Fish Bites: With Brantly Audition, Miami Looks For Stability Behind The Plate

August 16, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen reacts before the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE

When John Buck signed a three year, $18 million dollar contract with the then Florida Marlins prior to the 2010 season, the Marlins knew that Buck would be solid behind the plate, and expected decent offensive numbers, and rightfully so, as Buck was coming off one of the best offensive seasons of his career with the Toronto Blue Jays. However, when the organization decided that Buck was going to be the man behind the plate to catch the first ever pitch at Marlins Park, they couldn't have anticipated that he would be going through a year-long slump at the plate. Though he has recently shown signs of life, Buck has hit .182 through 88 games.

Brett Hayes, who when he got his opportunity early in his young professional baseball career took advantage of it, seemed to be a solid backup to Buck after a good spring training both defensively and offensively. Hayes occasionally got the start in the middle of the week to give Buck a day off, or was in the lineup catching a day game following a game that Buck caught the night before. Hayes batted .202 in 39 games for the Miami Marlins, and while one can argue that he wasn't receiving much playing time, even the .231 average he posted after playing in 69 games in 2011 would have satisfied the Marlins. Instead, because of a lack of consistency, Hayes essentially lost his job.

On July 23, the Marlins sent Anibal Sanchez, who has since struggled with Detroit, and Omar Infante to the Tigers for pitchers Jacob Turner and Brian Flynn, along with catcher Rob Brantly. Although Turner was the key to the trade according to many major league baseball experts, Brantly is a piece that Marlins likely required for the trade to be completed. With Buck having a down year and Hayes not performing much better, Brantly was a significant acquisition for the Marlins. Brantly is a left handed hitter, something the Marlins' lineup has lacked in recent years. Miami hasn't had a left handed catcher since John Buck, who was hurt for a significant amount of time before being traded to San Diego this past offseason.

Brantly performed well with AAA New Orleans, posting a batting average that hovered around .300. He recently made his major league debut, catching Josh Johnson, though he did not get his first major league hit. With Buck having one year left on his contract, and several baseball sources explaining that they feel Brantly could be an everyday catcher, Miami could look to trade Buck, or use Brantly in a platoon role before giving him the starting job. Either way, Brantly will look to contribute to a lineup that has hit around .200 with runners in scoring position this season.

-Miami's streak of 30 consecutive scoreless innings was snapped on Wednesday, as the Marlins scored nine times in a 9-2 victory over the Phillies. Greg Dobbs had multiple hits off of Roy Halladay, including a home run, and Miami put up a six spot in the eighth inning to secure the victory.

-With a doubleheader scheduled for Wednesday in Arizona, and Jacob Turner pitching well in AAA New Orleans, the Miami Marlins are most likely going to promote Turner to pitch one of the two games. Following that, though, Miami would like to get a good look at the prospect they acquired from Detroit, and according to manager Ozzie Guillen, might consider a six man rotation to give Turner an opportunity. A six game rotation would feature Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Ricky Nolasco, Nathan Eovaldi, Wade LeBlanc, followed by Turner.

-Mark Buehrle, by earning his tenth victory of the season over the Phillies on Wednesday, has won ten or more games in 12 consecutive seasons. Buehrle has a similar streak related to the number of innings he has pitched, as he has pitched 200 or more innings for several consecutive seasons.

-Catcher Rob Brantly made his major league debut on Tuesday against the Philadelphia Phillies. Brantly went 0 for 3 at the plate but did a nice job catching Josh Johnson behind the plate. Brantly will likely get more playing time with the struggles of John Buck.

-Hanley Ramirez, who has hit just over .300 at Marlins Park but under .200 everywhere else this season, made the most of his return to Miami. Ramirez was 8-13 with five RBIs in the series. Miami will travel to Los Angeles at the end of the current road trip to face Hanley and the Dodgers for another three game series.

-Emilio Bonifacio, who is eligible to come off of the disabled list on August 19 and has participated in several rehab games, can play in the outfield upon his return. With Justin Ruggiano's back issues, Miami may be inclined to place Bonifacio back in center field, the position he played on opening day and throughout the first part of the season.

-Miami recently placed Nick Green, who was recently called up to help a banged up infield, on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained left thumb. For infield help, Miami called up utility infielder Gil Velazquez, who was hitting .314 in 101 games with New Orleans. To make room for Velazquez on the roster, the Marlins transferred Logan Morrison to the 60 day disabled list, meaning his season is over.

-Emilio Bonifacio and Donnie Murphy, who are both on a rehab assignment with the Jupiter Hammerheads, have both played well. Bonifacio has been seeing time in center field while Murphy has been playing shortstop.

-Greg Dobbs, who has been playing with a sprained left oblique, has not let the injury affect the way he performs on the field. In his last start against Roy Halladay, Dobbs had three hits, including a home run, off of his former teammate. "Whether I would be starting or coming off the bench, you always want to be able to help the team," Dobbs said. "That's what my mindset is -- I don't want to let my teammates down or the team down. I want to be there for them, do whatever I can to help. So that's what drives me."

-Carlos Lee, who has hit well with runners in scoring position since being acquired from the Houston Astros, hopes to return to Miami in 2013. The organization has expressed interest in playing Logan Morrison at first base next season, however with his most recent injury, if he is not ready for spring training, the Marlins may try to resign Lee. "I feel good here. There are a lot of positive things here,'' Lee said before Thursday's game against the Rockies. "It ain't my call. But if I had the opportunity to play here, I would have no problem what that. I like it here.''

Around The League

-Melky Cabrera's recent 50 game suspension for his use of performance enhancing drugw, during which he has played well both in the field and at the plate, has created controversy. "When it first came out, I think we all were taken aback, wondering if it was a rumor or if it had any substance. After that, I can't speak to [the rumors]," Giants general manager Brian Sabean said.

- During Atlanta's 6-0 win over San Diego, Chipper Jones, on his bobblehead night, hit two home runs, bringing his career total to 2,700.

-Felix Hernandez, often referred to as "King Felix", threw a perfect game on Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays have had four had four no-hitters thrown against them in their short history.

At Fish Stripes

-Miami improved their farm system prior to the trade deadline. Here are some minor league notes.

-Ozzie Guillen is not afraid to let a runner steal a base early in the count, and Joe Espada is an aggressive third base coach, but are the Marlins too aggressive on the bases?

-The Marlins' offense has not been consistent, but having not scored a run in 30 consecutive innings shouldn't be a surprise for a team having a down year at the plate.

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