Monday, June 30, 2008

Big Trade

Mr. Marlin Superfan sez: Trade Jacobs for a mid-level catcher. We have a bunch of second string catchers and Jacob is good only for home runs. No BA, no RBI, no fielding. You move Cantu to first, bring up McPherson and his 28 HR from AAA. Well, why not?

Another Comparison

Player A: 14 HR; 47 RBI; .802 OPS; 46 runs created

Player B: 11 HR; 48 RBI; .811 OPS; 49 runs created.

Player A is Jorge Cantu; Player B is is the guy Cantu replaced,  Miguel Cabrera.

On a related note, Dontrelle Willis pitched 2 innings yesterday, gave up one hit, one earned run,  3 walks and no strike outs. He was pitching in relief, for the class A Lakeland Tigers. As far as I can tell, it was his first appearance since being sent down in early June.

Don't get me wrong, Miggy is a wonderful player, and Dontrelle may well return to his former glory. I have fond memories of both, and wish them nothing but the best. But the Marlins are a better team without them than they were with them.

Larry Beinfest is a genius. 

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Maybe there's still hope...

Well, since they went on the road playing Mets and Phils a month ago, this team has been struggling to be a .500 team. As LeBatard says, you can't go to the post-season with this starting pitching. But if
1 -- Josh Johnson comes back to his old form.
2 -- Dallas McPherson (.310 BA, 28 homers in AAA) takes over at third and Cantu moves to first.
3 -- Maybe Volstad (4-3 and 3.28 in AA)
4 -- And then what about Maybin, after a slow start, coming on strong in June, batting .315 with 5 HR and 18 RBIs.

Or maybe, probably, this is all a bit early, and 2009 will be THE year.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Who should start the All Star Game at Second Base

Chase Utley has a commanding lead in the All Star balloting, and no doubt he will end up starting the game in Yankee Stadium. Dan Uggla is well over a million votes behind, in 4th place. 

Let's take a look at the numbers:

Utley:   BA--.291; OBP--.379; SLG--.599; HR--22; RBI--63; OPS--.997
Uggla: BA--.294; OBP--.379; SLG--.643; HR--23; RBI--57;  OPS--1.022

Maybe Utley has some advantage if you look at the more modern, sabermetric stats

Utley--Runs Created--60; Outs--213; BA/RISP--.262; win shares (which includes defense)--15
Uggla--Runs Created--61; Outs--200; BA/RISP--.291; win shares--15

Well, maybe its defense, then. . .

Utley--4 throwing errors, 3 fielding errors; fielding percentage--.982
Uggla--3 throwing errors, 3 fielding errors; fielding percentage--.983

Uggla has started 22 double plays, and turned 28, while Utley has started 19 and turned 29. (This stat courtesy of the Hardball Times; ESPN's stats differ from THT, and baseball-reference differs from both. I don't know why.)

Utley does have more range than Uggla, so his overall defensive rating is higher than Dan's. According to baseball-reference, Uggla's range factor is 4.87, while Utley's is 5.05 (at second base--he's also played some first). The league average is 4.08.

As of today, Uggla is leading the NL in two statistical categories: extra base hits, and at bats per home run. Utley is leading in one--HBP. 

It is quite common to read or hear that Utley is having a phenomenal year, and it really is too bad about Uggla, but look at the year Utley is having. . . And its true Chase Utley is having an absolutely wonderful year. It's just not quite as good as Dan Uggla's.


Thursday, June 19, 2008


Jayson Stark at ESPN reports that the Marlins are shopping for a center fielder, a catcher, and bullpen help, because the Marlins believe they are in the race to stay. He says they are willing to trade arbitration eligible players (he mentions Willingham) plus prospects, for players they can control for several years. He says Johnson has been clocked at 96, and the Marlins are confident he will be back soon.

I have been thinking that Willingham's return will present a quandry for the Marlins. Right now, their lineup alternates between lefties and righties, and Gonzo has been a productive hitter, especially in the clutch. 

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Once Again NY Times Distorts History

NYT writer Jack Curry, who should know better, once again resurrected the most magical moment in the history of sports. A fan almost caught a foul ball -- and what happened? Eight runs scored. (Sometimes I say 17, it depends on how you count.) Curry, in Saturday's edition of the Times, was writing about what a great reliever Kerry Wood is. Just like Murry Chass has urged on more than one occasion that the Marlins be abolished, Curry has to make sure that it was magic, not the Marlins, that caused that wondrous event in 2003: "The Cubs came within five outs of getting to the World Series. But Steve Bartman interfered with a foul ball in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series against the Florida Marlins, and Wood lost Game 7. Well, the Marlins scored EIGHT runs in that inning after Bartman allegedly interfered. There was a lot of bad pitching and a big error by the Cubs shortstop, but how can sports writers keep blaming a fan for EIGHT runs? And Wood could have sent them to the WS the next night, in game 7, but he gave up SEVEN runs and Farmsworth another TWO . ... Josh Beckett pitched four innings in relief in that seventh game to preserve a 9-6 victory. But it's so much easier to blame the fan.

