Tag:Florida Marlins
Posted on: September 21, 2011 6:04 pm
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Love Letters: Remembering 9/11, and Bush's pitch

I wrote a 9/11 rembrance column on President Bush's first pitch at the World Series, and then you wrote. And you wrote. And you were so touching, I wanted to share some of your thoughts. So if you don't mind, I'm going to roll the tape here, stand aside and skip my usual replies. ...

FROM: Coleman
Re.: Bush walked out alone -- with a whole country beside him

Scott,

The article you wrote on President Bush's first pitch after 9/11 was phenomenal. You powerfully evoked all of the emotions I felt that night watching him tell our country and our enemy that we can handle any pressure or obstacle. Thanks for that.

FROM: Robert B.

You captured the moment. I'm a 64-year-old, life-time Red Sox fan who was proud to be an American that night ... and every day since!

FROM: Brian S.

Bush walked out alone -- awesome article, simply awesome. Nice work.

FROM: Ruth L.

Magnificent!!!!!

FROM: Kevin F.

Scott,

I loved your article about President George W. Bush's first pitch before Game 3 at Yankee Stadium. The perfect strike symbolism didn't escape me at the time and it resonates 10 years later. Thank you for reminding me what a moving and inspiring moment it was. And Jeter is one funny you-know-what.

FROM: Steve O.

I have tears in my eyes and a huge lump in my throat.

FROM: Andrew

Based on how Obama threw the pitch at the All-Star Game (in St. Louis in 2009), let's be glad he wasn't out there trying to throw the ball.

FROM: Neal J.

As we look back, we see that Bush had one singular response to the horrific attack, to start a meaningless war and to pitch a baseball. He and his pals are laughing all the way to the bank.

FROM: Joe L.

Scott,

Thanks for such a well-delivered, poignant article. It is a good brick in the wall of remembrance. Evil can take away a lot what is precious, including the lives of the innocent, but it cannot touch our freedom. Thank God for all the strong and the brave who still stand up for it.

FROM: Mark H.

It moved me to tears thinking back about that night. In some ways, I wish we could go back to that feeling where we were a true United States.

FROM: Eric

Damn right it was a strike. Thank you for this article. It reminded me how important it was to do what he did. We forget how he helped bring unity as a leader. No matter what anyone says, we had never been through a moment like that before Pearl Harbor, then 9/11. Nobody can talk about how it was to be in that position but him.

FROM: Ian M.

Scott,

An absolutely awesome column. That pitch for me ranks one step higher than Kirk Gibson's HR in the 1988 World Series. A single first pitch that gave the nation a sense of strength and unity. Unbelievable!

FROM: Art

The best article I've read on this, or any other, site. Beautifully written, Mr. Miller.

Likes: Where the Yankees stand on things was exhibited again when Derek Jeter said after the team clinched a playoff spot in the first game of a doubleheader Wednesday that there would be no celebrating. To the Yankees, it's about the AL East title -- and the World Series. ... Oakland giving manager Bob Melvin a three-year contract. He'll help the Athletics. ... Looking forward to seeing Moneyball. I'm sure I'll have some issues with it, but my I hear its very well done and the writing is snappy -- which is no surprise, with Aaron Sorkin writing the script. ... If you're on I-94 driving between Chicago and Milwaukee, pull off the freeway for lunch at the Mars Cheese Castle. Great cheese, lots of free samples, terrific deli and, hey ... bottom line is, you can tell everyone you've been to the Mars Cheese Castle. ... Both Gino's East and Giordano's deep dish pizza in Chicago. ... Bob Seger on iTunes. ... Glad to see Hawaii Five-O back for a new season. Fun show. ... Here We Rest, the disc from Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit that was released in the spring, is fantastic. You should check it out.

Dislikes: That is one ugly new logo for the Florida Marlins. ... The massive conference re-alignment/expansion scramble. All of these colleges should be ashamed of themselves, throwing traditional rivalries away like used napkins to flee for big paydays. ... Rough start for the Falcons of Monroe (Mich.) St. Mary Catholic Central. They're 1-2 so far, with, hopefully, a win on deck against Milan this week.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"I've been stuck here in this town, if you call it that, a year or two
"I never do what I'm supposed to do. I don't even need a name anymore,
"No one calls it out, kind of vanishes away
"No one gives a damn about the things I give a damn about
"The liberties that we can't do without seem to disappear like ghost in the air
"We don't even care, Until it vanishes away"

-- Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, Alabama Pines
Posted on: July 26, 2011 11:49 pm
Edited on: July 27, 2011 12:03 am
 

Upton draws interest, gets advice from brother

You bet the rumors swirling around his Tampa Bay batting helmet have gotten B.J. Upton's attention.

"Thanks for all the support on twitter - I appreciate it," he tweeted from his @BJUPTON2 account Tuesday -- presumably as Atlanta, or Cincinnati, or San Francisco phoned Rays general manager Andrew Friedman yet again.

"Now I know how my brother felt this offseason," came another tweet from Upton. "Anyone hear any good trade rumors this week? Still here!"

