A.J. Burnett forgot to show up again last night, at least for the 3rd inning, so we were subjected to another Nuke LaLoosh show. About the only thing worse than walking Roger Clemens with the bases loaded would be walking Randy Johnson. There may not have been two more ill-equipped hitters in the history of baseball.
A.J. went into last night's game talking about how it was the biggest start of his career. Assuming that's true (and I think that it is/was), last night's performance has to be the biggest failure of A.J.'s career. That wasn't exactly the headlining performance that you want in the front of people's minds as you head to the bargaining table as a free agent this offseason.
Sadly, this has brought us to the realization (in mid-September, in the heat of a playoff push) that the Marlins' Big Three is no more. Dontrelle Willis is still there. As Jack McKeon refers to him, the A-Train is the Marlins' "horse". Josh Beckett is still there too, at least most of the time. That at least gives the Fish a big One And A Half, which is significantly less impressive sounding than Big Three.
There are sixteen games left in the regular season. One is tonight against the Astros and Andy Pettitte. There are three games this weekend against the Phils. There are also six games remaining against the Braves and six more games total between the fading, but still dangerous, Mets and Nationals.
One has to hope that the Marlins fare well over these next two and a half weeks. If not, we're going to be subjected to some nasty offseason talk that much sooner. Headlining that talk (apparently, because it's getting louder everyday) is that Carlos Delgado will likely be moved.
I'm not sure what to make of this at this point. Carlos Delgado's salary goes from $4 million this year to $13 million next year. Apparently the Marlins have just now realized that they can't really afford to pay that much salary to one player. I don't know how they're just realizing this. There is no excuse. Even if the stadium deal (you know - where the Marlins low-balled the costs and are now screaming at the city/county/state to just cough up the nine-figure difference) had gone through, the Marlins wouldn't be realizing the benefits (extra revenue) from it for the 2006 campaign. Delgado's salary was going to be nearly impossible for them to bear (if you are to believe their version of the secret financial statements).
Maybe the situation is made worse by Mike Lowell's poor performance. Lowell has been reduced to a late-inning, defensive replacement. However, for the next two seasons that will cost a total of $18 million. For what the Fish are getting out of Lowell, that's a huge waste of money. Given what Lowell is likely to produce, it would probably be more entertaining for the Fish to broadcast that $18 million being flushed down a toilet. At least you would know what you were going to get out of the flushing experience and you wouldn't get your hopes up that things will turn around.
But that's not going to happen. What's more likely is that the Fish will try to move Lowell come November. They're unlikely to find a taker - at least not unless the Marlins are willing to pay a large chunk of Lowell's salary. Then, although Delgado is considerably more expensive, the Fish will find that Carlos Delgado's contract can be moved. I have no idea what they'll get in return. But moving Delgado could open up a hole in the lineup. My guess (or is that fear) is that Lowell will be moved to first base. At that point not only will his bat continue to be a liability, but the benefit of his strong defense will be completely lost.
Let's hope they start winning again tonight and that we don't have to talk about such things until November (at the earliest).