Archive for Analysis
A troubling epidemic has swept across Major League Baseball over the first month of the season leaving many fans to throw their arms in the air in exasperation, all asking the same question.
What has happened to my team’s closer?
It’s not just you, Miami Marlin fans. Many fans of the majority of teams have sat in stunned horror as their teams have seen 9th inning leads turn into the things nightmares are made of.
Formerly consistent closers like Heath Bell and Francisco Cordero have imploded, seemingly forgetting how to close games. While others, like Mariano River, Scott Downs, Andrew Bailey, Kyle Farnsworth, Drew Storen, Huston Street, and Sergio Santos have seen their seasons halted if not completely ended due to injury.
The fresh, re-branded Miami Marlins stepped into a new ballpark in the Little Havana area in Miami with hype bigger than some fans expected, hype that was regularly shot down and brought back up by the general public, writers, and bloggers. The Fish dropped into their new ballpark on April 4th and battled the Cardinals, a game that unfortunately goes down in history as a four-hit loss. Josh Johnson had given up 10 hits on the night, and the Cardinals’ Kyle Lohse brought a no-hitter into the seventh. Immediately following the game, speculation poured out on social websites, sports networks, and more. The Fish would go on to lose six of their first nine games of the season. To finish up April, they went 8-14, with a .364 winning percentage, and stood in last place.
At the end April, the Marlins were in bad shape. Star-shortstop Jose Reyes had a majorly-disappointing .220 batting average, center fielder Emilio Bonifacio had a .244 batting average, third baseman Hanley Ramirez finished with .207 batting average, and first baseman Gaby Sanchez had a .205 batting average. The only players who seemed to be getting the hitting-portion of the game were Omar Infante, who finished with a 1.070 OPS, a .323 batting average, and a .344 on-base percentage; and Giancarlo Stanton, who was still considered to be struggling at the time, as he finished with a sub-par .247 batting average, .286 on-base percentage, and one home run.
Brian Moynahan, MiLB.com, Bus Leagues Baseball & occasional Marlins Daily contributor stopped by to contribute a heartwarming story to the site. Below is all courtesy of Brian.
Landon Camp never saw his big break coming.
He was waiting in line for a burger last January when he checked his phone and saw that he had a missed call and a message from Doc Edwards, his manager for the past three seasons with the San Angelo Colts of the independent North American League. The message referenced “contract stuff” that the two needed to discuss; naturally, Camp’s first hopeful thought was that he was getting a raise.
When he called Edwards back, the 75-year-old former major league player, manager, and coach launched into a “long, drawn-out story” that soon had his third baseman wondering what exactly the reason had been for the original call.
“Come on, Doc, tell me what’s going on here,” Camp thought.
Finally, Edwards got to the point: he wasn’t calling about a raise. He was calling to tell Camp that his contract had been sold to the Miami Marlins. Camp, an un-drafted free agent out of Oklahoma City University who in three seasons as an independent player had never before drawn the interest of an affiliated organization, was predictably stunned.
“I just sat there in line for like five minutes because I couldn’t believe it was going on,” he said. “I’m pretty sure the people behind me were mad but I didn’t really care at that point. Just hang out back there and let me enjoy my spot for a minute.
“Something like that is like a dream come true for me, to spend three years in independent ball and finally got my shot! I was so excited.”
The moment was made all the more special by the fact that Camp almost didn’t become a professional baseball player. Coming off a four-year career at OCU in which he set a school record with 65 homeruns, he told himself that if he wasn’t drafted, that was it; he would take his degree, find a job, and go to work.
Down the left field corner at Marlins Park lies the home-team’s bullpen. Some familiar faces are in there, from the side-arming Steve Cishek, to the entertaining Edward Mujica. There are some faces you might not recognize, though. Chad Gaudin has hopped around from team to team, minors to majors since 2002. Heath Bell, the first face that we saw come out of the major signings the Fish made during the Winter Meetings last year, boasts a great, effective past with the San Diego Padres. The bullpen, with its recent strengths shown in 2011 and its new additions added in the offseason, was projected to have a pretty darn good year in 2012. Well, so far, that’s not happening.
