Archive for Baseball Talk
Update — 12:25 PM: Per MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez, it looks like the White Sox will be acquiring Ozzie Martinez in exchange for Guillen plus a minor league pitcher. This obviously contradicts some of what I said below, but at least Martinez isn’t a “make-a-difference” prospect like some suggested would be on the move. Ozzie Martinez, to me, never had a role for the Marlins and probably never would, and despite donning new colors in 2012 he still might not even deserve a starting role. Martinez doesn’t have one tool that stands out but plays good defense and has some speed. Still, I can’t see him being anything more than a backup middle infielder. As for the pitcher heading to Chicago, I would expect it wouldn’t be Josh Hodges, Chad James, Brad Hand and so on. As I said below, the Marlins can’t trade the future for a manager.
3:37 AM: The “when it rains, it pours” saying always seems rather comparable to a day filled with ever-flowing Marlins news. When controversy surrounds the Fish, it generally turns catastrophic, or at least incredibly dramatic. In any case, yesterday was another one of those days. Don’t be ashamed to admit you might have missed the news. If so, you probably spent the day’s entirety laying in bed with your eyes closed. To quickly sum everything up, I might as well begin with the announcement of Jack McKeon’s retirement. Trader Jack called it a career after several decades of involvement in major league baseball, and in a corresponding move, the Marlins received the man they’ve long been eyeballing. That would be Ozzie Guillen, and this took place after the White Sox “released him from his contract.” That’s the big story, and the one that highlighted this day in baseball, but don’t forget Omar Infante, who inked a two-year deal with the Fish. Anyway, let’s dig in to what’s most important.
My first reaction to McKeon’s decision to retire was “well, damn, now we have to deal with the ongoing rumors of Espada and other coaches in consideration for the job.” While I do tend to believe that managers don’t have as much of an impact on the game as people might imagine, I’ve long ridden the “the Marlins need a veteran manager” train. With that said, for some odd reason I did not have Ozzie Guillen in mind, simply because I couldn’t imagine that move actually gaining momentum, much less happening. Why? Well, I just had a tough time believing Guillen would leave the Sox for the lowly Marlins, granted it’s geographically close to his palatial estate. And guess what, people? He didn’t leave — he got fired, so I’m not that crazy after all.
Despite flurrying rumors that “this and that guy” were heading to the Southside as part of the deal, each and every Fish prospect could stay put. According to MLB.com’s Scott Merkin, “The White Sox retain rights to compensation should Guillen accept a managerial position with another Major League team in 2012.” So what that means is that even though Guillen was sacked and released, the Marlins will still have to pay the White Sox green for his services. With that said, we did hear rumors that Kenny Williams wanted a “pretty decent prospect” and that “there were two minor leaguers leaving the Marlins organization.” That would have been rather silly, especially if it was a decent prospect like some reports suggested. The Marlins have set their sights on Guillen for who knows how long, but mortgaging the future, at least in my opinion, is inexcusable when trading for a manager. We’re talking about a manager. Not a player. A manager. Let’s be real…
The potential acquisition of Ozzie Guillen also displayed some significance. For the past few seasons but especially in 2011, the Marlins couldn’t do anything right. Even when things were going well, an annoyance always got in the way whether it be a heartbreaking injury or just bad Marlins luck (stupid, dumb luck dragon). This time, the Marlins got their man. Sure, the Guillen acquisition might be rather surprising, and there will definitely be those who disagree with the move. But the Marlins management had dreams of Guillen wearing rainbow, black and teal (still don’t get it) for the longest time, and Loria can finally express his excitement and encouragement regarding the Marlins preparation for 2012.
I’ve already seen on Twitter the jokes being made about Guillen and his mouth or his potential interaction with Logan Morrison. And you know, it’s incredibly annoying and ignorant. Sure, there will always be low expectations and jokes being thrown around when you have one of the most controversial managers in sports about to possess one of the strangest managerial seats of one of the weirdest teams in sports, but what can you do? If I’m a Marlins fan, I’m damn excited about this new change in management. With an experienced manager, albeit a loud one, and Joey Cora occupying the Florida home dugout next season it’s really hard not to be excited. At least be open-minded.
