Archive for Baseball Talk
While talks between the Fish and 1st rounder Jose Fernandez have apparently gone swimmingly, aggreeing to a contract is the next step as 12:00 AM marks as the signing deadline for all unsigned 2011 draft picks. Neither the Marlins or Fernandez have shown any signs of a potential agreement as of yet, but most first round deals aren’t announced or even agreed upon until the very last minute. According to Juan C. Rodriguez, our good buddy from the Florida Sun Sentinel the Marlins have offered Fernandez a $1.6MM signing bonus. While under slot, it’s hard to see Fernandez rejecting that.
Jose Fernandez embraces quite an interesting and heartfelt story. He was a Cuban defector and only recently made his way to the U.S. And now he’s a 1st rounder in the Major League Baseball June Draft. That’s definitely something. In any case, he isn’t the only Marlins draftee who’s yet to sign. Others include Connor Barron, a high school shortstop and Joshua Palmer, a second-baseman. All in all, 22 of the Marlins 50 June selections have yet to sign. And if you ask me, I’ll say less than 10 of them sign tonight. Especially considering a majority of the 22 are from the 30th-50th rounds and aren’t likely considered as impact players.
What you missed this weekend while trying… not to… giggle… like a… 12-year-old… boy… during… TEE-HEE!
• The Marlins won! Once. They also lost two of three to the Giants and nine of their last ten. Like the groundhog, the Marlins came out, saw their shadows and… OH NO! SIX MORE WEEKS OF JUNE!
• It’s almost like he never left. On Sunday, Chris Volstad played in his first game since being being called back up from Triple-A. And he didn’t disappoint, giving up 3 home runs in 6 innings. Of course he did. Why wouldn’t he have?
• It’s my party and I’ll block your view if I want to. Sunday was also Billy the Marlin’s birthday, so the organization brought out all kinds of other mascots to stand directly in front of my seats and celebrate with the kids in attendance. Unfortunately, it was a 1:05pm start, so the kids had all melted.
No wonder baseball is so bereft of characters. It’s not a marketing problem. It’s not a lack of effort. It’s the game’s inherent stodginess – its remarkable ability to mute the outspoken – that keeps baseball from developing stars on par with the NFL and the NBA.
I agree. What baseball needs is a handful of players who think nothing of speaking their minds, who would be beloved by fans and media alike. Players like Mike Vanderjagt, Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocinco, Allen Iverson and LeBron James. So loved, those guys. So very loved.
It wouldn’t have been a normal weekend if there weren’t any embarrassing moves made by the Marlins brass. Surely, they remained consistent and induced quite the questionable move, and one that still has Marlins fans scratching their heads over. While Logan Morrison will presumably hit his way back to the Majors, it’s at least worth seeing if Bryan Petersen has anything that would make him a viable candidate for an everyday job. While I don’t see it, Jeffrey Loria very well might. Anyway, wanted to take care of some housekeeping.
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Never mind all the current tabloids and news stations that talk about the world’s most intriguing and top news stories, we have a Giants/Marlins series on our hands! Should be exciting, don’t you think? To help preview this series, we called upon Julian Levine of Giants Nirvana to answer some questions, and here they are.
Q: Let’s just get this one out of the way: How much of a distraction will this series be for the players following the incident that occured the last time these two teams faced?
A: I don’t imagine it’ll be a huge distraction for them. They’re in the midst of a pennant race, and I think the Posey incident has pretty much blown over by now. Hopefully they can stay focused and just try to win baseball games without letting any of that drama get in the way.
Q: Should we expect any “flares for the dramatics”, considering the Giants are still semi-disgruntled about what Cousins did, albeit unintentional?
A: To be honest, I don’t know what to expect. The team’s had their frustrations of late — they just finished a 3-7 homestand — and as you probably remember, they had a bench-clearing brawl just the other night. Maybe there will be dramatics, though I don’t know that it should be expected.
Q: The Giants haven’t been doing that well over the last two weeks or so. Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks have. What can the Giants do, or not do to stay afloat?
A: They can try to hit. Bottomline: this team is very bad at scoring runs, and that will be their downfall. Huff’s starting to get it together, which helps, and once Carlos Beltran returns from his wrist strain (he just received a cortisone injection), perhaps Sandoval/Beltran/Huff will make for a formidable middle-of-the-lineup.
Q: Can you talk about Aubrey Huff‘s primary struggles and why he seems to be good one season and then terrible the next?
A: I think it’s BABIP-related, partially. And partially just randomness. For example, I don’t expect him to have an excellent season in 2012. But who knows? Huff’s had a bad year, and I can’t put an exact finger on what the causes of his struggles are. He’s grounded out a lot to second base though…Anyway, as I mentioned, he’s starting to turn things around, so hopefully he can sustain decent production over the rest of the season.
