Week in Review

Monday, August 31, 2009

Programming note: posting was very light in August, and for that we apologize. We will return to our Mets-hating form in September, and all 10 of our readers can expect near-daily posting. Please accept our heartfelt apologies for our lackluster performance this month. A Marlins blog should not be as disappointing as the actual Marlins. With that said, below is an abbreviated Week in Review.

Sean West breaks a losing streak against the Padres.

Overview: The Marlins took 2 of 3 from the Mets before dropping 2 of 3 to the Padres.
Positives: Chris Coghlan and Hanley continued their August tears, both have topped 45 hits for the month of August. Sean West contributed two quality starts this week, perhaps he is putting it together at the right time.
Negatives: Did the Marlins really lose 2 of 3 to San Diego? Ugh... Chris Volstad was demoted, having finally broken Fredi's patience. I'm missing Nick Johnson in the lineup, Ross Gload can only do so much.
Looking Ahead: The Fish host Atlanta for four games before spending Labor Day weekend in DC.

AP Photo/J Pat Carter via ESPN.com


Assessing the Marlins' Playoff Chances

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

With about six weeks remaining in the season, the Fish still have an outside shot to make the playoffs (not bad for a team most analysts predicted to struggle). As of this morning, the Marlins sit eight back of the Phillies in third place in the NL East (one game behind the Braves), and 5.5 back of the Rockies for the Wild Card (five behind in the loss column), with the Braves and Giants also ahead of them.

When it comes to examining pennant races, the rule of thumb is if there are fewer weeks left in the season than wins to make up, then your chances of catching up are slim. As such, it appears the NL East crown is out of reach barring a Philadelphia collapse and/or a major hot streak for the Marlins. However, the Wild Card is still attainable, though the Marlins have the disadvantage of not playing the Rockies or Giants in the final weeks of the season. Their remaining schedule shapes up thusly:
  • 9 games against the Mets (6 home, 3 away)
  • 7 games against the Braves (4 home, 3 away)
  • 6 games against the Phillies (3 home, 3 away)
  • 6 games against the Nationals (3 home, 3 away)
  • 4 games against the Reds (all away)
  • 3 games against the Cardinals (all away)
  • 3 games against the Padres (all home)
That's not a bad schedule. The Padres, Mets, Nationals, and Reds all have losing records, and the Cardinals are running away with the NL Central, so they may be playing a bunch of September call-ups by the time their series rolls around. The 13 combined games against the Braves and Phillies may seem a bit daunting, but you want to play the teams ahead of you this late in the season; it gives you the best chance of making up ground.

The Marlins will need Tall Dark & Mormon to resume his dominance if they want to make the playoffs.

The Marlins will get at least 8 starts from Josh Johnson barring injury, and maybe more if the Fish decide to capitalize on their three remaining off-days and skip a start in the rotating fifth spot (which I would recommend). Hopefully his last start was just a momentary blip and he can continue That leaves another 7 starts each for Ricky Nolasco, Chris Volstad, and Anibal Sanchez, plus whatever starts will be needed from Sean West (which could be as little as 5 or 6 if his starts get skipped around off-days). Of all the pitchers in the organization, these are the five I would like to see used during the stretch, so I guess everything is shaping up nicely with Anibal coming out of rehab. The Marlins will have to probably go 5-1 or 6-0 against the Phils to take the NL East, which is quite a tall order, but I think the Wild Card is still in reach. Stay tuned...


House Money

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Some thoughts about last night. First of all, big props to Anibal Sanchez. He made his first start since returning from the disabled list, and was brilliant. He threw five no hit innings before allowing one run on two hits with seven strikeouts in his six innings of work. Not bad for someone on a pitch count. This is huge. Honestly, I wasn't expecting much from Anibal the rest of this season, but if he can give us anything, that would be like playing with house money. With Volstad struggling in the second half, perhaps Sanchez can be that third cog in the rotation coming down the stretch. Hopefully he just stays healthy, because we all know how good he can be.

Mother nature was vying for it's third save in as many chances for the Marlins this year, but ultimately it had to settle for the hold. The weather reports and radar maps I saw didn't give me any reason to believe the last five outs of the game would be completed, but credit the Atlanta grounds crew for making a somewhat playable field for the final nine minutes of baseball.

And lastly, thanks to Cody Ross for making sure it was only nine minutes and not allowing the Braves to bring the potential tying run to the plate after he gunned down Laroche at second on his base hit. That was sweet.


Week in Review

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Mother Nature took a break as the Marlins closer and instead decided to give the team Saturday Night off.