Over the course of just two years, the Florida Marlins fanbase has grown increasingly frustrated with the man entrusted with coming out of the bullpen and pitching his way to heart-palpatating saves on a nightly basis. The problem? We’ve all been screaming the wrong name.
Juan Carlos Oviedo.
If you’re scoring at home, that’s now three Marlins who play under assumed names. The only difference, of course, is that Justis Morrison and Giancarlo Cruz Michael Stanton weren’t sent back to the Dominican Republic this week. Leo Nunez, on the other hand…
According to the report, Nunez’s real name is Juan Carlos Oviedo. Oviedo is said to be 29 years old, a year older than his listed birthdate of Aug. 14, 1983 in the Marlins’ media guide.
It is not known whether the U.S. Immigration uncovered his assumed identity or whether he will be able to re-enter the country if he is cleared.
Dominican players lying about names and ages is nothing new, as most of us already know – and if you didn’t, Bobby Valentine does an excellent job of explaining – so this story isn’t as crazy as it sounds. It’s only ridiculous because it’s the Marlins, and after an epic June collapse, an Edwin resignation, the hiring of an octogenarian, Hanleygate, LoMogate and Logogate, it was hard to imagine anything even more ridiculous happening to the team team this season. But, of course, this is the Marlins, so something else did happen. Juan Carlos Oviedo happened.
RIP Leo Nunez.
• With Hanley out, someone has to make the errors. Clowns all across America breathe a sigh of relief whenever they see Steve Cishek step up to their dunk tank. Unfortunately, the guy running the ring toss game three booths over always winds up getting hit in the head somehow.
• September 3rd seems like so long ago. It’s been almost 16 full days since Mike Stanton has murdered a baseball, giving Marlins fans exactly zero reasons to watch whatever it is they’re doing out there. Unless you’re Donnie Murphy‘s mom. In which case, you’re probably watching. But, I can’t even say that with 100% certainty.
• Don’t worry, it’s okay to giggle. On Sunday, Florida put their Hand up against Washington’s Wang. Just eleven days earlier, Hand and Dickey got together. Shoot! Missed the elusive Brad Hand Joke Trifecta by one stinkin’ Nate Adcock reference!
• Oh, you thought I was done? If the Brad Hand jokes weren’t enough, Tuesday night’s game is going to be Star Wars Night at Sun Life Stadium. So, you know, head out to the ballpark if think you might want to get yourself a little Han Solo action…
What you missed this weekend while trying to figure out who throws a shoe. Honestly…
• Oh, so that’s what that looks like! Huh. For the first time in what feels like forever, the Marlins found themselves on the better side of a lopsided score. Two Omar Infante home runs (!!!) and a nine-run third inning (!!!!!!) will do that for a struggling ball club. Other things that will do that for a struggling ball club? Playing the Pirates.
• And when I think about you, I touch myself. On Saturday, the domination of Pittsburgh continued as Anibal Sanchez held
The Divinyls the Pirates to just one hit. Ooooh. OOOOOOOOH. OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHH!!!! I DOOOOOON’T WANT AAAAAAANYBODY ELSE– Okay I’ll stop now.
• He gets it. Then he doesn’t. Then he gets it again. I think. Maybe. By the end of this article, you get the feeling that Terence Moore isn’t really sure what he believes about baseball anymore:
Blame it on injuries and average talent.
You can’t blame it on McKeon.
He is strategically sound, too. Among his first moves after taking over the Marlins this summer was to put struggling star Hanley Ramirez in the cleanup spot. Ramirez was hitting .198 at the time. From there, he soared at the plate — until he got hurt.
Ace pitcher Josh Johnson also injured his shoulder, and that was in early May. Like Ramirez, Johnson is out for the season. If you add their aches and pains to a bunch of other Marlins — along with the fact that these aren’t the Marlins of Gary Sheffield, Kevin Brown and Bobby Bonilla — McKeon didn’t have a chance of making this work.