Matter of fact, the buzz grew louder Tuesday surrounding Upton. Several industry sources believe that the Rays, at 9 1/2 games out in the AL East, will dump Upton by Sunday's non-waiver trading deadline the same way they dumped Matt Garza and bade farewell to free agents Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena and Grant Balfour last winter.

Money -- the lack of it, thanks in no small part to horrible attendance in Tropicana Field -- remains a significant problem for the Rays. And it's not getting any better.

Several clubs are looking for the kind of spark that Upton (.229, 15 homers, 53 RBIs, 23 steals, terrific defense) can provide. He would fit perfectly in San Francisco, especially if the Giants fall short in their quest to obtain the Mets' Carlos Beltran. The Giants, according to sources, have interest. So, too, do the Nationals, Reds, Pirates, Braves, Cardinals and, possibly, the Phillies writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

And B.J. is right -- brother Justin, Arizona's right-fielder -- went through a similar stretch last winter.

"I've talked to him, and we laugh about it," Justin told me Tuesday afternoon. "When it comes down to it, like last winter with me, it's out of your control. You just have to do your thing, see what happens and let it be."

Difference is, Arizona is committed to Justin Upton, 23. Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers made that clear last winter when he traded third baseman Mark Reynolds to Baltimore.

The Rays? Not so much with B.J., 26 -- much to Upton's chagrin.

"Obviously, he's played his whole career there and he lives there," says Justin, who said the brothers probably talk four or five times a week. "He wants to stay. It's always tough in a situation like that."

Ubaldo Jimenez to Yankees?

The Yankees appear to be in the best shape to acquire Ubaldo Jimenez if the Rockies decide to deal him, as colleague Danny Knobler writes. Here are takes from two scouts who have watched Jimenez pitch in recent days:

Scout one: "Quite frankly, he's not the same guy as he was last year. Before, when he needed to go get it, he'd hit 100 m.p.h. When I saw him in Denver, he'd reach back to muscle up and it was 95. [Atlanta's] Scott Proctor threw harder. If Ubaldo at sea level is 91, 92, 93, he's not the same guy."

Scout two: "I can't imagine Jimenez going anywhere. If he's on a real frickin' contender, he's a No. 3 right now. Something's missing."

Short hops, quick pops and backhand stops:

--Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers says he thinks Friday and Saturday will be the key days when the trade market loosens up and the action begins. "There are a lot of clubs out there with scouts looking at minor league clubs right now," Towers says.

-- While you might think they're looking to replace injured shortstop Stephen Drew, Towers says he is looking for pitching, pitching and pitching. Starting and/or relief.

-- The Giants, Rangers and Phillies have scouts in Cincinnati this week watching Mets' outfielder Carlos Beltran as New York GM Sandy Alderson enters the crucial final days before making one of the more significant decisions in recent Mets history. "Beltran looks real good right now," another scout who has been watching in Cincinnati this week says. "He's looking healthy."

-- One club that has spoken with Washington say closer Drew Storen can be obtained in the right deal.

-- Rival clubs say the Angels are diving into the trade market after owner Arte Moreno, hesitant at first, now has approved additional payroll for midseason help. While the Angels are looking for a third baseman, they would send shortstop Erick Aybar to the Mets for Jose Reyes straight up and take the rest of Reyes' $9 million 2011 salary if New York would bite (the Mets won't, they're keeping Reyes). "I'd do that if I'm the Mets," one NL executive says. "They're not going to be able to re-sign him. How can you give Reyes 10 years at $20 million [each] when he's hurt all the time?

-- Minnesota doggedly has insisted it can win a weak AL Central for the past month, and Tuesday night's comeback win in Texas was a big one. If the Twins do decide to become sellers, don't be surprised if they make outfielder Delmon Young available.

-- Well, in a weak market for starting pitchers, look who's coming off of the disabled list to start Friday for Seattle: Erik Bedard. He'll start against Tampa Bay unless something happens between now and Friday, and you can bet the scouts will swarm Safeco Field. Bedard has not thrown more than 100 innings in a season since 2007. He's at 90 now, so look out.

-- Twins right-hander Kevin Slowey continues to draw interest and Minnesota is expected to deal him.

-- The Marlins are looking to add, not subtract, and do not intend to deal closer Leo Nunez unless blown away with an offer. Florida is moving into a new stadium next season and has not gained near the momentum they had hoped this summer.

-- About that odd timing of Milwaukee acquiring closer Francisco Rodriguez and announcing it just after the All-Star Game ended? Rodriguez's former agent Paul Kinzer had failed to submit proper paperwork for K-Rod's 10-team no-trade list -- Milwaukee was on it -- and with K-Rod having hired Scott Boras recently, Mets GM Sandy Alderson was afraid Boras would correct the oversight. That's why, once the Mets and Brewers agreed to the deal, Alderson wanted it finalized as soon as possible, afraid that if they waited even one more day, Boras would get the list in and K-Rod would have power to scotch the deal.

