Results tagged ‘ Dontrelle Willis ’

Miller welcomes fresh start with Boston

They joined the Marlins together, and by chance they exited one day apart from each other.

In separate moves last weekend, the Marlins traded Andrew Miller to the Red Sox, and followed that up by dealing Cameron Maybin to the Padres on Saturday.

The two deals brought three big league-ready relievers to the Marlins.

But the trade also meant the Marlins are moving past their blockbuster 2007 trade when they sent Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to Detroit. Miller and Maybin were the two centerpiece players Florida received in return.

Miller and Maybin are both out of options, so the Marlins would have had to keep them on their 25-man roster or else risk losing them. That fact also is a big reason why both were dealt.

“I kind of knew something would happen with me,” Miller said in a phone interview. “I kind of knew.”

Despite things not working out in Florida, Miller (24) and Maybin (23) are still young enough to develop into solid big leaguers. It’s just a matter of time, Miller believes.

“I think it’s unfortunate,” Miller said of the deal not working out for Florida. “I still believe that one day Cam is going to be an unbelievable player. I believe for us, the time hasn’t come yet, and it’s going to click one of these days for us. We’ve seen flashes from Cameron and I believe I’ve shown them before.

“For both of us, when we find that consistency and put it together, it came happen for us. There is no doubt in my mind that it will. Unfortunately, that time didn’t come with the Marlins. But they certainly gave us some opportunities. I can say nothing bad about them.”

While Miller has been primarily a starter, the 6-foot-7 lefty expects to be competing for a bullpen job with Boston.

“I know what the situation is. I’m out of options,” he said. “Going to a club like that, I’m assuming I’m going to have to battle and to put myself on that team with just Spring Training. That’s basically what I have to look forward to. I think it’s a good opportunity whenever somebody makes a trade for you.

“My assumption is what they’re going to ask of me is relieving. If that is something to find my way onto a Major League team, then that’s certainly what I’m going to go after. Nothing is ever set in stone. If I’m relieving and doing well, and something pops up and I’m starting, then I’d think there is an advantage that I’ve started in the past. That’s really not my concern. My concern is doing everything I can to find myself on a 25-man roster.”

— Joe Frisaro

Marlins-Nolasco contract talks update

With an eye towards the future, the Marlins are hoping to sign Ricky Nolasco to a multiyear contract. Based on how talks have gone recently, there is a better chance that the two sides will agree to a one-year deal for 2011, and see how things progress from there.

The last serious talks between both sides was last Thursday, Sept. 2. As reported recently by Juan Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, there is a “significant gulf” between the parties.

Indications are, for at least for now, the sides are planning on discussing a one-year deal after the season for 2011. Because Nolasco has “Super Two” arbitration status, he reached arbitration in 2009. But he won’t have the necessary six-years of MLB service time to become a free agent until after the 2012 season. So Nolasco, who is making $3.8 million now, is under club control for two more years. 

There is a chance the team will go year to year, meaning they will have Nolasco for when they move into their retractable-roof ballpark in the Little Havana section of Miami in 2012.

Nolasco is undergoing surgery to repair a medial meniscus tear in his right knee. Although he won’t pitch again in 2010, there is no indication the Marlins are concerned about the right-hander having a speedy recovery.

As history has shown, having talks stall in early September doesn’t mean a multiyear contract won’t be reached sometime before the start of Spring Training in 2011. Last offseason is an example.

In November of 2009, negotiations between the Marlins and Josh Johnson broke down. In January, Johnson signed a four-year, $39 million contract.

Nolasco finished 2010 with a 14-9 record and a 4.51 ERA. His 54 wins are second most in Marlins history behind Dontrelle Willis’ 68.

The Marlins also are in the process of trying to sign Dan Uggla to a multiyear contract. But both sides haven’t talked seriously in about three weeks.

— Joe Frisaro

Marlins future payroll projections

For less, the Marlins have had success generating more.

The organization has found a way to maximize its dollars and still field a competitive product.

The 2010 Opening Day payroll, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, was $47,429,719, roughly a $10 million increase from 2009.

uggla.jpgThe Marlins have new ballpark opening in 2012. With the security of the building, along with new revenue streams, payroll projections are expected to climb in the upcoming years.

But just how much will the increase be?

Indications are the 2011 payroll will be slightly higher in 2011. So look for the figure to be in the $50 million range.

