July 2009

Billy goat moment


Photo credit to Denis Bancroft/Florida Marlins


Part of Friday’s game was a between innings on-field skit where a mock trivia question prize wa a billy goat, playing off the billy goat curse in Chicago.

— Joe Frisaro

Samson says all is quiet

Everything is subject to change, but for now, it appears all is quiet on the Marlins’ trade front.

On Thursday night, Marlins president David Samson told Dan LeBatard on 790 The Ticket:

“I don’t think people want to deal with us anymore. We have a low payroll, we win games, and I think people are afraid of getting burned maybe.”

As Friday’s 4 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline approaches, Samson added no deals are imminent.

“I think our team feels it can [succeed] as is,” Samson said. “We’d like to bring in reinforcements. But we don’t want to be one of those teams that causes themselves to not win 81 games by making foolish deals.”

The Marlins continue to have no interest in trading their top prospect, outfielder Mike Stanton, a 19-year-old slugger at Double-A Jacksonville. Teams also are coveting Double-A first baseman Logan Morrison. Both are pretty much untouchable.

Samson did reveal the Marlins expressed interest in Roy Halladay, but talks immediately stalled when Stanton’s name was attached. Reports say the Blue Jays wanted Stanton and Cameron Maybin.

— Joe Frisaro

Weighing trade options

At the trade deadline last year, the Marlins courted Manny Ramirez and ended up acquiring lefty reliever Arthur Rhodes.

The front office continues to engage in conversations in hopes of upgrading for the final two months.

Padres closer Heath Bell, accordingly to a few reports, may be the most realistic option. The Marlins may be able to secure a deal for Bell if they are willing to part with 23-year-old lefty Sean West or lefty Andrew Miller.

If or when a trade is made, the Marlins players are prepared to push forward with what they have.

“They have our best interest in mind,” center fielder Cody Ross said. “They want to win this year, and they know that we want to. I think they’re trying everything they possibly can.

“I’ve got to give them a lot of credit. They’re at it constantly. This past week isn’t the first time they’ve been talking about trades. I’m sure they’ve been trying for a while. They’ve been trying to make our club better. It’s not just the deadline.”

Ross joked that if he were a general manager that he’d made big pushes for the best players on the market. He said he’d want Roy Halladay and Matt Holliday.

“That’s why I’m not a GM,” Ross said. “I’d put all my eggs in one basket, and then I’d be fired the next year. That’s why these guys are so good at what they do. You can’t second guess what they do. They’re professional.”

Still, if a trade is made, the impact could be huge in the clubhouse. Ross recalls what Rhodes meant in the final two months to the bullpen.

“Last year when we got Arthur, it was huge,” Ross said. “He was incredible. He did more than you can ask for. It wasn’t enough to get to the playoffs. But he did his part. As a team, we just didn’t get in. Any time you get a player like him, or anybody like that, it’s a positive.”

— Joe Frisaro

Marlins Wednesday lineup

When things are going well, you pretty much stay the same. Such is the case with the Marlins lineup.

On Wednesday against the Braves, Florida once again has Chris Coghlan leading off.

1) Coghlan, LF

2) Boni, 3B

3) Hanley, SS

4) Cantu, 1B

5) Hermida, RF

6) Uggla, 2B

7) Ross, CF

8) Baker, C

9) Johnson, P

— Joe Frisaro


Marlins Sunday lineup

The Marlins have their primary lineup for Sunday’s series finale with the Dodgers.

The Dodgers are giving Manny Ramirez the day off, and former Marlin Juan Pierre is in the lineup, batting ninth.

1) Coghlan, LF

2) Boni, 3B

3) Hanley, SS

4) Cantu, 1B

5) Hermida, RF

6) Uggla, 2B

7) Ross, CF

8) Baker, C

9) Volstad, P


1) Furcal, SS

2) Hudson, 2B

3) Ethier, RF

4) Loney, 1B

5) Kemp, CF

6) Martin, C

7) Loretta, 3B

8) Schmidt, P

9) Pierre, LF

— Joe Frisaro



Marlins still in playoff mix

It’s six days and counting to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, and the Marlins feel they are very much in the mix for playoff consideration.

Things can change between now and Friday, but the Marlins generally regard themselves as realistic Wild Card contenders. And entering Saturday at the Dodgers six games behind the Phillies in the N.L. East, the division also is in play.

“I don’t think we consider ourselves out,” Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said Saturday afternoon. “The Wild Card is certainly not out of reach. The Phillies won today. There still is a lot of baseball left, and we’ve got a bunch of games with the Phillies. I don’t think you can say we’re out of the division.

“Where we sit six days away from the deadline, we’re in, but we’ll see what happens.”

The Marlins are actively working the phones, seeking possible deals.