-- Wonder what's taking so long for the trades to happen this week? Wonder why you read some rumors that turn out to be badly off the trail? Some insight from legendary executive Pat Gillick's Hall of Fame speech on Sunday: "As a young scout I, remember hiding up in trees with binoculars so no other scout would know I was interested in a prospect. I remember the assumed names or clever tactics we all used to get an edge and throw others off the scent."

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Posted on: July 5, 2011 6:37 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2011 6:42 pm
 

Marlins acquire Mike Cameron from Boston

Faced with a fading career and no playing time, veteran outfielder Mike Cameron got his Get Out of Jail Free card Tuesday: A deal to the Florida Marlins.

The Red Sox, who designated Cameron for assignment on June 30, will receive either cash or a player to be named later.

Cameron, 38, signed a two-year, $15.5 million deal with Boston before the 2010 season as the Red Sox were looking to boost their "run prevention" after the club's defense wasn't nearly as tight in 2009 as general manager Theo Epstein and his staff expected.

Problem was, Cameron suffered an abdominal strain shortly after opening day last summer and never fully integrated himself back into Boston's plans. He missed significant time in '09 with two different stints on the disabled list, which limited him to 48 games.

When Boston signed free agent Carl Crawford last winter, with Jacoby Ellsbury and J.D. Drew already on hand, it essentially relegated Cameron to a full-time bench player in Boston. At the time Boston whacked him last week, Cameron was hitting .149 with just two doubles, three homers and nine RBIs in 33 games.

He joins a Marlins team reeling from a staggering 5-23 June that knocked them into the NL East cellar. Within that, the Marlins have serious holes in part because center fielder Chris Coghlan has seriously regressed from 2010. Currently, Florida has Dewayne Wise playing center.

Cameron is expected to replace him and be given significant playing time by manager Jack McKeon. This will be Cameron's eighth team, following his time with the White Sox, Cincinnati, Seattle, the Mets, San Diego, Milwaukee and Boston.

Posted on: July 1, 2011 2:31 pm
 

Short Hops: All-Star Soria back on track (& more)

This isn't about Mariano Rivera. It's about the Royals' Joakim Soria. But as with so many other things regarding closers, it makes Old Man Rivera look even more sensational than he already is.

OK, here goes: If I were to ask you coming into this season whose save conversion rate since July 31, 2007, is second in the game to Rivera's, whom would you say?

Yes, the answer is Soria, a two-time All-Star whose 92.4 rate since that date is second among all major-league closers to Rivera's 92.9.

Now, here's just one more piece of evidence that Rivera is superhuman: In late May, Soria suddenly fell into a hole and blew five of his first 12 save opportunities. It got so bad that after he blew consecutive save opportunities in late May, he admirably went to manager Ned Yost and essentially removed himself from the role. Something that in all of these years Rivera has never had to do.

Yost handled the situation superbly: He gave Soria a few days off to clear out his mind, eased him back into non-save situations in which he could pitch two innings at a time (to work on his fastball command) and then plugged Soria back into the ninth in early June.

The results, again, have been spectacular: Soria has worked 12 shutout innings in his past 10 games and is six-for-six in save opportunities, while holding opponents to an .098 batting average (4 for 41).

"It was not a big change at all," Soria says. "It was just a mind-set, getting my confidence back. Mechanics-wise, there was nothing to change. I looked at video, and I'm not doing anything different."

Soria isn't a closer with overpowering stuff, nor does he have one lethal weapon like Rivera's cutter. Instead, he throws all of his pitches -- fastball, curve, slider and change. Because he depends on location, problems can arise if he goes four or five days between outings.

"He's a command-guy closer," Yost says. "Command guys rebound so much better from that than stuff guys do.

"I've never had stuff guys who have gone through this rebound -- Derrick Turnbow, Danny Kolb, even Eric Gagne."

Soria, 27, right now is reinforcing Yost's history.

"Bad things make you stronger," Soria says. "If you've always been good, maybe you don't realize what it takes to be good until you go bad."

As for Rivera, who mostly has been immune to slumps throughout his Hall of Fame career, Soria, like everyone else, just marvels.

"He's the best," Soria says. "He's done everything in his career, and I don't think he's ever struggled."

-- Soria and Rivera have met once, at the All-Star Game in Yankee Stadium in 2008. But they did not exchange trade secrets. "We didn't talk about the game," Soria says. "We just talked about life."

-- Though they clearly could use reinforcements for a beat-up bullpen, and manager Charlie Manuel wants a right-handed bat (the Padres' Ryan Ludwick? The Twins' Michael Cuddyer?), the Phillies are telling teams that they they're tapped out financially. They're close to the luxury tax threshold and do not want to cross it. Of course, they were also telling rivals the same thing last winter before they shocked everyone by signing free agent pitcher Cliff Lee.

-- Emphasizing Philadelphia's need for a right-handed bat: The Phillies are hitting .196 in their past 13 games against lefty starters.

