Re: The Team That Time Forgot

Saturday, February 27, 2010

On Friday, we briefly mentioned the Florida Marlins Season Preview that appeared on Deadspin, written by the famous Will Leitch. If you still haven't read it, please do so, it will only take a couple minutes.

I agree with Dave's suggestion that this probably wasn't a deliberate thrashing of the Marlins and their fan base, but rather just a lazy attempt at writing something about the team, while most likely on some sort of deadline. It is somewhat reasonable that instead of writing about a team who finished 12 games over .500 in 2009 and has realistic hopes at the postseason this year, he chose to just touch on the usual deficiencies of the team and their following, or lack thereof. His A's preview also focused more on the culture of the team than the actual team itself. That's probably what the Deadspin community wants to read and complain about anyway.

Even though we understand and forgive Will, we thought it'd be a good idea to take a further look at his piece and offer a respectful rebuttal

First up, Leitch took a shot at the lack of fans.

That is mean and unfair, you say, and you're of course correct. I would apologize to Marlins fans if I knew where they were. I mean that in every sense of the word. The A's might have lower attendance numbers, but they certainly do have fans. I've never met a Marlins fan. I've met Memphis Grizzlies fans. The passion just isn't there: The Marlins — as an on-field team, not as an organization — have done everything possible to please a fanbase over the last 13 years, and it just hasn't stuck.
First of all, I'd disagree about the team doing everything possible to please a fan base. The team until recently had just about zero player-retention. Fan favorites like Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera were traded and although in hindsight some of those moves have been good (acquiring Hanley Ramirez, shedding the D-Train), they caused a significant anger/disrespect level amongst many fans.

Also, many have now made Will aware that we Marlins fans do exist. So instead of simply asserting our existence, I'll list some possible reasons why he hasn't come across any Marlins fans.
  1. Perhaps he has never been to South Florida, particularly in the summertime. I'd find it hard to believe he can spend more than a couple days here and not find at least one devoted fan
  2. The Marlins are still a very young franchise, born in 1993. There aren't a lot of people like Dave, who grew up with the team and continue to root for them after moving out of South Florida. Give it another twenty years or so and we should see at least a bit more of a national following.
  3. Or not. How many people move away from South Florida anyway? I'd venture a guess that amongst cities in which there is an MLB team, Miami is close to the bottom in terms of people who grow up there then leave. Florida is life's end zone, not the first quarter or some other terrible football analogy.
Leitch also mentions FishStripes but bemoans the fact that although there were five new posts that day, there were a combined zero comments on those posts. I think this was actually just bad timing. If you look further, the older posts do have plenty of comments, and if he were to check any game threads or the Ichthyomancy contest, he'd realize that there is at least a small contingent of dedicated readers. Also the forums on and the comment section at Marlin Maniac are usually pretty active with more diehards.

He then had this to say about our illustrious owner.
They're opening a new stadium in two years, surely set up for more money in Jeff Loria's pocket, who's basically an upgraded version of George Steinbrenner, Steinbrenner 2.0, except Loria doesn't actually care about winning.
We also made the Loria-Steinbrenner comparison recently but we must strongly disagree with Leitch's assertion that Loria doesn't care about winning. He does. Loria has stated that this year's team should make the playoffs. He also seems to think the last few teams should have also made the playoffs, by evidence of the fact he nearly fired manager Fredi Gonzalez last year, who won 87 games with the league's smallest payroll. In fact, Fredi is responsible for franchise's two best seasons (2008 & 2009) excluding the World Series years, yet he's on one of the hottest seats in all of MLB.

In summary, regarding the fans, I'll say what I have believed all long. While the Marlins certainly don't have the largest fan base, the majority of fans certainly do have the same passion for baseball and their team that you'd find in Boston, New York, or even Leitch's beloved St. Louis. Also, as we have pointed out here, there are undoubtedly some interesting aspects of being a Marlins fan, which makes Marlins fandom unique (at least we think so). So while the whole of the baseball universe north of West Palm Beach sees an apathetic, front-running following, we here just appreciate our cozy eccentric community and a enjoy a baseball team that isn't as lame as the Pirates. Will, if you're reading this, and ever make a trip to South Florida during the baseball months, please take a visit to a game, I'll be happy to meet you there, show you around, and buy the first round of overpriced beers.

Oh, and stay tuned in the coming weeks for some team preview posts so you can learn a little about the team besides Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson.