In 2012, the first year of the new ballpark, the climb is expected to be in the $55-$60 million range.

Key for the payrolls the next couple of years is the cost of the retractable-roof building in the Little Havana section of Miami. Thus far, everything has been on budget and on schedule. There always is a chance for some unforeseen costs.

If everything runs smoothly, the most dramatic jump in payroll should come as early as 2013. Then, there is a chance the leap in payroll could be towards the middle of the MLB pack. So in three years, the payroll could escalate to about $80 million, a figure the franchise has never seen.

The two big salaries the club already has for 2011 are Hanley Ramirez ($11 million) and Josh Johnson ($7.75 million). So those two are taking up $18.75 million of the expected $50 million payroll next year.

In 2012, Ramirez and Johnson will combine to make $28.75 million.

The Marlins have the flexibility to offer Dan Uggla and Ricky Nolasco multi-year contracts. The organization is expected to pursue locking both of them up after the season.

Uggla, who has 139 career homers, is closing in on Mike Lowell’s all-time home run record of 143. He should achieve that by September, and build on it in the future. Nolasco, who has 50 career wins, is second on the Marlins’ all-time list behind Dontrelle Willis (68). 

— Joe Frisaro

Tracking the D-Train

Before the deal to send Dontrelle Willis to Arizona was finalized, the Marlins expressed interest in luring the D-Train back to South Florida.

Ultimately, the Tigers dealt Willis to the D-backs for right-hander Billy Buckner.

dontrelle1.jpgWith Arizona, Willis gets a chance to remain in the rotation. Had the Marlins obtained the 28-year-old left-hander, he would have been an option to throw out of the bullpen.

The Marlins and Tigers were unable to find a match for a deal, so none was made. But could Willis eventually wind up with the Marlins? Don’t rule it out.

The scenario that could land Willis back with the Marlins is if his struggles follow him to Arizona. If he is designated again, the Marlins likely would have interest.

The Marlins are looking for reliable left-handed relief help. Renyel Pinto is on the disabled list. When healthy, Pinto has not consistently thrown strikes. Dan Meyer was designated for assignment last week, and on Tuesday he was outrighted to Triple-A New Orleans. Hunter Jones is a lefty at New Orleans, who had a brief callup.

Taylor Tankersley is the lone lefty in the bullpen. Thus far, he is doing a nice job. Ideally, manager Fredi Gonzalez prefers two lefties in the pen.

Willis has a track record and a history with Florida. Perhaps, he is more suited for a bullpen role.

During his five seasons with the Marlins, Willis set the franchise record for victories with 68. In each of his last three years with the organization, he topped 200 innings pitched. And in 2005, he was 22-10, and he remains the only player in franchise history to be a 20 game winner.

Even in his best days, Willis had an inconsistent delivery. Deception was his biggest strength when he was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2003. He also was an All-Star that year and a big reason why the Marlins won the World Series.

His high leg kick and abundance of energy made him unique. Then there was the delivery, which always was a reason many scouts and pitching coaches wondered if he could continue being successful.

From start to start, his arm slot and leg kick would vary. When a pitcher has a cleaner delivery, like Josh Johnson, it is easy to point out what is wrong and then fix it.

The Marlins thinking is Willis can be more effective as a reliever because he doesn’t have to go through a lineup three or four times. For an inning or two, pitching mechanics may not be as big a deal.

Willis grew up in the Oakland, Calif., area, and he recently bought a home near Phoenix. So he is happy to be going out West. If pitching in Arizona doesn’t pan out, returning to South Florida, where he enjoyed his greatest success, could be his next option.

— Joe Frisaro


Even a bit off, Nolasco wins

Call it a sign of maturity, or perhaps Ricky Nolasco is just that good.

Maybe it’s a bit of both.

Encouraging for Nolasco and the Marlins on Sunday was the right-hander was able to piece together a quality start when he didn’t have his quality stuff.

ricky-nolasco.jpgThe box score from the Marlins’ 10-8 victory over the Mets will read that Nolasco gave up three runs (two earned) in six innings. He allowed six hits, struck out three and walked two.

Overall, not bad numbers. They were good enough for Nolasco to improve to 4-2 while lowering his ERA to 3.59.

What the linescore didn’t reveal was his fastball velocity was down a little bit. He was at 88-89 mph for most of the game, occasionally reaching 91. Once he topped at 92 mph.

“I felt terrible,” Nolasco said.

