Giancarlo Stanton is a strong contender to be the National League Most Valuable Player, but he isn’t the only one in the Marlins’ organization in the mix for a prestigious award.
Mike Redmond is placing himself in the thick of the National League Manager of the Year race.
In a season where Stanton has become the face of the franchise, and one of the young superstars in the game, Redmond is quietly guiding MLB’s most improved team.
If you are comparing 2013 to now, no other team has made a more dramatic rise in the standings than the Marlins.
The Marlins may be a game under .500 (71-72), but they are starting to heat up. They’re still a long shot at 3 1/2 games out in the Wild Card race. But with 19 games left, making up the necessary ground is certainly possible.
Those voting for the top manager honor should be looking at the big picture, and how far the Marlins have come in a year. Remember, they finished 62-100 in 2013. They had MLB’s second worst record. Only the Astrons (51-111) were worse, and the White Sox ended up 63-99,
Houston is improving, but enters at 64-81 and remains a team putting pieces together. The White Sox are 64-80, on the brink of another losing season.
Miami is trending in the right direction, and Redmond deserve his share of credit.
At age 43, he is four years removed from his days as a respected backup catcher, and he relates to his players. He had two years of managing in the Blue Jays’ system before the Marlins hired him to mold and teach one of the league’s youngest squads in 2013.
Redmond is the last person who would self promote for any individual award. He has an unassuming personality, yet he has always been about the team first. He was that way as a player, getting the most out of his abilities, and supporting those on the field. His passion for the game. His ability to keep things light, and yet be firm when necessary, have kept his team focused to play every day.
Certainly, like his team, he has gone through growing pains. Not all of his moves strategically pan out. That happens with all managers.
In the face of adversity, Redmond preaches the importance of “turning the page.” You can’t change what just happened, and if you dwell on it, you compound problems.
In a sport played every day, that can be awfully difficult.
Yet, his players have bought in. Stanton has bought in. Ask yourself why Stanton is an MVP candidate one season after he admittedly was miserable?
The answer is the new culture around the organization. Rather than be mired in negativity and coming to ballpark every day expecting to lose, the Marlins players now are confident they can win.
Redmond deserves his share of credit setting the tone for the turnaround in the morale within the clubhouse. He’s also on the same page with president of baseball operations Michael Hill, and upper management.
Take Stanton, for example.
No one ever questioned the slugger’s skills or brute strength. Sure he’s had injuries which slowed him down before. But Stanton is the first to say he got caught up in distractions and it affected his spirits the past.
Like the rest of his teammates, Stanton right now is on a mission.
The chemistry was established in Spring Training and it remains rock solid down the stretch.
Miami is playing loose, relaxed and with confidence. You saw that in Tuesday’s 6-3 win at Milwaukee. In the eighth inning, the Brewers loaded the bases with no outs. Rather than panic, reliever Bryan Morris got out of his own mess, not allowing a run.
In the ninth inning, the Marlins mounted a two-out rally, and scored three runs, with Casey McGehee belting a two-run homer, and Marcell Ozuna following with a solo shot.
The images from Tuesday night were the Marlins smiling, while Brewers closer Francisco Rodriguez, who gave up the three runs, slamming his glove on the mound.
In crunch time, the Marlins weren’t flustered.
Still, even if the Marlins don’t finish with a .500 record, there is precedent working in Redmond’s favor to being Manager of the Year.
Voters can look back no further than 2006, when Joe Girardi won the honor, guiding the Marlins’ team that finished 78-84.
Under difficult circumstances, the ’06 team overcame a horrendous 11-31 start, and actually got over .500. Their best mark was 73-71 on Sept. 11. From that point, however, they stumbled to a 5-13 finish.
If Miami can avoid a dramatic slide, and finish near or above .500, Redmond could bring home the third N.L. Manager of the Year award in Marlins’ history.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — It started with a 3-for-4 performance on Aug. 11, and Christian Yelich has been an on-base machine ever since.
The Marlins left fielder has reached based safely in 25 straight games, starting off with his three-hit night on Aug. 11 against the Cardinals. The streak was extended with a 2-for-5 night in Miami’s 6-4 win over the Brewers on Monday night at Miller Park.
Yelich also has hit safely in 11 straight games.
Over his 25-game stretch, the 22-year-old is 42-for-104 (.404) with 22 runs scored, nine doubles, 13 walks and five stolen bases.
During his 11-game hit streak, which started on Aug. 27, Yelich is batting .348 (16-for-46) with three doubles and 10 runs scored.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — The good news is Henderson Alvarez is expected to start again this season. The uncertainty is exactly when.
Alvarez, dealing with a left oblique strain, played catch on Friday and the team is hopeful the right-hander will throw off the mound in the next few days. What is certain is the All-Star will not start on Sunday in the series finale against the Braves at Marlins Park. Instead, lefty Brad Hand will get the start.
The revised rotation has Hand on Sunday, and Brad Penny will start on Monday at Milwaukee. Initially, Tom Koehler was lined up to face the Brewers in the first of four at Miller Park. But now, Koehler will start on Tuesday.
Manager Mike Redmond said he is optimistic Alvarez will filter back into the rotation sometime before the season ends.