Introducing: Weekend Roundup

Ed. note: Every spring, in order to avoid repeating the same rehashed story lines, beat writers for every major league team write 300-word profiles of a whole host of new faces invited to Spring Training. These stories run the gamut from retreads hoping to extend their career one more year to marginal minor league prospects to new free-agent signees getting comfortable with their new teammates. Most of these stories are forgettable, but will give the reader at least one interesting anecdote or point of view. Every week of Spring Training, we'll be posting the best or most interesting of these stories from the Miami Herald, Sun Sentinel, Palm Beach Post, and other news outlets, for your weekend reading pleasure.

Florida Marlins' Kris Harvey Trying to Follow in His Father's Footsteps, by Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald:
When the Marlins drafted Harvey out of Clemson in the second round of the 2005 draft, they had him targeted as a hitting outfielder.

And for a brief while, hit Harvey did. He smacked 15 home runs at Single A Greensboro (N.C.) in 2006 and 12 more at Single A Jupiter in '07. But after being promoted to Double A Carolina in '08 and getting off to a rough start -- hitting only .148 -- Harvey phoned pop to say it was time for a career switch. He wanted to pitch.

"I didn't want to waste time anymore trying to hit," he said.

Harvey, by then wearing a Fu Manchu mustache like the one his father wore with the Marlins in '93, was given permission to change positions.

Meet Scott Strickland, by Joe Frisaro of
"They've been trying to get me the last three or four years," the right-hander said. "For whatever reason, I've always gone somewhere else. Every year, they've tried to sign me, and I've always gone somewhere else. I don't know exactly why. Whether it was money, or whatever else [Dave: It was money, obvs.]. This year I didn't wait to compare offers. I was like, 'You know what, these guys came to me quickly like they've always done, and I'm going to sign.' "

Florida Marlins Pitcher Jose Ceda's Accidental Shooting Finally Revealed To Team, by Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald:
Jose Ceda brought a painful secret with him when he showed up to spring training last season with the Marlins, fresh off a trade from the Chicago Cubs. Ceda -- unbeknown by the Marlins until Sunday -- had shot his best friend with a handgun in the Dominican Republic.

The friend survived, and the shooting was ruled an accident, according to the 23-year-old pitcher and his agent, Paul Kinzer. Details of the shooting are fuzzy.

But Ceda was scarred emotionally.
Maybin to Stanton: Be Patient With Yourself, by Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun-Sentinel:
Baseball America this week named Marlins Double-A outfielder Mike Stanton the game's third-best prospect. One Marlin in particular can relate to that kind of expectation.

In 2009, Cameron Maybin was No. 8 on the magazine's Top 100 prospects ranking. The two prior years he was sixth. Maybin's advice to Stanton: "Be patient with yourself. Don't get caught up on when everybody is projecting you to be in the big leagues."

At the insistence of Triple-A manager Edwin Rodriguez last season, Maybin lived by the very wisdom he's now dispensing.
Apropos of that, take a look at Stanton. Still only 20 years old (!), he is clearly still growing.


Must Read

Friday, February 26, 2010

Today Deadspin paterfamilias Will Leitch offers his "preview" for the 2010 Marlins, and I use the term lightly because he seems more interested in talking about the well-established reputation of Marlins fans than the actual team itself. But then again, why should we be surprised to hear that from someone who has never met a Marlins fan?

Also, bizarrely, when Leitch thinks of Dontrelle Willis, he doesn't imagine him in a Marlins uniform. Even though Willis has only made 14 starts as a Tiger, compared to 162 as a Marlin. I get the feeling he wrote all this late last night because he realized the deadline was approaching and he had to write something. We'll have more thoughts on this later, but I have to get back to work now.


A Recommendation from the Diehards

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Go to a Spring Training game.

Later today the Marlins will kick off another Spring in Jupiter, FL by continuing the tradition of playing the University of Miami. Just thinking about the first pitch got me excited and made me think of the handful of games I've gone to at Roger Dean Stadium the last few years. I immediately did something that all of you should start doing as well, plan a trip to a Spring Training game.

The atmosphere at a game is very unique and can't be properly described. You have to just experience it. It has a very homey, laid back, intimate vibe which is what baseball should be like. There are the old local retirees who attend every game, every March, every year. Talk to them. Just say, "Hi," and then start listening to them while you can also hear the crack of the bat and the banter of the players in the background because they are that close. Talk baseball. With anyone. You'll never be able to talk casually with other teams' fans as comfortably as this. Nobody brags or jokes about any team. It is truly an interesting fandom that exists among the crowds at Spring Training. Everyone cares about baseball more than their team, and that's very refreshing. Speaking of refreshments, grab a beer (or soda) and some stadium food which is better and cheaper than anything you can find at Dolphin Landshark Sun Life Stadium.

