When you are a big league manager and your team is failing to live up to expectations part of your job is to find a way to right the ship.
Some managers change their lineup. Others skip a pitcher’s start. And the really desperate ones put a rookie over a veteran player to try and add a spark.
Ozzie Guillen throws players under the bus, and then under the knife to get back from injury sooner.
Or, at least he’d like to.
In an interview earlier this week Guillen said that next season the Marlins organization will have less patience with player injuries.
“I’m not a doctor, but I don’t know why people have to wait so long to have surgery,’’ Guillen said when asked specifically about Logan Morrison, who said Tuesday he will have a second surgery to reconnect his torn right patella tendon (Sept. 5) and will need to rehab six months.
“It ain’t going to happen here like it’s happened in the past. … Agents and people and doctors and different opinions make those guys go different ways. Now, it’s time for the Marlins to take it our way.’’
In part one of what is now a two part series, we examined the Marlins surprisingly poor run differential here. While the numbers have changed slightly since then, the basic point remains: for a team that has been outscored by about 100 runs this season, the Marlins have a much better record than would be expected. According to Baseball Prospectus’ Adjusted Standings, the Marlins have won about 4.2 games more than their run differential would suggest. Likewise, ESPN’s Expected Win-Loss, a metric also based off a team’s run differential, estimates the Marlins “true record” to be 55-76–a far cry from the team’s actual 59-72 mark.
When it was learned that right-hander Nathan Eovaldi was the Dodgers’ main trade chip used to acquire Hanley Ramirez, there were mixed reactions among Marlins fans as well as the rest of the baseball world. Eovaldi was seen as having the potential to be a valuable part of a major league rotation in the future, despite not being seen as a future ace. He came to the Fish with twelve starts-worth of big league experience, and it was clear that Ozzie Guillen planned to stick Eovaldi into a regular spot in the rotation from the get-go.
As the Miami Marlins season is coming to a end, there haven’t been many positives to take away from this inaugural season at Marlins Park. From what seemed like a promising season with a possible playoff spot in sight, quickly turned into a disaster. You could say the brand new $525 million dollar ballpark is too spacious, or injuries plagued the team, which may be true, but nothing is more obvious than the lack of production from the “key” players. Especially from Marlins ace, Josh Johnson.
After a tremendous 2010 season, Johnson seemed to have finally figured out how to stay healthy and was destined for greatness. In 2011, Josh Johnson, as you can remember, was shut down after nine starts due to right shoulder inflammation. He posted a 1.64 ERA in those starts and looked to be well on his way to another all-star game appearance with the fish. However, the injury bug hit him again and that was all 2011 wrote for the ace.
Flash forward to 2012 now. As one would assume, the Marlins came into the 2012 season with high hopes for the fully recovered Josh Johnson. It wasn’t irrational to envision the two time all-star leading the rotation and ideally the team into the playoffs after reflecting upon how dominate Johnson was in his limited time during the 2011 season.
Spencer Schneier, an Independent Scout, has compiled a full scouting report on Andrew Heaney, the Marlins’ first round pick from the 2012 Draft. Please thank Spencer for his outstanding work on this and be sure to follow him on Twitter @BaseballSpencer
On Saturday night in Greensboro I was fortunate enough to watch Andrew Heaney pitch for the Grasshoppers. In his second start in the Sally League, Heaney impressed me, as well as the other scouts I was sitting near.
General Pitching Tools
Two things that are not necessarily objective that stood out to me: Heaney had an excellent poker face on the mound, as it was near impossible to determine whether he was upset about something, happy about a pitch, or disappointed with an umpire’s call. He has plus mound presence and average feel for pitching, which should be plus as he progresses. The second thing that stood out was his work ethic. He clearly is a good, hard-working player as he was the first player on the field for either team, and was done stretching before the next guy made his way out. His make-up appears to be good as well, because his high school coach’s sister made the hour and a half drive from Raleigh to see him. She was happy to talk to anyone that would listen about how nice a kid Heaney is.
I liked Heaney’s mechanics for the most part, noting a high leg-kick, but that he whips his head a little bit at the end of his delivery. I thought that this may lead to some command problems. I thought that his broad shoulders and skinny legs showed room for filling out, and that he could add some velocity if he does.
I thought that he did a good job holding runners and staying aware of them, despite the Greensboro pitching coach mentioning that as something he could improve on. The only other note that is not directly related to a pitch is that I thought his pitch sequencing was below average, but I also was not sure if he was trying to work on something in particular.
The fastball was the worst pitch, which is not necessarily a bad thing. It sat 88-92, but what makes it so good is the movement. Best described as “a cutter and sinker had a baby,” it moves down and in on right handed batters. He struggled to spot it throughout the night, which I believe most mostly caused by the slight head-whip he has at the end of his delivery.
As we approach the one-month anniversary of the Miami Marlins’ deadline wheeling and dealing, I figure it’s a good time to look ahead to how the club will improve the team in 2013.