Overview: The Marlins did well to win three of four against the Astros. After a win over the Rockies on Friday, they split a doubleheader today to finish off a 5-2 week.
Positives: The team is hitting like we haven't seen in quite some time. The streak of games with at least ten hits is up to thirteen and counting. In the seven games this week, they've scored 51 runs. As I mentioned Friday night, Chris Coghlan and Nick Johnson should get the most credit for continually getting on base and starting things. It also helps when all the run producers (Hanley, in particular) are hot at the plate though.
Negatives: The pitching hasn't been stellar, especially the bullpen. Twice this week we were treated to an Alfonseca-save and that's on top of the save Leo Nunez blew Tuesday night. As for the starters, other than Josh Johnson's gem on Friday, the only other quality start was a Sean West outing on Thursday. Ricky Nolasco was bombed for ten runs in 3 1/3 innings in his outing. The V-team of Volstad and Vandenhurk each had a bad outing, paired with a decent outing, but that's not going to be good enough if we are trying to make the playoffs.
Highlight of the Week: After the Fish came back from a 7-2 deficit, and Leo Nunez blew a save, Dan Uggla delivered a win in the 11th inning with a bases loaded single.
Line: of the Week: This is really a line of two weeks, but it deserves mentioning. Below are rookie Chris Coghlan's numbers for the month of August.

15 G, 29-69, .420% BA, 7 BB, 14 R, 13 RBI, .474% OBP, 1.068% OPS

Looking Ahead: The Fish are on the road for three each in Houston and Atlanta, after an off day Monday.

image via Joe Frisaro


Josh Johnson Still Boss (And Other Notes)

Friday, August 14, 2009

We of course know this, but he likes to reaffirm it to us. Another brilliant performance: 7 1/3 IP, 1 ER, 11 K. He is now 12-2 with a 2.84 ERA and is sure to get Cy Young consideration less props than he should.

Great combined effort by the pen to notch the Alfonseca-save. We only asked them to get five outs, and they gave up four runs, all in the ninth inning. And predictably, when Todd Helton comes to the plate as the tying run, he flies out. By now, I am calling out what our bullpen will do as it happens about as accurately as I can reference any line of Animal House. They need to mix it up and surprise me every so often.

Nick Johnson has now played 11 games with the Marlins and has posted an even .500% OBP in just over 50 plate appearances. He is also OPS-ing .944% which is just a colossal improvement over Bonifacio's .600% he was posting for four months. Just saying.

Tonight we had three sacrifice bunts, and two sacrifice flies. The small ball was getting too much for my head to take, but thankfully Dan Uggla launched a two-run shot and I was back to normal.

(AP photo via ESPN.com)



Thursday, August 13, 2009

I'm going on vacation tonight, I won't have much internet access while I'm gone, so Ted will be flying solo in the meantime. While I'm gone, perhaps our starters can figure out a way to give the bullpen some time off (hint: stop sucking).

See you on the other side...

Image via Feministing (awesome name).


Hey, remember Miguel Olivo?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Via the indispensable Stat of the Day blog at Baseball Reference, do you remember how awful Miguel Olivo was at getting on base? In 2006, he became the only player in MLB history to strike out over 100 times while walking less than 10 times. This year in Kansas City, Olivo has struck out 93 times with 8 walks, putting him on pace to duplicate his 2006 feat as long as he does not walk twice the rest of the season (I'd say he has a better than 50/50 shot).

Miguel was probably the biggest free-swinger on the team during 2006 and 2007. Rarely were there at bats in which he would take the first pitch. When he made contact on the first pitch, he was golden, hitting .444 with 11 home runs (he hit 16 total that year) with a 1.369 (!!) OPS. But if a pitcher got past the first pitch, Olivo wasn't that tough to retire, hitting .215 with a .555 OPS after the first pitch. Not surprisingly, the Marlins let Olivo walk after 2007, opting to go with anyone but Olivo, and eventually settling on John Baker, who could actually, you know, get on base...


Week in Review

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Jeremy Hermida makes a sno-cone grab off a Ryan Howard fly ball on Sunday.

Overview: The Marlins dropped three in Washington before sweeping a weekend series in Philly. It was the most infuriating 3-3 week ever.
Positives: Chris Coghlan is in the middle of a franchise-record eight-game multihit streak, and went 15 for 29 this week with 2 walks. Adam Smoot proved that two fanbases as apathetic as the Marlins' and Nationals' could hate each other. The weekend sweep pulled the Fish within four games of first place. Josh Johnson hit his third home run of the year on Tuesday, tying a team record.
Negatives: Nothing gets a fan base more depressed than getting swept by the Nats. The bullpen was especially bad in DC this week, blowing leads on Tuesday and Thursday. The pen gave up 5 runs in 3 and 2/3 on Thursday afternoon, wasting an eight-run effort at the plate. The Marlins continue to insist on giving at-bats to Emilio Bonifacio and Jeremy Hermida, despite the fact that a more than capable replacement for the two is waiting in NOLA.
Highlight of the Week: Cody Ross' two-run go-ahead home run in the sixth inning on Saturday night was indicative of the weekend series, in which the Fish managed to get hits at all the right times.
Line of the Week: Ricky Nolasco gets the nod with his streak-breaking seven-inning outing on Friday night, limiting the Phillies to two runs on four hits while striking out seven.
Looking Ahead: The Marlins return to Miami for a four-game set against Houston followed by a weekend series against the Rockies.