Q: Amidst their struggles, the Giants pitching has remained top notch sans the return performance of Jonathan Sanchez. Should the Giants win the West, will it be a result of the pitching and nothing else?
A: Exactly. Their hitting is so awful, that their pitching staff is the only thing keeping them contending. It’s a fantastic staff — elite rotation and bullpen — and that’s why they’re a competitive team.
Q: Who is the biggest X-Factor of this upcoming series?
A: Dare I mention Aubrey Huff again? With Beltran potentially missing a couple games in this series, it could be huge for the Giants if Huff has a good series batting in the middle of the order.
Q: Can you give us a series prediction?
A: With Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, and Ryan Vogelsong starting in this series, I expect the Giants can win two of three. If their offense wasn’t so awful, I’d maybe feel confident saying they can sweep…but I’ll go with two of three.
A big thank you to Julian Levine for taking the time to answer some of my questions. You can find more of him over at Giants Nirvana. You can find even more of him on Twitter. And, of course, you can find me answering his questions about this Giants/Marlins series right around here.
What you missed this weekend while your favorite rapper was busted while planning one heckuva party…
• In baseball, consistency is key. And the Marlins were certainly that this weekend, losing to the Cardinals on Thursday, Friday, Saturday AND Sunday! It’s a good thing Jack McKeon saved that napkin he wrote his, “We just have to get back to .500″ speech on back in June.
• Logan Morrison‘s knee will disturb you. Last night, Morrison tweeted out a picture of his bloody knee, an injury that occurred after colliding with Emilio Bonifacio in the third inning of Sunday afternoon’s game. Oh, sure, this is cute and amusing when Bonifacio is the best hitter on the team, but just wait until this stuff starts happening when he’s batting .217 next year!
• With Omar Infante out; opposing right fielders won’t know what to do with themselves. There’s going to be a shortage of lazy fly balls to right field in the coming weeks as Omar Infante finds himself on the 15-day DL with a broken middle finger. After 111 mostly-disappointing games with the Marlins, I’m sure fans would be more than happy to offer their middle fingers to the second baseman.
• And finally, presented without context, my favorite photo of, well, ever…
Your daily Marlins Minor League report…
Double-A Jacksonville (in 6-2 win over Montgomery)
Nothing extremely special took place in the Jacksonville’s victory over Montgomery. Although Kyle Skipworth again struggled at the plate, something that’s not the least bit unusual for him. Aside from going 0-2 at the plate, he dropped his average down to .198 for the year. He’s got plenty of work to do but only being 20 years of age means he’s still got some time. There were, however, a few bright spots which you’d obviously expect from the winning team. The intriguing and heartwarming story of newly-turned pitcher Chris Hatcher was displayed again tonight. The right-hander, who’s been enjoying a fine season on the mound struck out two batters in an inning of work while not walking anybody. In addition, former Tigers pitcher Zach Simons struck out three in two innings of relief while not allowing a batter to reach base via the base on balls.
High-A Jupiter (in 6-1 loss to St. Lucie)
Fortunately for the Marlins, despite their farm being amongst the emptiest in the game, there have been quite a few bright spots. One of which is outfielder Kyle Jensen who despite being 23 years of age and in High-A has put on quite a showing this season with the bat. In 361 at-bats on the year he sports a .313/.389/.548 line and has even belted 21 home runs. He strikes out way too much and is basically all bat, thus he isn’t that much of a prospect. It’s unclear what the Marlins ongoing plans for him will be, but we know he can hit, which most hitters in the organization cannot say.
Low-A Greensboro (in 1-0 loss to West Virginia)
Wow, that’s a tough one to lose. I guess it’s a good thing that minor league scores and records mean absolutely nothing. It really wasn’t a bad day for the Greensboro hitters. Marcell Ozuna collected two more hits, Christian Yelich one and same goes for Mark Canha. Good day’s for the three best hitters on the Grasshoppers. Robert Morey, a right-handed starter with fringe stuff fared out well too, pitching seven scoreless striking out basically a batter per inning while only walking one.
Bryan Evans assigned to Double-A Jacksonville from High-A Jupiter
A.J. Battisto also assigned to High-A Jupiter from Double-A Jacksonville
Holden Sprague assigned to Low-A Greensboro from Low-A SS Jamestown
Dallas Poulk has been activated from the 7-day DL and re-assigned to High-A Jupiter
See that image up there, people? That’s your fault. I blame this all on you, on Jeff Conine and on a long-standing belief in the fallacy of giving 110%. You’re all at fault here. All of you.
