Saturday, June 27, 2015

If the only offense is Stanton, and Stanton is injured ...

Friday, June 26, 2015

All Hail the Cardinals

    Ah, man, do the Cardinals look like a great organization. 
     I went to Thursday night's game with a son -- and saw yet another humiliating loss. The same old story: no offense, mediocre pitching.
    The economics: I got in free on old fart's Thursday, but paid $32 for son's ticket. We each probably spent about $25 on concessions, so Loria plucked $82 from my wallet (and an apartment guy got another $10 for parking).
    Dan Jennings is now 14-22, according to Baseball Reference, compared to Redmond's 16-22 to start the season.
    The pitching is likely to get better pretty quick with Jose returning, but (as I feared before the season began) the offense is basically Stanton and nothing else.
    Look at those Cards: No. 2 in attendance (with 43,000 a game), compared to Marlins' 28th (with 21,000 -- a figure I'm certain is inflated with squirrelly accounting). And I'll bet the Cards price per ticket is far higher than Marlins.
    The Cards have great fan support -- and a wonderful stadium that's right downtown, near public transit, freeways and the river. Last year, visiting St. Louis, we had a short stroll from our hotel to the ballpark. Contrast that with Marlins Park, a thoroughly pleasant place that was dumped in Little Havana, far from downtown, public transit, hotels.
    At 48-24, the Cards have by far the best record right now in MLB. Yet, according to, their $120 million payroll is exceeded by 10 other teams. Translation: Smart management.
    Deadspin has Marlins last at $68 million. Remember: Stanton's big payday years are a ways off.
    At the beginning of the season, Fangraphs gave the Marlins a 27 percent chance of making the playoffs. Now it's 3 percent.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Chuck Hernandez for President -- or at least the Iowa Caucuses

    Starting on a bright note, then descending to reality:
    I usually blog only when I'm pissed, but ... to set the record straight (?!), I should note that in the past few days, we've had two important pitching match-ups that turned out well.
    One was Eovaldi and Phelps last Tuesday -- pitchers traded for each other (more or less). Eovaldi imploded -- 8 runs in 2/3 of an inning, Phelps 2 runs in 7 innings, making the front office look damn smart on that trade (at least temporarily).
    Then Saturday, we saw DeSclafani (whom we traded to get Latos) give up three runs in five innings, while Nicolino (whom we didn't give up) pitched seven shut out innings.
    Never mind the DeSclafani has an ERA of 3.48 (and years before free-agency) while Latos is at 5.37 and will likely be gone next year. These match-ups worked out at least this week.
    Probably purely fantasy, but every time I suggest that Hernandez be fired, he seems to fire up the pitching staff and they do better. At present, we have (probably temporarily) a surplus of solid starters, with various injured guys set to return. 
    Having said that, after this short, miserable road trip (1-4 in NY and Cincy), the Marlins are in fourth place -- right where they deserve to be.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

I voted

15 times at -- including Stanton, Gordon and Hechavarria. Gordon's BA is slipping, and Hechavarria doesn't have any national audience, but it'd be a true outrage if Stanton wasn't in the starting line-up.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

At least we're not the Yankees

         As much as I complain about Marlins management, I occasionally have to remind myself about how much worse I'd be feeling if I were a Yankees fan.
         Now that the vaunted Yankees have dropped two in a row at Marlins Park, let's pause to think about the team that has won far more World Series than any other.
         This year -- as usual -- their payroll is well over $200 million. (A-Rod isn't even their most expensive player this year. CC and Teixeira both earn more than his $22 million. Tanaka also pulls in $22 million and Ellsbury isn't far behind at $21 million.)
         Smart owners should be able to put together a championship team for these kind of bucks ($217 million this year overall). Instead, they haven't made the playoffs the past two seasons, and the three years before that they lost in the playoffs before even reaching the World Series.
        Maybe Yankees management should consider hacking into the Astros computers to learn how to build a solid (and cheap) team. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

How Sweet It Is

       Four of us went on the free-for-old-farts Thursdays, and well ... it's good watch an utterly pleasant ballgame. The starting pitching didn't implode -- Stanton not only whacked a rocket for a three-run HR but had a 10-foot squibber that stopped by the foul line for another RBI. So 6-0 lead going into the ninth and we don't have to fret a closer blowing it. That's a good strategy for any manager.
        Batting Stanton fourth worked just fine and I'd sure like some more thought given to having a .300 hitter near the top of the lineup more often, rather than batting eighth.
        Why not try a Gordon, Hecavarria, Yelich, Stanton at the top? I know Hech  doesn't get a lot of walks, but he seems to be improving. And he made one fabulous fielding play Thursday -- a rocket that struck the pitcher first before dribbling to him.
         This was my fourth game of the year -- and first night game. The hot dog guy across from the Clevelander has added a new Italian sausage at $5, which is worth the extra buck. On the way to the game we found ourselves lamenting how Bud seemed to dominate the beer scene at the park, but we found a booth along the third base line serving premium beers like Fat Tire and SweetWater (albeit at $14 for a large draft, meaning that Loria recovered quite a bit after giving us the free tickets).