* Garrett Jones, who has been struggling, was given a day off on Friday night in the series opener against the Atlanta.
Justin Bour, who batted .306 with 18 homers and 72 RBIs at Triple-A New Orleans, made the start at first base.
“At this point we’re looking for a spark,” Redmond said.
* Outfielder Carlos Lopez of Class A Greensboro and right-hander Jacob Esch of Advanced Class A Jupiter have been named the Marlins’ Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Month for August.
* The Marlins announced they’ve extended their Player Development contract with the Greensboro Grasshoppers through the end of the 2018 season. Greensboro is in the semifinals of the South Atlantic League playoffs.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — Giancarlo Stanton is closing in on the Marlins’ all-time home run record.
After going deep in back-to-back games, Stanton is now at 35. Suddenly, Gary Sheffield’s team mark of 42 set in 1996 is in reach. Time is running out, with 25 games remaining.
Even if Stanton doesn’t catch Sheffield, he has a shot at become the second player in club history to post as many as 40.
Stanton also is two shy of his personal high of 37 set in 2012, the inaugural season at Marlins Park.
Now player in Marlins history has ever won the home run title. Stanton is well positioned to become the first.
Single season HR leaders
1) Gary Sheffield 42 (1996)
2) Giancarlo Stanton 37 (2012)
3) Stanton 35 (2014)
4) Miguel Cabrera 34 (2007); Stanton 34 (2011)
5) Four tied at 33: Cabrera (2005), Cabrera (2004), Hanley Ramirez (2009), Dan Uggla (2010)
6) Three tied at 32: Mike Jacobs (2008), Mike Lowell (2003), Uggla (2008)
7) Five tied at 31: Cliff Floyd (2001), Derrek Lee (2003), Uggla (2007), Uggla (2009), Preston Wilson (2000)
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — Henderson Alvarez’s strained left oblique has prompted the Marlins to bring up a couple of their top pitching prospects.
On Tuesday afternoon, the club announced left-hander Andrew Heaney and right-hander Anthony DeSclafani have been recalled from Triple-A New Orleans.
Miami also added a couple of position players, recalling infielder Enrique Hernandez and first baseman Justin Bour from New Orleans.
The arrivals of Hernandez and Bour were expected. Hernandez is a candidate to play second base, third, and center field. And Bour is a left-handed bat option off the bench.
All four players have had time in the big leagues this season.
The Marlins had been weighing whether to call up Heaney, their No. 1 prospect. The lefty made four starts with Miami prior to the All-Star Break.
Now that Alvarez’s status is uncertain, Heaney provides an option to start, if necessary.
DeSclafani is another option to either start or pitch long relief.
In Monday’s 9-6 win over the Mets, Alvarez was lifted in the third inning, and Brad Hand pitched multiple innings.
Brad Penny is getting the start on Tuesday night. DeSclafani is a long-relief option.
– Joe Frisaro
ATLANTA — Any significant additions to the Marlins’ roster are expected to come from within. Reinforcements will arrive in the form of September callups, beginning on Monday.
The Marlins aren’t planning on oversaturating their dugout and locker room just to give Minor Leaguers a taste of the big leagues.
Over the first few days, a few pitchers are likely candidates.
Whether or not reliever Carter Capps is one of them remains to be seen. But if Capps isn’t up on Monday, the anticipation is he won’t be far behind.
The hard-throwing right-hander has been on the disabled list with a right elbow injury for months. He last pitched for Miami on May 25.
Capps is close to being ready to return.
Since the Marlins are not expected to make any deals before Sunday’s waiver period Trade Deadline, Capps very well could be the most important addition Miami makes in September.
Miami has a heavily used bullpen, and a fresh arm who can throw 100 mph may very well be the boost the club needs to lock down the late innings.
In recent days, the Marlins received a scare when reliever Bryan Morris returned from Anaheim to Miami to have his right hip examined. It was determined he has a groin strain. The team is relieved, and hopeful he will be back soon.
Capps would fall right into the late-inning mix.
The Marlins have four relievers who rank among the top 60 relievers in the Majors in appearances. Bullpens take on huge roles down the stretch. Mike Dunn paces the team with 62 appearances, followed by Steve Cishek (57), Morris (56) and A.J. Ramos (55).
– Joe Frisaro
ANAHEIM — With No. 150 out of the way, Giancarlo Stanton suddenly is closing in fast on the Marlins’ franchise home run record.
Stanton is now four shy of matching Dan Uggla’s Marlins’ mark of 154.
At the rate he’s going, sometime in September, Stanton should stand atop Miami’s list.
Stanton reached 150 on Monday night with his three-run blast in Miami’s 7-1 win over the Angels.
Stanton is the 10th youngest player in MLB history to get to 150, doing it at 24-years, 290-days old. He is the 12 player ever to do so before turning 25. Only two active players have reached the mark faster — Albert Pujols (24, 212) and Alex Rodriguez (24, 255).
The Angels home also becomes the 21st ballpark in which Stanton has connected.
Stanton projects to blow way past the Marlins’ all-time milestone.
