October 25, 2014

Stanton named NL's Hank Aaron Award winner

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Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw and an 88-mile-an-hour fastball to the face from Brewers pitcher Mike Fiers will probably prevent Giancarlo Stanton from earning the National League's highest honor this season. 

But nobody -- not even the great Kershaw -- could stop Stanton from being named the league's best offensive player this season. 

The 24-year-old All-Star right fielder became the first Marlins player ever to receive the Hank Aaron Award on Saturday night, a prize handed out to the best hitter in each league annually since 1999 and selected by a special panel of Hall of Fame players and fan votes. The Angels' Mike Trout won it for the the American League after leading the AL in runs scored (115) and RBI (111) while batting .287 with 36 home runs.

Stanton was in San Francisco for Game 4 of the World Series Saturday evening to receive his award alongside Aaron and commissioner Bud Selig.

Stanton missed the final 17 games of the regular season after that Fiers pitch broke cheekbones, chipped teeth, and required stitches to patch up a gash. He still led the league in home runs (37), finished second with 105 RBI (he was leading the league when he was hurt) and hit .288 while stealing 13 bases.

The Marlins have had four Rookies of the Year (Dontrelle Willis, Hanley Ramirez, Chris Coghlan and Jose Fernandez), two managers of the Year (Jack McKeon, Joe Girardi), five gold glove winners (Charles Johnson, Luis Castillo, Derrek Lee, Mike Lowell, Mark Buehrle) and five Silver Sluggers (Gary Sheffield, Mike Lowell, Miguel Cabrera, Dan Uggla and Ramirez), but have never had an MVP or Cy Young winner. 

Stanton's honor might qualify as the most prestigious yet.

"These first-time Hank Aaron Award winners are two of our game’s most exciting and talented young players," Selig said in a statement released by MLB. "For as much as they have already accomplished, Mike and Giancarlo have wonderful futures ahead of them, and they will make Major League Baseball proud in the years ahead.”

Asked how the recovery process is going, Stanton told World Series reporters: "It was a long process of just kind of laying around the house, not being able to leave too much. But I feel great now, and I'll be back to my normal off-season routine and shouldn't skip a beat."

October 23, 2014

Miami Marlins: Hechavarria, Stanton & Yelich are Gold Glove finalists

Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, right fielder Giancarlo Stanton and left fielder Christian Yelich have been named as finalists for the Rawlings Gold Glove award given to the top defensive players at each position.

None of the three players has ever won a Gold Glove.

There are three finalists at every position from both leagues. Among N.L. teams, the Dodgers have the most finalists with four.

The awards are voted on by big-league managers and coaches. Their vote counts for 75 percent of the selection process. The sabermetrics community accounts for the other 25 percent.

October 20, 2014

Casey McGehee voted NL Comeback Player of Year

The Sporting News announced Monday that Marlins third baseman Casey McGehee was named the National League's "Comeback Player of the Year."

McGehee, who spent the 2013 season in Japan, returned to the majors with the Marlins last season and turned in strong numbers at the plate and also excelled at the hot corner.

McGehee, 32, played in 160 games, hitting .287 with four homers. He was second in the NL with singles and fourth in hits. His .319 average with runners in scoring position led the Marlins and ranked 14th in the NL (min. 100 plate appearances w/RISP).

The award was voted on by big-league players.

McGehee is the first Marlins player to receive Comeback honors from the Sporting News. Marlins pitcher Alex Fernandez was the 1999 NL Comeback Player in the Players' Choice Awards.

Here are the voting results for TSN's NL Comeback award:

National League Comeback Player of the Year (voting by NL players only)
1. Casey McGehee, Marlins: 26 votes
2. Tim Hudson, Giants: 17 votes
3. Matt Kemp, Dodgers: 15 votes
4. Starlin Castro, Cubs: 2 votes

October 10, 2014

Miami Marlins get dumber, lose Ed Lucas on waiver claim to Rangers

Ed Lucas, the articulate, Dartmouth-educated utility infielder for the Marlins, was claimed off waivers on Friday by the Texas Rangers.

Lucas toiled for years in the minors before finally receiving a shot with the Marlins in 2013.

The 32-year-old infielder hit .251 last season with one homer. He started the season on the disabed list with a broken left hand after being struck by a pitch in the Marlins' final Grapefruit League game against the Cardinals.

In his two seasons with the Marilns, Lucas hit .255 with five homers.

October 08, 2014

Miami Marlins World Series hero Josh Beckett to retire

Josh Beckett, who turned in an epic pitching performance for the Marlins when they knocked off the New York Yankees in the 2003 World Series, said he intends to retire.

