The Florida Marlins have decided to shut down ace RHP Josh Johnson for the remainder of the 2011 season, according to Jon Heyman from SI.com and the MLB Network. Johnson(3-1,1.64 ERA in 9 starts) has not pitched since May 16th after suffering inflammation in his throwing shoulder. Marlins President Larry Beinfest said the report was “news to him” but Heyman is considered one of the top reporters in all of sports. Injuries cost Johnson the final 3 weeks of the 2010 campaign due to strained muscle in his back and soreness in the same shoulder.
The Florida Marlins continue to hover around the .500 mark in the tough National League East(49-53 as of July 24th), incredible when you factor in the disastrous month of June(5-23) this young club went thru. This team has talent, specifically within the core position players. Guys like 1B Gaby Sanchez, RF Mike Stanton, INF Omar Infante and LF Logan Morrison can play and they have shown this during their tenure’s in Miami. As someone who also covers the New York Mets, the loss of your ace #1 pitcher takes a toll on pitching staff. When Josh Johnson(Right shoulder) went down in May, that really, really hurt this team. The Mets have gone thru the same scenario all year minus LH SP Johan Santana(Shoulder surgery) and it is no surprise both clubs have hovered around .500 all year. In a division with names like Halladay, Lee, Hanson, Hamels, Jurrjens,etc horses become vital and when you don’t have them in the stable, you might as well bring a knife to a gun fight. In other words, you can win but the odds are not in your favor.
EXCELLENT EMILIO: Marlins INF-OF Emilio Bonifacio has hit in 23 straight games as of July 24, good for 3rd place in franchise history. Mostly playing 3b and occasionally centerfield, he has found a home in the leadoff spot. Hitting coach Eduardo Perez has asked Bonifacio to use his speed and hit more ground balls. Boy has the 4th year Marlin responded! The super utility man ranks 7th in baseball in ground ball percentage(.698) and is 3rd in infield hits with 25. The best part about his success? He is on my fantasy team!!!!
SUPER SANCHEZ: After hitting just .200 since the All-Star Break, 1B Gaby Sanchez erupted with 2 homers and a double in a July 23rd 8-5 victory over the Mets.
DEADLINE DEALS?: The Marlins are an interesting team to look at with the 4 pm EST July 31st trade deadline approaching. They will not be adding a big name or trading one of their core young talents but I think they have two prominent names out of their solid bullpen that could really help a contender. Marlins Closer Leo Nunez(28 saves in 31 tries) and lefty only specialist Randy Choate(13 holds,1-1,1.31 ERA, 0.97 WHIP) have had strong seasons and could fetch some decent prospects in return. INF-PH Greg Dobbs(.298, 3 Home runs, 27 rbi)is another name that might interest a club as a role player.
MARLINS NOTES: Sanchez two homer games also accorded in back to back innings, making him the 10th player this season to do so. However, he is only the 2nd player to hit them with at least one man on base… Infante has heated up batting in the #2 hole behind Bonifacio, raising his season average to .261 with a .276 July. His hits are having more impact as well, he has 3 of his 4 season triples in the month. Keep in mind that Infante played most of the 1st half on a bad knee, which is reportedly feeling better…. RHSP Chris Volstad was sent down to AAA after a rough July that saw him go 1-1 with an 8.50 ERA(17 earned runs in 18 innings). The team wants him to work on his arm slot and hopes he responds in similiar fashion to his 2010 late season demotion as Volstad went 7-1 in the final two months of the year.
The Florida Marlins ended the 1st half on the up swing(5 straight wins) and have carried that over winning 3 of 4 to open the 2nd half. The managerial change and new skipper Jack McKeon’s steady hand has helped the team ,with the biggest difference being the return of superstar shortstop Hanley Ramirez’ bat. He started to wake up in June(.260 batting average) after being barely above .200 for April and May. Clearly embracing the move to the cleanup spot under the McKeon administration, he has punished the baseball in July(.383, 3 homers, 16 rbi, 1.142 OPS). 2nd year RF Mike Stanton has also supplied power(4 homers, 11 rbi in July) while improving his batting average(.286 in July, after sub .250s in 2 of 3 months). Continued improvement offensively is a key for this young team with the health of ace RHSP Josh Johnson(Shoulder) up in the air. This team can really hit when the entire roster is healthy(more on this below) and these two combine with 1B Gaby Sanchez(.283,13 home runs, 53 rbi as of July 17th) and LF Logan Morrison(.262,13,48) to form a formidable lineup.
MEDICAL UPDATES: OF Chris Coghlan(Left knee,DL since June 20th) continues to make progress rehabbing in Double A and he could return sometime this week. The 2009 National League rookie of the year has had a tough season, opening spring training with a right shoulder problem. In 65 games, Coghlan hit .230 with 5 home runs and 22 rbi in 65 games. He tore a meniscus in the same knee in July 2010 and missed the rest of the season. Meanwhile,RHRP Clay Hensley(right shoulder sprain) normally an 8th inning set up man, will start Monday’s July 18th make up game at the New York Mets in his return from the DL. The team has been down a starter with Johnson being out since May and the bullpen has performed well in Hensley’s absence.
