The Countdown Shags Flies

Monday, February 28, 2011


The Countdown Works from the Stretch

Sunday, February 27, 2011


Weekend Roundup

Saturday, February 26, 2011

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.

Burke Badenhop, Brian Sanches battle for final spot in Florida Marlins' bullpen, by Joe Capozzi (Palm Beach Post):

He got married, helped a friend write a book about financial planning and started co-writing a movie screenplay with his agent. ("It's a comedy," he said, "so if the Farrelly brothers are out there listening, we'd love to have a shot.")
Bullpen prospect Jennings "mentally past" 2010 drug suspension, by Juan C. Rodriguez (Sun-Sentinel):
"It was something you would never think [was banned]," said Jennings, no relation to the club's vice president of player personnel of the same name. "I bought it, took it for a month, ran out, bought it again, and two months later…that's what happens. I'm not going to say I was stupid, but I wasn't smart. For me to find out there was something banned in it would have taken probably a couple of hours of research. You have to go through the ingredients and find all the different names that the ingredient has. Ingredient A, you add a tiny bit of something else, it becomes ingredient AXY."
Time is now for Florida Marlins’ Nunez to show his pitch, by Manny Navarro (Miami Herald):
It was the new pitch he was supposed to use last season to keep hitters from sitting on his 96-mile per hour fastball and change-up.

But before Leo Nunez really developed the confidence to use a slider last season, the Giants’ Aaron Rowand crushed it. 
Skipworth developing slowly but surely, by Joe Frisaro (
Skipworth's development hasn't always gone smoothly. At low Class A Greensboro last year, he batted .249 with 17 homers and 59 RBIs. He struck out 132 times in 397 at-bats.

Skipworth gained some more seasoning in the Arizona Fall League, where he appeared in 15 games and hit .267 with three homers and 12 RBIs in 60 at-bats.

"In hindsight, I feel I'm in a really good spot," he said. "I feel really good. My body feels good. I feel real good in the development standpoint, because I feel I've gained an immense amount of knowledge. From my first camp until now, it's a night-and-day difference"


Somehow We're Not Surprised

Jeff Pearlman on the Marlins media relations staff:

Of all the teams, the Marlins are easily—like, without question—the absolute worst. Their players are fine, and their manager is probably fine. But their media outfit is laughably minor league. This is not a compliment.

The team's media relations director is a guy named Matt Roebuck, and while he might be a pleasant fellow, he's botching this thing, big time. If I'm the Marlins—a second-rate ballclub that nobody pays to see play—I'm begging for media attention. Begging for it. I’m opening my doors to reporters, pitching stories about this guy, that guy, this milestone, that milestone. I want to be covered, because I need people to care.
Read the whole thing here. Pearlman also adds that the Marlins "behave as if they're the Yankees," with regard to their attitude towards the media. We're fond of calling Jeff Loria "George Steinbrenner with less money." Apparently we're not the only ones who've made that observation.


The Countdown Watched Stanton Take BP Friday



Spring is Here, Let's Go Get It

Friday, February 25, 2011

[Last year, Ted penned this recommendation to attend a Spring Training game, and we could not think of a better note on which to close Spring Preview Week. The original is posted in its entirety below.]

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!


A Fan's Guide For Following the 2011 Florida Marlins

Nowadays, the picture to the right is outdated. Nobody sits and reads a newspaper as their primary source of news an analysis of their favorite topics. Most people use the internet. And because of that, I've compiled a quick guide of the best ways to follow the Marlins for this upcoming 2011 season.

News Sites

The physical papers may be dying, but the industry isn't going away I don't think.

Official Marlins Site
Miami Herald
Palm Beach Post

Mainstream Media Blogs

Dave and I think that the two Joes are the best beat writers, even though Frisaro is an Alabama fan.

Joe Frisaro ( - The Fish Pond
Joe Capozzi (Palm Beach Post) - The Fish Tank
Juan C. Martinez (Sun-Sentinel) - Meh, doesn't really have a title
Manny Navarro and Clark Spencer (Miami Herald) - Fish Bytes

Non-Mainstream Media Blogs

Fish Stripes is the best Marlins blog community. Under the powerful SB Nation umbrella, it's pretty much the place for all Marlins news and commentary presented in a blog style. There's a good amount of comments (especially on game threads) and also the cool Ichthyomancy contest. Don't worry, I had to look up the definition for that word too.