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Problem: Opponents Too Good

          We Loria loyalists know that the problem isn't Jennings (8-14), a vast improvement over Redmond (16-22).
           The problem, dear Brutus, is in our star opponents. 
            Radio guys on Wednesday afternoon, as Marlins were getting swept by Blue Jays, said, "We just keep running into hot opponents." 
            They were warning us that we have the Yankees coming up, who are in the middle of their own hot streak. 
            So ... it's the MLB's fault. If they just gave us an easier schedule -- say the Phillies and Brewers all the time -- well, then we'd be set.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Almost at the Bottom

Sports Illustrated's latest power rankings are at

Top is the St. Louis Cards, and why not.

Among the low-payroll-we-better-be-smart teams the Pirates are 3, Royals 4, Astros 6, Rays 7, Twins 8. (Big payroll Dodgers are 2, Yanks 5.) So a bunch of cheap teams are doing pretty damn good.

And the Marlins? They're 24th -- up from 28th the previous week.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Fire Chuck Hernandez Part II

    A while back I suggested the firing of pitching coach Chuck Hernandez, mostly tongue-in-cheek as a way of saving Redmond's job.
    Since then, I keep hearing -- particularly from Van Horne and Geffner on radio -- that Hernandez is highly respected throughout baseball, even as they go on to describe another problem with the pitching.
    Well, how much is a pitching coach responsible for? And how much is the front office's analysis of pitching? This struck me this morning when The Herald reported that the Marlins' draft brain trust last year selected a high school pitcher, Tyler Kolek, now in low minors, rejecting Carlos Rodon, who is already in Bigs, playing for White Sox.
    Sure, the Marlins have had a bunch of injured pitchers. Setting that aside, many pitchers do worse with the Marlins than they do when they're with other teams.
    Matt Latos -- 3.25 ERA last year with Reds, 6.12 this year with Marlins.
    DeScalfani -- 6.27 last year with Marlins, 4.15 this year with Reds.
    Eovaldi -- 4.37 last year with Marlins, 4.16 (and 5-1) with Yankees, despite moving to AL, where ERAs trend higher.
    Phelps -- 4.38 last year with Yankees (in higher AL), 4.68 this year with Marlins.
    Cishek -- 3.17 last year, 6.98 this year.
    Dyson -- 2.14 last year, 2.93 this.
    Morris -- 1.82 last year, 3.95 this.
    Alvarez -- 2.65 last year, 6.45 this.
    There have, however, been some exceptions to this trend.
    The Marlins traded Hatcher (3.38 last year) to Dodgers, where his ERA is 6.88.
    Dan Jennings went to White Sox (1.34 last year, 7.83 this) for Andre Rienzo (5.89 last year, 3.38 this). Looking good.
    Also Koehler has improved slightly: (3.81 last, 3.72 this) as has Hand (4.38 last 4.24 this).
    But then there's Andrew Miller, a case that continues to bug me (the trade that will live in infamy).  A washout as a starter with Marlins, some genius in another organization found that he could be a great reliever. This year with Yankees, his ERA is 1.08 with 17 saves.
    Since we Loria loyalists know that the front office can do no wrong (ahem!), surely then the fault must lie with the pitching coach.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Win Now -- or Else

    When Loria fired Redmond after a slow start, he showed he was desperate to win this year. Here's why: He's mortgaged the future.
    Yes, we have Stanton signed for a (theoretical?) 13 years and Yelich for seven, but we have Latos (our most costly player this year at $9.4 million) for a mere one year, having given up a young pitcher who will be with the Reds for years.
    We have Dan Haren for one year, trading away another young pitcher. We might have Dee Gordon until he becomes a free agent in 2019, at ever-increasing arbitration rates. We're paying Morse $16 million for two years (alas) at first base and to many scouts it's not year clear whether Bour is the long-term answer. We have Prado for two years, and I'm not sure that his weak power numbers are what a championship team needs at 3B.
    What's more, this year's team is on the cheap, designed to build a quick competitor. Stanton gets $6.5 million this year and next. The Dodgers are paying all the salaries this year for Gordon and Haren ($12.5 million) and Yankees are paying $3 million of Prado's $11 million this year and next, according to (These savings are off-set by the $7 million Marlins pay for Salty to play for Dbacks.)
    At some point, Marlins payroll will skyrocket and fans aren't paying for it (See earlier blog "We are the enemy").
    Michael Jong at has a disturbing analysis of all this: "Marlins' lack of organizational depth makes unique roster situation."
    Jong points out two young prospects -- Jake Marisnick and Colin Moran -- went to Astros last season to get Cosart. He says one minor league expert has the Marlins right now 29th in terms of  prospects.
    So at the moment it's looking like now or never.