Over the course of 30-plus starts in a season, pitchers will have good and bad days. Nolasco’s velocity, on a good day, is between 92-94 mph. There is nothing physically wrong with Nolasco. It was his eighth start, in a day game, and he wasn’t at his sharpest. That was clear by the fact he threw 95 pitches with 54 for strikes.

In his previous start — at Chicago on May 11 — he threw 95 pitches with 69 strikes in seven innings.

“This is one of those games where I pretty much had to go out there and battle,” Nolasco said. “What I’m proud of myself is I battled. The offense did a great job.

“I’m not very happy with how I threw the ball. That’s going to happen. I move on to my next start.”

Another positive from Sunday’s win is it was another outing where the Marlins starting pitcher worked deep into the game. In the month of May, only once has a Florida starter given up more than four runs in an outing.

The rotation’s record in May is 9-3 with a 2.97 ERA.


Dontrelle Willis 68

A.J. Burnett, 49

Brad Penny 48

Ricky Nolasco 44

Ryan Dempster 42

Josh Beckett 41

Josh Johnson 37

Pat Rapp 37

— Joe Frisaro

Stanton in mix to make roster

Production may overtake patience when it comes to deciding if Mike Stanton is big league ready.

The way the Marlins 20-year-old outfield slugger is performing has the Marlins considering carrying him on their Opening Day roster.

stanton1z.JPG“Funnier things have happened,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “Obviously, we’ll sit down and make sure it’s the right move, the right decision. But for me to say, “absolutely not,” I can’t do that right now. I can’t say that he’s not going to make the team. I can’t absolutely tell you, 100 percent that he won’t. We’ll sit down and decide how that plays out.”

There is a temptation to promote Stanton right now, especially after the way he’s produced. On Wednesday against the Astros in Kissimmee, the right fielder crushed a two-run homer off Wandy Rodriguez and he added an RBI groundout. Overall, he is batting .333 with two home runs and five RBIs.

Another factor are some health issues in the outfield. Cameron Maybin and Cody Ross have been nursing left groin strains. If say, Maybin, is slowed down to the point where he isn’t going to be either ready — physically or performance wise — then Ross could move to center field. In that scenario, Stanton could factor in playing right field.

“There are a lot of guys who came up in the big leagues as 19 and 20 year olds who have had Hall of Fame careers,” Gonzalez said. “I’m not ruling that he’s not going to make the team.”

From an organizational standpoint, the plan entering Spring Training has been to start off Stanton in Double-A, where he had 299 at-bats in 2009.

For the Marlins to promote Stanton this quickly, a number of factors must be addressed.

“Generally players will tell you when they’re ready or not,” Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said. “I know that he’s looked good. It’s hard not to love him, and look at what he can do in his future. But we’ve got to do what’s best for him. Is the breaking ball recognition and all the things that we want him to be confident in, are they ready to go?”

There are some health issues, too. In the Arizona Fall League, Stanton was sent home with lower back stiffness. And he’s had an issue with his left shoulder, which is repeatedly iced after games.

Then there is the fact that in 299 at-bats at Jacksonville last year he hit .231, although he had 16 homers and 53 RBIs.

“There are a couple of things with Mike. He didn’t dominate in Double-A,” Beinfest said. “Then he’s had a little bit of an injury issue. We wanted to make sure that he’s strong, and he feels good. The rigors in the Major Leagues are tough on these guys. He’s had some shoulder things off and on. We want to make sure that he’s healthy, first and foremost. We want to make sure that he’s comfortable.”

The Marlins have had a strong track record of promoting young players. In 2003, Dontrelle Willis was 21 when he was called up from Double-A, and Miguel Cabrera was 20 that same year.

“How did we know when Dontrelle and Miguel were ready?” Beinfest said. “Or Hanley [Ramirez] and those guys in ’06. Sometimes you are right, and sometimes you’re wrong. Generally, they’ll tell you.”

One thing that is clear is Stanton projects to be in the big leagues, at least some point in 2010.

“It’s all coming. He really wants to do well,” Beinfest said. “He’s a great kid. He’s a student of the game. He’s learning very quickly. His learning curve is shorter than the other guys. He’s getting it. There are a lot of positives. Let him keep playing, and we’ll see what happens.”

Would the Marlins rule out Stanton being on the Opening Day roster?

“We never do,” Beinfest said.