Another great one under the Fan-Sided umbrella is Marlin Maniac. Michael presents a smart statistics-driven look at the ball club with strong knowledge of Sabrmetrics.

And finally, if you're looking for a strictly humorous Marlins site, check out the new (NSFW) Strip Club With Stanton.

We also have other Marlins links in the sidebar on the left of the page. Check them all out.


Since a large part of our traffic comes from our Twitter community, I'll assume most of you already know of our Marlins Twitter Directory and follow it. If you don't, I'll try to sum it up. Pretty much all of the writers and bloggers listed above use Twitter. They use it for the following:

  1. Links to their columns/posts
  2. Quick updates that don't necessitate entire blog entry
  3. Breaking news before writing formal column/post
  4. Jokes, some good, some bad, but always entertaining
There are now four major players that use it (Logan Morrison, Gaby Sanchez, Mike Stanton, and Hanley Ramirez). They update some about their personal life and some about baseball. Both Gaby and LoMo (especially LoMo) also interact with their fans and may respond to questions or comments.

In addition to that, many Marlins fans are on Twitter and share their thoughts on the team. During and after games it basically becomes a live chat. It's fun. I recommend giving it a shot but if you don't want to sign up and start posting yourself, you can still read and follow the list by using this link.


The Countdown Is Cleared to Resume Throwing


This Offseason in Schadenfreude: A review of the Mets' winter

Thursday, February 24, 2011

When we left off with the Mets in October, they were concluding a disappointing 79-83 campaign which saw their star offseason acquisition Jason Bay perform several notches below his career averages and their other big free agent pickup, Francisco Rodriguez, arrested for assaulting his girlfriend's father in the Citi Field clubhouse. It was a joy to behold, and made the Marlins' own struggles less difficult to stomach.

But all that was just an appetizer for the offseason, when the team fired manager Jerry Manuel and general manager Omar Minaya. Compounding the misery, team owner Fred Wilpon was named in a lawsuit filed on behalf of Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme victims. The suit alleges that Wilpon knew about the Ponzi scheme before it was made public, and thus made illegal gains. The latest reports make Wilpon look like Madoff's bag man. Wilpon maintains his innocence, and Madoff has vouched for him, but who knows how the case will turn out? As Martha Stewart learned herself a few years ago, sometimes the public can find a public whipping boy after a financial crisis in the most surprising places.

Wilpon is preparing for the worst. Shortly after the suit was filed, he announced he is looking to sell a minority stake in the team to help pay legal bills. Donald Trump is interested in buying into the Mets, which is a good excuse to link this. Seriously, who can't wait to hear Trump talk about his preseason expectations? He'll make Jeff Loria sound like George Michael Bluth. Plus, what if a gust of wind blows through Citi Field one evening when he's sitting behind home plate?

The Mets may have already bottomed out, though. New general manager Sandy Alderson probably still knows what he's doing, and the team still has Johan Santana, David Wright, and Jose Reyes, among other key pieces. Wilpon is not exactly in the clear, but I have a sinking feeling he won't be forced to sell the team in disgrace. But it's good to know that however dysfunctional the Marlins can be at times, they don't hold a candle to the Mets.


Spring Promises

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Another Marlins post for NBCMiami:

Hanley Ramirez arrived at Marlins Spring Training camp this week and told the media that he is finally ready to grow into the clubhouse leader the Marlins' front office has envisioned.

...But Marlins fans should recall that we have seen this song and dance with Ramirez before. Teammate Wes Helms told the Miami Herald in March 2010, "I have told Hanley 100 times, 'You have to lead this team,'" adding, "he looks like a guy that wants to. I'm proud of him."

Ramirez certainly said all the right things last year, too, telling the Herald, "Everything I do, everybody is looking at me. It makes me do everything the right way." That was only a few months before the debacle against Arizona.

As we seem to mention every year, proclamations of renewed vigor, maturity, turning a new page, etc. in Spring Training are effectively worthless. Everyone says all the right things this time of year, that doesn't mean they will pan out.


