Thanks Chicago

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Just because, here are a few of the players the Marlins have received from the Cubs in the past decade:

  • Dontrelle Willis
  • Sergio Mitre
  • Ricky Nolasco
  • Hee Seop Choi
  • Ryan Jorgensen
  • Julian Tavarez
  • Renyel Pinto


Renyel Pinto Flow Chart

After much anticipation, the Renyel Pinto flow chart is finally here. This is not supposed to be 100% accurate, it is merely a guide and suggested activity to follow during a Renyel Pinto relief appearance.

click to embiggen


Starting Pitching, Errors, and the Solo Homer Vol. IV

Starting Pitching

Since Last 6 0 2 4.93 34 2/3 5.78 3
Season 21 6 6 4.58 120 5.71 6


Since Last 6 3 1
Season 15 13 8

Home Runs

Since Last 6 6 13 46.15%
Season 21 20 39 37.50%

Overall Assessment

The pitching was hot and cold this week. The three quality starts is an improvement but there were also a lot of early runs allowed and a short outing by fill-in Graham Taylor. Unfortunately the bullpen wasted Josh Johnson's gem and Chris Volstad's strong outing. The defense wasn't much of a factor this week, but yesterday's unusual infield provided some nice run saving plays. Lately, this year's Marlins have finally started to resemble the all or nothing teams we have seen the last couple of years. More runs are coming from home runs due in large part to Jorge Cantu's four this week.


Meet the Mets, Beat the Mets

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Fish just pulled out an impressive 4-3 victory to take the first Marlins-Mets series in Citi Field's young history. Matt Lindstrom finished off an Alfonseca Save1 preserving the lead which was delivered by a Cody Ross 2-RBI single in the 8th. Jorge Cantu once again proved how valuable he is with another home run in the first and a couple great defensive plays to save runs and end innings. I've been hesitating to say this, but Jorge plays a nice first base. I guess the key is that he never has to overhand throw it to anybody. Anyways, nothing beats taking two out of three in New York, especially when David Wright never comes through in the clutch. Stay tuned tomorrow morning for the SPESH report.

1An Alfonseca Save is defined as a pitcher entering a save situation and instantly making it drastically tougher on himself by walking and hitting batters and getting hit all around the yard. Somehow though, the save is eventually made.


Quick Question

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

MLB Network's Mitch Williams:

Grey's Anatomy's Eric Dane:
Separated at birth?


MDH Off-Topic: The Draft

MLB announced this afternoon that the first three rounds of the amateur draft will be broadcast live from the studios at the MLB Network. The draft will begin at 6 pm on June 9 (a Tuesday), allowing seamheads to drool over not-yet-fully formed prospects and question their teams' collective IQ a la the NFL Draft. The rest of the draft will be held over the following two days via telephone conference call, which is the usual protocol.

I think this will probably be a good thing for MLB, though I doubt the MLB draft will ever approach the cultural cache of the NFL Draft (though I'm sure no one expects it to). But now that the MLB has decided to make its amateur draft a television event, who will become baseball's Mel Kiper? Judging from the MLB Network's roster of personalities, it does not appear the network has a draft guru on staff.

Allow me to throw my hat in the ring. If MLB is looking for someone to offer uncertain evaluations with uncommon certainty, somone unafraid to criticize general managers for bad picks, and someone whose unconsciounably bad hair will distract viewers, then I'm their man. I've already submitted my resume, so it's pretty much a done deal. I won't be able to do it alone, though. If you'd like to be my personal assistant, please submit a resume and cover letter in the comments.


I think you'll be okay here, they have a thin candy shell.

I know, it looks like the sky is falling. But allow me to remind you that the season is 162 games long, and while the Fish probably weren't as good as their 11-1 start indicated, neither are they as bad as this 7-game losing streak. B-Face and Maybin are slumping, Hanley and Cantu can't seem to keep their hands out of the way of opposing fastballs, and the bullpen is about as scary as we expected it to be, but fear not, for the Marlins will not lose 100 games this year. In fact, I'm still standing by my 86-76 prediction.

But in case you're looking for a scapegoat, I nominate this guy.


Week in Review

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Overview: Florida went 0 for the state of Pennsylvania, getting swept by the Pirates and the Phillies.
Positives: Hanley Ramirez is beginning to hit. He went 13 for 23 this week, notching 4 doubles and 2 RBI.
Negatives: The two blown saves by Matt Lindstrom and Leo Nunez in the ninth inning on Friday and Saturday were bad enough. But things got so out of hand on Sunday that Cody Ross had to pitch in the top of the ninth inning on Sunday. On the plus side, he only gave up a single while retiring Ryan Howard, Raul Ibanez, and Pedro Feliz.
Line of the Week: Josh Johnson's Friday night vs. Philadelphia:


Highlight of the Week: Dan Uggla's three-run home run on Friday was epic. He has
Looking Ahead: The Fish play three in New York and then a four-game series at Wrigley against the Cubs.

Image via AP/Jeffrey M. Boan


Pour Me Another

Image via GameTicker

Volstad 7.04321622.70
Meyer (H, 4)1.00001003.52
Nunez (H, 3)0.11111104.32
Pinto (BS, 1)0.10000001.42
Calero 0.10000001.13
Kensing (L, 0-1)1.04220109.82

Another night, another blown save following another quality start. Exit Josh Johnson and Matt Lindstrom, enter Chris Volstad, Leo Nunez, Renyel Pinto, and Logan Kensing. One wonders at which point the starting rotation attempts a coup and installs martial law in the bullpen, renaming it The People's Republic of the Florida Marlins Bullpen. For now, though, I'll just begin drinking after the sixth inning.