Well, run support isn’t happening either, you could argue. But deep down in the 14 quality starts of the last 18 outings from starting pitchers, the fact that the $27M Heath Bell has three blown saves, and the five losses from relievers (most in N.L., tied with Chicago Cubs), you can to see that a struggling bullpen is a bit of a problem for Miami.
It is still very early in the season but Mark Buehrle, the free agent signing that likely landed the least amount of press of Marlins’ three big signings, is having a fantastic early season start in his first year in the senior circuit.
Top free agent signing Jose Reyes is hitting a poor .230/.294/.377 with a wRC+ of 80 and only four stolen bases in six attempts. To make matters even worse, his -3.2 UZR is the fourth worst mark in the National League and tied with Derek Jeter for the worst mark among all Major League shortstops. Add a -0.7 Bsr and you get a player worth -0.2 fWAR on the early season.
Heath Bell has only pitched five innings but has already allowed four runs and three walks on the season, not to mention he already has two meltdowns on the season and his fastball velocity is at its lowest mark since he wore New York Met blue and orange back in 2005. Read More→
The Miami Marlins improved to 5-6 last night when they defeated the Chicago Cubs 5-2 behind the likes of third baseman Hanley Ramirez’s three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning. It was Ramirez’s only hit in the game but it was crucial. This is what the Marlins are going to need from him, his power numbers.
Hudson Belinsky, the Angels bloglord over at Halos Daily, stopped by Marlins Daily to contribute a guest post. Here we have Hudson discussing the Marlins’ usage of Steve Cishek, so be sure to give it a read and stop by Halos Daily to check out Hudson’s Angels goodies. Also, make sure to follow Hudson on Twitter.
Steve Cishek is awesome. His name never graced a top prospects list, he never commanded a huge bonus out of the draft, and he had to succeed at every level of the minor leagues before becoming the big league reliever that he is today. Nonetheless, Cishek has made his way to the Marlins’ bullpen, and entered Sunday having been used in seven of the team’s nine games.
Since 2012 is still very young, let’s take a look at what Cishek did last season and see if it’s sustainable. In his age-25 season the right-hander posted a superb 2.63 ERA over 54.2 innings. He struck out 9.05 batters per nine, while walking 3.13 and racked up 1.0 wins above replacement (FanGraphs), which is very good considering how little he pitched. Cishek had a remarkable groundball rate. His groundball-to-flyball ratio of 2.15 ranked 31st among all pitchers with 40 innings or more, and his groundball rate of 56.8 percent ranked 24th. Cishek’s fastball is basically a sinker, featuring heavy downward movement as it enters the zone. Sinkerball pitchers are typically groundball guys, so Cishek should be able to sustain his high groundball rate.
In a nutshell, the answer is no.
This past week, when the ever-so-famous Bill Baer exchanged questions for the Marlins/Phillies series with yours truly he asked me an especially intriguing question. Despite, at the time, the season only being four games old Bill wanted to know if there was any reason in particular as to why Mike Stanton hadn’t yet gone deep. It’s true; Mike Stanton is easily one of the game’s most feared sluggers and, after seven games through the season he hasn’t yet hit a home run.
Only six games have been played so far this year. The fact that Stanton is homer-less, at least to me, isn’t a huge concern because he’ll obviously heat up. Additionally, he’s not the only slugger who’s yet to blast a round-tripper (Andrew McCutchen, Carlos Gonzalez, Paul Konerko & Lance Berkman are others in that category). And I’m sure Stanton has gone through stretches in the past when he played six straight games (or more) without hitting a homer. But there is some reason to believe that something could possibly be wrong with the slugger, especially considering his fly ball rate sits close to the bottom of the league.
While watching the video below, replace the word “low” with “miserable” and the word “price” with “performance.”