Spring Training Preview: Position Players

The Marlins pretty much held their own at the plate in 2010. They were around the league average in most major categories (7th in the NL in runs scored) but they still left a bit to be desired. The major offseason personnel move showed what the Marlins are looking for in 2011: less homers, better station-to-station baseball. Dan Uggla was shipped to a division rival for Omar Infante. Gone are 30 HR, but in hopefully are more men on base and manufacturing runs (which will help Edwin win all those close game he lusts after!). The club has also, stop if you've heard this one, reinforced the importance of defense. Perry Hill (no relation unfortunately) is back as infield coach. Outfield is a different story, but we'll touch on that. Let's just get to the burning questions.

Can Matt Dominguez win the 3B job?

A simple peek at his career minor league numbers would tell us he's not ready to hit major league pitching. However, if you just look at last year, he struggled in the first half but pretty much raked in the second half in the Southern League (a pitchers league). Perhaps he turned a corner? Either way, it looks like the Marlins really want him to make the club and with his stellar defense he'd have to tank for the Marlins to resort to starting Emilio Bonifacio. I hope.

What should we expect in year two for Gaby/LoMo/Stanton?

Last year the team got big contributions from all three of these rookies. But as we saw with Chris Coghlan, year two as a hitter can be a bit humbling. A key to the season is if these three can match or exceed their 2010 production or do they suffer a sophomore slump like Cogs. Can Mike Stanton hit 40+ homers and raise his batting average? Can Logan Morrison pick up where he left off (20 doubles and 7 triples in just 297 plate appearances)?

Can Chris Coghlan actually play centerfield?

Honestly, I could probably write 500 words in this section but I'll try to keep it short. I'm a big skeptic, but I also didn't think he should play left field and that worked out alright. Problem is, the outfield is vast at Sun Life Stadium and it's not like he's playing with two great corner outfielders. Stanton is good in right, but LoMo is also a new and converted outfielder patrolling left. I guess the idea is to have him be like a Cody Ross, who wasn't the fastest but new how to get good jumps and read the ball off the bat. I also doubt Coghlan has an arm worthy of centerfield, but then again, neither did Juan Pierre. Only time will tell.

John Buck

I couldn't really think of an appropriate question, but he belongs in the preview. The Marlins made a splash by their standards in signing him as a free agent this winter. Last year the team got pretty much nothing from the catching platoon (.226 BA, .628 OPS, 9 HR). Prospect Kyle Skipworth is a couple years away, at least, so the team obviously had a need. Buck had a career year last year (.280 BA, 20 HR) and made the all-star game. The front office will hope he is finally reaching his potential and can sustain those type of numbers again.


As for the bench, it will probably look pretty familiar. Uncle Wes is back. The aforementioned Bonifacio is still around. John Baker is still recovering from elbow surgery but he'll be the backup catcher when he's available. There has been talk of him making opening day solely as a lefty bat off the bench, but I'd be surprised by that. Brett Hayes will presumably fill in at backup catcher in the meantime.

That leaves two spots. One will be an outfielder. Scott Cousins is listed on the team's depth chart as the primary backup for all three outfield spots, so you'd think it would be him. The other would probably be Donnie Murphy, who could fill in at third if Dominguez struggles. Other non-roster invitees that may have a shot with a strong spring: DeWayne Wise, Ruben Gotay, Greg Dobbs.

Useless Opening Day Lineup Projection!

  1. Infante, 2B
  2. Coghlan, CF
  3. Ramirez, SS
  4. Stanton, RF
  5. Morrison, LF
  6. Sanchez, 1B
  7. Buck, C
  8. Dominguez, 3B
  9. Johnson, P
This what I think will happen. I'd rather see a 3-4-5 of LoMo-Hanley-Stanton, but it's only a batting order.