Beckett, now with the Dodgers, has a torn labrum in his left hip that will require surgery. Beckett told MLB.com that at this stage of his career, he doesn't want to go through the rehab that would be needed to get him back on the mound.

BeckettSIBeckett, 34, was selected by the Marlins with the second overall pick in the 1999 draft and helped lead the team to its second World Series title four years later. Manager Jack McKeon sent Beckett to the mound at Yankee Stadium for Game 6 of the '03 Series on short rest, and the gamble paid off when the young pitcher hurled a complete-game shutout to clinch the title. Beckett was named Series MVP.

He was also instrumental in the Marlins win over the Chicago Cubs in Game 6 of the '03 NLCS -- the "Steve Bartman game" -- when he turned in four strong innings out of the bullpen, holding the Cubs at bay as the Marlins mounted their dramatic comeback.

Beckett pitched two more seasons with the Marlins before being traded with Mike Lowell to the Boston Red Sox in 2005 for Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez. Beckett had his ups and downs in Boston, where he won another Series ring and also posted his only 20-win season in 2007. He was later traded to the Dodgers, and this year pitched his first major league no-hitter before suffering yet another injury.

For his career, Beckett finished with a record of 138-106. With the Marlins from 2001-05, Beckett went 41-34.

September 28, 2014

Marlins extend manager Mike Redmond through 2017

WASHINGTON -- The Marlins extended manager Mike Redmond through the 2017 season on Sunday, adding one year to his existing contract.

"You talk about continuity and you talk about stability, and that's something (owner Jeffrey Loria) really wants for this franchise," said Marlins president David Samson. "The feeling that we have is the team is going in the right direction, and this is the right step for continuing that growth."

Under Redmond, who was in the second year of a three-year deal, the Marlins went from a 100-loss team last season to one that remained on the periphery of playoff contention until early September before fading down the stretch.

Samson said the entire coaching staff would also be returning next season.

"On this last day of the season, it's the perfect way to start this offseason, making sure everyone realizes Jeffrey's commitment to Red and our commitment to Red," Samson said. "We knew we were bringing him into a situation where he was going to grow with the team and we've watched that happen. The team and Mike have grown in lockstep."

Samson said Redmond and the Marlins agreed to the extension shortly before taking the field Sunday against the Nationals to close out the season.

"It's just a really good day for the Marlins to punctuate what we feel is a great season with great clubhouse chemistry," Samson said. "Red's a huge part of that."

September 27, 2014

2nd place would be no small consolation to Marlins

WASHINGTON -- Don't tell the Marlins second place doesn't count for anything. They're not ashamed to admit they'll gladly accept finishing in the runner-up's spot in the National League East, even with a losing record.

The Marlins entered Saturday tied for second with the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets.

"Basically, it's a two-game season to see who's the second-best team," said backup infielder Jeff Baker.

Said Marlins reliever Mike Dunn: "It means a lot, especially to the guys in this clubhouse. From the beginning, we were predicted to be dead last. Nobody believed in us except for ourselves. So it definitely means a lot to the guys in here, and I think it sends a message to the division for next year, that's we're definitely going in the right direction."

The Marlins, who have never won the division, have finished second three times previously: in 1997 and 2003 when they captured the wild card and went on to win the World Series, and in 2009 when they ended up 87-75 but failed to win the wild card.

At worst, the Marlins will finish with a 14-game improvement over last season's 62-100 team. At best: a 16-game improvement if they win their final two games.


September 25, 2014

Heaney looking forward to his last start Friday, competition this spring

Andrew Heaney's first go-around in the big leagues hardly went the way he wanted it to, but he's happy the Marlins are giving him a chance Friday to finish the season right.

The organization's top prospect, who went 0-3 with a 6.53 ERA in four starts back in June and early July before the Marlins sent him back down to the minors, will be starting the second game of Friday's double-header against the division-winning Nationals. And he said Thursday he's happy he's getting the opportunity.

"Anytime they give you innings obviously it's up to you to go out there and get outs," Heaney said. "I want to prove to them that I can get outs and do a good job. So next year I can hopefully try to win a spot."

Heaney, who went 9-6 with a 3.28 ERA in 23 starts between Double A and Triple A this season, knows there's going to be a lot of competition to earn a spot in the Marlins rotation next year. Outside of All-Star right-hander Henderson Alvarez, Tom Koehler and Jarred Cosart, nobody else will probably be assured a spot in the rotation when players reconvene in Jupiter for spring training in February.

"I'm going to take some time off, relax a little bit and then start working out and take advantage of a full off-season," he said. "I want try to get bigger, stronger, come back ready to pitch in spring training.