Blown Save #1

Friday, April 24, 2009

This graph represents the Marlins win probability throught Friday night's game. Also that sharp decline in the 9th inning may also represent the amount of activity in my brain at that moment. It was really mind numbing as Shane Victorino blasted a two out grand slam to take the Phillies from 3-2 down, to 6-3 up. It had been coming. Lindstrom couldn't spot the fastball and get ahead. He needs to be checked out, and if he's 100% healthy then he should resume his familiar 8th inning role. The closer can be Leo Nunez. He has earned it.


Return of Sassy Senior

Jorge Cantu will likely return to the Marlins this weekend after doctors found no major damage in his sore left wrist. This gives me an excuse to run this, featuring one of my favorite nicknames:

Marlins Die-Hards: utilizing subpar photoshop skills for a couple of weeks.

Go to Walkoff Walk for context/inspiration.


Starting Pitching, Errors, and the Solo Homer Vol. III

For an explanation, see the first edition of this series.

Starting Pitching

Since Last 6 0 3 6.75 32 5.33 1
Season 15 6 4 4.43 85 1/3 5.69 3


Since Last 6 3 1
Season 15 9 6

Home Runs

Since Last 6 6 10 40.00%
Season 15 14 26 31.33%

Overall Assessment

Despite a sweep in Washington, Marlins starters could not manage a quality start in three games, with only Josh Johnson lasting past the fourth inning in that series. Anibal Sanchez and Ricky Nolasco picked up quality starts in Pittsburgh, but were let down by the offense and bullpen in each of those games. The defense was better, allowing only one unearned run on three errors in six games. Jeremy Hermida and Cody Ross each had two clutch home runs in Washington, and Cameron Maybin hit his first home run as a Marlin in Pittsburgh. All in all, an odd week; the starters pitched better in losses, the defense managed to be uneventful, and the home runs for the most part came at the most opportune moments.


Children of the Marlins Diaspora 7

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Kevin Brown, P

Played for Marlins: 1996-1997
Other Teams: Texas Rangers (1986-1994), Baltimore Orioles (1995), San Diego Padres (1998), Los Angeles Dodgers (1999-2003), New York Yankees (2004-2005)
Marlins fans know him because: He was a key member of the 1997 Championship team, but he burst onto the Marlins scene in 1996. That year he led the league with a minuscule ERA of 1.89 (and an ERA+ of 216) but somehow finished second in Cy Young voting to John Smoltz. He was still dominant in 1997, which included a no-hitter and a complete game to clinch the ALCS in Atlanta. He was then quickly set adrift during the post-World Series dismantling of the team. He went to San Diego and the Marlins received some prospects, most notably Derek Lee.
Everyone else knows him because: He parlayed his uber-success in Miami (and San Diego following a trade in the 1998 dismantling) to become baseball's first $100 million player. The Dodgers signed him to that irresponsible sum of money which he actually lived up to for a couple years before starting to decline. He had some injuries and later was named in the Mitchell Report, which surely casts a doubt on his Hall of Fame cred.
Best Marlins moment: Brown threw both a 1-hitter (in his first Marlins appearance) and a dominant no-hitter, which should have been a perfect game had the sneaky Marvin Benard not been hanging over the plate in the eighth inning. It was and should remain as the greatest regular season pitching performance in team history.


What the Hell Just Happened?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Coming into the week, the Fish were riding high, sitting at 11-1 on a seven-game winning streak. Then they ran into the Buzzsaw That is the Pittsburgh Pirates. After averaging 6.4 runs/game over the first 12 games, the Marlins scored six during the entire three-game series with the Pirates, losing every game. Despite the fact that the Pirates have been perhaps the worst franchise in the National League over the past 15 years, the Marlins could not muster a single win against them. Expect the media to jump off the Marlins Bandwagon immediately.

But before we get out of control, let's all take a deep breath and calm down for a moment. The Marlins always seem to be getting swept in Pittsburgh (perhaps there is a Jim Leyland or Bobby Bonilla-related curse?). And really, it's a long season, so the team will get cold a few times. Perhaps the Fish are still feeling the effects from Monday's holiday? Hopefully, the day off tomorrow will allow the Fish to recalibrate their faulty bats in time for a home series against the Phillies.


And come to think of it, Fredi Gonzalez kind of reminds me of Doc from Cannery Row...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

When asked about the Marlins' sweep against the Nationals this afternoon, John Baker told the Miami Herald:

''We stole a game yesterday, we stole another one today, we stole one the first day,'' Baker said Sunday. He delivered one of the clutch hits in the latest comeback. "It's kind of like Crime and Punishment, isn't it? We're worried sneaking off the field that we're going to get arrested for stealing these games.''
+1 for the literature reference, proving that he is infinitely more literate than the popular image of the ballplayer. But I'm not impressed. Dostoevsky references are obvious. When Baker starts comparing Joe Morgan to Pangloss, or Hanley to McClintic Sphere, then I'll be impressed.


Week in Review

Overview: Florida had a perfect 6-0 week recording their first ever sweep in Atlanta and a downright unreal sweep in Washington.
Positives: This team just can't lose. The first week saw the Marlins get it done with good hitting and starting pitching. This week it was the bullpen who did the most work, including 21 1/3 scoreless innings, and yielding just one run in the entire week.
Negatives: Again, it's hard to find much on an 11-1 team, but the starting pitching has dipped in quality. The main concern is the lack of innings they are throwing. They have been asking a lot of the bullpen but thankfully they have been bailed out so far.
Line of the Week: There are some great candidates but Jeremy Hermida's line from Saturday gets the nod as it was the largest comeback, and most stunning.