The Marlins offloaded the contracts of Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, and Omar Infante, among others, and based on how things stand, it appears that they’ll have somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 million to work with this winter. The chances of Miami going after high-priced free agents this winter as they did last year is slim to none, but there are still plenty of issues to address if the club wants to have any shot at being competitive in the NL East over the next several years.
For starters, let’s look at the payroll situation. The total value of guaranteed contracts on the Fish’s roster (without options/buyouts taken into consideration) over the next several seasons is as follows:
2012: $80.7 million
2013: $62.8 million
2014: $43 million
2015: $41 million
These figures, provided by Baseball-Reference, obviously don’t take into account other variables such as arbitration or contractual incentives, but it gives you at least a broad understanding of what the club will be working with.
In February 12th, 2002, The sale of the Florida Marlins to Jeffrey Loria was approved by the baseball owners. The managing trio of Loria, President David Samson and general manager Larry Beinfest were formed.
When Loria bought the team in 2002, the Marlins already had a World Series championship from 1997. It was their only winning season. On top of winning a championship of their own, there isn’t much more they would need to do to top previous ownership.
Before Opening Day of their first season as Marlins brass, they made their first trade of the regime by sending pitchers Matt Clement and Antonio Alfonseca to the Chicago Cubs for pitchers Julian Tavarez, Dontrelle Willis and Jose Cueto, and catcher Ryan Jorgensen.
That same year, they traded star outfielder Cliff Floyd to their former team, the Montreal Expos, for pitchers Carl Pavano, Justin Wayne, Graeme Lloyd, and Don Levinski and reserve infielders Mike Mordecai and Wilton Guerrero.
The same day they shipped their ace Ryan Dempster to the Cincinnati Reds for outfielder Juan Encarnacion, infielder Wilton Guerreer and pitcher Ryan Snare.
The Marlins finished 4th in the National League East with a record of 79 wins and 83 loses.
During the offseason, the Marlins acquired pitcher Mike Hampton and center fielder Juan Pierre from the Colorado Rockies for catcher Charles Johnson, outfielder Preston Wilson, infielder Pablo Ozuna and pitcher Vic Darensbourg.
Immediately after securing that deal, the Marlins sent Hampton to the Atlanta Braves for relief pitcher Tim Spooneybarger and minor league pitcher Ryan Baker.
Through those five trades, the Marlins replaced Matt Clement, Antonio Alfonseca, Cliff Floyd, Ryan Dempster, Charles Johnson and Preston Wilson with Dontrelle Willis, Carl Pavano, Juan Encarnacion, Juan Pierre, Tim Spooneybarger and Mike Mordecai.
On paper, those moves may not make any sense. However, include the signing of catcher Ivan Rodriguez, the hiring of manager Jack McKeon, the emergence of Miguel Cabrera, and midseason trades for Ugueth Urbina and Jeff Conine, and the Loria/Samson/Beinfest regime wins a World Series Championship of their own in just their second season.
The Marlins would finish 83-79 for the next two seasons but the additions of pitcher Armando Benitez, Paul Lo Duca, Todd Jones and Carlos Delgado was seen as shrewd moves. Benitez would record a franchise record 47 saves in 51 attempts.
However with much of their 2005 leaving for free agency, it made more sense to cut payroll and start over rather than live in baseball purgatory.
They traded every veteran and Jeffery Loria was labeled by the media as a cheapskate owner for having the youngest team in baseball with a league low $15M payroll going into the 2006 season.
They were expected to win less games than the soon to be champion Miami Heat. Instead those youngsters had an historic season despite finishing 78-84.
The Marlins became first team in the modern baseball era to improve to better than .500 after being as much as 20 games under .500. Also, for the first time in MLB history, four rookies topped double digits in wins: Josh Johnson, Scott Olsen, Ricky Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez.
On September 6, 2006, Sanchez threw the fourth no-hitter in franchise history, beating Arizona, 2-0, at Dolphin Stadium.
Rookie second baseman Dan Uggla became the first Rule 5 pick to be selected to the All-Star Game in the season in which he was drafted. Rookie shortstop Hanley Ramirez won the National League Rookie of the Year Award, and Joe Girardi was voted N.L. Manager of the Year during his rookie season.
Adding veteran outfielder Luis Gonzalez gave the young Marlins much needed veteran leadership and helped them return to their winning way as they finished above .500 for the first time since 2005.
Adding Jorge Cantu turned out to be a steal when he helped the Marlins set a Major League record by having four infielders reach at least 25 home runs — Hanley Ramirez (33), Dan Uggla (32), Mike Jacobs (32) and Jorge Cantu (29).
That same year however, they traded Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to the Detroit Tigers for Burke Badenhop, Dallas Trahern, Andrew Miller, Cameron Maybin, Mike Rabelo and Eulogio de la Cruz.
None of their returns proved to be a difference maker, making the trade one of, if the worst, trades in Marlins history.