Yes, the slugger is not signed to a long-term contract, and speculation arises daily that he could be traded. But Stanton will not be traded in the offseason, with or without a long-term contract. He is arbitration eligible for two more seasons, and the club fully plans on retaining him, perhaps all the way through 2016 in hopes of reaching a multi-year deal.
As for his mark on history, Stanton stands among some elite company.
Youngest Players to 150 Career Home Runs, All-Time
Mel Ott 23-196
Eddie Mathews 23-332
Andruw Jones 24-158
Ken Griffey Jr. 24-180
Albert Pujols 24-212
Alex Rodriguez 24-255
Mickey Mantle 24-255
Jimmie Foxx 24-263
Johnny Bench 24-288
Giancarlo Stanton 24-290
Frank Robinson 24-326
Orlando Cepeda 24-341
Fewest Games to 150 Career Home Runs, All-Time
Ryan Howard 495
Eddie Mathews 569
Ralph Kiner 570
Albert Pujols 586
Mark McGwire 588
Chuck Klein 593
Willie Mays 598
Adam Dunn 607
Joe DiMaggio 608
Bob Horner 609
Rocky Colavito 616
Giancarlo Stanton 619
Harmon Killebrew 622
Fewest AB to 150 Home Runs, Career Began since 1974
Ryan Howard 1994
Mark McGwire 2144
Giancarlo Stanton 2229
Adam Dunn 2237
Cecil Fielder 2253
Ron Kittle 2307
(source: STATS LLC)
– Joe Frisaro
ANAHEIM — The road trip started so promising for the Marlins after they scored 13 runs last Friday night in a win over the Rockies at Coors Field.
But after being primed to take the series, Miami was tripped up and lost in extra innings on Saturday, and then dropped the rubber game on Sunday.
Miami managed eight total runs in those two setbacks, which dropped the team under .500 with a tough three-game set ahead against the first-place Angels.
Pitching, obviously, is key. But against teams capable of putting up plenty of offense, so is scoring runs.
Since the All-Star Break, the offense has been inconsistent. Giancarlo Stanton has amazed, and is building his MVP case.
Casey McGehee, hitting cleanup, has had trouble driving in runs.
More balance is needed down the stretch if the Marlins plan on remaining in the playoff picture.
RBIs since All-Star Break
Runs scored since All-Star Break
– Joe Frisaro
ANAHEIM, Calif. — They are dominating their respective leagues now, and are two faces of Major League Baseball’s present and future. For the first time in the regular season, they are competing in the same game.
The Marlins on Monday night open a three-game series at the Angels.
Not only are these games with playoff implications for both teams, it marks a rare time the sport can see Giancarlo Stanton and Mike Trout on the same field.
The two were at the All-Star Game, with Stanton being the designated hitter for the National League and Trout winning MVP honors for the American League.
In regular season play, both are frontrunners to be the MVP of their respective leagues.
Stanton is looking to be the first Marlin ever to be National League MVP.
The two also have put on a home run hitting show this year.
Stanton is regarded as the most powerful slugger in the game. But the man with the home run measured the longest this season by ESPN’s Home Run Tracker is Trout.
On June 27, Trout belted a drive measured at 489 feet. Stanton is second at 484 feet, on April 4.
Stanton’s average distance per homer, according to Home Run Tracker, is 417.1 feet for 32 blasts. Technically, that is second to Mike Morse of the Giants, who averages 417.4 feet for his 16 homers.
Trout’s average for 29 homers is 413.5 feet.
While Trout has the longest homer of the season, Stanton has three drives in the top eight. On Aug. 11, he had a home run measured at 470 feet (sixth furthest), and earlier in the season he had another at 469 feet (eighth).
Stanton has 10 “no doubt” homers, to Trout’s seven.
The first pitch tonight is set for 10:05 p.m. ET.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — In his first full big league season, Marcell Ozuna is establishing himself as one of the more productive outfielders in the game. The 23-year-old is second on the Marlins in home runs (18) and RBIs (65), and his eight assists are tied for the second most among outfielders in the Majors.
In recent weeks, Ozuna also hooked up with a high-profile agent, Scott Boras.
Marlins ace, Jose Fernandez, and infielder Jeff Baker also are represented by the Boras Corporation.
Boras compares Ozuna’s skill set to Milwaukee’s Carlos Gomez, a two-time All-Star.
“Marcell is an exciting player capable of 20 home runs and playing Gold Glove-caliber center field,” Boras said.
Ozuna is one of the core, young players on a maturing Marlins team that is competing for a National League Wild Card spot. He is one of 13 MLB outfielders with as many as 18 home runs. Only 14 outfielders have as many as 65 RBIs.
Among center fielders, only Mike Trout (89), Adam Jones (77) and Andrew McCutchen (67) have more RBIs than Ozuna.
Defensively, he has one of the strongest arms in the game.
Ozuna is making $505,000 this season, and his first year eligible for arbitration is 2016.
The center fielder is a candidate for a contract extension, perhaps in the off season.
As of now, the Marlins have not approached Boras about a long-term deal with Ozuna. Whether one gets done will depend on if it makes sense for both sides to go season-to-season or to come to terms on a multi-year deal.
– Joe Frisaro