Now it's not that easy for me or anyone else living in Miami. Jupiter is a good 60-80 minute drive and with the games usually played during the day, planning is a necessity. If you don't live in Florida, then I guess you'll have to either plan an extravagant trip or wait until you retire here. Just get to Roger Dean as soon as possible. It's worth it.

Enjoy the baseball everyone!


Official Reminder

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lest you forgot that team owner Jeffrey Loria is kind of a megalomaniacal dude, Jon Heyman has something to share with you, in his list of MLB managers on the hot seat heading into the 2010 season:

2. Fredi Gonzalez, Marlins. Crazy as it seems, the Marlins seriously considered firing Gonzalez right after last season, when the $36 million team won 87 games. That just doesn't add up. But owner Jeffrey Loria, who believed that his team was playoff worthy, was in contact with Bobby Valentine. By the end, the belief was that Gonzalez had to win the final weekend to save himself, and he did that. Seems crazy. Even Valentine is believed to have advised Loria to keep his guy.
 Jeff Loria: George Steinbrenner with less money.


State of the Diehards

Monday, February 22, 2010

Welcome Marlins fans and browsers of the internets. It is about time to begin year two of this blog. Spring Training has just begun. That, coupled with the recent (more important) State of the Union address has us thinking we need to give some sort of State of the Blog address. We think we had a nice rookie season, but we would like to not only avoid the sophomore slump, but also improve a great deal. We have several things planned for this year. We've already launched a redesign of the site, which we hope you like. We will continue some of our regular features, like the Children of the Marlins Diaspora and Week in Review.

We will also have more contests, including the trade pool. Hopefully they go better than they did last year (Also, Adam Smoot, if you are reading this, you have a 12-pack of beer or 4-pack of Steel Reserve on us if you let us know where to deliver it). But most of all, we will stay true to our original mission, covering the Florida Marlins with an eye on all the oddities that accompany Marlins fandom. We hope you'll join us for another year of hand-wringing over relief pitchers, our unique historical prospective, predicting the next member of the Marlins diaspora, and attempting to put a happy face on the pratfalls that are sure to come at some point.

What To Do Now
Most of our readers and people who stumble upon the blog probably already have this figured out but in case you don't here is a list of ways to keep up with us.
  • Bookmark this page using the new URL:
  • Subscribe to posts via RSS by clicking the "Posts" link in the widget on top right of the page. You may also get an RSS feed of the comments.
  • Follow David and Ted on Twitter. We will post links to any posts immediately after publishing. You also can see our non-Marlins thoughs as well, which should be entertaining.
  • Just wait until you see a link to our page from better Marlins blogs.
We'll be back at it soon enough with a new Spring Training contest. We look forward to spending another season with you.


Two thoughts on Randy St. Claire

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Clark Spencer wrote about the Marlins' new pitching coach, Randy St. Claire, for today's Miami Herald, and two quotes from St. Claire struck me. The first,

He was even more impressed Saturday when he got to see his pupils in person, with his own naked eyes, as Marlins pitchers began pumping fastballs on Day 1 of spring training.
"A lot of power arms," St. Claire said afterward. "Big, tall, strong kids that can really get the ball up there. This is really nice. This is the most quality arms I've ever had."
Immediately, he talks about the talent he has. Not too surprising, as you would think he is sending a subtle message to his guys. You guys are pretty good already, he is saying. I'm just here to help you with the little things. This is what you'd want from a guy coaching a young staff, and similar to the approach Jack McKeon took when he managed the team (The "you can do it" approach, so to speak).

The second comment was not so subtle:
"What makes a good pitching coach?" St. Claire said. "You've got to be able to see changes and not make changes. You've got to know when to be a pitching coach and when not to be. When a guy is going really good, what do you want me to do? You want me to change it? Why mess with it?"
St. Claire, in other words, is not a meddler. I'm good with that. If Josh Johnson or another member of the staff is rolling, don't get in his way, just make sure he doesn't overwork himself. In other words, it is reassuring to me to hear the coaching staff talk about how talented the team is. Because talent tends to win out over 162 games, you see.

And finally, apropos of nothing, St. Claire was asked to join the Marlins when Jeffrey Loria bought the team, having served as the Expos' Triple-A pitching coach. St. Claire declined. I just like the fact that there is someone on the team now who has survived after telling Loria no. I think the rest of the coaching staff may like him now.



I've realized that I will be very optimistic about the Marlins this Spring Training. This usually doesn't happen. Allow my to apologize in advance if you prefer realist negativity when it comes to Marlins expectations. That's my default setting, most of the time...