3-6, 3 R, 5 RBI, 2 HR

Highlight of the Week: Pick any moment from the ninth inning on from any of the weekend games. The Marlins were outscored in the Nationals series 12-7 in innings 1-8, but blanked the Nats 12-0 in innings 9-11. Cody Ross will get the award this week for his bases clearing double from this afternoon's contest. What a fitting end to an unbelievable weekend.
Looking Ahead: The Marlins are en route to Pittsburgh for a three game set against the promising Pirates starting tomorrow night (weather pending). After an off day Thursday, the Marlins have a quick three game home stand against the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies.

(image via AP Photo/Alex Brandon)


On the Nationals

Watching the Marlins' last two games against the Nationals brought back to me memories of the Marlins, c. 1999-2001, when the team was assembling the components of its 2003 World Series team, while experiencing many growing pains along the way. The Marlins had talent on those squads; Alex Gonzalez had been an All Star, Luis Castillo was becoming known around the league, and the pitching staff included prospects Brad Penny and AJ Burnett. But the team still had plenty of weak spots, and young talent does not always yield desired results.

The Marlins blew many games in those years. They would lose a game 1-0 one night, then 8-6 the next. They would very rarely put together a complete game; one night the pitching would be great but the defense would commit four errors, the next night the offense would not be able to overcome a starting pitchers' bad outing. The team seemed to lose four out of every five one-run games. They were not bad. In fact they were kind of alright. But they combined a propensity for careless mistakes with bad luck. Watching them in those years could be intensely painful if not for the intermittent games in which they would put everything together and renew your faith.

This year's Nationals squad has the same tendency to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Friday night, despite a dominating performance from starter John Lannan, the Nationals could only put two runs on the board, failing to plate anyone against the Marlins' bullpen after Ricky Nolasco exited before the fifth inning. The Nats blew a 2-1 lead with one out in the ninth, only to see Cody Ross erase it with one swing. The following inning, the Marlins pulled ahead for good on three straight singles.

Saturday, the Nationals scored six runs in two innings off of Josh Johnson, and had to be feeling good with a 4-run lead after the second. But they did not muster a single run afterward, and only managed one base hit over the final nine innings. The Marlins grabbed one run in the 5th when Nick Johnson dropped a routine pop-up with two outs and a runner on third. Then, in the ninth, the bullpen blew another save on a two-run home run to Jeremy Hermida. Hermida repeated the feat with two on in the 11th, sealing another victory.

The losses must be particularly heartbreaking to a fanbase who had little to cheer as the Nats started the season 0-7. The Nats are not a terrible team. They have some decent talent and a few promising young arms in the rotation. But their luck thus far has been terrible, exacerbated by some unfortunate but unforced errors in the last two games. Marlins fans were rewarded with their patience in 2003, we shall see if the Nationals will be able to match the feat.


Statistical Anomoly Alert!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Jorge Cantu reacts after striking out against Scott Olsen on Saturday (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

This week,'s Jayson Stark informed us that the Marlins did something unprecedented:
On Sunday, they struck out 13 times against Johan Santana -- and beat him. In their next game Tuesday, they whiffed 12 times against Braves starter Javier Vazquez -- and beat him, too.

We combed through's fabulous Play Index and couldn't find any other team since 1954 that won back-to-back games in which it fanned that many times against the opposing starting pitcher. In fact, we found just three other teams that did that within the same week:

1967 Red Sox (Catfish Hunter 12 K Sept. 12, Mickey Lolich 13 K Sept. 19)
1977 Blue Jays (Dennis Leonard 12 K Aug. 14, Nolan Ryan 13 K Aug. 19)
1990 Phillies (David Cone 12 K Sept. 7, Sid Fernandez 12 K Sept. 14)
Everyone knows about the team's propensity for strikeouts, and now we know how historically significant their tendency to strike out is. And in the four games since facing Santana and Vasquez, the Marlins have continued the pattern:
  • 4/15 vs. Atlanta: 11 strikeouts, won 10-4
  • 4/16 vs. Atlanta: 10 strikeouts, won 6-2
  • 4/17 vs. Washington: 11 strikeouts in 10 innings (all in the first 9 innings), won 3-2
  • 4/18 vs. Washington: 11 strikeouts in 11 innings (8 in the first 9 innings), won 9-6.
So in six consecutive games, the Marlins have won while striking out at least ten times. I believe Tim Kurkjian mentioned this streak on Baseball Tonight the other day, but I could not find any video of the segment on, unfortunately. The streak got a big boost from Emilio Bonifacio, who has gone 3 for 25 during the streak with an astonishing 11 strikeouts during the streak (that sound you hear is Ken Rosenthal saying he told us so).

This streak does deserve an asterisk, though, as it took the Fish 10 innings to get their tenth strikeout this afternoon. Nonetheless, the streak is something that may never be replicated.

UPDATE: The Marlins won again on Sunday, but only struck out three times, ending the streak.