"[The 2014 season] was good. Obviously, any time you get called up and get to be in the big leagues you can't say it was unsuccessful season by any stretch of the imagination. For me, I went to Double A again. I went up to Triple A, hadn't done that. Got called up, hadn't done that. So for me it was a lot of different experiences, moving around, more than I normally have, getting used to flying in Triple A, flying here -- different things you don't really think about."

Heaney said the competition in February will be good for everyone including the Marlins.

"What they talk about building an organization that's competitive and stuff, that's part of it," Heaney said. "It starts in spring when guys are competing against each other for a job. That's only going to make your team stronger and make everybody feel better about what they've done -- if they can know they earned a spot rather than they just walk into camp knowing they've got a spot. Obviously with about the exception of three or four guys, everybody knows that last spot is up for grabs."

> After losing 100 games last year, manager Mike Redmond said the most enjoyable part of this season was just winning games and being in the playoff race up until last week.

"To think after last year that we could still be talking about the playoffs up until like a week ago, that’s what it’s all about," Redmond said. "I felt that excitement this year that I felt when I played when you’re trying to make the playoffs. To feel that adrenaline and to feel that passion to get back to the playoffs, I haven’t felt that in a while. That's what it’s all about. That’s why I manage and why I love this group of players. Because a lot of them felt that for the first time in their career. That’s going to only make us better."

> Redmond said the development of the bullpen this year was a huge step forward for the team and he especially cited the growth of rookie Sam Dyson (3-1, 2.01 ERA).

"To see the stuff that he has and the ability to throw multiple innings and get guys out is huge going forward," Redmond said. "He’s got the ability to be a setup guy and pitch some big innings for us going forward. 

"We lost a couple guys there last year and the guys that we brought in early just didn’t work out. It was a great opportrunity for some young guys to fill those innings and step up, and we did it. [Chris Hatcher] did it and Dyson did it. With the help of AJ [Ramos] and [Mike Dunn], I feel great. If we have a lead from the seventh inning on I feel like we have a chance to lock down that game. We did that the second half a lot. Going forward its nice to know you have those guys down there, and we’ll keep all those guys together for the start of next year."

Marlins have interest in Cuban second baseman, Hector Olivera

WASHINGTON -- While the pickings are slim for a second baseman on the pending free agent market, the Marlins might now have a fresh alternative worthy of consideration: Hector Olivera, a Cuban star who has recently defected.

According to this story in Baseball America, Olivera ranked as the sixth-best prospect in Cuba. And according to sources, the Marlins, who would like to upgrade at second base, definitely have interest in the 29-year-old player.

Olivero comes with questions. He sat out all of last year due to thrombosis in one of his biceps, but returned to play in Cuba this season, splitting time between second and DH. He hit over. 300.

Olivero still must go through the usual process of first establishing residency in a third country before becoming a free agent. But the belief is, according to Baseball America, he could be available during the upcoming offseason.

September 23, 2014

All quiet at the top for Marlins as season enters final week

As the season winds down and underachieving teams begin to dole out pink slips (see Frank Wren in Atlanta), the Marlins aren't planning any such major moves. Manager Mike Redmond will keep his job, as will president of baseball operations Mike Hill and general manager Dan Jennings.

Ordinarily, that wouldn't merit a mention or second glance. Except this is the Marlins we're talking about, and it's been four years since one of their seasons ended without either their manager or a top front office executive being canned.

That's right, 2010 was the last year the Marlins kept things as they were with regard to their manager and top front office executive, as both Edwin Rodriguez and Larry Beinfest stayed put. After that, it became a constant cycle of change.

Rodriguez resigned during the '11 season and replaced on an interim basis by Jack McKeon, who kept the dugout seat warm until the Marlins were able to hire Ozzie Guillen, whose reign lasted all of one terrible year. Redmond took over in 2013. But owner Jeffrey Loria fired Beinfest at the end of '13.

So, yes, there is peace in the land in Miami.

Wren, meanwhile, didn't escape the chopping block, with most pointing to his disasterous signings of Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton as the primary catalysts for Monday's dismissal. While the Upton signing is fair game for second guessing, it's much harder to assign blame to Wren for the Uggla trade and subsequent offer of a 5-year deal. Remember, the Marlins offered Uggla a 4-year deal -- which he rejected -- before dealing him to the Braves for Mike Dunn and Omar Infante. So, clearly, the Marlins didn't foresee Uggla's sharp decline.  Wren certainly didn't, either.

As ESPN Grantland writer Jonah Keri noted on the Wren firing: "This marked the first time the team had dismissed a GM or manager in 24 years, a shockingly long time given the transitory nature of pro sports."

Given the constant upheaval in Miami, he ain't lying.