A few weeks ago, Hanley would have turned around and jogged after that pop-up, letting it drop in for an uncontested single. There was no way he was getting to it anyway, so he’d have just let Logan Morrison pick it up, shrugged and walked back to his position, ready to half-heartedly chase after the next ball that might seem just a bit out of his reach. You’d probably have pursed your lips and shook your head, but Hanley would have doubled down the line in his next at-bat and your silent judgement would have been a distant memory for everyone involved.
That’s not what happened, though. No, what happened was that Jeff Conine eluded to Hanley being lazy. And sports talk radio got its monthly gasbag topic. (Seriously, if 790 The Ticket plays that Jorge Sedano, “Hanley’s gotta go!” rant one more time, I might stab my eardrums with a pair of rusty scissors. Stick to basketball, chief.) And frustrated fans took to Twitter to voice their displeasure. And so, last night, amidst this current avalanche of unnecessary scrutiny, Hanley found himself staring up at a pop-up and making the ill-fated decision to do something he wouldn’t have ever thought to do a month ago. He sprinted into left field.
Hustling is overrated; just ask Ken Griffey, Jr. For all of the highlight reel catches he made throughout his career, all anyone ever seems to want to talk about is the number of home runs he’d have… if he weren’t always on the DL. That’s the kind of thanks you get for going all out. Nobody would’ve faulted Jim Edmonds for not diving head first in the direction of a solid wall. Nobody would’ve blamed Carlos Beltran or Mike Cameron if either of them had thought to themselves, “You know, I don’t really want to bash my skull into my teammate’s skull to try and catch this ball.” They did it for you, though, because you demand that your athletes always try their hardest, that they always give 110%, even as you whine and roll your eyes when asked to walk two cubicles over to pass a coworker the stapler, you lazy, hypocritical sloth.
Fortunately, the news is that Hanley’s injury isn’t serious and that he’s day-to-day. You guys got lucky. But, let this serve as a constant reminder that some of the clichéd sports nonsense your 8th grade gym teacher tried drilling into your head all those years ago is better left in your middle school locker room, because it doesn’t necessarily have a place in the real world. 110% might have gotten you a Presidential Physical Fitness Award, but I’m guessing that your 13 chin-ups weren’t televised and that you weren’t risking millions of dollars and the future of an entire franchise in the process.
So, when Hanley does get back on the field, I’d like to be the first to urge him to not try hard, to not dive after pop-ups and not leg out routine ground balls to third. Walk. Mope. Give 43%. Show up late. I don’t care. Just, for the love of God, don’t ever listen to these silly people again.
(Screenshot via MLB.com)
Some Minor League updates from Monday’s games…
AA Jacksonville (in 9-3 loss to Montgomery)
Jose Alvarez: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 91-57 P/S
A diminutive left-hander, Alvarez has continued to impress this season despite a rough Double-A stint in which his ERA has jumped to the 5.00′s. Even with recent struggles, it’s 30 innings pitched and his stuff hasn’t seemingly or suddenly disappeared. Thus he’s maintaining a solid walk rate and racking up a nice strikeout total (basically eight per nine innings throughout the season) even while getting hit around in the Southern League. Ever since his Boston days, I’ve always believed Alvarez is best suited for a potential bullpen role at the Major League level, especially being left-handed and only standing 5’11/155.
High-A Jupiter (in 4-3 loss to Daytona)
Jeff Dominguez: 2-4 with two home runs, three RBI’s and a walk
He’s extremely old for the level (25), doesn’t get on-base and most importantly isn’t your typical shortstop. At least defensively. But Jeff Dominguez certainly might have a career as a backup infielder or even fourth outfielder as long if he continues to hit. He’s got some speed and a pretty good arm but needs to get out of Jupiter, and quite fast I might add, if the Marlins have any hopes of Dominguez potentially making an impact.
Alfredo Lopez: 0-4 with two strikeouts
It doesn’t take a genius for one to realize that an 0-4 night isn’t overwhelmingly good, but Lopez is an intriguing little player which is why I wanted to discuss him. He wasn’t spectacular in Jamestown, but he’s toolsy as hec and has made lots of progress with the bat since being drafted in 2010. He’s a second-baseman who plays the position well and has real quick feet, which obviously gives him better range. He’s got a decent arm, one that isn’t strong but will definitely keep him at second-base. He doesn’t project to get much taller than he already is, but he might gain a few more pounds of muscle. He’s got nice bat speed and has shown lots of plate discipline since the move from Jamestown. Lopez doesn’t have much power but he makes contact real well and drives the ball, even if not our of the park.