Children of the Marlins Diaspora 6

Gary Sheffield, 3B, OF

Played for the Marlins: 1993-1998
Other Teams: Milwaukee (198-1993), San Diego (199-1993), Los Angeles (1998-2001), Atlanta (2002-2003), Yankees (2004-2006), Detroit (2007-2008), Mets (2009-)
Marlins fans know him because: He pretty much tripled the Marlins' legitimacy when he was traded to the team during the inaugural year. Sheffield was the team's first star, and played on the 1997 World Series team. He also holds the team single-season home run record, hitting 42 in 1996. Sheffield was traded to the Dodgers in the infamous Mike Piazza trade.
Everyone else knows him because: He has one of the most violent swings in baseball history. Sheff hit his 500th career home run last night, and we congratulate him. Implicated in the BALCO scandal, Sheffield was also not afraid to say that he was under more scrutiny than Mark McGwire because he was black, which ruffled some feathers. Sheffield was also a 9-time All Star and 1992 NL batting champ.
Best Marlins moment: I had a hard time thinking of a single moment, until Ted reminded me of Sheffield's game-saving catch off of Sandy Alomar in Game 5 of the 1997 World Series. Gary had a good series, going 7 for 24 with 8 walks, one home run, 5 RBI, and a .943 OPS in 7 games.


This Week in Schadenfreude

Friday, April 17, 2009

Courtesy of SI's Jon Heyman:

Yankees manager Joe Girardi seems to have adapted the philosophy of the manager he most admires strategically, Tony La Russa, which is to empty his pen when he can. This stratagem generally works better with trustworthy relievers, however, and the first full inning without Sabathia produced a nine spot for the Indians, making them feel somewhat better about their 3-7 start.
And in a slightly different vein, but hilarious nonetheless:
It's always nice to see the Mets' one true Hall of Famer, Tom Seaver, come back to Flushing. But just so everyone understands, he's paid for these appearances.
Then again, you'd have to pay me to watch the Mets, too.


Dolphin Stadium Sucks

This story comes from Forbes Magazine via Yahoo! Sports, with a hat tip to Big League Stew which is where I found it

Forbes Magazine recently ranked all 30 Major League ballparks based on several predictable categories such as food and affordability. When I first stumbled onto the article and starting reading, I knew our precious Dolphin Stadium would be somewhere in the bottom five and sure enough, not only did it achieve that, but it was rated the worst. Judging by the wording below, it wasn't close.

Any debate about the relative merits of ballparks is sure to set off a slew of arguments between purists and casual fans alike. But there wasn’t much contest for the title of baseball’s worst ballpark. That dubious distinction went to Dolphin Stadium, home of the Florida Marlins, which earned poor marks in every category besides affordability. The designation comes as no surprise for an arena whose main purpose is to host football games.

“What’s the point of going to a ballgame and feeling as if you are waiting to see them kick a field goal?” asks Shapiro.

Okay, that quote from Shapiro was kind of a low blow and really doesn't make sense but it doesn't matter. Let's take a look at how the stadium fared in the five categories.
Intangibles: D
Fan Participation: D
Accessibility: C
Affordability: B
Food: C
It's actually better than the grades I would probably give. There are no real intangibles that count positively. The building has character . Fan participation getting a "D" is right on, although the low number of people that attend games are every bit as passionate as most baseball crowds. I'm surprised Accessibility got a "C" because I wouldn't call it average. The location is in between the two big population areas and there is no public transportation remotely close to it. It would be better off firmly entrenched in one area (which the new park will be). Affordability is about all the stadium and the team have going for it and it's only because they have to. It's just simple supply and demand. Once attendance goes up, I'm sure the prices will too. Finally, I don't know what food they are eating but I'd love to know. That subject would get a failing grade from me.

The reason I chose to bring this all up, is because getting a new ballpark will help change the baseball scene in regards to most of these criteria. It's all been discussed before but the location and the fact the team will have 100% control over miscellaneous stadium responsibilities like parking and concessions will allow the club to create the perfect ballpark for this market. For now though, we are stuck with this.


Marlins Make History... sort of...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Marlins beat the Braves 6-2 this afternoon, completing the team's first ever three-game sweep of the Braves in team history. Apparently, this is impressive enough for every Marlins beat writer to mention. The Fish are also 8-1 for the third time in team history. The other 2: 1997 and 2004. Ah yes, early 2004, back when some of us thought Hee Seop Choi could be an everyday first-baseman...


Starting Pitching, Errors, and the Solo Homer Vol. II

If you do not know what this is about, please refer to the first edition of this series, which debuted last Thursday

Starting Pitching

Since Last 6 3 1 2.95 36 2/3 6.11 2
Season 9 6 1 3.04 53 1/3 5.93 2


Since Last 6 4 3
Season 9 6 5

Home Runs

Since Last 6 3 5 15.60%
Season 9 8 16 27.60%

Overall Assessment

It's been a good week for the club and the main reason is the starting pitching. Josh Johnson's gem and Chris Volstad's nice performance helped the starting staff keep up its great numbers. It's amazing that with those numbers through nine games the club still has notched just two quality starts. I guess that's why some people don't like that statistic.

The error total remains very Marlin-like but all three of the unearned runs this week came in the Mets loss, late in the game when the game was probably out of reach.

Amazingly the Fish had a four-game homerless drought and still won three of those games, including a ten-run outburst on Wednesday night. Cody Ross' three-run blast to end the streak was a huge hit and went a long way towards winning this afternoon's ballgame. The key to the reduction in home runs but steady run scoring has been Dan Uggla and his RBI singles. Usually with men on (or not on) he is a homer or strikeout guy. In a postgame interview he sort of admitted to slightly changing his approach at the plate. If it's true or not Dan, just keep doing what you are doing.