Bench: Hayes, (C), Helms (1B, 3B), Cousins (OF), Bonifacio (OF), Murphy (IF)


The Countdown Completed its Stretching


The Countdown Slugs Away

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Spring Training Preview: Pitchers

In 2010, the Marlins pitching staff was a two-headed monster that made many a Marlins fan hit the bottle. The Marlins were actually 10th in MLB in FIP* last year, suggesting better defense could have improved our perception of the pitching staff. Even so, the bullpen blew 25 saves (only the Orioles were worse), and aside from staff ace Josh Johnson, the starting rotation was underwhelming. Again, it should be noted that the starting rotation was hindered by a porous defense. Ricky Nolasco, despite posting a stellar 4.45 K/BB, saw a 0.65 run difference between his ERA and FIP. Then there was the rotating 5th rotation spot. Nate Robertson was given 18 starts, solely because the Marlins had no better option at the beginning of the year.

The front office made a relative splash this offseason when it signed Javier Vazquez to a one-year, $7 million free agent deal. The signing was a quintessential Marlins move, taking a limited chance on a veteran coming off a down year, hoping for the best. In 2009, Vazquez put together an admirable season for the Atlanta Braves, logging almost 220 innings with a 9.77 K/9 and 2.77 FIP, good for 6.5 WAR. But in 2010, pitching for the Yankees, Vazquez fell back to earth, hard. Limited to under 160 innings, his K/9 dropped to 6.92 while his FIP doubled to 5.77. Which Vazquez will Marlins fans see in 2011? One would hope the move back to the National League will help, but it remains to be seen. In 2010 his average fastball fell below 90 mph (Marlin Maniac has a good discussion here), and he also exhibited control problems.

One other potential red flag with Vazquez: he requested (and was given) a full no-trade clause. If he struggles, the Marlins will have to eat his salary, either wasting a rotation spot on him (unlikely) or demoting him to long relief work (more likely).

Vazquez will be inserted into the middle of the rotation, joining returning starters Johnson, Nolasco, Anibal Sanchez, and Chris Volstad. Of the starting five, Volstad is the biggest question mark. His groundball percentage has declined in each of the past two seasons (from 53.4% in 2008 to 49.5% to 47.9%). Considering his status as a contact pitcher (career K/9: 5.62, lowest in the rotation), this is troublesome.

The bullpen will likely be a source of fan stress again in 2011 (though really, when isn't a bullpen stress inducing?). Leo Nunez returns as closer, with Clay Hensley setting him up. The only other returner is Brian Sanches.

To their credit, the Marlins made relief pitching a priority this offseason, acquiring Edward Mujica and Ryan Webb for Cameron Maybin and Randy Choate via free agency. All three figure to should win a spot in the bullpen barring a bad spring. Dustin Richardson, acquired from Boston for Andrew Miller, could also grab a bullpen spot. Burke Badenhop, ever the stalwart, could get the long relief/spot starter role out of Spring Training. [Update: Ted informs me I forgot about Mike Dunn. I suspect I'm not the first person to do so. But hey, a guy who walked 17 in 19.0 innings last year, can't be all bad, right?]

Will the bullpen improve? I have no idea. I try to think about the bullpen as little as possible, and as a result I have become much more content.

Useless Opening Day Lineup Projections!
Starting Rotation:
  1. Josh Johnson
  2. Ricky Nolasco
  3. Javier Vazquez
  4. Anibal Sanchez
  5. Chris Volstad (LHP)
  • Leo Nunez (closer)
  • Clay Hensley (setup)
  • Randy Choate (LHP - LOOGY)
  • Ryan Webb
  • Burke Badenhop (long relief, spot starter)
  • Edward Mujica
  • Brian Sanches (7th inning?)

*FIP is basically ERA with fielding and park factors stripped out.


    The Bleacher Report Report, Vol. I

    Monday, February 21, 2011

    The Bleacher Report Report is a new feature at Marlins Diehards. Dave and I will scan the vast array of quality commentary on the Marlins section of Bleacher Report and submit them to you, with our thoughts interspersed FJM-style.

    For the inaugural edition of The BR Report, we look at, "Hitter's Paradise: Why Marlins' Batting Practice at New Stadium Reveals Flaw." It's a great attention grabber, although I'm not sure you want a title that rhymes with "Hitler's Paradise." Anyway, I was dumbfounded how a simple BP session in an unfinished stadium may reveal a huge mistake in the stadium planning. Let's check it out.