Going into last year, the Marlins traded Dan Uggla to the Atlanta Braves for Omar Infante and a reliever. Infante was a .300 hitter and better fielder than Uggla but wasn’t that hitter when with the Marlins.
Their signing of Javier Vazquez that was shaping up to be like the NAte Robertson acquisition in 2010 until the second half of the season when he became their ace in Josh Johnson’s absence.
This year, the Miami Marlins signed Heath Bell, Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle and traded Chris Volstad to the Chicago Cubs for Carlos Zambrano. Anyone is an upgrade over Volstad but Bell turned out to be a complete bust and also the face of a failed 2012 campaign which has the Marlins in last place for the second straight year.
They also traded Anibal Sanchez, Omar Infante, Hanley Ramirez and Randy Choate (who was a solid signing) for a coup of prospects. Two of the major ones are starting pitchers Nathan Eovaldi from the Los Angeles Dodgers, who is 3-2 with a 3.75 ERA, and Jacob Turner from the Tigers, who will be making his Marlins debut this week.
If these two pitchers can be successful, they can help springboard another big offseason for the Marlins brass and possibly be on the rebound in 2013. This regime has seen a lot and deserve every praise and criticism, but for the fans of the Marlins, they’re the best they got.
Just three weeks after being acquired in the Anibal Sanchez/Omar Infante deal, the Marlins have called up 23-year-old catcher Rob Brantly from AAA New Orleans.
The move was announced following Sunday’s 5-0 loss to the Dodgers, with backup catcher Brett Hayes being sent down to clear a roster spot. It seems that with the roster moves made over the past month, August and September will now serve as the prime audition opportunity for players whom the club will decide to make part of the long term future of the organization.
Since coming over from Detroit, Brantly had been raking for the Zephyrs, posting a .365/.389/.558 line with two home runs and 11 RBI. Although he’s drawn just one walk in 52 at-bats as a member of the Marlins organization, Brantly is at least able to keep his strikeout totals low.
In their statement regarding Brantly’s call up, Marlins president Larry Beinfest said that “I don’t think you want to bring him up and have him sit. You want to look for some advantageous situations for him, but he needs to play.” Obviously, bringing up Brantly means that he’ll get a chance for plenty of at-bats, and with the atrocious season that John Buck has had, it won’t take much for Brantly to be an improvement over the current catching situation. In fact, the Marlins have posted the second-lowest fWAR total in the NL from the catcher position at just 0.3 WAR, ahead of only the Cubs.
Beinfest also mentioned that while they would still like to see Brantly improve defensively, they see no problem in evaluating his receiving skills at the big league level rather than doing so in Triple-A. Brantly has always been viewed as an offensive-minded catcher with more line-drive ability than power, but it will be worth watching how well he can hold up behind the dish. Despite the struggles of Buck with the bat, he has still been able to throw out 32% of runners attempting to steal. Brantly did show good arm strength during this year’s Futures Game, throwing out Cardinals’ OF prospect Oscar Taveras, but the big leagues will obviously require a bigger adjustment compared to a minor league All-Star game.
Brantly will get the next two months to show the Marlins whether where he fits in with their future plans, and if all goes well, he’ll have secured himself a spot as the everyday catcher for the forseeable future.
The Marlins short but sweet 3-game winning streak came to an end Thursday, falling to the Mets 6-1. Also coming to a halt was Jose Reyes’ 26-game hit streak, after going 0-4 against the knuckleballing R.A. Dickey. Although he couldn’t pass the team’s all-time record of 35 straight games with a hit, set by Luis Castillo in 2002, it was still an impressive run by the shortstop–who did manage to tie Emiliano Bonifacio’s 26-game mark for second longest in Marlins history.
The streak began almost a month ago to date, on July 13 against the Nationals. Reyes went 1-4 facing Jordan Zimmermann, with his lone hit as a single to left field. At the time, he was hitting only .264/.336/.378. Not awful, yet clearly below standard for Reyes, who was coming off his spectacular 6.2 fWAR season in 2011.
Time AVG OBP SLG
Pre-streak .264 .336 .378
Streak .365 .405 .625
2012 Totals .285 .349 .432
Career .291 .342 .440
As shown by the above table, Reyes was well below his career marks in all three categories pre-streak, with his power especially absent. The last time he posted a Slugging so low was eight years ago in 2004, when he finished the season with a .373 line. In addition, Reyes’ batting average was well below his career norm, although that can partly be explained by an uncharacteristically low Babip (.284).
After one month spent recovering from a right knee injury, Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton has made his long-anticipated return to Ozzie Guillen’s lineup tonight, batting fifth against the New York Mets.
Quite a bit has changed since the last time Stanton appeared in a game for the Fish. Gone via trade are Hanley Ramirez, Randy Choate, Edward Mujica, Anibal Sanchez, Omar Infante, Logan Morrison (due to injury), and practically all hope of of a playoff appearance for the 2012 season. Stanton, along with shortstop Jose Reyes, now take their places as the cornerstones of the organization and the players that Miami will build around for the next several seasons.