Friday, February 19, 2010

Earlier this week, SI's Tom Verducci put out his annual watch list for the Verducci Effect, the process in which young pitchers suffer a dropoff in production or injury trouble due to overuse. And who is on the list this year? Josh Johnson, of course. In 2009, Johnson threw 209 innings, 52 more than his career high, set in 2006. Verducci points out that Johnson is older than most of the other pitchers on the list, which reduces his risk of dropoff. But still, his inclusion is a bit of jolt, since Ted and I both consider him to be a centerpiece of the team for the next few years.

Now, this is not a death sentence or anything (Verducci reminds us that his system is not a predictor), but still, a cause for concern and a reminder that luck plays a larger role in baseball than we care to admit sometimes. Have a good weekend...

Photo via UPI


Children of the Marlins Diaspora 12

[Dave: In honor of the first day of Spring Training, let's take a look at the very first Marlin.]

Charles Johnson, C

Played for Marlins: 1994-1998, 2001-2002
Other Teams: LA Dodgers (1998), Baltimore (1999-2000), Chicago White Sox (2000), Colorado (2003-2004), Tampa Bay (2005)
Marlins fans know him because: Johnson was the first member of the Marlins, drafted in the first round (28th pick) of the 1992 draft out of the University of Miami. He quickly rose through the minor leagues, making his debut in 1994 and becoming the everyday catcher starting in 1995, whereupon he won four straight Gold Gloves. In 1997 he set a Major League record by catching 123 games without committing a single error. He also made the NL All-Star Team in 1997 and 2001, and homered in Game 1 of the 1997 World Series. He is also one of the few members of the Marlins Diaspora to be traded by the team twice (in 1998 and 2002)
Everyone else knows him because: For a brief period, Johnson was the best defensive catcher in the game, posting a career caught-stealing percentage of 39. Johnson also was involved in the infamous Mike Piazza trade in 1998, when the Marlins sent him to LA with Gary Sheffield, Bobby Bonilla, and Jim Eisenreich in exchange for Piazza and Todd Zeile.
Best Marlins moment: CJ had his fair share of great moments, but the top has to be his big league debut on May 6, 1994. Johnson was called up from the minors to replace an injured Benito Santiago. In the fourth inning against Curt Schilling (then with the Phillies), CJ homered in his second career at bat, earning a curtain call from the home crowd (of over 31,000, incredibly). It was a good sign, for sure.

Photo via Bleacher Report


It Is Time

Pitchers and catchers report today in Jupiter, Florida. After a long offseason, baseball is finally starting. And on that note, expect to be seeing more posts from us as we ramp up to Opening Day on April 5. Also, we will be compiling season previews from as many media sources as we can find for our annual macropreview (see last year's macropreview for more details). If you see one and want to let us know, drop us a line in the comments.


That Didn't Take Long...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Looks like the front office is not comfortable enough with Leo Nuñez to not bring in a possible replacement should things go downhill. The team signed former Royals closer Mike MacDougal today. Nuñez is reportedly still the closer, but now the team has more than one pitcher they can reasonably slot in the closer spot.


Someone's in Trouble

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

From Barry Jackson:
The Marlins are irritated with Renyel Pinto, who will be disciplined for missing FanFest, but haven't found value for him in a trade.

photo via Found Shit.



Monday, February 15, 2010

We are migrating the blog to this evening. Blogger should redirect you to the new page if you use the old URL, but you may as well update your bookmarks anyway. I'll let you know if you need to update your RSS feeds later. We'll be going silent for awhile as everything gets worked out. See you on the other side...

Update: We are back online. Fix your bookmarks, and subscribe to the new RSS feed using the widget on the sidebar. Only a few more days until pitchers and catchers report...


Today's Assignment

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Okay folks, go follow @manbearwolf so we can get Cody on Twitter. And if you're one of those "I don't understand what the big deal about Twitter is..." people, GET OVER IT ALREADY!

John Baker has 463 followers as of right now. If every reader of this blog were to follow him right now, that number would shoot up to at least 482. Get on it, folks.


Joey Porter Ain't Got Nothin on AJ Burnett

Monday, February 8, 2010

Dolphins linebacker Joey Porter is in the midst of a very public, very acrimonious divorce with the Miami Dolphins, and he is burning bridges like it is no one's business. The chain of events led Sun Sentinel columnist Ethan J. Skolnick to claim on Twitter "Joey Porter has officially topped Dan Miceli and Shaq for most classless South Florida sports exit."

