Tag:Florida Marlins
Posted on: July 12, 2010 8:28 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2010 8:32 pm
 

Will young power arms finally shift tide to NL?

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- How long has it been since the National League has won a freakin' All-Star Game?

Let's just say this: Last time the NL won, 1996 in Philadelphia, Bob Dole was running for president.

It's weird, it's bizarre, it's ugly and it's a subject the National Leaguers get tired of answering. Current count: The AL's unbeaten streak has reached 13 years, including winning the past seven in a row (since the humiliating 2002 tie in Milwaukee).

Yet silly as this sounds, there is a very real sense that the tide might be beginning to shift away from Junior Circuit dominance in the Mid-Summer Classic.

Reasons?

Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez. Florida's Josh Johnson. San Francisco's Tim Lincecum. Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo. All All-Stars this year. And, Washington's Stephen Strasburg, and San Diego's Mat Latos, who very well could debut as All-Stars next summer when the game hits Phoenix.

You know about Strasburg. And Latos was the next pitcher NL manager Charlie Manuel would have chosen in the event of one more injury scratch.

"It needs to turn for us, the way it's been going," says San Diego manager Bud Black, a coach on Manuel's NL staff this week. "There are some fine young power arms in the National League.

"Hey, the American League's no slouch either, with David Price and CC Sabathia. And Felix Hernandez can probably throw it as hard as he wants to."

No question. But there is more sizzle in the NL's pitching this summer -- especially given all the incredibly talented young arms -- than there has been in quite some time.

"Just looking at our staff, I know I wouldn't want to be a hitter on the other side," says Mets third baseman David Wright, who has been in the NL clubhouse for the past four losses. "We have some power arms, really, top to bottom. Just seeing their age and the ability and the upside and what they've accomplished already is amazing.

"I know how I feel with a bat in my hands in the box against these guys. Then when you string together the depth that the NL has with their young power arms, it's pretty impressive."

Jimenez comes into the game with 15 wins, a no-hitter against Atlanta this year and a 33-inning scoreless streak compiled during one especially torrid stretch in May and June.

Johnson leads the majors with a 1.70 ERA and has allowed no more than one earned run in 10 of his past 11 starts.

Lincecum has won back-to-back Cy Young awards, Strasburg is showing signs of having Cy Young stuff ... the list goes on.

"I know you've got Strasburg, Jimenez, Josh Johnson ... those guys throw hard," Angels outfielder Torii Hunter says. "They're filthy. I've been watching them on television."

In the NL, Wright has been watching most of them from the batter's box.

"You know that it's going to be a rough day when you're battling to draw a walk," Wright says. "Or you're battling to plate one guy and you know you have to be perfect as far as situational hitting just to plate a run, that you're not going to have that big inning where you can put up some crooked numbers.

"Where you have to battle and grind and fight and almost hope that the other team makes a mistake. You know what an uncomfortable at-bat it is. You know what they're capable of doing."

Add Philadelphia's veteran ace Roy Halladay, who will pitch for the NL for the first time following six All-Star appearances for the AL, and Atlanta's cagey Tim Hudson, who is making his NL debut Tuesday following Tommy John ligament transfer surgery (and two All-Star selections when he was pitching in the AL), and it's not an easy staff to face.

As for Jimenez and Johnson, the NL's two most dominant pitchers in the first half and the ones many AL hitters will see for the first time on Tuesday night, well, Wright says his least favorite to face is. ...

"Neither. We've been fortunate in that we've missed Josh Johnson the last few times we've played the Marlins, but it's no fun having him in the division.

"When you go in for a series in Miami, you always know which day Josh is pitching. You know you'd better win the game before that or the game after that or the other games because you're likely not going to win that one."

Whether the same will hold true for the All-Star Game, well ... it's got to turn one of these years, doesn't it?

Posted on: July 2, 2010 9:11 pm
 

Jimenez, Price aligned for All-Star Game

If American League manager Joe Girardi chooses to start Tampa Bay's David Price in the July 13 All-Star Game -- a very real possibility given that Price led the AL in ERA (2.44) and wins (11) on Friday -- the coast is clear.

And if National League manager Charlie Manuel gives the nod to Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez -- which seems a slam dunk -- that should work, too.

In the first season in which baseball will deem ineligible any starting pitcher working on the Sunday before the All-Star break, the view from several days out looks pretty good.

Of the top AL starters, only the Angels' Jered Weaver (who leads the majors with 124 strikeouts), Tampa Bay's Jeff Niemann and the Yankees' CC Sabathia currently are projected to start for their clubs on that Sunday.

