« October 2013 | Main | December 2013 »

12 posts from November 2013

November 27, 2013

Mike Redmond talks Marlins, does weather on Spokane TV station

Marlins manager, Spokane native and Gonzaga graduate Mike Redmond discussed the Marlins before delivering the local weather report on one of his hometown television stations Tuesday. Here are the clips from Redmond's TV appearance:

SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA



SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

November 24, 2013

Marlins express interest in Dioner Navarro, Phil Hughes

It's been a quiet offseason so far for the Marlins, who have yet to make so much as a ripple -- much less a splash -- with either a free agent signing or trade of any sort, big or small. But they are continuing to poke about for upgrades, and here are a couple of new names to add to the discussion, courtesy of Herald colleague Barry Jackson. 

In his latest Buzz column, Jackson reports that the Marlins have made inquiries on catcher Dioner Navarro and starting pitcher Phil Hughes. Both are free agents.

That the Marlins are interested in Navarro comes as little surprise. It's no secret they're in the market for a catcher, and Navarro fits the bill of a backstop with some life to his bat. (Jose Fernandez's scolder, Brian McCann, was never in the conversation for the Marlins and inked a 5-year deal Saturday with the Yankees.)

Navarro (stats) is coming off a season in which he hit .300 in 89 games for the Cubs. But he's also sandwiched in a couple of sub-.200 seasons since his best year in 2008 when he played in 120 games for the Tampa Bay Rays, hitting .295. Though he's just 29, he hasn't appeared in as many as 100 games since '09. But the Marlins are looking for a part-timer, someone to share duties with Jeff Mathis.

Hughes (stats) is a bit of an eyebrow raiser. A fixture in the Yankees' rotation, Hughes is coming off a disappointing campaign in which he went 4-14 with a 5.19 ERA for the Bronx Bombers. Prior to that, though, he had put up respectable numbers and whether the Marlins could land him cheaply is debatable. This much is known: the Marlins would like to infuse their young staff with a vet -- a "Kevin Slowey type," president of baseball operations Michael Hill told us at the G.M. meetings earlier this month.

One factor (beyond dollars) that Hughes might find appealing with the Marlins: their cavernous, pitcher-friendly ballpark. Hughes, a former first-round draft pick, has been prone to the long ball, especially at new Yankee Stadium, where he's given up 39 of his 59 home runs the past two seasons.

November 21, 2013

Yuniesky Betancourt on Marlins' radar; 40-man roster moves

Add another third baseman to the list being considered by the Marlins: Yuniesky Betancourt. According to Herald colleague Barry Jackson, the Marlins have touched base with representatives for Betancourt, and the interest might be mutual.

Here's what Jackson wrote:

YunieskyThe Marlins have inquired about free agent third baseman Yuniesky Betancourt, 31, a .261 career hitter who hit .212 with 13 homers and 46 RBI for Milwaukee last season.

Betancourt can play every infield position but the Marlins are considering him –-- and several others –-- primarily for third base. His agent, Miami Sports Management’s Alex Esteban, wouldn’t comment on the Marlins’ interest but said Betancourt would have interest in Miami.

Betancourt was used exclusively as a shortstop throughout most of his career. But the Brewers had him playing third (59 games) and first (68g) last season. Betancourt figures to be a less costly alternative to Juan Uribe, another free agent third baseman the Marlins are considering. Last year, Betancourt made $900,000 with Milwaukee.


The Marlins on Wednesday added six players to their 40-man roster: right-handed pitchers Jose Urena, Michael Brady and Angel Sanchez, left-hander Grant Dayton, outfielder Brent Keys and catcher J.T. Realmuto.

The moves bring the total to 39 players.


Did the Marlins just lose a potential future trade partner for Giancarlo Stanton when the Texas Rangers landed Prince Fielder in Wednesday's blockbuster deal with Detroit? In Fielder, the Rangers acquired the power bat they've been wanting. And sending Ian Kinsler to the Tigers frees up a spot for Jurickson Profar at second base.

The Marlins have stated repeatedly that they have no intention of trading Stanton this winter. But if they don't work out a contract extension with their young slugger, they could decide to deal him. And Texas has been mentioned frequently as a potential trading partner, with much of the speculation centering on Profar as part of any exchange.