-- The Red Sox, too, say they do not want to push their luxury tax any higher than it already is, which suggests no pricey mid-season reinforcements. But recent history under general manager Theo Epstein also suggests the Red Sox get what they need and, right now, their internal discussions are centering on a hitter. They're not getting much out of right field, which led to the release of Mike Cameron this week.

-- Mariners officials are scheduled to talk via conference call next week to discuss final strategy leading into the July trade deadline. Though Seattle has done a nice job of staying competitive, the recent 3-7 tailspin could spur the M's to deal Erik Bedard. Though Bedard landed on the disabled list this week with a knee sprain, he could be a very good trade chip.

-- Thanks to Milwaukee's road woes, the Cardinals are back in a tie for first place in the NL Central entering the weekend. But one scout who has watched St. Louis recently remains unimpressed. "Colby Rasmus is so inconsistent," the scout says. "Sometimes it looks like he's not even there at the plate." Then there are the times when Rasmus looks like he is there, like when he homered Tuesday and Wednesday in Baltimore.

-- In St. Louis' defense, the Cards have been so beat up this year, but while Albert Pujols is out, at least third baseman David Freese has returned from the disabled list. "Daniel Descalso was playing third base when I saw St. Louis," the scout says. "And I'm thinking, 'These are the St. Louis Cardinals?'"

-- This is the Phillies' rotation we expected: Philadelphia starters compiled a 1.96 ERA in June. Which, according to STATS LLC makes the Phils the first team since July of 1992 to go a full month under 2.00. Both Atlanta and the Chicago Cubs did it back in July, '92.

-- Quietly, Padres outfielder Ryan Ludwick is resurfacing and showing why he will be in demand on the July trade market. He's at 51 RBIs in 78 games after finishing April with a .198 batting average and a .294 on-base percentage. That followed his miserable debut in San Diego last summer when he hit .211 with six homers in 59 games after his acquisition from St. Louis. There have been differences between this year and last: A calf injury nagged at him last year, while this April he was hitting the ball hard, just right at people. "I played terrible last year," Ludwick says. "I wouldn't say I've been playing great this year, but I've been doing what I've been known to do and what they brought me over to do. Drive in runs. Last year, every time I came to the ballpark I was stressed out, wondering if I was going to be able to make contact."

-- Know what's funny? The cover of Florida's media guide is a collage of small photos of historical highlights in Marlins history. And right there front and center, albeit at the bottom, is a photo of Jack McKeon in uniform. No need for updating there. Well, except he's wearing No. 15, and this time around, he's No. 25.

-- Angels manger Mike Scioscia, by the way, is still marveling about McKeon's enthusiasm for managing at 80. Scioscia and the Angels saw McKeon in his 2011 debut a couple of weeks back.

Likes: All-Star voting results coming soon, with the game soon to follow. ... Derek Jeter nearly set to resume his chase for 3,000 hits. ... Kerry Wood off of the DL and back in the Cubs' bullpen. ... From rocky NFL labor talks to rocky NBA labor talks to ... baseball labor talks still quiet and positive. ... The smell of neighborhood grills over the Fourth of July weekend. ... Modern Family boxed set, season 1. I'm just catching up to a show I haven't watched. Very funny. ... My sister's frozen key lime pie. Delicious.

Dislikes: Missed Jason Isbell coming through my town last week because of work commitments. His latest disc with his band, the 400 Unit, Here We Rest, is outstanding.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Driving in to Darlington County
"Me and Wayne on the Fourth of July
"Driving in to Darlington County
"Looking for some work on the county line
"We drove down from New York City
"Where the girls are pretty but they just want to know your name
"Driving in to Darlington City
"Got a union connection with an uncle of Wayne's
"We drove eight hundred miles without seeing a cop
"We got rock and roll music blasting off the T-top singing. ..."

-- Bruce Springsteen, Darlington County

Posted on: June 20, 2011 8:23 pm
Edited on: June 20, 2011 8:43 pm
 

San Diego's home plate freeze-out

The Padres have been shut out a major-league leading 12 times so far, and it ain't no accident.

Chris Denorfia punched a leadoff triple Saturday against Scott Baker in Minnesota. Being the first inning, the Twins played their infield back, conceding the run.

But Jason Bartlett struck out swinging. Then Chase Headley struck out swinging. And then Ryan Ludwick flied out.

Nine innings later, the final was Twins 1, Padres 0.

Enough about their troubles in Petco Park.

This is a bad, bad offensive club at any park, your choice.

The Padres can't even come up with eight hitters to bat in front of their pitcher when they're safely ensconced in the National League.

In the AL? Forget it. They've got no chance at fielding a presentable designated hitter.

The Padres' 242 runs entering Monday's series opener in Boston ranked last in the majors. Slugging percentage? Last. Total bases, triples and OPS? Last, last and last.

Losers of five in a row into Monday's Fenway Park tour, the Padres, who also have lost nine of 11, are hitting .225 this season with runners in scoring position.

In other words, about the same as their overall .232 batting average (29th in the majors).

With the halfway mark of their season not arriving until next Tuesday's game against Kansas City, the Padres are on pace to break their club record for shutouts (23, set as an expansion team in 1969 and then equaled in 1976).