Thursday Night and the Phillies

We were in section 101 with the half-price tickets, 11th row, and we left the game bummed out, losing 3-0, failing to sweep the first place Phillies. The game started 45 minutes late, because of a drizzle that kept the tarp on the field till game time. But hey that's not bad for South Florida. From our vantage point, I was guessing 18,000 to 22,000 were there. The sections behind the bullpens were packed. But in fact, it must have been all those Phillies fans and others avoiding the high price infield tickets. The box score said attendance was 15,202 -- just a tad above normal. It was only the next morning that I woke up and thought -- hey, we saw a pretty damn good ball game. Olsen went five innings without allowing a run against the super-hitting Phils, and then those two runs scoring on a wild pitch, well, that's something to tell your grandkids about. For $11.50 a ticket, it was a damn good entertainment. The Marlins are battling. As my friend Orlando pointed out, it was sure a better performance than the Cards gave the next night, losing to the Phillies 20-2.

Friday, June 13, 2008


Since I proposed on May 13 that by June 12th we'd know more about the Marlins' chances, I feel obliged to post about what I think we've learned in the last month. They were 8 games over .500 a month ago; now they are 6, and they are still outperforming their pythagorean projections. 

1. The everyday lineup is solid at the plate. They hit well enough to contend. Barring injury, it seems as likely to me that they could improve (because of Willingham returning and Jones leaving) as go the other way. 

2. The defense is not even league average, and they are going to have to get better, or luckier, to stay in the race.

3. The starting pitching is erratic. Miller's bad starts are getting less bad, and his good starts are getting better and more frequent; likewise Olsen. Mark Wiley is doing a very good job. I am high on Tucker, but in fairness it is too soon to tell what sort of impact he will have the rest of the year.
4. The relief pitching, which started the season so strong, is still pretty good, but not as good as it was.  The starting pitching needs to get better to lessen the stress on the bullpen.

5. The NL east race has also changed significantly. I must say that I think the Phillies are by far the toughest competition they have in the division (and they are 3-3 in the season series so far). The Mets just can't seem to get untracked, and the Braves (also 3 games under .500) are snakebit. Chipper Jones has had a historically great year so far. What happens if Jones doesn't continue at his current torrid pace?  Somehow, I doubt if the NL is going to be a 4 team race. That makes the wild card more of a possibility than I had thought, and it makes the Marlins less likely to win the division. I can easily imagine Philadelphia going into September with a fairly big lead (say, 6 or 8 games).

6. Their interleague schedule also appears much tougher today than it did before the season began. Oakland and Tampa Bay are better than we thought, and Seattle is not as good. 

There are many more reasons for optimism today than there were on opening day: they are a much better team than we thought, and better without Willis and Cabrera than they were with them, which is a pretty amazing thing to me at least. 

Beinfest is just amazing at finding talent. (If he could figure out a way to bring back Perry Hill, or find a suitable replacement. . .) I suspect he will be looking to make a move before the trade deadline, looking to improve the team because he thinks they are close enough to contention to merit taking the risk.  If he makes a move in the next few weeks, then you know he thinks they can be in contention all year.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Observations on a Wed Night with Marlins leading 2-1

1 -- Isn't it great that a sesaon ticket holder since 1993 has the Griffey ball? Man, he deserves it.
2 -- Saw Tucker pitch Sunday. Good fastball, something that seemed like a great slider, just a couple of miles slower than fast ball... and good strike outs... but man, he needs to throw more strikes.
3 -- Remember when Mets whined that they always had to play Yanks in interleague play while the Marlins got the lowly Rays? Well, now the lowly Mets play the lowly Yanks while the battlin' Marlins play the super-tough Rays.
4 -- And finally, remember the Mendoza line -- whether a batter can get over .200 named in honor of shortstop Mario Mendoza. Well, now we have the Jones, named after Jacque Jones, and here in the middle of June he has managed to crawl just about .100 -- the Jones line. He's gotten up to .108.

All this while feeling good on a Wed night, where Andrew Miller had a good outing, going 7 innings, giving up one run, and Cantu hammered a couple of homers, leaving Marlins fans snickering at the Tigers trade. .... and LeBatard had Sampson on the radio, and Big Dan told the truth when he said no team with starting pitching this bad ever makes the playoffs. And he's right, but there's Tucker and Josh Johnson maybe on the way and .. well, it's only June....

Sunday, June 8, 2008


It's about time they called up Ryan Tucker--I wrote about him in my April 25 post.
Volsted will be next. 

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Big Test

June 7: OK, let's look again at French's prescient observation on May 13 about how that late May road trip and then the early June homestand was going to tell a lot: They were 3-7 on the tough road trip. They have now lost the first game of the homestand against the young, charging Reds and they have three with the Phillies coming up.
They are now 3.5 games out of first. A ton of blown saves, heart-breaking losses. This is a young, tough scrappy team. But it is not looking like a first-place team.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

June 1

For the record, the Marlins are in first place in the NL east on the first of June.  On May 13, when I wrote that the next few weeks would tell us how good they are, they were 8 games over .500. Today, they are still 8 games over .500, and 6-4 for their last 10. 
Right now, the hot hands belong to Nolasco and Cody Ross. Just about everyone on the team is contributing.