AP Photo/Tom Mihalek via ESPN


It is time to bring back Cameron Maybin

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Tonight, facing Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels, Fredi has decided to bench Jeremy Hermida, move Cody Ross to right field, and play Emilio Bonifacio at center. The reason ostensibly being that Hermida does not hit well against lefties (true), and Bonifacio would be an improvement. While B-Face is technically an improvement over Hermida (.325 OBP vs. Hermida's .277 against lefties), this should not be a permanent solution. It is time the team called up Cameron Maybin. Before he was sent down to Triple-A New Orleans in May, Maybin was OBPing a paltry .265 against lefties. After almost 70 games in New Orleans, he is OBPing at a .415 pace.

And while we're at it, great jersey at the Triple-A affiliate...

If the Marlins are serious about minimizing deficiencies in their lineup, they will have to at least consider inserting someone other than Hermida or Bonifacio into the everyday lineup. They have morphed into a two-headed out-making machine, and while I don't wish to denigrate them or scapegoat them, they clearly represent one of the biggest holes in the everyday lineup. B-Face is very fast, but if he cannot get on base, then he is useless to the team.

The Marlins do need him as a middle-infield replacement (since Alfredo Amezega is on the DL), so this might mean sending down a pitcher and carrying 13 position players. Then again, the Marlins could also bring up Brett Carroll (I'll defer to Craig's argument in favor at FishStripes), giving themselves a solid defensive replacement, as well as someone who can hit the ball.

They can do all of this when the rosters expand to 40 in September, but the Marlins need to win games in August, too, so why wait?


So that happened...

The Fish beat the Phillies 3-2 last night, breaking their 3-game losing streak. All it took was good pitching, as Ricky Nolasco limited the Phils to 2 runs in 7 innings while striking out 7. How well did last night go for the Marlins? Renyel Pinto walked two batters in the eighth and still escaped the inning unscathed.



Thursday, August 6, 2009

Go ahead, Neil, this officially qualifies as malaise.


This Week in Schadenfreude

Courtesy of @josh_levin:

Anything to take my mind off another loss to the Nationals. And Josh, when might we see another Slates Sports Gabfest? I need it to make my job less disappointing. Stop being so selfish, Josh.



Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Well, that wasn't how I expected things to go...

On the plus side, Ted stumbled upon this last night:

Not to pile on Hermida here, but at what point do the Marlins consider calling Cameron Maybin back up and moving Cody Ross to right field? Hermida hasn't been terrible (his OPS+ is currently 92, which is only slightly below average), but Maybin has been putting up much better numbers in triple-A New Orleans (.415 OBP and 6 triples). Also, Maybin appears to be a better leadoff option than Chris Coghlan. The Marlins made a logical move trading for Nick Johnson in order to bench Emilio Bonifacio, will they apply their logic to Hermida, the one-time future of the franchise?

One other thought: start Josh Johnson in right field on days he doesn't pitch. Can't argue with that power...


Link of the Day

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Did you know that there is a Cody Ross fan site? Me neither. Here it is (h/t: FishStripes).

As you can see from the site, the proprietors are much better at Photoshop than I am. Also, their image gallery is choice. Check out some of the selections below.

Even as a child, Cody had that somewhat disturbing smile.

Laugh at the photo now, but Hanley's contract includes a clause requiring Cody to carry him onto the field every inning if Hanley hits 40 home runs.

We have added CodyRoss.org to the blogroll on the sidebar.


Week in Review

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Cody Ross walks off.

Overview: The Marlins won both series against the Braves and Cubs, finishing the week 4-2.
Positives: New acquisition Nick Johnson has reached base in six of his first ten plate appearances as a Marlin, it's like he knows how to get on base and stuff... and getting benched has not seemed to affect Emilio Bonifacio. The Marlins have made two straight ninth-inning comebacks, and are proving to be very resilient, which I will take as a good sign.
Negatives: Hanley was removed with a knee ouchie on Saturday and did not start on Sunday, but I am told it was a precautionary move ahead of an off day. The Marlins gave up a lot of runs in the 9th and 10th innings this week, leaving me pause to worry about the state of the bullpen. It was probably wise not to give up Sean West or Andrew Miller for Heath Bell, but I am hoping that move does not backfire in the short run. The Fish need to find themselves a fifth starter. Burke Badenhop was placed on the 15-day DL, and Miller on the minor league DL, this week, leaving the Marlins with limited options (Tim Wood? Brian Sanches? Someone else?)...
Highlight of the Week: Don't be a dick and make me choose between Gload's and Ross' walkoff taters. I should not be forced to pick a favorite. Uggla's game-tying tater tot on Sunday was pretty epic as well, reaching the upper deck.
Line of the Week: Josh Johnson served up his 18th (!) quality start of the year on Wednesday, giving up 3 runs in 6 innings while serving up a three-run home run (negating the 3 earned runs, as it were). He's like Carlos Zambrano, except he's not batshit crazy. Nice week for Rosses and Johnsons...1
Looking Ahead: The Marlins have Monday off, then go on the road, playing three in Washington followed by an important three-game set at Philadelphia.

AP Photo/Jeffrey M. Boan



This Week in Schadenfreude

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Courtesy of Conan O'Brien...


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