Future Former Marlins 3

Mike Stanton, OF

Acquired: Selected by Florida in the second round of the 2007 amateur draft.
Will he live up to the hype? Last year in High-A Greensboro, Stanton OPSed .993 and hit 39 home runs as an 18-year-old, establishing himself as a man among boys. In his annual Spring-Training survey of "baseball people," Peter Gammons said Stanton was the most mentioned player when asked which young players have made major impressions. Certainly there are few prospects in Major League Baseball with more potential. His success may be determined by how well he hones his batting eye, as he struck out 153 times in 468 at-bats last year (he did walk 68 times, which is a bit reassuring).
How long do we have him? Considering the Marlins were unwilling to give him up for Manny Ramirez last year, Mike will probably be sticking around for awhile.
Future Reason for Leaving the Marlins: Since Stanton's Marlins debut is still far off (he has yet to turn 20 years old), it is concievable that he will join the big club around the time the new stadium opens. With that in mind, if Stanton performs as well as the front office hopes, he could get a Hanley-sized long-term contract when the team increases payroll. This would keep him with the Marlins until around 2020, whereupon he will sign a free-agent deal with the Dodgers. That's what I'm hoping for, anyway...

Image via


Ken Rosenthal Insists You Know the Real Bonifacio

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

First off, a hat tip to Tim Dierkes and company at MLB Rumors. It's a great place to find bullet points of what everyone is writing about and all speculative trade rumors as well. It is through this site that I have noticed that Ken Rosenthal is really insistent on telling us Emilio Bonifacio won't be good.

In his April 8th column for Fox Sports he tears down Lastings Milledge for a few things, most notably his misplays in centerfield against the Marlins and specifically the balls Bonifacio hit. At the end of that section he throws in a nugget about what one scout thinks of Emilio which ends with, "he's just a guy." Okay, thanks for the warning Ken. Only a few days into the season it was understandable that people might get carried away with his hot start and it's nice of you to notch us down a peg on the enthusiasm.

Today I clicked over to Rosenthal's April 14th column and he again tries to cool everyone's high about Bonifacio. I was interested to see what new scouting report or quotes he had, but there was none. It was the same exact quote. Read the columns for yourself. This time Ken prefaces it by saying, "Hate to be a spoilsport."

Look, I myself still have doubts about Bonifacio and whether he can stay consistent and do what he's doing, especially because it's tougher to hide hitting leadoff than it is if he were hitting seventh or eighth. But as it has been pointed out by Marlins broadcasters and other reporters, speed shows up every day. Last night's infield hit was a good example of how those types of plays will keep his batting avergae and on base percentage up. That was a routine play up the middle but because Escobar was playing a little in and he had a very slight double clutch on the throw, Bonifacio beat it easily. I'd be real surprised if his batting average dipped towards that .240% mark.

As for his fielding, they may be right but some of his errors are offset by web gems we have seen that not many third basemen would make, specifically fielding bunts. Plus, I think as Marlins fans we have become well acustomed to the fact that we will make many errors at third base. It doesn't faze us. By the way, I have a prediction that I won't disclose yet that would involve Bonifacio moving from third base to a new position with the primary reason not being poor defensive play. More on that at another time.

Once again, I don't mind Ken playing devil's advocate and trying to warn us, and if he and the scout end up being dead on, I'll give a big tip of the cap and a slow cap to them. But, for each warning there should be new information or more quotes from different scouts to make the points more vaild and believable.


Marlins Bandwagon Report

Monday, April 13, 2009

This entry is the first of a feature that will appear between two and three times a month, profiling how the media and general baseball fans feel about the Marlins.

Before the season it seemed like most publications and television shows set up a Marlins bandwagon but just weren't ready to hop on. They would be talked up like they had a chance to compete but when it came down to it, most said something to the effect of, "not this year, too young, just not good enough." All that seems to be changing though after an impressive 5-1 opening week. The sweep over the Nationals wasn't a great feat (The Braves just duplicated it) but it was the way they did it that made the league notice. They got solid starting pitching and just pounded out hits and runs cruising to two easy wins and one easy turned mildly difficult triumph. Sure the media gave credit for the 3-0 start but it was still accompanied by, "here come the Mets, this will be a real test." Well, there was some great baseball played this weekend and the Marlins were able to win two close ballgames while dropping the middle contest. The starting pitching was even better while the hitting was less productive but more timely. Now a lot of the "maybes" are turning into "probables" when referring to whether the Marlins can be in the hun into September. I'd say the Marlins bandwagon is about 60% full. Many have come aboard, but there is still plenty of room. The midweek series against the also 5-1 Atlanta Braves will go a long way towards people deciding which NL East team will be the third wheel to the Mets and Phillies this year.

Josh Johnson has basically gone from Cy Young third tier watch list to one of the leading candidates. Baseball Tonight even pretty much declared if he stays healthy all year (which is a concern) he will the win the award.

Emilio Bonifacio received much praise this week and his bandwagon basically went from empty to full. Hell, even I was skeptical with him as the leadoff hitter but he has proven everyone wrong. He is exactly the table setter we need at the top of the lineup and his speed does change games. Being consistent will be the issue now and I wouldn't be surprised if his bandwagon had the largest gains and losses of occupancy of any other player this year.


