EDITOR'S NOTE: This was supposed to be published on Friday, and I really screwed the pooch on actually publishing it. My apologies to scootertum, but his work should be shown on the site. If any links are outdated, feel free to blame me. -MJ
University of Miami product Gaby Sanchez entered the clubhouse during Miami's 7-6 fourth of July victory over the Milwaukee Brewers and immediately found out that the Marlins were in pursuit of Astros first baseman Carlos Lee. Lee had just rejected what looked like a completed trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers, but it was evident he wouldn't have a problem playing for a contender that was not one of the 14 teams on his personal "no trade list". Sanchez likely knew that he would be the one optioned to AAA New Orleans, as both Lee and Logan Morrison can play first base. All the former All-Star did after learning of a possible deal was hit an opposite field home run to tie the game with two outs in the top of the ninth inning.
All eyes were on the Marlins in the offseason, as the additions of Reyes, Bell, and Buehrle instantly made the Marlins a more competitive team. Pressure to win continues to surround the franchise, however now more than ever. The Miami Heat, lead by "The Big Three", just brought an NBA championship trophy back to the city, and expectations for the new Miami Marlins continue to rise.
Miami's front office is not notoriously known for making many significant moves prior to the All-Star break, but the two they recently made show that they are serious about wanting this team to contend and be successful. Justin Ruggiano, an outfielder that never got an opportunity with Tampa Bay, was acquired by the Marlins because of the injury to Emilio Bonifacio. Ruggiano is currently batting .400 and has a .476 on base percentage (after 70 at-bats).
Matt Dominguez has now been blocked at third base by Hanley Ramirez, which is why he and lefty Rob Rasmussen were dealt to the Astros for Lee. The Marlins had the lowest OPS from their first baseman in all of baseball, and general manager Michael Hill stated, "We've been looking for an offensive upgrade at first base since May," which was the best month of the season for the Marlins.
Carlos Lee might just be a "rental", and Ruggiano might just be having a good year at the plate, but either way, the Marlins have made two trades with Houston that should help them compete with the Washington Nationals and the rest of the National League East for the remainder of the year.
-In a 4-0 victory over the Brewers on Thursday afternoon, Carlos Lee had two hits in his first game with the Marlins, and Mark Buehrle pitched 7 2/3 shutout innings to lead the Marlins to a series split. Greg Dobbs had a key pinch hit home run in the top of the ninth inning off of former Marlin Jose Veras.-Emilio Bonifacio began his rehab assignment on Wednesday, and went 0 for 2 at the plate while playing three innings in center field. The Marlins hope to have Bonifacio back after the All-Star break.
-Juan Carlos Oviedo will begin his 16 game rehab assignment on Saturday. Oviedo will start the assignment with Jupiter before he heads to Double-A (Jacksonville) and eventually joins the Marlins on July 23.
-An MRI on Giancarlo Stanton showed that he had a loose body in his knee. Stanton had surgery on Sunday morn
-After Heath Bell blew the save in wild 13-12 loss to the Brewers that saw the Marlins come back only to fall in extra innings, manager Ozzie Guillen stood up for Bell, who he feels has been criticized for things that he might not have control of. "Bell gave up two runs," Guillen said. "How about the rest of the [expletive] 10 or 12 runs they scored? That's why this [expletive] game is not [expletive] fair and Ozzie is talking [expletive]. No, I'm telling the truth. People forgot how [expletive] we were before that [expletive] inning. Write that [expletive] down]."
-Wade LeBlanc, who had an outstanding spring training, will now be used out of the bullpen after he was called up to replace Edward Mujica, who was placed on the disabled list with a broken toe. After spring training, Guillen said, "If spring training had a Cy Young award, LeBlanc would get it."
-Lefty Dontrelle Willis, who recently announced he is retiring, might have had his best year as a member of the Marlins, as he helped them win a World Series title in 2003. Willis was pitching in the Baltimore organization before he made the announcement.
-Carlos Lee is more likely to utilize the gaps in Marlins Park, as he has only hit five home runs this year and is on pace for a career low 10 long balls. Lee does have a career-best 25.3 percent line drive rate, though.
-Logan Morrison can now remain in left field since the Marlins acquired Carlos Lee. Morrison could have been asked to move to first base if the team traded for an outfielder. "I don't care where I'm at," Morrison said. "I'll play where they want me to. I'll catch, but we won't win many games.
-Giancarlo Stanton will not be in the lineup on Friday in St.Louis, as he continues to have knee pain. Ricky Nolasco will be on the mound for the Marlins, who look to get back to .500 before the All-Star Break.
Around The League
-Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard will likely be in the starting lineup when the Braves head to Citizens Bank Park on Friday night. Howard and Utley are now both back in the lineup after being injured.
-The All-Star Futures game is set to take place on Sunday night. Pitching will not be an issue, as the 10 pitchers on the United States team are all talented prospects.
-Managers have recently studied what is considered a "hitter's count", and have determined that while most hitters take a 3-0 pitch, a select few may choose to swing at the 3-0 offering. "It has to be a pitch in your hitting zone," Rays hitting coach Derek Shelton said. "The only pitch in your hitting zone."
-Lefty Jamie Moyer, who still has a desire to pitch at age 49, has been released by the Toronto Blue Jays.
-Washington principal owner Mark Lerner has said that the Nationals might add several pieces before the trade deadline, as money is not the primary concern. "We’ve never let dollars get in the way of us making decisions that will help this organization," Lerner told FOXSports.com before his team completed a three-game sweep of the San Francisco Giants. "That will always be our philosophy. We don’t look at it like a $100 million benchmark, or $90 million, or $120 million. We try to do smart things.
At Fish Stripes
-Marlins Double-A prospect Jake Smolinski is having an impressive year at the plate.
-Carlos Lee indirectly sent Gaby Sanchez back to AAA this year, but next season, he might not be wearing a Miami Marlins uniform.
-The Marlins traded Dominguez and Rasmussen to the Astros for Carlos Lee. Here is an extended look at what Miami will be losing.