Results tagged ‘ Leo Nunez ’

Marlins interested in Capps

Affordability is key for any established free agent the Marlins pursue.

According to Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Marlins are among a growing list of teams coveting reliever Matt Capps. The Rangers, Rockies, Cardinals, Cubs and Diamondbacks also are listed as potential suitors.

There are strong indications the Marlins are indeed exploring signing Capps, but cost will be a factor. Non-tendered by Pittsburgh on Saturday, Capps made $2.425 million in 2009. There is a belief that his dollar figure could again be in that neighborhood, or perhaps slightly less. If so, the right-hander could fit into Florida’s budget.

The Marlins expressed interest in Capps last season in trade talks. And the team could offer him the opportunity to compete with Leo Nunez for the closer spot.

Upgrading the bullpen is a high priority for the Marlins.

— Joe Frisaro


Marlins non-tender; Paulino agrees

It was a difficult decision, but one the Marlins felt they had to make because the risk was too high.

On Saturday night, the club opted to non-tender versatile Alfredo Amezaga, making the 31-year-old a free agent.

With less than 30 minutes before the 11:59 p.m. ET tender deadline, the club announced it reached contract agreement with catcher Ronny Paulino for the 2010 season.

The Marlins tendered their remaining eight arbitration-eligible players — Josh Johnson, Cody Ross, Ricky Nolasco, Jorge Cantu, Dan Uggla, Leo Nunez, Renyel Pinto and Anibal Sanchez.

Amezaga has yet to begin running after undergoing microfracture knee surgery over the summer. The uncertainty over his knee made tendering him a contract too risky. So the Marlins are cutting ties with one of the top utility players in the big leagues.

Knee problems limited Amezaga to 27 games and 69 at-bats in 2009. The veteran made $1.3 million this past season, and if he were tendered a contract, his salary would again have exceeded $1 million.

The hope is that he will be ready for Spring Training, but there still is a medical risk for the natural middle infielder, who also is an above average fielding outfielder.

The Marlins can still try to re-sign Amezaga, but now he is on the open market.

— Joe Frisaro


State of Marlins update

Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest addressed the local media on Thursday, advancing the upcoming Winter Meetings in Indianapolis.

Among the highlights were:

* Expect Marlins to be active in Indy.

* Eight internal candidates for five rotation spots: Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, Sean West, Chris Volstad, Anibal Sanchez, Andrew Miller, Rick VandenHurk, Hayden Penn.

* Leo Nunez is the frontrunner to be the closer. Matt Lindstrom would have to win spot back.

* Team is prepared to lead off Chris Coghlan once again in 2010, although his speed isn’t prototypical for the position.

* Alfredo Amezaga remains slowed by his microfracture surgery to his left kneecap. The hope is Amezaga will be ready for Spring Training, but that is unclear right now.

* Cameron Maybin (shoulder), Cody Ross (wrist) and Jorge Cantu (ankle) are all progressing nicely from their end of season injuries.

* Without offering specifics, Beinfest didn’t dismiss the prospect of still trying to work out a multiyear contract with Josh Johnson.

— Joe Frisaro


Ross, Cantu high Marlins priorities

Expect changes on the Marlins roster in 2010. Also expect to have two prominent every day players back.

The Marlins are prepared to take on the contracts of Jorge Cantu and Cody Ross.

Since the end of this past season, Ross was projected to return. Nothing has changed in the Marlins thinking.

Ross comes off his most productive season, batting .270 with a career high for home runs (24) and RBIs (90).

The left-handed thrower and right-handed batter can play all three outfield spots. If Cameron Maybin isn’t ready to take over in center field, Ross is the likely choice there. If Maybin is healthy, Ross will slide over to right field.

Eligible for arbitration, Ross made $2.225 million in 2009. He is entering his second season of arbitration.

With the Winter Meetings set to begin on Monday in Indianapolis, there promise to be speculation involving a number of Florida players. Cantu likely will be one of them.

Don’t look for Cantu, however, to be on the move. The 27-year-old drove in 100 runs batting cleanup behind Hanley Ramirez. Cantu made $3.5 million in ’09, and he will be entering his final year of arbitration.

Cantu projects to start at either first base or third base, depending on whether Logan Morrison or Gaby Sanchez wins a starting job in Spring Training. Both prospects play first base.

The Marlins payroll projects to be under $40 million in 2010. A year ago, it was at $36 million. A round ballpark number would be $38 million when all is said and done.

