October 2009

Interest in Valentine?

With one regular season game remaining, already some offseason speculation has begun.

According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Marlins have had conversations with Bobby Valentine about a possible position within the organization.

The 59-year-old Valentine has managed the Rangers and Mets in the big leagues. The past six years he was managing the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan. Recently, he returned to ESPN as an analyst. Valentine also is drawing interest from Cleveland and Washington, ESPN reports.

It is unclear what position the Marlins would have interest in Valentine. Manager Fredi Gonzalez received a two-year extension at the beginning of Spring Training, and he’s under contract through 2011.

The Marlins have yet to make a decision on the status of their coaching staff. On Saturday, President of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest said that would be made after the season.

The Marlins are 87-74 heading into the last game of the season at Philadelphia, and they will finish no worse than in a second-place tie with Atlanta. They lead the Braves by one game with one game remaining. The only Marlins teams to win more games are the 1997 (92) and 2003 (91) squads. Both those teams won the World Series.

– Joe Frisaro

Hanley back in lineup

After getting a day off on Friday, Hanley Ramirez is back in the lineup on Saturday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.

Ramirez is closing in on the first batting title ever by a Marlin.

Marlins

1) Coghlan, LF

2) Maybin, CF

3) Hanley, SS

4) Cantu, 1B

5) Uggla, 2B

6) Helms, 3B

7) Paulino, C

8) Carroll, RF

9) Sanchez, P

Phillies

1) Rollins, SS

2) Victorino, CF

3) Utley, 2B

4) Howard, 1B

5) Ibanez, LF

6) Werth, RF

7) Feliz, 3B

8) Ruiz, C

9) Hamels, P

– Joe Frisaro

 

Cantu reaches 100 RBIs

The power of positive thinking has worked for Jorge Cantu.

Entering Saturday with 99 RBIs, Cantu wasted little time reaching the century mark.

In the first inning, Cantu lined a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Hanley Ramirez for his 100th RBI of the season.

It’s the second time in his career that he’s posted 100 RBIs. In 2005, he drove in 117 with Tampa Bay in 2005.

Considering the fact Cantu finished August with 71 RBIs, reaching the century mark seemed remote five weeks ago.

After driving in his 100th run, Ramirez embraced Cantu at home plate, and Cantu received a warm reception in the dugout.

“It’s the confidence that I have,” Cantu said after he drove in three runs on Friday. “I’ve been a competitor every single season. Even if I have a bad one [year] or a good one, my mind is always positive. As a hitter, it’s showing. It’s concentration. I always finish the season strong. I’ve seen my stats in the past, I’ve always finished strong.”

Cantu has certainly picked up the pace. Since Sept. 1, he has 28 RBIs. His overall game has elevated. In  the 29-game span, he is batting .336 with an on-base percentage of .377 and a .487 slugging percentage.

A year ago, Cantu drove in 95, which paced the team.  

Cantu has been especially effective driving in runs in the first inning. His 36 RBIs in the first are the most of any player in the Major Leagues.

His 25 RBIs in September was the third most in the National League.

Cantu had a chance in the seventh inning to collect his 100th RBI when he had runners on first and third. However, on he didn’t chase a 3-1 pitch, taking it for ball four.

“I wanted to get greedy,” said Cantu, who took the walk. “But I couldn’t swing at that pitch. It was too low.”

– Joe Frisaro

Cody could be done

Last Saturday, Cody Ross was drilled on the left wrist by a John Maine fastbal.

The Marlins outfielder hasn’t played since, and chances are he won’t play in the final series against the Phillies. In fact, it’s extremely doubtful that Ross will play. But that isn’t stopping him from doing whatever he can to get back into action before the season ends on Sunday.

“I want to get back out there,” Ross said. “I want to finish the season. I don’t want to finish on the bench.”

All the want is being tempered by some lingering soreness on the wrist. He has taken some dry swings in recent days, but he hasn’t done any hitting. On Friday he was going to test the wrist in the cage.

Ross has had a solid season rotating between center field and right field. In the field, he has played to the level the organization feels he is worthy of a Gold Glove.