    Now it was just batting practice, but a few home runs throughout the process may have forecasted a potential flaw with the plans of the stadium. Of note: a few baseballs came close to leaving the stadium, specifically one hit by Mike Stanton which cleared the stadium by essentially shooting through the invisible glass panels in left field and exiting the building.
    Having a home run go far enough to strike the glass panels isn't a flaw, it's awesome! I'm assuming (perhaps mistakenly) that there is glass strong enough to withstand impact from a Stanton blast. If memory serves me correct, I believe the glass panels at Miller Park have been hit before (2002 home run derby?) and have survived.
    Even Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria felt worried his "Pitcher Park" would end up being something else, perhaps being a repeat of what happened to the Yankees in their first season at Yankee Stadium.

    "Some of those fly balls—I'm not sure this is a pitcher's ballpark anymore," Loria said. "The building is gorgeous."
    I think Mr. Loria was just trying to make a funny, and struck out. Also, comparing the New Yankees Stadium and Marlins Ballpark would be a bit off, not only because of the large difference in park dimensions, but the main problem the new Yankees Stadium sufferred was wind patterns.

    Because of the design of the stadium, wind comes in over the seats on the third base side, drops into the stadium, and blows out to right field. This enables some routine flyballs to carry and surpass the short right field fence. This won't be the case in Miami for two reasons. First, the park doesn't have field dimensions from the 1920s, and the ballpark will have the roof closed, making it an indoor facility the majority of the time.
    Let's examine the future home of the Marlins and current one for a second, shall we? Sun Life Stadium, while mostly considered a pitcher's park is really a neutral park.

    According to ESPN's Park Factor, which measures a stadium's ability to be a hitters paradise or a pitcher's park, the Marlins' Sun Life Stadium ranked 10th in runs scored but 24th in home runs per game with 0.822.
    This is true. Stadiums with large field dimensions yield fewer home runs, but usually have more doubles and triples due to the large gaps. Best examples: Petco Park in San Diego and Citi Field in New York. The writer then lists the new park's dimensions, which are essentially the same as the old park's with the left and right field line distances swapped. Also there is no Bermuda Triangle.
    Nevertheless, dimensions aren't the full cause of a stadium's ability to be hitter-friendly or pitcher-friendly. The Marlins haven't truly played baseball in South Florida indoors, so only time will tell how playing indoors and outdoors in the stadium will effect playing conditions come 2012.
    And that's it. The major argument is that since baseball has never been played indoors in South Florida, we don't know what the conditions will be like. Except that we sorta do, since it's a climate-controlled environment when the roof is closed, not unlike any other retractable-roof stadium. That takes the unknown out of it.

    There is still the question of how the ballpark will play with the roof open, and of course no one knows. So a point is made there. However, I'm going to have to disagree with the title and conclusion of the article. I think we can safely assume that the new park will be more conducive to pitchers rather than hitters. And it's more of a Fan's Paradise than Hitter's Paradise.


    The Countdown Goes to Picture Day


    It's Almost Here: Announcing Preview Week

    Holy hell, was this offseason terrible.

    I'm not referring to the Marlins' hot stove activity (but I'll get to that later), just the offseason itself. All my other favorite teams have brought me nothing but anxiety and ennui. The Dolphins completely shit the bed, and look about as lost as they did during their 1-15 2007 season at times. Simultaneously, the Hurricanes faded to the worst degree in my memory, ending the season by firing their coach and losing to Notre Dame (!) in bowl season. The Heat started off in a lackluster faction, but even when they went on a 21-1 stretch, I couldn't relax while watching them (I blame Mario Chalmers). Ted even went to a Panthers game. They lost, of course. But baseball season is almost here.

    The Marlins' offseason was hit and miss. They extended Ricky Nolasco (finally), but traded Dan Uggla once it became clear he would not accept a four-year extension (and don't get me started on my ambivalence for that guy). Even so, I'm relieved the season is almost here. When a football team collapses, it happens so fast. At one point, your favorite team is beating its archrival on the road. One week later, they are losing to an inferior outfit at home. The Marlins have hit a low ceiling repeatedly over the past four years, but it happens at a slow pace sufficient to dull any state of shock. Dolphins seasons are a car wreck, whereas Marlins seasons are like beach erosion. I'm disappointed that it happened after the fact, but I barely notice that it is happening at the time, and I feel only moderately regretful when the process reaches its conclusion.

