December 2010

Winter Meetings leftovers

It’s no secret the Marlins are exploring lefty relief help. Randy Choate has been added to the mix of possibilities. Also on Florida’s radar is Joe Beimel.

In all likelihood, the team will add a veteran lefty, who projects to join Mike Dunn on the Opening Day roster.

As the lefty search continues, don’t rule out the Marlins eventually exploring the possibility of landing an experienced closer. At the Winter Meetings, which wrapped up last Thursday in Lake Buena Vista, representatives of the organization inquired about the availability of Padres All-Star Heath Bell.

After Adrian Gonzalez was traded to the Red Sox, the Marlins checked to see if San Diego has more big moves ahead. For now, it appears Bell will be staying with the Padres. But that could change over the course of the next few months, and into the season.

The Marlins are planning on giving Leo Nunez the first shot at closing when Spring Training opens. Clay Hensley is a backup option.

* Manager Edwin Rodriguez offered a preliminary batting order for upcoming Grapefruit League games in March — Chris Coghlan (CF), Omar Infante (2B), Hanley Ramirez (SS), Mike Stanton (RF), Logan Morrison (LF), Gaby Sanchez (1B), John Buck (C) and Matt Dominguez (3B).

* Recently, Rodriguez came to terms on an endorsement deal with New Balance. “Edwin is honored as the first Puerto Rican-born Major League manager to be with New Balance,” said Burton Rocks, Rodriguez’s New York-based agent.

* Here are some contract details of recently signed Marlins. Burke Badenhop will earn $750,000 in 2011 after he avoided arbitration. John Buck’s three-year, $17,943,787 million contract includes base salaries of $4.5 million in ’11, $6 million in ’12 and $6 million in ’13. There also is a $1.5 million signing bonus, and incentives of $25,000 if he makes the All-Star Game and winning the Silver Slugger Award. He has a $50,000 Gold Glove bonus. Javier Vazquez’s one-year, $7 million deal includes a $25,000 All-Star bonus and a $100,000 bonus if he wins the Cy Young Award. Buck and Vazquez also can earn bonuses if the Marlins reach the playoffs and they are named MVP of either the League Championship Series or the World Series.

— Joe Frisaro

Tom Morrison passes away

Tom Morrison, the father of Marlins outfielder Logan Morrison, passed away on Wendesday night after battling lung cancer.

Tom was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer on April 17. A couple of months later, Logan was promoted from Triple-A New Orleans to the Marlins.

Due to health reasons, Tom initially wasn’t able to attend any of his son’s games in person. In late August, however, he was cleared to travel, and he watched the Marlins face the Mets at Citi Field.

On his Twitter account, Logan posted the death of his father on Thursday morning.

“Shortly after 9 p.m. last night, my hero, Thomas Morrison, passed away,” Logan wrote. “To the world he may have been just a somebody, but to this somebody he was my world.”

Logan was able to spend Thanksgiving with his parents at the family home in Slidell, La.

According to the Palm Beach Post, Logan will be hosting “LoMo’s Camp 4 Cure” kid camp to benefit the American Lung Association. The camp is scheduled to be in Jupiter, Fla., on Jan. 8-9.

— Joe Frisaro

Non-roster invitees announced

In the past the Marlins have had success with non-roster invitees emerging as key contributors. The list includes Jorge Cantu, Clay Hensley and Kiko Calero.

Perhaps they will strike big with some players in 2011.

On Tuesday, the Marlins annouced the signings of seven six-year free agents, who will be at Spring Training as non-roster invitees.

Signed are left-handers Darin Downs and Victor Garate. Right-hander Frank Mata also will be in camp.

Ruben Gotay, a switch-hitting infielder, is among the group who has big league experience. Tim Torres (infielder), outfielder-first baseman Josh Kroeger and outfielder Chris Lubanski also have signed.

Lubanski will be a candidate for a left-handed bat off the bench.

— Joe Frisaro


Marlins every day lineup set

Barring anything unforeseen, the Marlins’ every day lineup is set. At least, the lineup the team envisions when Spring Training opens.

Around the horn, the team plans on going with John Buck (catcher), Gaby Sanchez (first base), Omar Infante (second base), Hanley Ramirez (shortstop), Matt Dominguez (third base), Logan Morrison (left field), Chris Coghlan (center field) and Mike Stanton (right field).

