The Florida Marlins joined 4 of their 5 National League East division rivals in having the entire weekend series postponed and rescheduled due to Hurricane Irene. The final 2 games of Marlins series at Philadelphia vs. the Phillies has been moved to a day night doubleheader on September 15th. Citizens Bank Park and the greater Philly area saw massive flooding and electrical outages caused by the wind, so this was in the best interest of both the teams and fans. Florida stands at 59-72 going into action Monday August 29th as The Marlins open a rare 5 game series in New York vs the Mets at Citi Field.
RAMIREZ RETURN: Marlins SS Hanley Ramirez(Left shoulder sprain) will return to the lineup Wednesday August 31st after being placed on the DL August 10th. The three time all star ironically was injured trying to make a diving, over the shoulder catch August 2nd in New York vs the Mets. Ramirez tried to tough it out for a few days but rest was not enough. After shutting it down and waiting for the inflammation to decrease, he healed. Over the weekend he played 2 rehab games at Class A Jupiter, going 3 for 7 with a double, triple, 4 runs and 3 rbi. Smart move by the Marlins being cautious here, Hanley needed arthroscopic surgery on the same shoulder after the 2007 season to repair torn labrum tissue.
MACHINE GUN MIKE: Florida RF Mike Stanton’s power is well known throughout baseball, the 21 year old has 30 homers in 2011 and 52 in his first 226 major league games. But few are aware he is tied for 2nd in the National League with 9 outfield assists? 10 leads the league and is shared by 4 players.
SEPTEMBER SETUP: I always talk up Marlins skipper Jack McKeon and he showed us why again Monday August 29th. Major League teams are allowed to expand their rosters to 40 men as off Thursday September 1st. Florida is a young team with a lot of talent and very few openings for everyday players. McKeon wants to see players play, not sit and watch. “If you call them up, where are you going to play them?” McKeon said. “It’s difficult to take some of these guys out of the lineup who have been doing a real good job. The way we are right now, I’d like to put as many wins as I can on this ballclub, especially going into that new stadium. I’m not having a tryout camp. That would not be fair to the other guys on this team who have battled through this adversity, and now they have been playing a little better. If a guy is having a good year, are you going to take him out of the lineup?” The veteran skipper also cautioned about getting false reads in the season’s final(and opening) month. “There is a lot at stake for the guys who are here, and if there is any callups,” McKeon said. “You know how September is? September and Spring Training. That’s the worst time of the year to evaluate anybody, because they give you sometimes a false impression of what they can do.”
The 2011 Florida Marlins, losers of 8 of 9, are limping to the finish line as September approaches. The young team has seen injuries take their #1 pitcher(RH Josh Johnson) in May due to an inflamed right shoulder while their superstar SS Hanley Ramirez(Shoulder)was placed on the 15 day disabled list August 18th. This small market team has little margin for error and playing in a division with two of the top teams in the National League(The Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves) magnifies that fact. Mid season replacement Jack McKeon has done a solid job with this team but is not a miracle worker. The key to the final 5 weeks of this season is to develop the young core of players on this team while preparing for the 2012 campaign.
HANLEY HURTING: Marlins finally placed Ramirez on the DL August 11th with the move retroactive to August 3, meaning he has been eligible to return since August 18th. The 27 year old former batting champion makes his 2nd appearance on the DL in 2011 after a back strain in June forced him out. Ramirez’ sprained left shoulder did not respond to rest and rehab and the Marlins finally DL-ed him. Super utility man Emilio Bonifacio will continue to receive the majority of starts at SS. Shoulder injuries are tricky and do not be surprised if this is a season ender.
MILESTONE MIKE: One bright spot in this tough season has been 2nd year RF Mike Stanton. On Sunday August 21st he hit his 30th homer in 2011. Since making his MLB debut on June 8th, 2010, he has hit 51 homers in 220 games. During that time, he is tied for the 5th most home runs in the majors.
OMAR BACK: INF Omar Infante returned from his broken middle finger over this weekend and was playing 2B. With Ramirez out, look for McKeon to be creative and find ways to get Infante,Bonifacio and recent call up Jose Lopez(Who plays 3B as well as 2nd) into the lineup almost nightly.
BULLPEN BEAT UP: Besides the injuries to Johnson and Ramirez, Florida has lost 2 key bullpen components in the last week. Elite lefty set up man LHRP Randy Choate(14 holds,1.82 ERA, 1.05 WHIP) hit the DL August 18th with inflammation in his left elbow. Meanwhile, the Marlins placed RHRP Brian Sanches(4-1,3.38,1.35) on the DL the previous day due to a strain in his right elbow. The injury to Choate is particularly damaging because he was a prime candidate to be moved before the August 31st waiver deadline.
RICKY ROUGHED UP: Marlins RHSP Ricky Nolasco had 4 solid outings in a row before taking the mound August 17th in Colorado vs the Rockies. After 3 innings, he allowed 11 hits and earned runs!!! His ERA jumped from 3.72 to 4.25 after the beating. Interesting to note that Nolasco is tied for the club’s all time career strike out record entering his next start Monday August 22 with 757. Adding to the intrigue is in that game he is opposed by the current record holder, former Marlin Dontrelle Willis(2003-2007) from the Cincinnati Reds.