Edgar Olmos: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K
I’ve liked Edgar Olmos for a while, even since he was drafted. In fact, throughout the first few years of his Minor League career the reports have been solid, even if the stats haven’t. He was drafted in 2008 and still finds himself in High-A, but he was a high school pick so he’s still young. Alas, there really isn’t a rush either way. Olmos is left-handed, stands 6’5 and throws the ball on a downhill plain. He throws low-mid 90′s with a good curveball with some depth. However, he’s often been inconsistent with his velocity which has obviously caused him some bumps in the road. He’s got a good fastball with sink and has been known to challenge hitters, so he’s someone keep an eye on.
RHP Chris Squires assigned to Low-A Greensboro from High-A Jupiter
No injuries reported as of today
What you missed this weekend while finding out that pet owners will fork over their hard earned cash for pretty much anything…
• Frustrating former Marlin picks up where frustrating current Marlin leaves off. After 26 games, Emilio Bonifacio’s hitting streak finally came to an end. Dan Uggla’s, on the other hand, reached 22 games on Sunday. You can expect Cameron Maybin to break Joe DiMaggio’s record sometimes next season.
• Emilio must really hate me. Not content with invalidating all of my arguments with a 26-game hitting streak, Bonifacio is now doing other inconceivable things, like putting the ball over the fence.
• Oh, hey, you’re still here! The MLB trade deadline came and went, but the only move the Marlins made was pretending that they traded Leo Nunez.
Imagine Nunez’s surprise when manager Jack McKeon summoned him into his office after the game, wished him luck, and told him he’d been traded to the Cubs.
“I said, ‘OK,’ then everybody was laughing and I realized it was a joke,” said Nunez, who joined Robb Nen as the only closers in club history with multiple 30-plus save seasons. “I’m here until the Marlins want. My desire is to stay here, but those are decisions the bosses make. I’d like to stay here. I feel good and have confidence with all my teammates.”
Added Nunez, “Plus, those guys now owe me like a gazillion-bazillion dollars!”
From the 31st of July, here are some updates from the so-called prospects that occupy the Marlins farm system…
High-A Jupiter (3-0 loss to Daytona)
Chad James: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 7 K and lowered his ERA to 3.38
It’s been a slow road so far for the former 1st rounder. The change from pitching weekly to every fifth day has certainly taken it’s toll as James hasn’t had the velocity or arm speed that scouts dreamed on when watching him in his hometown high school in Yukon, OK. James, however, is pitching great this year and his stuff is starting to develop more swing-and-misses than ever before. He’s still only 20 years of age and while he’s improved, confidence seems to be playing a major role in his success as well.
Low-A Greensboro (13-1 loss to Savannah)
Noah Perio: 1-3 with a triple and a walk and raised his average up to .298
Although he’s only getting on base just 30% of the time, Perio has shown decent plate approach this season with an improved eye at the plate. Although he lacks power, he hits the ball to all fields and has pretty good speed. He’s a second baseman by definition, and many see him potentially remaining on the right side of the diamond despite some troubles with the glove.
Marcell Ozuna: 0-4 with an RBI and two strikeouts. Lowered his average to .243
Ozuna has a very wild swing and one that has been known to often flail at almost anything. He has terrible discipline, but doesn’t whiff at balls in his happy zone. He has above average power and might even be able to make a case for most raw power in the organization. Over his last 550 or so at-bats, Ozuna has 38 home runs. For a hitter having played in Jamestown and Greensboro over that span, that amount of power is extremely rare. To put that in to context, most New York Penn Leaguers don’t eclipse the 15 home run plateau since they are often raw and not advanced but also to the fact that the Penn League lasts just over two months. Ozuna hit 22 last year and 16 so far this year with yet another month to go.
Christian Yelich: 0-2 with a strikeout
Yelich hasn’t disapointed one bit. Having been selected in the first round last year by the Fish, Yelich is already showing why the Marlins scouts were spot on with their expectations of him. While he’s still got plenty of years to go (which includes even more development), he’s easily the best prospect currently in the system and it’s scary to imagine what kind of progression he’ll display as he rises through the system. Yelich has a quick bat with total z0ne control and even some pop, qualities that certainly lack elsewhere in the Marlins system.
Low-A Jamestown (11-5 loss to Staten Island)
Marquise Cooper: 3-4 with a double, two runs scored and an RBI
Marquise was one of the guys I projected bigtime coming out of the 2009 draft. I loved the tools, and while things haven’t turned out to be what some had expected thus far, he’s still young with tons to dream on. While a raw and currently lousy baserunner, Cooper has tons of speed and gets up the line rather quick. The bat is far and may not even ever make it’s way to a Major League lineup, but the bat speed is there. He’s toolsy and the odds are against him, but Marquise Cooper has shown glimpses of what could be a fine Major League ballplayer. Tonight was one of those nights.