Among the NL's top starters, only the Mets' Mike Pelfrey is slated to start on Sunday, July 11. But depending on what manager Jerry Manuel does with his pitching on the club's off-day on Thursday, July 8, that could change.

Price, a serious candidate to start for the AL, is scheduled to make his final pre-All Star start for Tampa Bay on Wednesday, which would leave him plenty rested for the Anaheim game. And if Girardi looks in a different direction, Seattle's Cliff Lee (last first-half start next Friday), Boston's Jon Lester (Friday) and Clay Buchholz (Tuesday), the Yankees' own Phil Hughes (Friday) and Texas' Colby Lewis (Wednesday) all should be eligible.

Jimenez makes his final pre-All Star start on Thursday and, assuming good health, should be a foregone conclusion to start for the NL in Anaheim.

As for the rest of the NL's top starters, things are setting up very nicely for Manuel: Florida's Josh Johnson (final first-half start slotted for Wednesday), St. Louis' Chris Carpenter (Friday), Adam Wainwright (Saturday) and Jaime Garcia (Thursday), Philadelphia's Roy Halladay (Saturday), Atlanta's Tim Hudson (Friday or Saturday), Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo (Friday), the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw (Thursday), San Diego's Mat Latos (Wednesday) and San Francisco's Tim Lincecum (Wednesday) and Barry Zito (Thursday)  all should be fresh for the game.

Likes: Great move by Texas acquiring catcher Bengie Molina. Look out, this is the strongest team the Rangers have had in several years. ... The wheels came off the wagon horribly in Arizona, but make no mistake: Fired general manager Josh Byrnes and manager A.J. Hinch are good people. ... New Arizona manager Kirk Gibson's first game in the dugout, of course, is against the Dodgers. Who else? ... The All-Star break just around the corner and Texas, Atlanta, Cincinnati and San Diego in first place. ... The new concert DVD from Bruce Springsteen and the E St. Band, Live in Hyde Park. Very, very good. Great song selections, tremendous playing and some breathtaking camera work of both the band's work and the crowd in Hyde Park. ... Quaker Oatmeal Squares for breakfast. ... Ben & Jerry's Milk and Cookies ice cream.

Dislikes: It's July, so here comes the July 31 trade deadline, a time that you would think would get a baseball writer's juices flowing. And it does mine, too -- it's fun to see the moves as they're made -- but it's also become one of my least favorite times of the year because there is so, so much wrong information that will be produced this month. And ferreting out the truth from the fiction is next to impossible. The sad, simple fact is the journalism bar at times is lowered today, and this is one of them.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Summer
"It turns me upside down"

-- The Cars, Magic

Posted on: June 29, 2010 7:21 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2010 7:30 pm
 

Bo knows Jeffrey Loria

One more glimpse into the dysfunctionality of the Marlins:

They've interviewed two men so far to replace fired manager Fredi Gonzalez, interim skipper Edwin Rodriguez and Arizona third-base coach Bo Porter.

Porter was Florida's third-base coach last year. He fled the organization last winter because Gonzalez and his coaching staff were operating under the assumption that owner Jeffrey Loria probably would fire them by this year's All-Star break, according to major-league sources.

Porter spent the past five seasons in the Marlins' organization, and he was their third-base coach from 2007-2009.

Yet he took a lateral job in Arizona, telling people when he left Florida that he would never work for Loria again.

It looks like he still won't: Loria told the Marlins before Tuesday night's game with the Mets that Rodriguez will finish out the season as manager.

Porter's interview? Either the latest proof positive of the lengths to which some men will go to have a chance to manage in the majors, or he simply participated in what some in the industry think was a courtesy interview that allows the Marlins to comply with Commissioner Bud Selig's edict that clubs interview minority candidates for every opening.

The Marlins were reprimanded for not complying with that when they fired Jeff Torborg in 2003 and hired Jack McKeon.

Posted on: June 29, 2010 7:21 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2010 7:30 pm
 

Bo knows Jeffrey Loria

One more glimpse into the dysfunctionality of the Marlins:

They've interviewed two men so far to replace fired manager Fredi Gonzalez, interim skipper Edwin Rodriguez and Arizona third-base coach Bo Porter.

Porter was Florida's third-base coach last year. He fled the organization last winter because Gonzalez and his coaching staff were operating under the assumption that owner Jeffrey Loria probably would fire them by this year's All-Star break, according to major-league sources.

Porter spent the past five seasons in the Marlins' organization, and he was their third-base coach from 2007-2009.

Yet he took a lateral job in Arizona, telling people when he left Florida that he would never work for Loria again.