    But enough about that. It's a new season, so we can wait awhile before succumbing to pessimism. We've even got a new masthead for you, commemorating the final season at Joe Robbie Pro Player Dolphin Landshark Sun Life Stadium. Last year's Marlins Diehards macropreview projected an 80-82 record for the Fish, and behold! It was dead on. The Marlins were actually one game worse than their Pythagorean record of 81-81. It's Spring Preview Week at Marlins Diehards, so we'll be getting you ready for the upcoming campaign. Tomorrow, I'll examine the pitching staff. On Wednesday, Ted will take a look at position players. Thursday and Friday are TBD, but we'll have a nice surprise for you.

    Other programming notes: Starting this weekend, we'll resume the Spring Training weekend roundups, recapping the best and most bizarre profiles of returning veterans and obscure minor leaguers from the beat writers. We'll cap off Spring Training with another Marlins Diehards macropreview.

    Once the season gets going, we'll bring back the Week in Review and Off-Day TV Guide (I've got so many book recommendations for you - I want to make MDH readership the most literate sports blog audience in the world - not a tall task). Finally, Ted and I are also lining up some guest content that we're sure you'll enjoy. Let's make 2011 a season to remember.


    Something Old, Something New

    Sunday, February 20, 2011


    The Florida Marlins and Path Dependence

    Saturday, February 19, 2011

    The Florida Marlins' offseason acquisition of Javier Vazquez was months in the making:

    The Marlins have admired him for years. Vazquez was with the Montreal Expos during the two years Jeffrey Loria, now the Marlins owner, owned the club.

    They have recognized his talent from the opposing dugout when Vazquez was with the Expos and Braves.

    Knowing that Vazquez was struggling with the Yankees last season and would become a free agent, the Marlins sent scouts to New York late in the season to check him out.

    "We kept an eye on him," Beinfest said. "We felt he was a guy who could come back here and do really well for us."
    Okay, so it's not quite path dependence, but the Marlins seem to have made up their mind about Vazquez long before signing him. Hopefully the scouting confirmed their already-high opinion of Vazquez last year, and wasn't just a perfunctory green light from the scouting department.


    The Countdown Begins: 41


    Edwin Rodriguez: Master of Nonsensical Baseball Talk

    Friday, February 18, 2011

    The Miami Herald profiles Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez today, and here's what he thinks the team needs to do to succeed in 2011:

    1. Win more one-run games. The Marlins were 23-28 in one-run games last year. Of course, in all sports, a team's record in one-score games is largely the result of luck. For instance, the 2003 Tigers, one of the worst teams in MLB history, had a .514 winning percentage in one-run games. Their overall winning percentage that year? .265. When Tom Verducci looks for sleeper teams, he identifies teams that did poorly in one-run games the year before, since they can improve simply from a regression to the mean.
    2. "We're going to teach them to win those close games." If only it were that easy, I'd quit blogging and become a high-paid baseball consultant. If Edwin had the formula for winning one-run games, he would have already shared it with the Marlins. Nice try, Edwin.
    3. Don't try for the three-run home run, especially against the Phillies, because "you’re not going to see those guys on Philadelphia allowing a three-run home run too often." Earl Weaver begs to differ. If Hanley Ramirez or Mike Stanton are up with runners on base, then by all means go for the fences with less than two strikes.
    4. "Winning, I think, is an attitude." I'm about to pass out from the cliches. If Edwin is going to resort to this old-school bs all year I'm going to tire of it pretty quickly.


    Pitchers and Catchers Report

    It is morning in South Florida...


    So Long, Gary

    Thursday, February 17, 2011

    Another child of the Marlins diaspora has left the game, as Gary Sheffield announced his retirement yesterday. He is the only former Marlin that has hit 500 home runs, yet will probably not make the Hall of Fame due to allegations of PED use and his difficulties getting along with the media. That's too bad, because he could have plausibly been the first man with a Marlins hat on his plaque in Cooperstown. Sheffield still holds the club record for home runs in a season (42 in 1996), and as we wrote two years ago, "He pretty much tripled the Marlins' legitimacy when he was traded to the team during the inaugural year."