November 17, 2013

Former Marlin Chris Valaika signs with "first-class organization"

It stood to reason that Chris Valaika's future with the Marlins was pretty much toast when owner Jeffrey Loria vetoed the infielder's promotion from the minors late in the season. The reason: Loria was perturbed that Valaika, along with a handful of other players, complained to management that he had been harassed verbally by former hitting coach Tino Martinez, who resigned in the wake of the allegations. Martinez was Loria's hand-picked hire.

The front office wanted to call up Valaika from Triple A New Orleans in August. But Loria said no.

And sure enough, Valaika on Sunday signed a minor-league deal with the Chicago Cubs, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

But what's most interesting is one of Rosenthal's follow-up tweets, in which he quotes Valaika's agent, Joel Wolfe.

"Chris is very excited to be with a first-class organization," Rosenthal reported Wolfe as saying.

Was it a subtle dig at the Marlins? One way or the other, it's definitely a comment worth noting.

Why? Wolfe also represents Giancarlo Stanton.

November 14, 2013

Video of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez being reunited with grandmother during an interview

Here is the video of their reunion shot by MLB.com.

November 13, 2013

Marlins dumbfounded by Hechavarria's poor defensive ratings

ORLANDO -- The Marlins believe Adeiny Hechavarria to be one of the top defensive shortstops in the majors. But, from the standpoint of sabermetrics, he ranks as one of the worst -- and the Marlins want to find out why.

"I know an above average defensive shortstop when I see one with my own eyes," said Michael Hill, the Marlins' president of baseball operations. "The numbers don't match."

As a result, Hill said he'll instruct a Marlins staff member to meet with one of the numbers crunchers at the upcoming winter meetings to find out why Hechavarria rates so poorly.

"I want a quality defensive shortstop to be acknowledged for what he is," Hill said. "It's just interesting to me. From a scouting standpoint, (Hechavarria) is what you want. Ask anybody who played against us if they would take Hechavarria at shortstop. I'm obviously a laittle slanted. But when the three finalists for the Gold Glove for shortstop came out and he wasn't a part of it....?"

According to Baseball-Reference, Hechavarria ranks 15th of the 20 qualifying major league shortstops in defensive WAR (wins above replacement) with a figure of 0.4. The Braves' Andrelton Simmons leads with a dWAR of 5.4

"Simmons is a great shortstop, but I've got Hech and Simmons neck and neck," Hill said. "I'm just interested to know."

November 12, 2013

Marlins/Yankees to play spring games in Panama

ORLANDO -- The Marlins are headed to Central America. For two spring training games, that is.

The Marlins are scheduled to play the New York Yankees in a pair of exhibition games in Panama on March 15-16, according to a source with knowledge of the plan.

The Marlins have not yet released their spring schedule. And a trip to Panama won't be their first spring excursion outside the U.S. They traveled to Mexico to face the Houston Astros in a pair of spring games in 2004.

Below: Rod Carew Stadium, Panama City


Heath Bell continuing to haunt Marlins

ORLANDO -- Make no mistake. When the Marlins jettisoned Heath Bell after one of the most nightmarishly awful seasons in franchise history, they were ecstatic that Arizona agreed to pick up more than half of the $18 million still owed the reliever.

But the D-Backs didn't swallow all of it, and the Marlins are still paying some of the freight on Bell -- $6 million next season, to be precise. That's a big chunk of change for a team with one of the lowest payrolls in the majors. To illustrate, consider that it will represent anywhere from 12 to 15 percent of the team's projected 2014 payroll of $40 million to $50 million.

Assuming the Marlins don't spend big on a free agent signing, or take on a large contract in a trade, only Giancarlo Stanton will likely end up costing the Marlins more than Bell. Stanton could make upwards of $7 million in his first year of salary arbitration. That's right. Bell could end up being the second costliest player in the Marlins' payroll ledger.

The good news for the Marlins is that after the '14 season, Bell will be off the books.


Gaunt might be too strong an adjective. But Jose Fernandez was looking decidedly thinner Monday when he was on hand to receive Rookie of the Year honors. One reason: he forgot to bring a sportcoat to Orlando and ended up borrowing owner Jeffrey Loria's jacket, which was a loose fit on the pitcher.

Another: Fernandez hasn't been resting on his rookie laurels.

"I've lost a lot (of weight)," Fernandez said. "I've been biking, been doing 50 to 60 miles a day on my bike. I've been doing it every morning, waking up at 6, which is weird because I like to sleep. But I'm a little in love with my bike."