Oh, but Ethan forgot the greatest bridge burner in the history of South Florida sports history,
Allan James Burnett. During the 2005 season, Burnett was, along with Josh Beckett and Dontrelle Willis, gave Marlins high hopes. With those three, we felt the Marlins had a great chance to have a top-notch rotation. By the end of the year, the team having fallen out of playoff contention heading into the final week of the season, Burnett was dismissed from the team unceremoniously. The straw that broke the camel's back came after Burnett complained

I'm sick of it, man. It's depressing around here. A 3-0 ballgame, I give up one run and leave guys on base, it's like they expect us to mess up. And when we do, they chew us out. There is no positive, nothing around here for anybody.
The irony, of course, is that apart from his 2001 no-hitter and a 7-0 stretch in June and July, Burnett had never lived up to his potential during his time in Florida, posting ERA+s of 104, 122, and 155 in his three full seasons with the club (2003 and 2004 were injury-shortened due to Tommy John surgery). So with his contract ending after the season, the Marlins decided to hell with him, and gave him a one-week vacation to end his time with the team.

But Burnett, I suspect, knew he was on his way out anyway, and decided to get his licks in while he had the upper hand or whatever, and let everything fly before the season was over. It took Porter a few weeks ago to start taking shots at the team. AJ Burnett burns bridges with impunity, he doesn't wait around waiting to see which way the wind blows.

BONUS: Burnett's suspension led to Josh Johnson's major league debut, so at least something good came out of it.
EXTRA CREDIT: Greg Cote's takedown of Burnett shortly after the incident is, unfortunately, protected by a paywall. I remember it being good, though.


Something to think about for the new stadium...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The good folks at Wezen Ball have ranked every statue at a baseball stadium in the Major Leagues, and as you would expect, the Marlins came in dead last:

26. Twins, A's, Mets, Marlins, Dodgers: To the best of my knowledge, none of these teams have statues.
Well, the Marlins do have a statue at Dolphin/SunLife/YourNameHere Stadium, but it is a rendering of Casey at the Bat, and not a real-live human being:

At least his stirrups look good...

But since the Marlins are building that new stadium and all, I thought I'd throw in a few suggestions for statues to be placed outside the ballpark. Here they are, in no particular order:
  1. Jeff Conine: Mr. Marlin, a no-brainer.
  2. Wayne Huizenga: If only for the creative defacement possibilities. Plus, Marlins fans can tear it down after big victories, a la the goal posts at a football stadium.
  3. Jeff Loria: Don't think he hasn't considered it.
  4. Alfredo Amezega: It would be a small statue, which makes it cost effective and a perfect choice for the Marlins.
  5. Livan Hernandez: Like Conine an obvious sentimental choice, and one that I would not oppose at all.
Any more ideas? Let us know in the comments.

H/t @robneyer. Casey photo via


Good News

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Thanks to GameFish, we now know that the rumored Kevin Gregg-Marlins reunion tour will likely not happen, as reported by the SunSentinel's Juan C. Rodriguez.

In other bullpen news, while the Marlins did reach out to former closer Kevin Gregg, don't look for a reunion. Gregg has received more lucrative offers from other clubs and is believed to be close to signing with either the Rockies or Blue Jays.


PECOTA Robots Still Skeptical of Marlins

Monday, February 1, 2010

Since it is only the beginning of February, we are forced to look at early 2010 season projections to get our fill of baseball these days (what with the hot stove cooling off and all). So last week I and so many others were excited to see that Baseball Prospectus had released its findings. And as was the case last year, PECOTA has low expectations for the Fish, having them finish 76-86, in 5th place of a surprisingly balanced NL East (View the whole standings here).

For what it's worth, I'm not worried about the
projections this year. The Marlins are returning nearly the entire team that was in the Wild Card race until September, only this year we won't see Emilio Bonifacio in the starting lineup for a tortuously extended period. So it is certainly not out of the realm of possibility for the team to win 90 games, which would most likely be all it takes to grab an NL playoff spot. As 310ToJoba put it at WOW this weekend,

I think PECOTA does a fine job of predicting individual players, but, if you think about it, the team records are based on the performance of these same projected players, which would be nice if the PECOOTERS functioned in a vacuum.
Projections are of limited utility, but if we did not have them around to ponder during the lead-up to Spring Training, then what else would we do? Watch hockey?

UPDATE: The latest revised projections (as of 2/13) have the Marlins finishing 82-80 and in third place behind the Phillies an Braves.


It's a bit early for a Groundhog's Day prank...

He's covering his eyes because he knows how this will end.

But regardless, Joe Frisaro is reporting that the Marlins have made a contract offer to Ted's favorite whipping boy, Kevin Gregg. Why, you ask? My only guess is becuase someone has to take the pressure off of Derek Turnbow...

Gregg/Joker photoshop via the prolific GameFish.

UPDATE: This story goes from bad to worse.


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