In all, the Marlins have 11 players eligible for arbitration, including relievers Renyel Pinto, Matt Lindstrom and Leo Nunez. All three are in their first seasons of arbitration. Chances are two of the three will be traded.

— Joe Frisaro


Aribitration-eligible Marlins

Working with a tight budget, the Marlins will have to make some tough choices regarding which of their arbitration-eligible players they will look to bring back.

In all, the team has 11 players from the 2009 roster in their arbitration years. The list includes a number of big names, including Josh Johnson, Dan Uggla, Ricky Nolasco and Jorge Cantu.

Not all are expected back, and already the Marlins have fielded inquires about Uggla and Cantu. Now, that doesn’t mean the team couldn’t one or both back.

The Marlins also are expected to make a push to signing Johnson to a multiyear contract.

Basically, players with three to six years of MLB service time are in their arbitration years. Once they reach six years, they can qualify for free agency.

Here’s a look at the service time (years and days) of the Marlins up for arbitration:

Alfredo Amezaga, 5 years, 97 days

Jorge Cantu, 5.036

Josh Johnson, 4.026

Matt Lindstrom, 3.000

Ricky Nolasco, 3.142

Leo Nunez, 3.108

Ronny Paulino, 3.112

Renyel Pinto, 3.083

Cody Ross, 4.058

Anibal Sanchez, 3.099

Dan Uggla, 4.000

— Joe Frisaro

Payroll projection for 2010

For years, the Marlins have shown they can remain competitive while spending carefully.

They will be continuing that trend in 2010.

Payroll for the upcoming season will be in the neighborhood of $36 million, or slightly lower.

In 2009, the Marlins finished second in the N.L. East, winning 87 games with a $36 million roster. So expect salaries to again to be in that range.

Hanley Ramirez will enter the second season of his six-year contract. The National League’s batting champ will make $7 million in ’10 after he just collected $5.5 million.

Because a number of key players are up for arbitration, player movement is inevitable. On Thursday, outfielder Jeremy Hermida was dealt to the Red Sox for two left-handed pitching prospects.

Hermida made $2.25 million in ’09, and he will see his salary raise.

The General Managers’ meetings begin on Monday, and the Marlins expect to be active in trade talks. 

Dan Uggla, who made $5.35 million this year, will likely see he salary raise to the $7 million range. Anticipate Uggla to attract plenty of trade interest.

Jorge Cantu ($3.5 million in ’09) may also be shopped. Indications are Cody Ross will be back.

Look for the Marlins to allocate their dollars towards pitching. Josh Johnson ($1.4 million in ’09) is expected to be offered a long term contract. However, preliminary discussions on a multiyear deal have not begun. They could get underway this week.

Johnson’s 2010 salary, even if he signs a long-term contract, could be about $4 million.

Ricky Nolasco made $2.4 million this year, and likely is headed to a $3 million pay day.

The Marlins also will have to make decisions regarding relievers Leo Nunez, Renyel Pinto and Matt Lindstrom. All three are entering arbitration for the first time. All three could be targets to be moved.

— Joe Frisaro




Nunez uncharacteristically wild

Some tension surfaced before Leo Nunez locked down his 22nd save of the season on Wednesday at St. Louis.

In the Marlins’ 5-2 win over the Cardinals, Nunez was uncharacteristically wild, hitting Ryan Ludwick and Albert Pujols with pitches before Matt Holliday bounced into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.

Entering the ninth inning with a four-run lead, the Marlins went with reliever Brian Sanches, who retired Julio Lugo on a groundball to open the frame.

From there, the plot thickened when pinch-hitter Jason LaRue drew a walk after a 10-pitch showdown. Mark DeRosa’s double put runners on second and third, brining in Nunez.

Nunez’s first pitch was a fastball that plunked Ludwick on the hand, bringing up Pujols, who was promptly clipped by a changeup, drawing boos and jeers from the crowd.

“I tried to throw a fastball inside and it got away,” Nunez said through a translator. “The changeup to Pujols also went too far inside, but thank God everything came out well and I got a double play.”

Holliday bounced a fastball away to Dan Uggla at second base. The double play was turned easily, prompting Nunez to make an exuberant fist pump and point to the sky. Again, the crowd booed Nunez.

“We were trying to go in with a fastball on Ludwick,” said catcher John Baker, who noted he almost threw his shoulder out while celebrating the final outs. “We went too far in. We were trying to throw a changeup to Albert.”

In his first 68 appearances, Nunez only hit two batters. So striking two straight — back-to-back — was uncharacteristic.