At the plate, Ross has established himself as well. In 151 games, he is batting .270 with 24 home runs and 90 RBIs.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez has not ruled out using Ross in the final series. However, Gonzalez notes the wrist “is a little tender. Hopefully, it will improve.”

“He’s going to have to tell me that he’s good to go,” Gonzalez said.

– Joe Frisaro

 

Hanley battling slump

Hitless in his last 11 at-bats, Hanley Ramirez was given Friday off. It was expected, as Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said on Wednesday that he likely will sit his two-time All-Star shortstop.

The slump has lowered Ramirez’s batting average to .341, which leads the National League.

Ramirez is striving to become the first Marlin ever to win a batting title. San Francisco’s Pablo Sandoval is second at .330.

It would take something drastic for Ramirez not to win the title.

“I think it’s a lock,” said Cody Ross, Ramirez’s teammate. “He deserves it.”

As impressive as Ramirez has been, he has labored for a few weeks. Consider, on Sept. 13, he was batting .361. Since then, he is 11-for-62 (.177) with one home run, two doubles and six RBIs.

Before heading to Philadelphia, the Marlins faced the Braves in Atlanta. Ramirez was 0-for-10 in the series.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez says this may be the worst he’s seen Ramirez swing the bat in three years.

“The thing I see, like with any prolonged slump, you start swinging at pitches out of the strike zone,” Gonzalez said. “That’s the only thing I see. That’s the thing Pres [hitting coach Jim Presley] sees. You start swinging at ball one, ball two. Then you’ve dug yourself in a difficult situation because you swung at balls out of the strike zone.”

No Marlin has ever finished with a batting average higher than .340. The team record is Miguel Cabrera’s .339 in 2006. Cabrera that year finished second to Freddy Sanchez, then with the Pirates, in the batting title race.

– Joe Frisaro

 

Hanley achieves milestone

When it’s all said and done, Hanley Ramirez will be able to boast one of the best offensive seasons in the history of the Marlins.

The two-time All-Star is in line to win the franchise’s first batting title. The 25-year-old will have to wait a few days to see if that happens.

Regardless of the batting race, Ramirez already has achieved a rarity in team history.

With 105 RBIs and 100 runs scored, he is the fourth Marlin to reach the century mark in both categories.

Overall, it has been done five times in Florida history. Miguel Cabrera did it twice.

Marlins with at least 100 runs and RBIs:

* Gary Sheffield (1996), 120 RBIs, 118 runs.

* Cliff Floyd (2001), 103 RBIs, 123 runs. 

* Miguel Cabrera (2005), 116 RBIs, 106 runs; (2006) 114 RBIs, 112 runs.

* Hanley Ramirez (2009), 105 RBIs, 100 runs.

– Joe Frisaro

 

 

Hanley sits, Johnson back

For the first time since Sept. 25, Nick Johnson is back in the Marlins starting lineup. While Johnson, who has dealt with the flu, returned, All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez was given the day off.

Ramirez, who leads the National League in hitting with a .341 average, was expected to get this day off. Manager Fredi Gonzalez said on Wednesday that he would give Ramirez Friday off. The team also was off on Thursday.

The Marlins finish their season against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

1) Coghlan, LF

2) Maybin, CF

3) Johnson, 1B

4) Cantu, 3B

5) Baker, C

6) Uggla, 2B

7) Carroll, RF

8) Bonifacio, SS

9) VandenHurk, P

– Joe Frisaro

 

 

Coghlan continues being a hit

Lost in all the swings and misses on Wednesday night at Turner Field was rookie Chris Coghlan continuing to do his thing.

Coghlan went 1-for-5, and his single was his 47th hit in September.

Once again, there was historical value on the hit. The last MLB rookie to have as many as 47 hits in September was Chuck Klein, who had 50, in 1928.

The Marlins have three more games to go, beginning on Friday night at Philadelphia.

An NL Rookie of the Year favorite, Coghlan is batting .318 on the season. He will establish a franchise record for highest batting average. Hanley Ramirez (2006) and Jeff Conine (1993) each finished at .292.

Coghlan’s 107 hits since the All-Star Break are the most of any player in the Major Leagues.

The Marlins record for hits after the break is 113, set by Juan Pierre in 2004. That may be a tough number for Coghlan to catch.

– Joe Frisaro

 

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