The major-league record for being shut out is held by the 1908 St. Louis Cardinals, who were blanked 33 times.

Meantime, in the fourth inning Monday night in Fenway, the Padres failed to score after a leadoff triple for the second time in three games: Jesus Guzman roped one against Andrew Miller to start the fourth, before Orlando Hudson popped to right field, Cameron Maybin fanned swinging and Anthony Rizzo flied to left.

The beat goes on.

Likes:
Jack McKeon managing at 80 is going to be fascinating.

Dislikes: Absolutely crushed over the death of Clarence Clemons of the E Street Band, who left us Saturday far too early at the age of 69. It's hard to believe we'll never see him up on stage again, blowing those beautiful and powerful notes from his saxophone, goofing with Bruce Springsteen, lending such great soul to the mix. Didn't know if I could make it through, but I dug out the 2000 Madison Square Garden and the 2009 London Calling DVDs last night and punched in several tracks, and realized again that these tours, that band and that Big Man have been such a gift over all these years. It is so sad that we'll never again see that band in that configuration on tour, but we'll be able to remember what the mind begins to forget -- the fun, the energy, the inspirational moments and the poetic lyrics -- through the magic of modern technology and, for that, I'm eternally grateful.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"We played king of the mountain out on the end
"The world come chargin' up the hill, and we were women and men
"Now there's so much that time, time and memory fade away
"We got our own roads to ride, and chances we gotta take
"We stood side by side, each one fightin' for the other
"We said until we died we'd always be blood brothers
"Now the hardness of this world slowly grinds your dreams away
"Makin' a fool's joke out of the promises we make
"And what once seemed black and white turns to so many shades of gray
"We lose ourselves in work to do, work to do and bills to pay
"And it's a ride, ride, ride, and there ain't much cover
"With no one runnin' by your side my blood brother
"On through the houses of the dead past those fallen in their tracks
"Always movin' ahead and never lookin' back
"Now I don't know how I feel, I don't know how I feel tonight
"If I've fallen 'neath the wheel, if I've lost or I've gained sight
"I don't even know why, I don't why I made this call
"Or if any of this matters anymore after all
"But the stars are burnin' bright like some mystery uncovered
"I'll keep movin' through the dark with you in my heart
"My blood brother"

-- Bruce Springsteen, Blood Brothers



Posted on: June 17, 2011 6:41 pm
 

Marlins managerial change surely coming soon

From the start of this season, no manager was more disposable than Florida's Edwin Rodriguez.

Hired mid-stream last summer without any prior big-league experience to replace the fired Fredi Gonzalez, the Marlins thought enough of Rodriguez to remove the "interim" tag and make him their permanent manager for 2011 ... but they didn't think enough of him to give him more than a one-year contract.

Now, with the Marlins in their worst skid since 1998, club history tells us that Rodriguez is a dead man walking.

No owner in the game has run through more managers than Florida's Jeffrey Loria since the start of the 2003 season.

Perhaps it's because, the first time he whacked a manager (Jeff Torborg), Jack McKeon came in on a puff of cigar smoke and led the Marlins to their second World Series win in five seasons.

Maybe it's because the impatient and temperamental Loria simply is George Steinbrenner on training wheels.

Whatever, Torborg was gassed in May of '03. McKeon, riding his World Series triumph and gutsy pitch-Josh-Beckett-in-Game-6 decision, managed two more seasons and left of his own accord following '05. Joe Girardi managed in '06 but clashed with Loria and was fired after just one season. Gonzalez made it through three full seasons but was fired last June.

Now, coming up on the one-year anniversary of the Gonzalez bloodletting (June 23), it is Rodriguez who is moving toward the guillotine. His Marlins have lost seven in a row, 15 of their past 16 and 18 of 21.

They already sacrificed a coach, firing hitting instructor John Mallee on June 8.

How'd that work out? They're 1-8 since.

The Marlins have lost close (six of seven losses between June 1 and 9, amazingly, were one-run defeats) and they have lost in routs (the Phillies hammered them by a combined score of 17-2 over two games of a four-game Philadelphia sweep this week).

With ace Josh Johnson on the disabled list (again), Hanley Ramirez producing a career-worst season (.205, four homers, 17 RBIs) and third baseman of the future Matt Dominguez hitting just .190 this spring and then fracturing an elbow, a club that needed everything to go right to contend hasn't come close to either.

Most things have gone wrong -- they shipped Chris Coghlan (.230) back to the minors on Friday -- and they've dropped behind the Nationals into the NL East cellar.

With Loria, this usually means goodbye, manager.

And barring a sudden turnaround this weekend against in-state rival Tampa Bay, sometime before the start of Monday's brief, three-game homestand against the Angels is a pretty good guess as to when.

Only question is, where the Marlins will turn.

Loria could go back to old buddy Bobby Valentine, the hot rumor a year ago, and see if their two nations can come together this time around.