Week in Review

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Overview: The Fish went 5-1 in the opening week, sweeping the Nationals before taking 2 of 3 from the Mets.
Positives: The Fish are already hitting, with Dan Uggla, Jorge Cantu, and Hanley Ramirez hitting multiple home runs this week. Emilio Bonifacio has thus far proved his worth in the leadoff spot, while the starting rotation sported an ERA of 2.70, with a bonus complete-game shutout at the hands of Josh Johnson.
Negatives: It's hard to complain about a 5-1 stretch, but relief pitching was a concern in the opening week. The bullpen blew two save opportunities against the Mets on Friday night, including a one-run lead in the ninth inning, before being bailed out. Matt Lindstrom blew a save on Friday night and earned an Antonio Alfonseca save on Wednesday, beginning the ninth inning with a three-run lead and giving up a run and loading the bases before finally closing the door.
Line of the Week: Josh Johnson was dealing on Sunday. His numbers against the Mets:

IP H R ER BB SO Pitches-Strikes ERA
9 5 1 1 1 7 113-77 0.57

Highlight of the Week: It's a tie this week between an inside-the-park home run from Emilio Bonifacio and a grand slam from Hanley Ramirez, both on opening day.
Looking ahead: After a day off on Monday, the Marlins head to Atlanta for three games and a weekend series in Washington against the Nats. We will likely see Alfredo Amezega this week, as he returned from the DL on Sunday.

Image via Miami Herald


Starting Pitching, Errors, and the Solo Homer

Friday, April 10, 2009

This will be a series throughout the season profiling the identity of last year's team and determining whether the offseason changes in roster and philosophy result in actual differences in these areas. We expect to update after every couple of series, about once a week on average.

Starting Pitching

Since Last 3 0 3 0 3.06
Season 3 0 3 0 3.06


Since Last 3 2 2
Season 3 2 2

Home Runs

Since Last 3 5* 11* 42.3%
Season 4 5* 11* 42.3%

*I did not include Emilio Bonifacio's inside the park home run and the runs resulting from it because, despite its awesomeness quotient, it was about speed and not power, which is what we are trying to convey here.

Overall Assessment

The starting pitching has done it's job, which has been made easier by being supplied early big leads in the first two games. It's also a little strange that a 3-0 record and 3.06 ERA by the starters has actually come without the benefit of a single quality start. Both JJ and Volstad were on their way but exited before completing the 6th inning (I'm still perplexed why Volstad came out so early). Nolasco also had a chance in his six innings before allowing the three-run bomb to Adam Dunn.

The Marlins were remarkably error-free through two games thanks to a late scoring change, but they certaintly did their part in the third game. Cody Ross' mental blunder cost the team one unearned run and two total runs in the 1st. And Dan Uggla's mistake in the 9th set the stage for a blown lead before being bailed out by late inning defensive replacement Brett Carroll (I bet managers love when those guys come through).

While the offense did look a lot more small-ball oriented, it was still helped much by the big ball. Early homers gave the club leads in two games and Hanley's big grand slam in the opener put that game beyond reach.


QS: Quality start, a pitcher who goes 6+ innings and allows 3 or fewer runs
URA: Unearned runs allowed
TR: Total runs resulting from home runs
R%: Percentage of the team's runs that came via a home run


We hate the Mets, too...

There's a bit of hate going around concerning the Mets-Marlins series opening up tonight in Miami, so I thought I'd add to the fun, and present, via YouTube, the final out at Shea Stadium, in which the Marlins officially eliminate the Mets from the playoffs (for the second year in a row). Once the final out is recorded, the fans in the stands can't quite decide whether to cheer, boo, or cry, but eventually they settle on booing. It's mass action at its dimmest.

Yeah, that doesn't get old.


Marlins Sweep Away Nats

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

And the first save of the season is recorded by Matt Lindstrom Brett Carroll. A good start by Chris Volstad and a huge 3-RBI double by Dan Uggla gave the Marlins a 5-2 lead heading into the later innings. In the 9th though it was Uggla combining with closer Matt Lindstrom in an attempt to throw the game. Lindstrom walked two (including Adam Dunn with the bases loaded1) sandwiched around a fielding error by Uggla. With the lead cut to 6-4 and the bases load with only one out, Stormy2 was able to K Josh Willingham. On the next pitch Austin Kearns laced a liner into left that Carroll lunged and caught after first being frozen. It was a tough play with the game on the line and it was a huge out to record the win and the sweep. I'll leave it at that for now but stay tuned as we will have two new features to debut during tomorrow's off-day.

1 In retrospect, the walk wasn't the worst thing in the world. It was a long at bat, and if a strike was thrown it may have ended up as a go-ahead grand slam.
2 I've heard this used as Lindstrom's nickname a couple times and if it indeed is, then so far it's fitting. The end to this game was like running for cover in a thunderstorm.


Children of the Marlins Diaspora 5

Luis Castillo, 2B

Played for Marlins: 1996-2005
Other Teams: Minnesota Twins (2006-2007), New York Mets (2007-current)
Marlins fans know him because: He holds many club records based on his unparalleled longevity with the club, including games played, at bats, hits, and runs scored. He was the only player remaining on the Marlins from the 1997 championship in 2003 (Jeff Conine was on both but left the club in between).
Everyone else knows him because: He was the batter for the infamous Bartman play in the 2003 NLCS. The foul ball wasn't made an out and he later walked, which helped propel the eight run inning. He also had a well publicized 35-game hitting streak in 2002 that remains the longest for any Latino player or second baseman (Chase Utley has since tied this). He also did it with the defense, winning three straight Gold Gloves between 2003 and 2005.
Best Marlins moment: I'm going to break my own rule because a hitting streak isn't exactly a moment, but it's astonishing to realize that in the 100+year history of the league, only ten people have a longer streak than Castillo. An actual memorable moment to me was when the streak ended. The Marlins came back from either four or five runs in the ninth inning to beat the Tigers and the game ended on a sacrifice fly with Castillo on deck. It was a weird mix of emotions to get a huge win in the middle of the season, but have a historic streak ended like that.