MARLINS NOTES: Two underrated components of this team are 3B Greg Dobbs and INF-OF Emilio Bonifacio but they do it in different ways. Dobbs hits for average and puts the ball in the seats from time to time. Bonifacio’s game is his legs and ability to play all over the field. He is a pest and good guy to have on a winning team. These two combine with INF Omar Infante to give the coaches options all over the field… Mckeon continues to utilize the entire roster, looking for ways to get players both work and rest. He might be as old as your grandfather but this guy can manage!!!
The Florida Marlins have dealt with a lot in the 1st half of the 2011 campaign: The staff ace(RH Josh Johnson) has missed almost 2 months with an arm injury while their superstar shortstop(Hanley Ramirez) has been marred in a season long funk until a recent resurgence. While embroiled in the worst month record wise in franchise history(5-23 in June,lost 19 of 20), 1st year manager Edwin Rodriquez quit. Despite all of these obstacles while playing in one of the game’s top divisions, the Marlins enter the all star break at 43-48. The team appears to have responded to new(old!) skipper Jack McKeon while steadying the ship. Since the change, fans have seen a marked improvement in almost every area with a key being inserting Ramirez into the clean up spot. The Marlins just look different and I think McKeon is a big reason why. The club closed out the 1st half winning 5 straight and playing solid ball, some subtle moves(more below) have helped and the team looks ready to carry over the late momentum into the 2nd half.
HANLEY THE HAMMER: The Marlins franchise player has hit .400(24-60) with 4 homers and 18 rbi since June 21. Not coincidently that was about the same time McKeon took over(June 19th exactly) and placed him in the clean up spot. Only 3 other major leaguers have hit better during that period, Ramirez is now hitting .246 with 8 homers and 35 rbi.
CAMERON TO CENTER: Florida added a much needed veteran presence in veteran OF Mike Cameron via trade from the Boston Red Sox July 5th. The 38 year old was struggling in Boston due to both a lack of playing time and production but is one of 5 active players with 250 home runs and steals. He is still an excellent defender and can give any of the other outfielders days off when needed. Currently, he is platooning with youngster Bryan Peterson(.269 in 26 at bats) in CF and homered with a runner on in the Sunday July 10th win.
WALK OFF WINNER: 2nd year man RF Mike Stanton hit a 10th inning walk off home run to snap the club’s 7 game losing streak vs the Philadelphia Phillies July 7th, giving Florida a key 7-6 win. The shot was the first walk off of Stanton, who is bound to hit many more with his tremendous power!
MARLINS NOTES: RHSP Ricky Nolasco struck out 8 while walking 1 in a 6-1 win over the Houston Astros July 9th, marking the 26th time since 2008 Nolasco has struck out 8 or more in a game with no more than one base on balls. He ties Philadelphia Phillies LHSP Cliff Lee and trails only Phillies RH Roy Halladay, who has done so 30 times… Stanton leads the team in both homers(18) and rbi(51). Very impressive when you consider he hit 2 homers while knocking in 9 in April(68 at bats, due to Spring training injury)… RH Closer Leo Nunez has been a god send for this team, 25 saves in 28 opportunities while pitching for a last place team!!! Not an easy thing to do!… INF Emilio Bonifacio is an invaluable part of this club with his position versatility and speed but in July he has been incredible(.441,10 runs, 8 steals)
The Florida Marlins appear to have stemmed the tide with the hiring of Jack McKeon winning 5 of 11(Thru July 2nd) on a tough West coast inter league road trip. In a trek that features some great pitchers and players, Florida drew #1 aces from the Angels (RH Jered Weaver, 10-4,1.92) and Mariners( RH Felix Hernandez, 8-7,3.35). When you factor in the absence of the Marlins stud starter(Josh Johnson) those type of games are tough to win. Florida stands at 37-46 as of July 2nd and plays in the Sunday night game on ESPN at the Texas Rangers to close out inter-league play. The Marlins return home this week vs the division rival Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros to close out the 1st half.
HANLEY HOT: After being sat for missing a team meeting, Ramirez has responded well and taken off in the clean up spot. In his last 11 games, he is 15 for 40 with 3 home runs and 12 rbi. The recent hot streak has raised his season average to .230.
JOSH JOHNSON UPDATE: Johnson(3-1,1.64 in 9 starts) received some good news this Wednesday(June 29th) after he was examined by world renowned Dr. James Andrews, who found no structural damage in his injured right shoulder. The RHSP has been on the DL since May 17th also had his inflamed left knee checked this week. Johnson has been suffering from tendinitis for over 15 years and it flared up on him. The knee checked out Ok and the Marlins hope to have him back sometime in August.
GABY SANCHEZ GOING TO ARIZONA: 1B Gaby Sanchez(.292,13,46) was picked the as the Marlins all star Sunday afternoon and will be the team’s lone representative in Arizona on July 12th. Very deserving selection for the Miami native.
MARLINS NOTES: Florida recalled OF Bryan Petersen Saturday(July 2nd) and he is going to play almost everyday in right field. Petersen was up for a brief stint in May, going 0 for 4 with a walk . In 2010, he played in 23 games, mostly as defensive replacement(1 start) and hit .083. However, the 25 year old was hitting .351 with 11 home runs and 26 rbi(21 doubles) at Triple A New Orleans…. It took the Marlins 27 days to drop from 10 games over .500(30-20 on May 28th) to 10 games under (33-43 May 25th), the fastest in baseball history a team has done that…. RH Reliever Clay Hensley threw simulated game June 30rd and is close to rejoining the club
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