In other words, when players are performing poorly, it isn’t the managers fault, because the players stink. But, when players are playing to their potential, that’s all on the manager, because he totally made that happen. Unless the players stink and/or are injured. Then there’s only so much the manager can do. Obviously.
Yeah, I’m confused, too. Hold me.
If you’ve been paying attention to the news cycle – and I know you have, because you’re reading an ESPN-affiliated Marlins blog that’s almost impossible to find unless you actively went searching for it, which means you really care to know stuff about the team – then you know the Marlins have resumed talks with the White Sox about possibly making Ozzie Guillen the manager heading into the new stadium. To which I would say…
That’s crazy talk.
A little over a year ago, the fine gentlemen at Marlins Diehards summed it up pretty perfectly in just one paragraph:
Managers in baseball are worth only a few wins (or losses) a year, so why bother with the whole charade? Let Wes Helms take the lineup card to the home plate umpire before every game, and pitching coach Randy St. Clair can handle pitching changes. Whoever the new bench coach is can take care of pinch hitters and defensive substitutions, and just like that, the Marlins have cut $650,000 (Fredi Gonzalez’ salary) from their payroll (Mr. Loria can send me a ten percent commission for the savings).
While Wes Helms is no longer around to handle lineup card duties, I’m fairly certain Greg Dobbs can handle the task with relative ease. As for the rest of it, yes. Just, yes.
Besides the fact that Ozzie Guillen can’t win games if Josh Johnson is hurt and Hanley Ramirez is slumping, he’s probably not going to come here for the kind of money the Marlins generally like to spend on a manager. We’re talking about an organization that decided it couldn’t afford players – PLAYERS!!! – as valuable as Miguel Cabrera or Josh Beckett. Those are guys who actually take the field and contribute to winning ballgames. We’re really supposed to expect them to overspend on a guy whose job basically boils down to sitting in the dugout, offering quality soundbites, and occasionally pulling a double switch?
What you missed this weekend while you were playing your annual game of VMA Award Outfit or Last Minute Halloween Costume…
• Sweep! Sweep! Sweep! The Marlins went to Philadelphia for a four-game series and left without a single loss. They also left with just one win, though, as the other three games were postponed.
It’s late August, which means that there are only a handful of fanbases left with any kind of playoff aspirations. Some of them are getting ready for a deep run and others are deluding themselves into thinking they can make up seven games in the last month to somehow steal the Wild Card. Meanwhile, the rest of us are left trying to convince ourselves that there’s still a meaningful reason to watch the team we love. The problem is, there isn’t one. It’s easier to justify suffering through the last four games of a miserable football season because you only get to watch 16 of them per year. But, when you’ve already sat through 77 losses, there’s really no need to subject yourself to 25 more. Sure, you may love the sport, but what if the current season isn’t loving you back? What, exactly, is a fan of a team like the Astros or Marlins to do? Allow me to help…
Root against the Red Sox. I don’t care how sweet a person you are, one of the great joys of being a sports fan is being able to display an irrational hatred toward a team with which you have absolutely no connection. And, really, what better team to direct that inexplicable venom toward than the one with the most insufferable fanbase in all of sports? Over time, hating Boston slowly became the new hating New York and, if you’re smart, you’ll do your best to get in on this before we all decide to hate Chicago or some other random city. Believe me, it’s happening as I type this and once it’s over, you’ll never have the opportunity to bask in Bill Simmons’ misery ever again. Now, does that sound like something you’ll want to have missed out on?
Who can tell you the positive in getting your butt whipped every night? The silver lining in missing playoffs?
Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, and his optimistic view what’s to come, that’s who.
Tough to find the “well at least…” in a seemingly lost 2012 campaign. A season that began with promise, is winding up a face-shielding disappointment.
Times have been difficult awhile now for the Marlins fan, and you can count on a long September to boot.