    Craig Calcaterra said it best:
    He didn’t lead the league in anything too many times and was never an MVP, but he had many seasons that, had they earned him the MVP, wouldn’t have been embarrassing to the award.  Many of those seasons came before there was general acceptance of just how awesome it was to get on base at a .450 clip so he was under the radar while everyone was oohing and ahhing the big RBI men.  He did a lot of things well rather than just one thing and had a lot of excellent seasons rather than one standalone boffo one and that's usually a recipe for being underestimated.
    At the very least, Sheffield should be the first former Marlin to have his number retired. Here's hoping the team acts on that idea soon.


    Loria Wrote a Book About Peanuts? Mind: Blown.

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011

    This afternoon I found myself on Jeff Loria's Wikipedia page, where I learned that he has written two books, both out of print. The first, Collecting Original Art, seems like the kind of thing you'd expect him to write. But the second, What's It All About, Charlie Brown? Peanuts Kids Look at America Today, kind of blows my mind. If you're looking for an ironic gift for the Marlins (or Expos!) fan in your life, here it is (starting at 82 cents on Amazon!).

    Also, I ran across this New York Magazine profile of Loria from 2003, featuring the best encapsulation of the Marlins owner I have ever seen:
    "Jeffrey is a genuinely nice person," one former business associate says. "But he struggles with the fact that he’s not given as much respect in life as he feels he deserves. Baseball is his stage." A Yankees-season-ticket holder for more than twenty years, Loria once had an intermediary deliver a bid for minority ownership to George Steinbrenner. The Boss said no thanks.
    I guess our Loria-as-Steinbrenner characterization is not that far-fetched after all.


    Batting Practice Day

    Tuesday, February 15, 2011

    Lots of goings on at the new ballpark today mainly centered around a batting practice session for some of the players. Some highlights:

    - Owner Jeffrey Loria installed the first seat in the ballpark

    #Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria installs 1st seat at new ballpark on Twitpic

    The joke writes itself.

    - You know for as giant of a head as Billy the Marlin has, you'd think they'd give him a bigger hardhat. That can't meet OSHA requirements.

    Billy the Marlin gives new #Marlins ballpark thumbs up on Twitpic

    - Logan Morrison with the first huge blast of the day

    "Logan Morrison just put one in the second deck at the new Marlins ballpark. First BP there today."
    - Mike Stanton wasn't impressed
    "Mike Stanton just a hit ball into the upper deck/catwalk at new Marlins Stadium"
    - And here is video of some of Hanley's swings, courtesy of the great AP reporter Tim Reynolds

    - More video, a psuedo-360-degree tour of the ballpark, from Manny Navarro.

    Man I wish this ballpark was completed already, it's going to be great. Actually, they should have just played the 2011 season in the unfinished ballpark. Plant the grass, cap the attendance at a low number, hardhat giveaway every day! Oh well, just 78 more rain delays to go...


    Odds and Ends

    The Marlins are holding a media event at the new stadium today, where Hanley Ramirez, Mike Stanton, Gaby Sanchez, Logan Morrison, and Chris Coghlan are taking batting practice. Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post is live-tweeting with tons of photos. The Miami Herald's Manny Navarro is also posting photos on Twitter.

    Also, this:

    Finally, there's a new Marlins blog: Strip Club With Stanton. If that sounds vaguely like a ripoff of Zoo With Roy, that's because it kind of is. It just launched today, so keep an eye on it.

    Photo via @Manny_Navarro



    I've begun doing some freelance work for NBCMiami, blogging about the local sports teams. This means I'll be dividing my Marlins energy between here and NBCMiami, I will be posting a lot of click-throughs on Marlins Diehards in the coming months. I promise to keep up the usual contributions (and Ted is still here, so it's not like we don't have a capable crew onboard), and besides, my assignments for NBC are with a different audience in mind than you guys, the good-looking, witty, savvy Marlins fans (the ones constantly having to prove your existence: the dyed-in-the-wool/polyester blend Marlins fans). I think we've got our own thing here that can't be duplicated elsewhere, and we'll keep that going.