It looks like he still won't: Loria told the Marlins before Tuesday night's game with the Mets that Rodriguez will finish out the season as manager.

Porter's interview? Either the latest proof positive of the lengths to which some men will go to have a chance to manage in the majors, or he simply participated in what some in the industry think was a courtesy interview that allows the Marlins to comply with Commissioner Bud Selig's edict that clubs interview minority candidates for every opening.

The Marlins were reprimanded for not complying with that when they fired Jeff Torborg in 2003 and hired Jack McKeon.

Posted on: May 29, 2010 10:07 pm
Edited on: May 29, 2010 10:08 pm
 

Roy Halladay, Perfect Phillie

Roy Halladay blew through South Florida on Saturday night with hurricane force and a surgeon's precision. Perfect? It was an understatement.

The way Halladay was hitting the corners and moving the ball in and out, it's a wonder 16 Marlins even put the ball in play against Dominant Doc. Halladay struck out 11 and dazed everybody else. You will not see a pitcher more sharp than this.

"I don't know what to say," Halladay sputtered to Phillies' television analyst Gary Matthews seconds after the lights went out -- literally -- in whatever they're calling Florida's stadium these days.

It was the perfect visual.

The Marlins were clicking out the lights for a postgame Saturday night concert.

But Halladay beat them to it.

It is the first time in modern baseball history that two perfect games have been thrown in one season, let alone in one month. Halladay's perfecto, though, was nowhere near the surprise that Dallas Braden's Mothers Day masterpiece was. Not even close.

The only surprise here is that Halladay has been pitching more than a decade and hadn't yet thrown a perfect game. Or a no-hitter. Or started more than one All-Star Game.

His years of taking a backseat to Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez or anybody else in the game have long since been over.

It's just that, because Halladay was buried up in quiet, out-of-the-way Toronto for the past decade, lots of people were late to pick up on it.

As 2008 World Series MVP Cole Hamels said this spring during Halladay's first few days with the Phillies, "Roy Halladay is the greatest pitcher in the big leagues. To be able to see how much he goes the distance. You envy a guy who pitches nine, 10 complete games every year. It's so unheard of in this day and age."

Saturday's already was Halladay's fifth complete game, more than twice as many as any other pitcher in the majors. Nobody else has more than two.

As he was closing in on Saturday's masterpiece, Halladay opened the seventh by punching out slumping Chris Coghlan on a 91 m.p.h. cutter away, then closed it by punching out batting champion Hanley Ramirez on a 92 m.p.h. cutter in at the knees. In-between he threw a full-count curveball -- curveball! -- to induce a harmless pop fly to left from Gaby Sanchez.

That's one snapshot of what the Marlins faced all night. Plate umpire Mike DiMuro's strike zone was liberal, he was calling pitches two or three inches off the plate at times. Didn't matter. Halladay was the Invisible Man on this night. The Marlins weren't going to touch him.

Besides, DiMuro's zone worked great for Florida starter Josh Johnson, too. And Johnson was very, very good -- the game's only run scored when center fielder Cameron Maybin butchered Chase Utley's long fly ball to center in the third, allowing Wilson Valdez to score from first.

But Halladay, whose closest previous brush to immortality came when he no-hit Detroit for 8 2/3 innings on Sept. 27, 1998, before Philadelphia-native Bobby Higginson broke it up, was as dazzling as a pitcher can be.

"We felt like we got in a good groove by the fifth or sixth," Halladay said, referring to himself and catcher Carlos "Chooch" Ruiz. "I was just following Chooch. I can't say enough about the job he did.

"By the fifth or sixth, it was a no-brainer. I was just following him."

Braden, and now Halladay. What a month for pitching. What a month for perfection.

"It was awesome," Halladay said. "I don't know what else to say."

No need. On this night, his slider, cut fastball and other weapons spoke for him.

Perfectly.

Posted on: May 26, 2010 10:00 pm
 

Can U2 hit the curveball?

Cardinals pitcher Brad Penny and U2 front man Bono each went on the disabled list in the past few days with a bad back.

Guess which one may have the widest-ranging repercussions on the baseball schedule?

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the havoc U2's summer tour wreaked on the 2010 baseball schedule.

Well, with U2 now having had to postpone 16 dates on the North American leg of its world tour this summer following Bono's emergency back surgery, tour promoters are talking about rescheduling the dates for 2011.

Which means, as for those postponed concerts in Angel Stadium (June 6-7), the Oakland Coliseum (June 16), Toronto's Rogers Centre (July 3) and Florida's Landshark Stadium (July 9) ... uh-oh.

The 2011 baseball schedule has already marched on with or without U ... 2.