He also could wait until this winter and see what happens with Ozzie Guillen. The White Sox manager -- and former Marlins coach -- remains a highly popular figure in Loria circles. And being that Ozzie keeps a home in the Miami area, the Marlins wouldn't be the worst thing in the world for him if things go south on the South Side of Chicago. Guillen's contract runs through this summer, with an option for 2012.

When this season started, the Marlins thought they could win now, and they felt like they had to win now because they needed to build momentum and translate that into ticket sales when they move into their new park next year.

Those plans are now in shambles. And when that happens in South Florida, usually, whatever comes next involves Loria, and an itchy trigger finger.

Posted on: June 1, 2011 6:57 pm
Edited on: June 1, 2011 7:37 pm
 

Love Letters: Posey, Pujols and more

Only good thing about these collisions between the readers and me is, MY home plate involves pepperoni pizza and Cheetos instead of catcher's gear. ...

FROM: Tom O.
Re.: Posey's injury is sad, but baseball rules are just fine

I disagree with your assessment of the Posey/Cousins play. Cousins lowered his shoulder, barreled into Posey and had no visible intention to even touch home plate. I can't even see how anyone would come to the conclusion that Cousins was not trying to mow down the catcher. The NFL has taken numerous steps to protect its defenseless players -- just ask James Harrison. Why can't MLB do the same? Now, we have rising popular star Buster Posey out for the season and maybe never the same player, while Scott Cousins continues to be a mediocre pinch-itter. Great for the game. As a baseball writer you, in my opinion are wrong.

No disagreement with your premise that Cousins wasn't looking for impact. He was. My point is, Posey clearly was moving toward the plate as well. The runner has a right to the plate. And Cousins landed on the plate.

FROM: Jason

I agree the rule doesn't need to be changed because Posey was not blocking the plate. It was a dirty play no matter how much some of you a-holes try to defend it.

You're wrong. And watch who you're calling an a-hole, or I'll have Scott Cousins come mow YOU over.

FROM: Tony

Here's a thought. If you think that a collision at home plate could be dangerous and you could get hurt -- STAY IN THE DUGOUT!

Or go play for the Athletics, where GM Billy Beane has advised Kurt Suzuki to stay out of the way and make sweep tags.

FROM: A. C. K.

Sorry Scott, but I don't agree that Buster Posey should be on the disabled list because of your macho attitude! All you have to do is place another plate three feet off to the side with a line drawn perpendicular to the original home plate and add a commitment line 30 feet towards third base. That way, once the runner crosses the commitment line, it becomes a force out at home with no possibility of collision between the runner and the catcher.

A "commitment line"? Come on, you know how guys are with commitments. What are you, somebody's longtime girlfriend waiting for a ring?

FROM: Bill C.

Let me get this straight -- it is illegal for a baserunner to run into a second baseman or shortstop who is trying to make a play on a grounder, but it is perfectly legal for a baserunner to run into the catcher who is trying to catch a throw. Somehow the logic eludes me. It was illegal for A-Rod to swat at Bronson Arroyo's glove running down first base and knocking the ball free in Game 6 in 2004, but it is perfectly legal for the baserunner to bowl over the catcher and knock the ball free? What am I missing?

On the other hand, it IS legal for a runner to slide hard and take out the second baseman on a potential double play.

FROM: Stephen F.

Scott, you are a dumba. This situation would have been an ejection in all levels of baseball through high school, including travel, etc. Our kids watch these players and mimic them. I have seen six get ejected this season alone in higher levels of youth and young adult baseball. It is not a necessary part of the game and safety is first. Follow the high school or travel rules as a model and move on before we watch someone get killed at the plate.

Bad comparison, because it's not the same game. They use aluminum bats in high school, too. Do that in the majors, we'd be watching a pitcher get killed. But I commend you on your use of urban slang.

FROM:
Willie
Re.: What's the deal with Pujols' lumber slumber?

What a bogus headline. If that is what this scout gets paid for, I'm ready to tell teams where they can start sending my check. I can tell you that's NOT the problem, just from being a Cardinals fan all these years and watching the games. Albert Pujols gets into a slump every year, usually early in the season, because he's pulling everything. NOTHING NEW HERE!

Move along, move along.

FROM: Steve T.

The article on Albert Pujols' slow start is fair because it is what it is ... a slow start. Any of the [message-board] posters who think he won't still get his big contract are in La La Land!

I can tell you this: Judging from my e-mail in-box, the population of La La Land is rapidly increasing.

FROM: Paul D.
Re.: Weekend Buzz: Interleague play -- painful to watch, worse to play

I think there should be 15 teams in both the American & the National League. Each league has only one division. Each team plays 150 games, 10 against each team, 5 home, 5 away. The first 4 teams in the division make the playoffs. With this format, there would be a TRUE American and National League Champion. They would play all the teams the same amount of times.

That means interleague play every day of the season. Because if not, with an odd number of teams in each league, somebody has to have a day off every day of the week. So let's pass on your idea.

FROM: Jay

Throwback uniforms: this to prove you cannot please everyone - I LOVED 'em !!!!!!!!