— Joe Frisaro



J.J.'s quest for win No. 16


Photo courtesy of Robert Vigon/Florida Marlins

If Josh Johnson beats the Phillies on Tuesday in Game 1 of the double-header at Land Shark Stadium, the Marlins ace would join some elite company in club history.

Johnson is seeking to become the third Marlin since 2000 to eclipse the 15-win mark in a season. The 25-year-old is 15-4 with a 3.01 ERA in 30 starts.

The only Marlins to surpass 15 wins in the decade are Dontrelle Willis, who set the club record with 22 wins in 2005, and Carl Pavano — a winner of 18 games in 2004.

You have to go back to 1996-97 to find Marlins who finished with 16 or more wins. Alex Fernandez (1997) and Kevin Brown (1996) each had 17 wins in those respective seasons. Brown in 1997 won 16, while Al Leiter was a 16-game winner in 1996.

Last year, Ricky Nolasco finished with 15 wins. Josh Beckett (2005) and Ryan Dempster (2001) were the only other 15-game winners in franchise history.

Tuesday’s start also will have some financial implications for Johnson. It will be his 31st of the season, which means he will trigger a $25,000 incentive in his contract. Counting Tuesday, Johnson is slated to have three more starts this season. If he makes them all, he would earn another $25,000 in incentives for reaching 33.

— Joe Frisaro





Marlins option Maybin

The arrival of Chris Coghlan on Friday, and the decision to play him in the outfield, was a sign then that Cameron Maybin would be headed to the Minor Leagues for more seasoning.

That transaction took place on Sunday afternoon.

After the Marlins lost 3-2 to the Rockies at Coors Field, Maybin was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans.

The only playing time Maybin had in the three-games at Colorado came as a pinch-runner in the ninth inning on Sunday. Maybin ran for John Baker, who doubled.

Maybin had a rough break, getting thrown out trying to advance to third on Cody Ross’ ground ball to shortstop.

Maybin opened the season as the Marlins starting center field. But in 25 games and 84 at-bats, his batting average was .202, and his on-base percentage is at .280.

The 22-year-old was acquired from the Tigers as part of the Miguel Cabrera/Dontrelle Willis trade in December of 2007.

Maybin has a world of talent. The Marlins are looking for him to regain his confidence while getting more at-bats at the Minor League level

— Joe Frisaro

Experimenting with lineup

Tony La Russa does it, and it just might make sense for the Marlins to do it too.

To fully maximize the speed in their lineup, Florida could consider batting the pitcher eighth and Cameron Maybin ninth.

La Russa frequently has the Cardinals pitcher batting eighth.

By doing that, Maybin would have a better chance to develop his offense because he won’t have the pitcher behind him. Instead, he would have Emilio Bonifacio.

The problem, typically, for eighth hitters is they see mostly off-speed pitches because the pitcher is on deck.

The hitter most impacted would be Cody Ross, who has been batting seventh. He then would have the pitcher behind him, unless left-handed hitting Jeremy Hermida flip-flopped with Ross. Hermida has been hitting sixth.

If Maybin hits ninth, then the speed would fall in line for Florida. You’d have Bonifacio following, then John Baker and Hanley Ramirez.

It’s something to certainly think about.

In 2005, when Dontrelle Willis was a force at the plate, former manager Jack McKeon once had the D-Train hit as high as seventh.

— Joe Frisaro

B Game vs. Italy

At first glance, you would have thought the Marlins were taking on the Dodgers. But the team in blue on Wednesday morning on Field 2 behind the main field at Roger Dean Stadium was the Italian World Baseball Classic squad.

The B Game led into Florida’s first Grapefruit League contest, at 1:05 p.m. ET at Roger Dean Stadium.

Italy won the scrimmage, 4-1. The Italian hitting coach is former MLB catching great Mike Piazza.

Burke Badenhop started and threw one inning for Florida. It was his first game situation since last June. The right-hander spent more than half the season injured. It was an encouraging first step back for the 26-year-old, who struck out one and allowed one infield hit in one inning. Dallas Trahern and Frankie De La Cruz each followed with scoreless innings for Florida.

Badenhop, Trahern and De La Cruz all were acquired by the Marlins from Detroit as part of the Miguel Cabrera/Dontrelle Willis trade.

In the third inning, Manny Mayorson singled for Florida, stole second and scored on John Raynor’s RBI single.

— Joe Frisaro