"It's way too late in terms of blocking dates for the 2011 schedule," says Katy Feeney, one of baseball's long-time senior vice-presidents and a point person in the scheduling process. "The first draft should hopefully be in clubs' hands by mid-June.

"People need to tell the promoters to cool their jets. I'm sorry Bono had back surgery, but it's way too late. To block dates right now is nearly impossible."

Because of the sheer magnitude of the stadium stage show, U2 requires roughly 10 days to set up, play the show and then break everything down. With the Angels, Blue Jays, Athletics and Marlins all requesting specific road dates in 2010 so they could host U2 (and make gobs of money in the process), baseball officials had to work overtime on this summer's schedule.

Because of all of the moving parts, the trickle-down affected other clubs as well.

For example: The Dodgers agreed to flip-flop home dates of their interleague series this summer with the Angels, who needed a long road trip to schedule Bono and Co. Consequently, the Dodgers were rewarded with an extra weekend homestand -- they now have 14, where most other clubs have 13. The Angels agreed to lose a home weekend series in the swap, giving them 12 instead of the normal 13.

So the Angels are on the road from May 31-June 13 in Kansas City, Seattle, Oakland and in Dodger Stadium ... to make room for a band that now needs to reschedule.

Because the concert promoters work with the individual clubs, and not directly with baseball, Feeney isn't quite sure of the band's makeup plans. But the Athletics already have checked in with her about rescheduling their U2 show next summer, and it is Feeney's understanding that the concert promoters are hoping to keep the same or similar dates in the baseball parks, only for 2011 instead of 2010.

But the rough draft of the 2011 schedule -- which must be presented to the players' union by July 1, by the way -- is already finished. And it does not include 10-day dark periods in Angel Stadium, the Oakland Coliseum or anywhere else.

"Maybe somebody needs to go and tell them to scale down their stage," Feeney suggested. "We've scheduled around several other bands over the years -- the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, and nobody has needed that kind of time.

"If Bono's doctors are telling him to stop jumping around, maybe he could just play sitting down."

Hmmm. ...

Maybe a few day-night doubleheaders would work for U2?

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Through the storm we reach the shore
"You give it all but I want more
"And I'm waiting for you"

-- U2, With or Without You

Posted on: December 9, 2009 5:56 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2009 7:00 pm
 

Astros acquire reliever Lindstrom from Florida

INDIANAPOLIS -- Just hours after the departure of LaTroy Hawkins to Milwaukee weakened their bullpen, the Houston Astros acquired reliever Matt Lindstrom from the Florida Marlins, CBSSports.com has confirmed.

Lindstrom served as the Marlins' closer for part of 2009, going 2-1 with 15 saves and a 5.89 ERA in 54 appearances. A 29-year-old right-hander who originally was drafted by the Mets in 2002, Lindstrom is expected to compete for Houston's closer role this spring.

In return, the Marlins will receive two minor leaguers, right-hander Robert Bono and shortstop Luis Bryan, according to multiple reports. The deal is pending medical examinations.

Posted on: December 9, 2009 2:52 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2009 3:15 pm
 

Marlins will offer arbitration to Uggla

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Florida Marlins, failing to gain traction in their efforts to trade second baseman Dan Uggla here, insist they will tender an arbitration offer to him by Monday's deadline, a source familiar with their thinking tells CBSSports.com.

The market has been sluggish for Uggla, who batted .243 with 31 home runs and 90 RBIs in 2009, and the Marlins believe it is because rival clubs think they're so financially strapped that they won't tender him a contract by Monday's deadline. Plenty of rumors to that effect are filling the lobby here at the Indianapolis Marriott.

That would make him a free agent, which would allow rival clubs to simply strike a financial deal with him and bypass giving up players to the Marlins.

Florida, however, does not view simply cutting him loose as an option.

The Marlins do have 11 players eligible for arbitration and clearly will not be able to offer arbitration to all of them. With a $5.35 million salary in 2009, Uggla is the logical trading chip because he is expected to command between $7 and $8 million in 2010 salary through arbitration.

The Marlins' projected payroll is somewhere around $36 million, which means Uggla will command a significant portion of that salary if the Marlins tender him arbitration and do not trade him. Among other clubs, San Francisco has expressed interest and discussed Uggla with the Marlins but has not been aggressive enough to strike a deal.

Starter Josh Johnson also is arbitration-eligible and, though talks between him and the Marlins on a multi-year deal broke down earlier this winter, the club says it will not trade him.

Florida is continuing its efforts to trade relievers Matt Lindstrom and Reynel Pinto.

 
 
 
 
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