I’ve thought of the 2013 Florida Marlins as the prologue to a really good book. Scratch that. They’re more like the first draft of a paper. You know it has problems; the punctuation is all wrong, there are typos, and the introduction is a mess. But there is also a flash of brilliance. The thesis statement is great, and really good primary sources tie your argument up with a tight bow. The problem is that the teacher reading the rough draft is Jeffrey Loria and he wants to write the third sentence of each paragraph.
Donovan Solano spared the Marlins the embarrassment of being no-hit Friday when he singled off Jordan Zimmermann with two out in the sixth. Zimmerman gave up one more hit --a two-out, ninth-inning single to Chris Coghlan --in the shutout. Ramon Martinez and Roy Halladay remain the only pitchers ever to no-hit the Marlins, but several others have come close.
The Marlins already have a pair of Cuban-born players on their roster in Jose Fernandez and Adeiny Hechavarria. They recently made an unsuccessful attempt to add a third. In need of offensive help, the Marlins a source confirmed made an offer to well regarded middle infielder Alexander Guerrero, who defected from Cuba in January. Guerrero, 26, according to a report last month had an agreement in principle with the Los Angeles Dodgers for seven years and $32 million. It was never finalized and Guerrero has since hired Scott Boras to handle negotiations.
Given a full season's worth of big league at-bats, Ed Lucas probably wouldn't hit 25 homers or slug .500. As he's demonstrated lately, he's not solely a singles hitter either. Lucas' 10th-inning solo homer was the difference in the Marlins' 4-3, series-salvaging win at Citizens Bank Park Wednesday. He took a four-game, multi-hit hitting streak into Thursday's series opener against the Nationals and was 10 for 25 (.400) on the road trip, contributing to a .321 (17-for-53) September average. Of those 17 hits, eight had gone for extra bases.
After watching him go 0 for 5 with three strikeouts Thursday, manager Mike Redmond figured it was time Christian Yelich got a breather. The left-handed hitting Yelich, who had started every game since Aug. 30 and all but one of 55 games since his promotion, was 6 for his first 25 (.240) on the current road trip. Two of his three strikeouts Thursday were against lefty Gio Gonzalez. Yelich has handled right-handers beautifully, hitting .344 (45 for 131) with a .885 on-base plus slugging percentage. The lefties have proven more problematic, holding him to a .193 average (16 for 83) and .569 OPS.
While waiting for more than 3-1/2 hours Saturday night in Washington after the scheduled first pitch for their game to begin, the Marlins apparently got a little stir-crazy.
Seeing as Jeffrey Loria is calling all the shots anyway, the simplest move by the Miami Marlins would be to have Loria appoint himself president, chief of operations and general manager and apply the salary savings to a roster upgrade. Two niggling problems with that scenario: Loria is an art dealer who has spent his career evaluating paintings and sculpture, not baseball players. And, given the distaste for Loria around town, home attendance would fall to the point where peanut vendors outnumber fans.
Jose Fernandez has had a more spectacular season. But at least a few Marlins will tell you Giancarlo Stanton deserves consideration as the team’s most valuable player despite what has been, by his Herculean standards, a so-so year. "Stanton’s the most valuable player, no question about it," said outfielder Justin Ruggiano. "If you take him out of the lineup, this team is worse than we’ve been already."
You'd figure the Tigers wouldn't have too much to complain about, given their high position in the standings. But Tigers manager Jim Leyland, ever the crusty one, lambasted the schedule-makers for having Detroit end its season in a National League ballpark, and Miami in particular. They'll be in town next weekend. Check out the Detroit News story on what Leyland had to say by clicking here. Leyland pulled few punches.
They went from all-in to "trying to get back as much talent as possible" following a 34-38 start to the 2012 season. The Miami Marlins made nine trades, waving goodbye to 13 players who were in uniform the night their new ballpark opened in Little Havana.
The Marlins are wrapping up their road schedule in the same stadium they opened. Going full circle, the Marlins are winding down their final road trip at Washington. The series concludes on Sunday at Nationals Park. It's a rough year all around, but the Marlins have really struggled away from Miami. At Marlins Park they are 31-44, compared to 25-54 in visiting parks. "It's been tough, at home and on the road," manager Mike Redmond said. "It's pretty obvious where we have to improve, it's offensively. Scoring runs, especially on the road, has been tough."
For a last-place team, the Marlins can take pride in the fact they aren't giving runs away. Considering their record, the Marlins have been remarkably good at minimizing their unearned run totals. They've yielded just 43 on the season, which is tied with the Rangers for 10th fewest of any MLB team. The Orioles pace the Majors with 28, and the Reds are second at 32. Every team ahead of Miami has a winning record, and they either will be heading to the playoffs or they remain in contention for a Wild Card berth.
Pitching has kept the Marlins close in so many games over the course of the long season. Still, the club hasn't had much to show for it simply because they haven't manufactured enough runs. The frustration is reflected by their 20-33 record in one-run games. The timely hit has been elusive all season. But the most glaring weakness is a lack of power.
Around The League
In Mariano Rivera's career, the spectacular became commonplace. But the numbers are indeed spectacular, and any sort of shaping or bundling can still elicit awe.
The A's and Braves are sitting on a magic number of one, with Oakland and Atlanta needing to wait one more day to clinch division titles.
The Phillies have decided to bring back Ryne Sandberg, who has led the club to a 18-16 mark since taking over as interim manager.
In the thick of a playoff push, the Reds have received a boost from speedy young outfielder Billy Hamilton, who has already stolen 10 bases since making his major-league debut September 3. Can he run Cincinnati right into postseason?
At Fish Stripes
The Miami Marlins are among the contingent of Major League teams scouting the latest Cuban prospect, Jose Abreu, in the Dominican Republic this weekend.
With just a few weeks left of the season, the Miami Marlins are already focused on how they can improve next year. Plus links on Juan Pierre, Adeiny Hechavarria and Jose Fernandez.
Former Miami Marlins outfielder Chris Coghlan has made it a goal to improve offensively after seeing some playing time at third base. Coghlan is a candidate to be the team's third baseman next season.
Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has taken over a large amount of front office moves, and while fans and media may not like it, there is no recourse to stop him from doing what he wants with his franchise.
Miami Marlins closer Steve Cishek has converted 26 consecutive saves, with 31 saves on the season. Cishek took over the job that last season began to a struggling Heath Bell.