“We’re looking to improve ourselves. We are active,” Beinfest said. “I don’t think we’ve ever been inactive. It’s just different every year.”

The Marlins are in a pivotal stretch with contenders. They wrap up their series with the Dodgers on Sunday. They are off on Monday, and then begin a homestand on Tuesday with the Braves, followed by the Cubs.

“I’d like to think things are not going to change significantly between now and Friday,” Beinfest said. “You talk about how you’re trending. We’ve had four quality starts in a row on the road.

“That’s what you want to see. We’ve talked about the pitching driving us. If the pitching continues to perform, you never say never, but I don’t see a lot of things changing between now and Friday.”

— Joe Frisaro


Fifth starter undecided

With an off day on Monday, the Marlins don’t need a fifth starter until July 31 or Aug. 1.

One of the candidates to rejoin the rotation at that time is Andrew Miller, who was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans on July 21.

Miller, however, is coming off a rough outing on Friday night. In 4 2/3 innings, the lefty walked nine, allowed six runs and three hits. He also struck out seven. Of his 105 pitches, 52 were strikes.

“He was rushing his delivery a little big,” Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

The Marlins are hopeful that Miller can get back on track.

While Miller is a candidate to be called up for the fifth spot, he isn’t the only choice.

Sean West, optioned to Double-A Jacksonville on July 11, could also be brought back up, Gonzalez said.

The Marlins also may stay from within, If that’s the case, Burke Badenhop, who has pitched in long relief, could be added to the rotation.

For now, the Marlins are using a four-man rotation. Chris Volstad, who pitches at the Dodgers on Sunday, could stay on a five-day schedule and pitch on Friday, July 31, at home against the Cubs.

The way it sounds, the fifth starter would be added on Aug. 1 of the Cubs’ series.

West pitched on Thursday, and he worked seven innings, striking out six while walking two. West allowed four runs, with two earned.

West is working on getting command of his off-speed pitches.

At Triple-A, Ryan Tucker, who was returning from knee surgery, is back starting. The hard-throwing right-hander could be an option to help as either a starter or reliever in the final two months. Tucker, however, wouldn’t be in the mix for Aug. 1.

— Joe Frisaro


Marlins Saturday lineup

After stacking up on right-handed hitters against lefty Clayton Kershaw on Friday night, the Marlins lineup was a bit more balanced on Saturday night in the second game of the series with the Dodgers.

Chris Coghlan was back leading off.

1) Coghlan, LF

2) Bonifacio, 3B

3) Hanley, SS

4) Cantu, 1B

5) Hermida, RF

6) Uggla, 2B

7) Ross, CF

8) Baker, C

9) VandenHurk, P

Hermida capitalizes on matchup

As Jeremy Hermida was loosening up to pinch-hit in the seventh inning on Friday night, right-hander reliever James McDonald was on the mound.

In the bullpen, lefty Brent Leach was loosening up.

Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez told Hermida, “You’re probably going to get the lefty.”

That was the case. The Dodgers went with Leach to face the left-handed hitting Hermida. The matchup, this time, worked in Florida’s favor.

On an 2-0 pitch, Hermida ripped a two-out RBI single to right field. The run snapped a tie, and the Marlins went on to win 6-3 over Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium.

“It was big for us to be able to come off the bench and do that,” Hermida said.

Gonzalez credits Hermida with the big hit to spark the victory.

“The big knock, for me, was Hermy’s,” Gonzalez said.

Entering the at-bat, Hermida was hitting .179 against left-handed pitching.

“For some reason I haven’t had the same success off lefties as I’ve had in the past,” Hermida said.

After the at-bat, Hermida’s average against left-handers rose to .188 (18-for-96) with three home runs and nine RBIs. Against right-handed pitching, he is hitting .276 with eight homers and 28 RBIs.

A year ago, Hermida enjoyed more success off left-handers — .240 average with five homers and 17 RBIs.

When you look at 2007, you see that he was consistent against left-handed and right-handed pitchers. When going against lefties, he batted .292, compared to .297 off righties.

Until he shows he can produce regularly off left-handed pitchers, the Marlins will be leaning toward giving Brett Carroll more starts in right field. Hermida isn’t in a strict platoon situation, because rookie Chris Coghlan, another left-handed hitter, also has struggled against left-handed pitching.

— Joe Frisaro

Comic Con and the Marlins

There was some comic relief for the Marlins during their recent trip to San Diego. The team hotel was next to the convention center, the host site of the rabidly popular Comic Con, which attracts about 120,000 people to San Diego.

Many guests at the Marriott where the team was staying came dressed for the occasion.

Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said on the elevator leaving San Diego, he was standing next to two Star Wars storm troopers.

Comic Con recognizes all things animated, and comic characters were seen throughout the city.

“Everybody has their own thing,” Gonzalez said.

— Joe Frisaro