“It’s probably more of a fluke than anything,” Baker said. “We’re not trying to hit Albert in that situation. We’re not trying to hit Ryan Ludwick to get to Albert Pujols with the bases loaded in the ninth inning with a four run lead. Common sense says that’s not we were trying to do. I think even Albert knew.”

— Joe Frisaro


Nunez's new approach

Opponents have detected a pattern with Leo Nunez.

Scouting reports are out, and teams seem to be sitting on first-pitch fastballs. That was the case in the Marlins’ 5-4 loss to the Nationals on Sunday.

Nunez entered in the ninth inning trying to preserve a two-run lead. But the inning started off with Willie Harris teeing off on a first-pitch fastball. The end result was an upper-deck home run to right field.

Cristian Guzman followed with a first-pitch approach. The only pitch Guzman saw he swatted for an infield single. Ryan Zimmerman delivered a two-run, walk-off homer, but it came on Nunez’s third pitch.

On Sept. 2, Nunez also surrendered a home run on his first pitch of the ninth inning. That game, Yunel Escobar sat first-pitch fastball and connected.

“The last few games I feel like they’ve been timing up that first-pitch fastball,” Nunez said through a translater. “In these next games, I have in my mind to vary my pitches a little more.”

In July at San Diego, Kyle Blanks of the Padres opened the ninth inning by homering on Nunez’s first-pitch fastball.

“I feel like it’s been the last three games or so they’ve been jumping on that first pitch,” the Marlins closer said. “But I still have to come in there and challenge guys.”

— Joe Frisaro




Calero day-to-day

In the eighth inning of Florida’s 12-3 win over Philadelphia, Marlins reliever Kiko Calero was lifted with pain in his right knee.

Appearing for the first time since Aug. 4 at Washington, Calero exited after issuing a two-out walk to Chase Utley.

Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez and trainer Sean Cunningham came to the mound, and the veteran right-hander was replaced without even testing the knee with a warmup pitch.

Afterwards, Calero said he feld discomfort in the muscle area above the kneecap.

“It felt weak today,” said Calero, who has appeared in 47 games this season. “On Friday, I started feeling it. But today, there were two pitches [to Utley] where my knee felt weak. I’m fine.”

Calero is listed as day-to-day.

In 2003, he had surgery to repair a torn right patella.

Gonzalez said before of his past history with the knee area, the team is being extra cautious.

Calero was on the disabled list from June 21-July 9 with right shoulder inflammation.

The Marlins were hoping to avoid using Renyel Pinto on Sunday, but the lefty replaced Calero, and he retired Ryan Howard on a fly ball to right field.

Calero has been used in a late-inning relief role. Matt Lindstrom, Brendan Donnelly, Brian Sanches and Tim Wood are right-handed setup options. Leo Nunez has been used as closer.

— Joe Frisaro



Easing Lindstrom back

Marlins reliever Matt Lindstrom, on the disabled list since June 24 with a right elbow sprain, will pitch in a rehab assignment game for Class A Jupiter on Saturday.

The hard-throwing right-hander tossed a simulated game in Jupiter on Wednesday.

If all goes well, he could join the Marlins in early August, perhaps when the team heads to Washington for a three-game set beginning on Aug. 4.

“The final test will be when he goes back-to-back,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

After throwing on Saturday, he could pitch again on Monday for Jupiter. From there, he would pitch every second or third day before being used in back-to-back games.

Lindstrom last pitched for the Marlins on June 23. In 32 games, he has 14 saves in 16 chances.

When he’s ready to return, it’s not automatic that he will close. At least immediately, Gonzalez said on Friday that he’s leaning towards easing Lindstrom back.

“We may ease him into it,” Gonzalez said. “I think it’s only fair for him and to the team.”

Because of the long layoff, the Marlins want Lindstrom to get sharp. Gonzalez says pitching rehab assignments is different than, say, facing hitters like Manny Ramirez.

So the thinking is to get Lindstrom work in a setup role, the sixth, seventh or eighth innings. In the meantime, Leo Nunez remains the primary closer option, with Dan Meyer being a left-handed alternative.

In other injury-related news, right-hander Anibal Sanchez is lined up to throw 50 pitches on Tuesday in a Gulf Coast League game. On the DL with a right shoulder sprain, retroactive to June 3, Sanchez threw 45 pitches in a simulated game on Wednesday.

The team is in no rush to get Sanchez back. And he isn’t an option to join the rotation when a fifth starter is added either July 31 or Aug. 1.

— Joe Frisaro