    But sometimes, I'll pull a Tyler Cowen and link to something I've written elsewhere, but you'll get the bonus commentary. Because I like you guys. Here's the first one...

    The Marlins held their annual media luncheon yesterday, expressing their usual preseason confidence:
    With pitchers and catchers set to report to Spring Training on Friday, the Florida Marlins are busy reminding South Florida of their existence. The team held its annual media luncheon in Miami on Monday, where team owner Jeffrey Loria pronounced with his usual confidence, "I'll match my guys up with anybody."

    Hopefully for Marlins fans, this year's team will live up to his high hopes.
    I'm pretty sure we're all used to this by now. Loria always thinks his team can contend, it's how he's justified low player payrolls. "I don't need to spend more on player salaries, we have a perfectly good team as is." Last year's team was just perfectly mediocre, finishing 80-82 with a Pythagorean record (based off run differential) of 81-81. That team couldn't be any more middle of the road, and Loria thought it could make the playoffs a year ago.

    The worst part? It was plausible at the time, just as it is now. But that doesn't make it any more likely.


    The Scariest Words to Marlins Fans

    Monday, February 14, 2011

    Rodriguez made clear he would love for Matt Dominguez to win the third base job. If he doesn’t, Beinfest said the Marlins would shift Infante from second to third, with Emilio Bonifacio, Murphy or perhaps Ozzie Martinez at second base.
    Read more. We'll have extra commentary tomorrow.


    One Week Left

    Friday, February 11, 2011

    Just a friendly reminder: Pitchers and catchers report to the Marlins' spring training facility in Jupiter one week from today.


    What the New Marlins Stadium Could Have Been

    Wednesday, February 9, 2011

    Via Jonah Keri, Unrealized Concepts has collected drawings and computer-generated images of proposed MLB stadiums that never came to fruition. My favorite of the never-to-be-constructed Marlins stadiums? The stadium that would have been built on the shore of Biscayne Bay, down the street from the Miami Heat's American Airlines Arena:

    It would have been a quick walk from the Metromover station next to the Freedom Tower, but alas. Also a fun alternate ending, behold the stadium that would have allowed the Orange Bowl to live:

    Somewhere in the multiverse, this exists...


    Hanley's #3

    Tuesday, February 8, 2011

    Via Rob Neyer, the new PECOTAs are out, and Hanley Ramirez is in the top 5 again.

    1. Albert Pujols
    2. Ryan Braun
    3. Hanley Ramirez
    4. Troy Tulowiski
    5. Alex Rodriguez
    Also, Bill James has a 2011 projected slash line of .312/.389/.520.

    That reminds me. Season projections will be coming out soon enough. If you see anything interesting, shoot it to davidhill126/gmail. I will be compiling for the macropreview once again. Thanks in advance.


    Can you do anything with the wispy goatee?

    Monday, February 7, 2011

    Via Logan Morrison's Twitter:

    I asked the guy for sweeping bangs & long sideburns. I got this...

    See also: the "After" photo


    Progress Is Being Made

    Thursday, February 3, 2011

    The Marlins released aerial photos of the under-construction new stadium. Check it out:

    View the entire gallery here.


    Attention Delusional Men Ages 16-24

    The Marlins are holding an open tryout on February 16 at their Spring Training facilities in Jupiter:

    Eligible players are age 16 to 24 and are not currently playing for a college team. Released players with prior professional experience are welcome. High school players are required to supply written permission from their school principal to take part.

    Registration is free and opens at 8 a.m. with the tryout starting an hour later. Players arriving after 9 a.m. are ineligible to participate. Locker room facilities are not available, so players must arrive in appropriate attire and supply their own gear.
    If any of our readers are going, take your camera and send us some good photos. We'll attribute you, but we of course will not pay you. Thanks!


    One Year From Now...

    Tuesday, February 1, 2011

    We will be stoked to have this view at the new stadium:

    (click to enlarge)

    Pic via @MarlinsBigCatch


    Never Too Early...

    For some Mets hatin'...

    (click to enlarge)

    Here's the craigslist posting, while it is still up. Whoever did this, kudos.

    via BI Sports


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