Oh come on. You must dig leisure suits and mullets, too?

FROM: Scott

Respectfully, interleague play is just fine and a lot of fun to watch. I think perhaps the Cubs have more problems than a couple of games against the Red Sox -- those uniforms were so bad they were almost good.

Blech.

FROM: Patrick B.

Help me understand why baseball people complain about interleague schedule unfairness when by and large, the most popular sport, the NFL, is fine with it. The Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers both finished 10-6, and were competing for Wild Cards in the NFC. They shared four common opponents Atlanta, San Fran, Detroit and Washington. This didn't cause NFL writers/teams/fans to go crazy. Were the Buccaneers disadvantaged? I didn't hear a peep about it. Why is it NFL teams can play almost completely different schedules and it's no cause for a massive restructuring, yet MLB's unbalanced schedule is this awful, awful thing?

For starters, because all NFL teams play under the same rules. When an AL club with a strong DH hosts an NL club with a utility infielder masquerading as a DH, the playing field is woefully tilted. Any other questions?

FROM: Matt

Got to agree with you about interleague play, but what I'd rather see instead of dropping it completely is seeing each team play every team once a year. For instance, if the Braves are making a West Coast swing, add in the A's or Angels for a three-game series. Of course, I'm still for a balanced schedule in both leagues as well. It does get old at the end of the season when we're seeing the same players opposing for the 16th, 17th, and 18th times.

Put me down for the balanced schedule.

FROM: Shawn

I couldn't agree more. Interleague needs to go, pitchers need to be baseball players in the American league and the unbalanced schedule needs to go away.

Bing, bam, boom. You are one enlightened dude.

FROM: Joe W.

I am 52 years old and a lifelong Giants fan. I hate interleague play. I have hated it from the beginning back in 1997. The winner of the All-Star game determining which league gets the extra home game in the World Series is ridiculous, but that's another subject. ... If I were commissioner I would do away with interleague play, the designated hitter, the winner of the All-Star game determining home field advantage in the World Series, fans voting for the All-Star game players and Velcro batting gloves. By the way, I hate interleague play. I just wanted to vent a little and sound off. Thanks. Out.

I understand, and I feel your anger on almost every point. But ... Velcro batting gloves? Now you're just looking to kick the dog when you get home from work.

Likes: Marlins rookie Logan Morrison on Twitter, @LoMoMarlins. ... The drama of Justin Smoak's three-run homer Tuesday night with the Mariners four outs from losing to Baltimore. Cool things are going on in Seattle right now. ... Derek Jeter's run at 3,000 hits. Amazing that no Yankee has ever done it. ... Cartoon Gold, from Go Go Boots, the latest disc from the Drive-By Truckers. ... Old REO Speedwagon, back in the You Can Tune a Piano, But You Can't Tuna Fish era.

Dislikes: Sorry, but The Hangover: Part II is absolutely brutal. ... Another report that cell phones might cause brain cancer. Great, one more thing to worry about. ... Chatty people at the gym, particularly on cell phones while "working out."

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Someday I'll be living in a big ol' city
"And all you're ever going to be is mean
"Someday I'll be big enough so you can't hit me
"And all you're ever going to be is mean
"Why you gotta be so mean?"

-- Taylor Swift, Mean

 


Posted on: May 9, 2011 11:53 pm
 

Short Hops: 3 thoughts on the Marlins (and more)

The Florida Marlins are off to the best start in club history, Josh Johnson is pitching like a Cy Young winner and Anibal Sanchez is threatening to re-visit No-Hitter Land. A lot is going right for the Marlins, and it couldn't be coming at a better time. This summer isn't just about this summer for Florida. With a new stadium set to open in 2012, these aren't your typical cut-rate Marlins. They need to stir interest and sell tickets and bring a strong product into their new ballpark to set a solid foundation.

This isn't to say the Marlins are looking to flex their financial muscle. But they're definitely looking to win, and behind Johnson, Sanchez and Ricky Nolasco, they've got three starters going in the right direction. And, in Leo Nunez, they've got one closer consistently nailing things down.

Three thoughts on the Marlins as they tangle with Philadelphia this week:

1. Johnson is incorporating a slower curve with the help of Marlins pitching coach Randy St. Claire in an effort to work deeper into games. He's thrown more than 200 innings in his career just once, in 2009, and both Johnson and the Marlins would like to get him to that level consistently. Already, he throws a fastball, slider, sinker and change-up. With a fastball that already kills at 94, 95 m.p.h., the curve that is clocked around 77, 78 is leaving hitters with little chance.

2. The Marlins are off to their best start with All-Star Hanley Ramirez off to one of his worst, which bodes well for them for later this summer. Because, as one scout says, "Hanley will hit. He always hits." The man who has hit the most home runs of any major-league shortstop since 2006 started the season with none in his first 23 games. He's currently hitting just .195 with one homer and 13 RBI. While the Marlins wait, first baseman and team leader Gaby Sanchez, plugs along as one of the game's most underrated players.

