September.

“For me to have this kid out there every start, missing just one start, to me it was a very, very good season for him,” Guillen said.

Guillen said that if the Marlins were in the playoff race Johnson would have pitched through the pain, but since they are not, the risk is not worth it.