Look on the bright side.
At least you’re not a New York Yankees fan. Watching your owner mindlessly spend millions hand-over-fist for the latest, well-equipped toys in free agency. Making the playoffs as an afterthought, anything less than the World Series, an utter failure.
Despite all that East Coast bravado and endless sense of entitlement that comes with being a fan of the Yanks, I think we’ll pass for now, thanks.
Florida management has worked tirelessly to earn the success they’ve had over the years. Back-to-back-to-back all-nighters hard.
Two World Series championships in 14 years of existence thanks to pinpoint scouting efforts and careful personnel decision-making with one eye always on the big picture.
It’s the Marlins way, and something for those who bleed teal to take pride in.
Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, or Mr. Brightside, is optimistic for 2012 and focused on doing whatever it takes to bring yet another WS trophy back to South Florida (more on this developing story to come.)
Some of the best young talent in Marlins history, Mr. Brightside looking to make an off-season splash, and the grand opening of brand new Sun Life Stadium.
As it turns out, 2011 wasn’t the year it could have been but the future’s glare has the squinting Marlins faithful reaching for a pair of shades.
One look at Chris Volstad‘s 5.66 ERA, and most Marlins fans will turn away in disgust. The numbers, though, are a bit misleading. When you look at the former first-rounder’s Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP, which evaluates a pitchers performance using walks, strikeouts, hit batsmen and home runs allowed), the numbers are much better.
I should mention that the stat is scaled to read like ERA, so the lower the number, the better. He checks in at 4.63, which isn’t so terrible. However, when you dig a little deeper there is even more reason to not give up on the 24 year old righty. A variation of FIP, called xFIP assumes all pitchers have league average home run/fly ball rates. In short, home run/fly ball rates tell you of all the fly balls allowed by a pitcher, how many were home runs. As a pitcher, you would obviously want to have a small percentage of fly balls hit against you result in home runs. In this aspect, Volstad has a relatively good 3.64 xFIP. The big question is if he can or will be able to lower his HR/FB rate. As of right now, he is at a very poor 17.4%. Remember, the league average is 10.5%. Last year, though, Volstad actually had a very good HR/FB rate at 8.8%, so there is hope he can attain a lower rate in the future.
Also, Volstad’s struggles with allowing the longball were previously explored on this site in this piece by Mr. Burie.
Chris Volstad-ERA FIP xFIP
5.66 4.63 3.64
So behind that disappointing ERA, there is evidence that Chris Volstad is better than he gets credit for. Granted, the numbers still aren’t anything great, but they are much better than a 5.66 ERA suggests, and if he can somehow fix his Achilles heel for allowing home runs, he could become a much better pitcher.
And thats certainly nothing to turn away in digust about.
If an old poet chose to write about the star-crossed Florida Marlins and their ace starting pitcher’s 2011 season he wouldn’t need long to choose his angle.
The latest in Marlins news has SP Josh Johnson return set for September, but the All-Star right-hander might not return to the big club this season, and instead could finish the season with a few minor league rehab appearances.
Consider this, the young and talented Marlins hovered in and around first place for much of the 2011 season’s early months. South Florida was oozing with optimism, and why not?
It’s not like Fish fans have ever seen a group of unfamiliar stars and band together for a dream season before. Oh wait, 2003 anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
Young players surrounded by a few established stars can come of age in a hurry. No one knows that better then Marlins fans.
The Fish had all the components for a run to the post-season, even in the super competitive N.L. East, until the Marlins lost their anchor, rockstar, ace, and slump-buster to a shoulder injury.
When June rolled around, the Fish desperately needed a streak-stopper, someone to stop the bleeding and get the train back on the tracks. The guy that fit that exact description was dedicated and under contract but unfortunately his health didn’t cooperate.
Remain calm Marlins fans we haven’t seen the last of Josh Johnson and 2012 will be here before you know it. That’s as good a time as any to turn a tragedy into something more pleasant, say a ballad or haiku.
Maybe even a Cinderella story.