A few weeks ago, Florida explored some possible center field options. They were linked to having interest in Arizona’s Justin Upton. has learned the Marlins also inquired about Tampa Bay’s B.J. Upton. But the asking price didn’t match.

The Marlins have no intention of trading their young core of players — Coghlan, Morrison, Sanchez and Stanton. If Dominguez isn’t ready, there is a chance the team could move some pieces around. Wes Helms could play third. Another scenario would be Emilio Bonifacio playing second and Infante sliding over to third. 

— Joe Frisaro



Rockies eye Paulino, Baker recovering

Non-tendered recently by the Marlins, catcher Ronny Paulino is expected to garner a bit of attention at the Winter Meetings.

Now a free agent, Paulino is on the radar of the Rockies, who are looking for a veteran backup for Chris Iannetta.

Russell Martin and Benji Molina also have been linked as possibilities for Colorado.

Paulino became expendable after Florida signed free agent John Buck to a three-year, $18 million contract.

Florida is not seeking backup catching help.

John Baker, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery to his right elbow, projects to eventually back up Buck. Because of the surgery, Baker is not expected to be at full throwing strength at the start of Spring Training.

However, Baker is a candidate to make the Opening Day roster as perhaps a left-handed pinch-hitter. Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest noted recently that Baker is being viewed in the lefty pinch-hit role, even if he isn’t ready to play defensively.

In that scenario, Brad Davis and Brett Hayes would have strong chances to make the team as the second string catcher.

— Joe Frisaro


Marlins to again visit troops

Logan Morrison and Wes Helms will be among the contingent of Marlins traveling overseas to visit the troops in early 2011.

For the second straight year, the Marlins will be spending time and supporting those serving in the armed forces. The trip will be from Feb. 3-11.

A year ago, John Baker and Chris Coghlan were among the group that traveled to Iraq and Kuwait.

Also scheduled to make the trip are Jeff Conine, Andre Dawson, David Samson and three Marlins Mermaids.

More details on the upcoming visit will be forthcoming, and will once again provide extensive coverage of the trip.

— Joe Frisaro


Non-roster invitees starting to sign

For weeks, the Marlins have been making headlines with either high-profile trades or significant free agent signings.

As they’ve been among the busiest teams in the league on the transaction front, they’ve also been doing some under the radar work to fill out their Spring Training roster.

Over the past few weeks, several players have signed Minor League contracts with invitations to Spring Training, which gets underway on Feb. 17 at the Roger Dean Stadium complex in Jupiter, Fla.

Some of the recent signings will compete for bullpen jobs as well as the left-handed bat off the bench position.

Victor Garate is a 26-year-old lefty reliever who made four appearances for the Nationals in 2009. Frank Mata, 26, is a right-handed reliever who appeared in 15 games for the Orioles in ’10.

A lefty reliever to keep an eye on is Darin Downs, a 26-year-old who was the Cubs’ fifth-round pick in 2003. At Triple-A Durham in the Rays’ system last year, Downs was 6-2 with 45 strikeouts and 17 walks in 40 1/3 innings.

A left-handed hitter to watch for is Chris Lubanski, a 25-year-old outfielder who batted .293 with 17 homers and 57 RBIs at Triple-A Las Vegas in Toronto’s system last season.

Lubanski was the fifth overall pick of the Royals in 2003.

— Joe Frisaro



Vazquez officially a Marlin

Javier Vazquez, one of the most durable right-handers in the game, officially signed a one-year contract with the Marlins. The announcement came on Thursday, several days after both sides agreed to terms over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Before announcing the signing, Vazquez first completed his physical, which was on Wednesday in South Florida.

Vazquez will earn $7 million, and he has a full no-trade clause. Another stipulation in the contract is the Marlins also agreed to not offer Vazquez salary arbitration after the 2011 season. The conditions of the contract pretty much guarantee that Vazquez will be part of the Marlins for all of 2011. Now, if the team falls out of contention and wishes to shop the right-hander in a possible trade, they could ask the right-hander to waive his no-trade clause.

Vazquez, 34, is a 13-year veteran who was 10-10 with a 5.32 ERA in 157 1/3 innings with the Yankees in ’10.

— Joe Frisaro