3. Without question, the biggest difference in this year's Marlins is at the back end of games. Florida's bullpen is second in the NL with a 2.59 ERA. Last year's Marlins ranked ninth in the league with a 4.01 ERA and ninth in saves (39). This year, Nunez's 11 saves (the Marlins' total) are tied for third in the NL. Brian Sanches, Randy Choate and Ryan Webb have been instrumental in the improvement.

-- The Marlins are expected to pursue a third baseman at some point this summer, but veteran Greg Dobbs has been outstanding there in the wake of the fractured elbow prospect Matt Dominguez suffered late in spring training. Dobbs' steady glove and .359 batting average and .411 on-base percentage have eased some of the Marlins' pain.

-- One scout, who was in Seattle for this weekend's White Sox-Mariners series, on Milton  Bradley being designated for assignment Monday: "He was going through the motions. Good for Jack [Zduriecik, Mariners' general manager]."

-- Among the reasons to believe Cleveland is for real: On Monday, the Indians' +48 run differential was best in the majors. Next-closest in the American League: The Yankees, at +38. Next-closest in baseball: St. Louis at +44, followed by the Phillies, who were even with the Yanks at +38.

-- Those watching closely the final two months of last season know that Cleveland right-hander Justin Masterson's 5-0 start is no fluke. Masterson's 2.86 ERA from Aug. 4 through season's end in 2010 ranked ninth in the AL. Currently, his 2.11 ERA is fifth in the AL. "The last six weeks last year, he was able to repeat his delivery more often," Indians manager Manny Acta says. Part of that is, pitching coach Tim Belcher has helped him institute a series of checkpoints in his windup and deliver, which allows the 6-6 Masterson to be more efficient at making in-game adjustments. It's also allowed Masterson to reduce his walks. Over 47 innings pitched this year, he has 34 strikeouts and just 13 walks.

-- The Twins' -68 was by far the game's worst run differential. Nobody's even close: Next-worst are the Dodgers and Houston, each at -35.

-- One scout on the Cubs: "They have no speed, and not much power."

-- The Padres have been shut out a stunning eight times in 34 games, twice as much as anybody else (the Nationals, Red Sox, White Sox and Athletics each has been shut out four times). Indications are, Petco Park is getting in the heads of newcomers like Brad Hawpe (signed over the winter) and Ryan Ludwick (acquired at last July's trading deadline) and others.

-- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle on Petco, where he's also managed several games as Colorado's skipper: "I think the worst damage it did when it was first built was to the home team. There was wailing and gnashing of teeth you could hear from across the other side when this thing was first built. I think it's been tinkered with since. I think perception is so huge in this game. The first thing hitters look for are flags and distances. Actually, I just try and get them focused saying, 'Look at all that grass out there. There's room for all kinds of hits. Let's focus on that.'"

-- More Hurdle on Petco Park: "I've got to believe if you put Tony Gwynn in here, you know what? He'd get a lot of hits in here. I do believe that, unfortunately, there's this thing called the male ego, and if that number's big out there [on the outfield fence] and you think, 'I’m still going to hit it out', before you know it, you're doing more grunting and manipulating your swing just to try and hit it out rather than just hit it hard."

-- Outstanding: Angels outfielder Torii Hunter's at-bat music for his first trip to the plate at home each night is the theme from Sanford & Son, the old television show. It started as a joke last week when Hunter was in a slump.

-- Great line from Larry Stone, the excellent baseball writer for the Seattle Times, on the rise of Justin Smoak: "The Mariners are trying to coax Pat Meares out of retirement so they can do it with Smoak & Meares."

-- White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen on counterpart Mike Scioscia earning his 1,000th win managing the Angels on Sunday: "You manage for 100 years, you will have 1,000 wins." Seriously, Guillen added, "I think it's a great thing, especially when you manage the same ballclub."

Likes: The "20 Greatest Games" on MLB Network is a cool feature. Watched the network's treatment of Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, Jack Morris' 1-0 classic for the Twins over Atlanta, with Morris and John Smoltz in studio. It's worth seeing. ... White Sox outfielder Mark Teahen says he still keeps in touch with some of his ex-Royals' teammates -- the few left from when he was there. ... Glad to see LaTroy Hawkins (shoulder surgery) back in Milwaukee's bullpen. ... Latest CD rave: The Sound of Love: The Very Best of Darlene Love. Man, that woman can sing.

Dislikes: Gatorade used to be so easy. You worked out, you sweated, you rehydrated. But now, there's Gatorade for before your workout (Prime), during/after your workout (Perform) and post-workout (Recovery). What if you drink them in the wrong order. Then what happens? ... So now Kate Hudson is in this Something Borrowed? Does she choose her roles, or handlers? And to think, there was such hope for her after Almost Famous.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"You're the reason I changed to beer from soda pop
"And you're the reason I never get to go to the beauty shop
"You're the reason our kids are ugly little darlins'
"Oh, but looks ain't everything
"And money ain't everything"

-- Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn, (You're the Reason) Our Kids Are Ugly

 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com