An honorable mention for best moment has to be the recent revelation that Castillo played in the 2003 World Series despite the unfortunate passing of his brother. He didn't have a great series (understandable), but just being able to play and keep the lineup stable is mind boggling. If he was absent, Mike Mordecai would have had to fill in at second base and the lineup would have undergone drastic changes. He still played a key role in the decisive game six, singling home Alex Gonzalez for the first run of the ballgame in the fifth inning.

(image via


Your 2009 Verducci Effect Watch List

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci released his annual list of pitchers susceptible to the Verducci Effect (he still humbly calls it the Year After Effect, but I'm not afraid to give the man his due). As expected, no Marlins made the list this year, but four other NL East pitchers made the list, including the previously mentioned Cole Hamels, along with the Mets' Mike Pelfrey and Jon Niese, as well as the Braves' Jair Jurrjens. Also making the list were two of the game's premier young arms, Tim Lincecum and Jon Lester.

Should any of these guys, their teams, or their fans be worried? I'll let Verducci take this one:

Over the previous three years I red-flagged a total of 24 young pitchers at the start of those seasons. Of those 24 at-risk pitchers, 16 were hurt in that same season. Only one of the 24 pitchers managed to stay healthy and lower his ERA: Ubaldo Jimenez of Colorado, a guy I said would be less at risk because of his powerful body type.

You've been warned.

Though I do not root for opposing players to get injured (we're trying to have a civilization, here, people), my inner reptilian brain cannot help but be pleased with Verducci's findings. With that in mind, I'm already worried about Chris Volstad, Andrew Miller, and Josh Johnson's inclusion on the 2010 Verducci Effect List.


Coming Attractions

Starting tonight, Josh Johnson is:

UPDATE: Josh backed up my artwork, going scoreless over 6 and 2/3 while striking out 8 for the W. I would have hated to have to retire that photoshop after one bad start...


Opening Day

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Marlins beat the Nationals 12-6, led by home runs from Jorge Cantu and Jeremy Hermida, a grand slam from Hanley, and an inside-the-park home run from Emilio Bonifacio. Bonifacio may have been the first man to hit an inside-the-parker for his first career home run on Opening Day. Nolasco pitched 6 innings, giving up 5 runs (4 earned) on 6 hits with 6 strikeouts. The Fish were in their usual form - lots of home runs with ok-enough pitching (though it is not recomended you extrapolate too much off of a win against the Nats). Usually when I watch the Marlins on tv (which is infrequent, given my living in Virginia), they lose. Today was a nice deviation from the norm.

Image via Miami Herald


Dave's Preview

I'm using bullet points here, so I won't go into as much detail as Ted did.

  • Predicted record and finish: 86-76, 3rd in NL East.
  • Cameron Maybin will not win the ROY. His status as the buzzworthy candidate in the preseason jinxes him. Hanley will get MVP consideration, but will be dismissed when his team misses the playoffs. None of the Marlins' pitchers will get any Cy Young consideration, but not because they didn't deserve it.
  • The Marlins will be in playoff contention until mid-September, when they will fade down the stretch.
  • Hanley will take a month to hit his stride in the third spot of the order, but once he does, he will thrive. I expect a high-VORP year from SS1a once again.
  • As for the rest of the league, in the AL, your division winners are Oakland, Cleveland, and New York, with Boston taking the Wild Card. In the NL, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and LA win their divisions, and Chicago takes the Wild Card. Cleveland beats New York in the ALCS, and Philadelphia beats Milwaukee in the NLCS. In the World Series, Cleveland wins in 6 games, finally exorcising the demons of Vic Wertz.


Ted's Preview

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Starting Pitching

This is the biggest strength of the team. Most people would say the power hitting, but I disagree. The top three of the rotation has a chance to be great. Ricky Nolasco was an ace last year and sliding in right after him are Josh Johnson and Chris Volstad who had impressive half seasons last year and also have high ace potential. Even fourth and fifth starters Anibal Sanchez and Andrew Miller have ace potential, but because of where the lie in the rotation, they don't need to be all stars now, just decent.


This could be a trouble area. The lefties are a bit of a question mark and a lot of other pitcher's roles haven't been defined yet. Even closer Matt Lindstrom has a minor health concern and hasn't yet been a full time closer. There is plenty of talent in the organization and there is always the possibility of a move before the trade deadline but this should be the area to ay attention too.

Starting Position Players

The front office has a done a good job trying to get players who fit the philosophy of the organization. Gone is some power hitting, but in should be a better on base percentage and better small ball geared to win tight games. Hanley Ramirez may have a tough month or so adapting to the three-hole, but after that he should be a major run producer. The major question mark when it comes to the position players remains defense. Jorge Cantu slides over to first base and even though Emilio Bonifacio is new to third base, he should be an ugrade. Also the outfield should be improved with Cameron Maybin covering a lot of ground in center field.