Fernandez said that, by winning Rookie of the Year, he intended to treat himself to a new bike.

"I'm going to get me a present," he said. "I'm going to get me a better bike."


Fernandez wasn't surprised when he found out he was one of three finalists for the Rookie of the Year award. But he said he was shocked when he was named as one of three finalists for the Cy Young Award as the National League's top pitcher.

"I found out on my Instagram," he said. "When I saw they came out with the N.L. Rookie top three, I was like I was kind of expecting that. And then they go to the National League Cy Young candidates, and my picture, and I'm like 'No way. There's no way.' That caught me by a big, big surprise."

Fernandez said he thinks the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw will win N.L. Cy Young, which will be announced on Wednesday. The Cardinals' Adam Wainwright is the other finalist.

November 11, 2013

Keeping Giancarlo Stanton: A 4-Step Plan

ORLANDO -- Even though general manager Dan Jennings has gone on record saying the Marlins have no intention of trading Giancarlo Stanton, it probably won't stop teams from asking about him at this week's annual gathering of front office execs. Baseball's big boys would love nothing better than to pry away one of the game's elite young sluggers.

The questions are: How intent are the Marlins on keeping him around for the long-term? And how interested is Stanton in even remaining a Marlin in the future?

The Marlins are mulling whether to offer an extension that would buy out Stanton's three upcoming arbitration years and perhaps two or three years of free agency. But even if such an offer was considered fair and reasonable, there is no guarantee Stanton would accept it.

Which is why, if the Marlins are genuinely interested in holding on to Stanton for the long haul instead of trading away another homegrown star the way they did Miguel Cabrera once his salary become too rich for their blood, they might need to do more than present him with a conventional, dollars-and-cents contract.

Here, then, is a four-pronged proposal that might -- might -- sway Stanton to make himself comfortable in Miami:

1) Offer Stanton a 6-year deal for $95-100 million. As a benchmark, the Marlins worked out a 6-year, team-friendly deal with Hanley Ramirez for $70 million. But Stanton could command a higher figure given the sharp decline in power in the post-steroids era. Stanton is a natural wonder, and players like him are now few and far between.

2) Include either full or partial no-trade protection for Stanton. While the Marlins have made it their practice not to offer players no-trade protection, Stanton is the one player who could -- and should -- be made the exception to the rule. If not him, who?

3) Shorten the fences. The outfield dimensions at Marlins Park are a joke. It ranked as the most difficult ballpark in the majors in which to homer. While that fact alone wasn't the only reason the Marlins were the majors' lowest-scoring team, pulling up the rear by a wide margin, it was very clearly a contributing factor. Stanton and Logan Morrison, among others, have complained about it openly. But I've also spoken to a few Marlins pitchers who, privately, said they could live with modest reductions to the dimensions, and that they'd trade a few percentage points on their ERA's for increased run support.

4) Show a commitment to winning. In Stanton's 3 1/2 seasons, the Marlins have finished last three times while losing 80 more games than they've won. Coupled with the losing was the nearly complete dismantling of the 2012 team, which left Stanton exposed in the weakened lineup. As a result, Stanton was given little to hit, and he suffered through a disappointing season in which his offensive numbers suffered. He needs help, needs the Marlins to surround him in the lineup with qualify hitters and not a cast of developing rookies. The Marlins need to get him that help, and now. Whether they can with a payroll that is expected to fall within the $40 million to $50 million range is questionable.

Even if the Marlins do all that, there's no guarantee Stanton will agree to put his name on the dotted line and stay long term. But if the Marlins do nothing more than offer him the bare basics, they might make the decision easy for him.

November 10, 2013

Jose Fernandez's beloved grandmother visits from Cuba (w/photos)

Jose Fernandez spoke often of his grandmother, Olga, throughtout his rookie season with the Marlins, lamenting the fact she was in Cuba and unable to see him pitch. On Sunday, though, Fernandez saw her in South Florida when Cuban authorities granted her permission to visit.

The reunion could continue to have a happy outcome Monday when the Baseball Writers' Asssociation of America announce the N.L. Rookie of the Year Award. Fernandez, 21, is considered a strong favorite to win the coveted award.

Here's a touching story written by the Herald's Dan LeBatard at the All-Star break when he managed to talk to Olga.

"She's the love of my life ... my everything," Fernandez said via Twitter.

Here are some photos taken during their visit that were sent out by the Marlins on Sunday:



Olga2 Olga3