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13 posts from January 2013

January 13, 2013

Austin Kearns returning, Matt Capps on wish list

       A couple of items of note from our Barry Jackson's Buzz column: it looks like Austin Kearns will re-sign with the Marlins. Kearns has agreed to terms on a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training, just as he did last year before working his way onto the Opening Day roster.

       If he makes the club again, Kearns, 33, would serve as a right-handed complement off the bench to Greg Dobbs. While Kearns hit just .245 for the Marlins last season and struggled badly in the second half while battling back and leg injuries, he hit .325 (13 for 40) as a pinch-hitter.

       The Marlins are among a handful of teams interested in free agent reliever Matt Capps to help shore up what is a woefully thin bullpen. Capps recorded 14 saves last season with the Twins, but missed most of the second half with rotator cuff issues. As a result, the Twins declined to pick up his $6 million option.

January 12, 2013

Uncertainty surrounds Logan Morrison

      Caught up with Logan Morrison this morning in Delray Beach, where the Marlins' designated first baseman was putting on his annual Camp for a Cure baseball camp for kids to benefit the American Lung Association. Because Morrison is only four months removed from knee surgery, he hasn't started running and says it's possible he might not be ready by Opening Day, though he says the knee feels better now than it did a year ago when he underwent a similar -- though less involved -- repair to the right patellar tendon.

       "I'm optimistic in the fact that it doesn't hurt like it did last year," said Morrison, who never fully recovered from the initial operation, never gained 100 percent strength in the knee, and had his season end in late July when he couldn't continue any longer. "There's no pain like there was last year. There is no aching like there was last year."

       Morrison described the 2011 procedure as a "debridement." The latest surgery, he said, was a "complete repair." Despite his cautious optimism, though, Morrison isn't entirely sure if the lingering damage is so great that he'll never be the player he was before. He said that unknown is what scares him more than anything.

        "There's always that, 'Am I ever going to be the same,' in the back of my mind, so it's a little scary," Morrison acknowledged. "I'll do everything I can to help it out, bust my (butt), and if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen. But at least I'll know I left it all out. I'm not thinking about that. I'm not saying I'll never be the same again. But I hope not."

        Morrison said he plans to begin running in February in order to build knee and leg strength, but will not push it like he did last year when he rushed to get ready for the season. The knee never healed properly and the problem worsened. He has not started swinging a bat, either, but doesn't believe it will take him long to get his timing back.

        "As far as knowing exactly when I'll be ready, I don't think anybody knows," he said.

        Greg Dobbs and waiver claim Joe Mahoney are next on the depth chart if Morrison isn't ready for the start of the season.

        -- Morrison said he's spoken a few times with Giancarlo Stanton, who has openly expressed his displeasure with the Marlins' salary dump. "I think when you're told one thing and something else is done, it doesn't make anybody happy," Morrison said. "It's understandable. But i think he'll be fine, and he realizes he has a job to do. He'll be fine."

        -- When Morrison's caller ID lit up with Jeffrey Loria's name two months ago, his first thought was he was being traded like everyone else. But Loria was calling to thank Morrison for not taking shots at the organization in the wake of the sell-off. "It's not like I was doing it for him," said Morrison, who has never been one afraid to express his opinion. "I'm not going to talk about it. (Stanton) already said something about it. I hit .230 last year. What am I going to say?"

        "You can't control it so why worry about it?  I still have a job to do and it doesn't change my job description. They're going to do whatever they want to do, and I'm going to play. I have to play, so it really doesn't matter what I think."

January 06, 2013

Marlins not shopping Stanton, and my HOF ballot

      Sorry about the absence, but used some vacation time, covered the Sugar Bowl, and watched with detached amusement as the Giancarlo Stanton trade rumors swirled about. The Marlins are not shopping Stanton. They are not dangling him like the carrot at the end of a stick. They are not floating his name to other teams.

       Simply put, the Marlins "are not moving him," according to a source I spoke with. They haven't even "discussed" it internally. The team's plans calling for Stanton to start the season with the club and occupy the clean-up spot have "not changed at all," according to another source with knowledge of the Marlins' intentions.

      And yet the speculation continues. The latest report indicates the Marlins have spoken to the Padres about Stanton. "Completely off base" and "totally ridiculous" was the response I received when I asked about it.

      Teams contact the Marlins about Stanton all the time. The Marlins, out of professional courtesy, don't hang up on them. They "listen," as they do with all inquiries involving any of their players. But listening is not the same as "contemplating," and the Marlins -- at least for now -- are not entertaining any thoughts of trading their slugger.


       The Marlins are sifting through the batch of unsigned free agent relievers as they focus on a bullpen that was looking rock solid this time a year ago but is now filled with holes. After signing Placido Polanco for $2.75 million, they still have a bit of leftover money from the Yunel Escobar trade with which to obtain an inexpensive relief arm or two. (Remember, after trading Escobar and his $5 million salary to the Rays last month, the Marlins vowed to re-invest that net savings in payroll.)


       Based on the early returns, the Hall of Fame announcement on Wednesday could be extremely brief. Not a single candidate is trending above the 75 percent threshold needed to gain entrance to Cooperstown, according to "Hall of Fame Collecting Gizmo."

       Some voters (myself included) are citing the Hall's formal character and integrity clause in refusing to vote for the two stick-outs on the ballot, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, based on tangible evidence linking them to PEDs. And the players that remain are all subject to debate.

        I ended up voting for five players: Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling and Larry Walker.

        With the lone exception of Schilling, the other four players on my ballot rank among the Top 10 players of all-time at their defensive positions based on the JAWS scoring system, a useful advanced metrics tool that allows one to compare players from different eras. JAWS isn't perfect. It doesn't factor in fielding, for example, postseason performance, milestones or awards -- all stuff I also considered.

         But it does account "for the wide variations in offensive levels that have occurred throughout the game's history."

         At any rate, have at it. Debate away...