This is another area of concern. Roles are undefined here and there is also a new face who wasn't even in the Marlin's spring training (Ross Gload). As Dave pointed out, the acquisition of Ronnie Paulino should allow for a nice platoon at catcher, but after that it gets foggy. Brett Carroll is the fourth outfielder, but as good as his defense is, he has yet to rove he can hit in the big leagues. It may once again be up to Alfredo Amezaga to be the man at literally every position.

Final Thoughts

The starting staff should kee the team in a lot of games and win a lot of games on their own. The offense should be pretty good but I do think there may be significant slump that you often see with young teams. Ultimately I think the club will win between 78-82 games and finish short of the division and wild card race. But that doesn't mean the season won't be fun. The mix of established players and young potential should be a joy to watch, as long as we don't act like we are a real baseball town or anything like that.


2009 Macropreview

We'll be making our own predictions for 2009 soon, but here is a sample of what everyone else is predicting for the Marlins in 2009.

Will the Marlins have reason to celebrate in 2009?

We compiled as much as we could find on the web, and consolidated it into one spreadsheet available here. We tried to use some discretion - no two baseball blogs are created equal, but our selection may seem arbitrary to some readers. If you find something interesting that we missed, leave a comment and we may add it to the spreadsheet.

Average Record:

Average Finish
: Fourth in NL East. Baseball Prospectus pegged the Fish at last in the division with three different methodologies, all using predictive statistics. Might that be an over-reliance on past performance, considering many of the Marlins (especially the rotation) have tiny sample sizes from which to work? Even so, with the Mets and Phillies appearing loaded, it is not surprising that no one likes the Fish to win the division, but then again, the team has a history of sneaking up on people when they least expect it...

: Jeff Pearlman thinks the Fish will grab the NL Cy and ROY (by Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin), but he dubs his predictions "Guaranteed to be 100% (not) accurate." ... On's MLB Preview, John Heyman, Ted Keith, Joe Posnanski, Albert Chen, Lee Jenkins, Melissa Segura, and Jonah Freedman pick Maybin for ROY, while Genarro Filice picks Hanley Ramirez to win NL MVP. Ben Reiter and Jenkins picked the Fish as the sleeper team of 2009 ... The Warner Report also thinks Hanley will get the MVP ... Over at Dugout Central, Thomas Wayne listed the Marlins as the fifth best team in baseball, but still thinks the Phillies are the team to beat in the NL East ... Walkoff Walk is cautious on the Marlins' young talent, but nonetheless picked Cameron Maybin to win ROY ... On ESPN, Matthew Berry and Chris Singleton have the Marlins as this year's dark horse, Maybin was the ROY pick of Jorge Arangure Jr., Eric Karabell, Nate Ravitz, Brendan Roberts, Enrique Rojas, Singleton, Jayson Stark, and Jason Grey, Peter Gammons has Josh Johnson winning the Cy, and Karabell and Rojas have Hanley for MVP. Only Singleton has the Marlins in the playoffs, winning the Wild Card.

We'll be making our own predictions later today, so stay tuned...


Rotation Set

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Looks like Ted was right, Andrew Miller will start the season in the bullpen. The team named Anibal Sanchez the fourth starter, and Miller will join the rotation as the fifth starter on April 15. It seems like a sensible move to me, as Miller is still working on his motion so as to not throw across his body. Some extra time in the pen and some long relief duty in garbage time will give him an extra few weeks to iron out the kinks. Miller could become an ace, so there's no rush in getting him two extra starts in 2009.

Meanwhile, the Marlins picked up RHP Hayden Penn from the Orioles in exchange for Robert Andino in a rather unsurprising exchange of players out of options with no spots on their former teams. Hopefully Andino will find room to grow in the Orioles organization. As for Penn, he hasn't shown much promise in scant major league action, but in my mind, relievers are mostly a crapshoot: sometimes they put it together for long stretches, and sometimes they're Jorge Julio. Since the Fish would have been forced to release Andino, at least they got something in return.

The Fish also traded popular Player to be Named to Kansas City for first-baseman Ross Gload. Gload is being penciled in as Jorge Cantu's backup at first, which I am interpreting as disappointment in Gaby Sanchez. He had the first-base job all but locked up in the spring, but will open the season in Triple-A New Orleans. Surely, we will see him again by September (and maybe sooner), but in the meantime, the Marlins needed someone whose primary position was first base (with Wes Helms and Jorge Cantu being natural third-basemen).

So with Opening Day fast approaching, the roster appears all but set, with the injury status of Alfredo Amezega being the major remaining question.


Introducing Ronny Paulino

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Marlins traded for catcher Ronny Paulino over the weekend, sending RHP Hector Correa to the Giants in return. The move effectively closed debate on the catchers the team will employ on opening day, as Mike Rabelo was optioned to AAA-New Orleans the same day. The Marlins will have John Baker starting, with Paulino playing backup.

While it would seem odd that the Fish would target a catcher via trade, their intentions become a bit more clear when you look at Paulino's and Baker's batting splits. Against left-handed pitchers, Paulino has hit .355/.417/.498 over his career, with 8 home runs and 42 RBI in 259 at bats. Meanwhile, Baker has hit .327/.417/.487 against right-handed pitchers, with 4 home runs and 24 RBI in 150 at-bats. If their career numbers hold up (which is not a given, since both have small sample sizes), this could turn out to be an effective platoon combination at the plate. However, if Paulino cannot develop a good relationship with the pitching staff, he could see less playing time. We'll have to watch this situation play out, but with Larry Beinfast's track record (he did pluck Cody Ross seemingly out of thin air), I'm willing to give the Marlins the benefit of the doubt on this one.

Image via


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