The strange 2011 Florida Marlins became even odder this weekend with the stunning demotion of starting LF Logan Morrison to Triple A Saturday August 13th. The 2nd year major leaguer(1st up full time with the Marlins) has 17 homers(2nd on the team) and had a major league high 26 rbi in July but has struggled with the defensive adjustment of being moved to left after coming up as a First baseman. Morrison is outspoken and one of the more popular players to be active on the social media site, Twitter(Over 60,000 followers). He memorably defended Florida OF Scott Cousins publicly after the rookie took out San Francisco Giants star C Buster Posey earlier this season with a controversial slide. None the less, both the team president and manager did not hide the off the field issues in their comments regarding the demotion. “We just thought it was in the best interests of Logan to go down and concentrate on baseball and all aspects of being a major leaguer, and work his way back,” president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said Sunday. His old school skipper(Jack McKeon) took it a step further. MUCH further.“You’ve got to leave your distractions at the door,” McKeon said. “Too many young guys come into the game today and think they’ve got it made. They’re the darlings of the media and they want to run their mouth instead of tending to business. The record books are full of one- and two-year phenoms.” Reports have also surfaced that Morrison was uncooperative about attending two events involving the club’s foundation. Regardless of this nonsense, Both Beinfest and McKeon(who also administered tough love to star SS Hanley Ramirez early in his return to managing) expressed confidence that the OF would be back with the big club soon. “I never thought we’d see Logan hitting in the .240s,” Beinfest said. “He’s a much better hitter than he has showed.”
Volstad back: Making his first start with the big club since being demoted in late July, Chris Volstad allowed 7 hits(3 home runs) and 4 runs over 6 innings while striking out 7 and walking 2(1 intentional). The righty know has 1 win and quality start in his last 5 starts as well as a 5.60 ERA and 1.51 WHIP in 2011.
MARLINS NOTES: The Marlins top prospect 3B Matt Dominguez was placed on the minor league DL with a hamstring injury. After a tough spring training possibly cost him the starting 3B job on the big club, he got off to a slow start at Triple A New Orleans before heating up as a off late. The 12th overall pick in the 2007 First- Year player draft was hitting .248 with 11 home runs and 56 rbi. Dominguez was red hot before the injury, going 12 for 21 with 9 rbi in the final 5 games… With the recent moves involving both Morrison and Helms, Florida recalled two prospects from New Orleans, infielders Jose Lopez and Ozzie Martinez. Both have had limited success with the major league team this season but Lopez in particular bares watching. The 27 year old former Colorado Rockies prospect hit .400 with 9 home runs and 30 rbi for the Zephyrs.
The Florida Marlins stand at 55-60 as of August 8th. This team has some major injuries but was clearly done in by an awful month of June(5 wins total) that really put a dent in any postseason hopes. Manager Jack Mckeon has brought the team back and the club has played good baseball since he took over in June. But this team is both too young and injured to compete with the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves within their own division, the NL East. The future looks bright in Miami but this year appears lost post season wise. Continued development of the younger players as well as a return to health from ace Josh Johnson would go along way to help this team in 2012 and beyond.
INFANTE HURTING: Marlins 2B Omar Infante was placed on the 15 day disabled list August 5th due to a fracture in his right middle finger. Infante was attempting to field a ball that hit the hand and was the only Florida player to appear in every game this season. The Marlins recalled Joe Thurston from Triple A New Orleans to fill the roster spot. The 31 year old spent 6 years in the majors and was hitting .316 with 9 homer runs and 44 rbi in 103 games(86 starts at 2B).
HANLEY HURTING: Superstar SS Hanley Ramirez missed his 5th straight game with a sprain in his left shoulder. He originally injured the shoulder attempting to make a diving the shoulder catch August 2nd and an MRI confirmed the sprain. He tore the labrum in the same shoulder in 2007 and had surgery to correct it after the season. McKeon has said that Ramirez will return when the 3 time all star decides he is ready.
AMEZAGA A MARLIN AGAIN: With Infante out for sometime with his injury, the Marlins brought back super utility guy Alfredo Amezaga in a trade involving a minor leaguer August 5th. He played for Florida from 2006-2009 and notched an rbi in his 2nd game with the team, going 2 for 5 in the August 7th contest vs the Cardinals.
MORRISON OK: Marlins LF Logan Morrison was spiked by shortstop Emilio Bonifacio’s cleats in the August 7th contest vs St. Louis. He was cut and the injury required 5 stitches. He hopes to return to play in the Tuesday August 9th game.
The Palm Beach Post is reporting that Marlins ace RHSP Josh Johnson(Shoulder) will resume a throwing program Tuesday August 2nd. SI.com and MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, one of the top baseball writers in America, reported last week that Johnson(3-1,1.64 ERA in 9 starts) would be shut down for the remainder of 2011. The big righty would have to start his rehab all over but the team has a tentative plan that would have Johnson back in the big leagues sometime in September. Keep your fingers crossed, Marlins fans!
MASSIVE MIKE: Not that I am breaking any news here but Marlins RF Mike Stanton is a beast. He was involved in 2 huge game changing plays in a 7-3 victory at the Mets Monday August 1st. He threw out speedy SS Jose Reyes at the plate in the 5th as he attempted to score on a single. Stanton then crushed a game winning grand slam of Mets closer Jason Isringhausen in the 10th. The 2nd yr major leaguer now has 25 home runs and 8 outfield assists.
MARLINS NOTES: The team did not make any moves at the July 31st Non waiver trade deadline. The team had some relievers that could be moved(closer Leo Nunez , LH specialist Randy Choate) and INF Omar Infante’s name came up but I think that management likes this team and is waiting on some key components(Johnson for one) to get 100% healthy before making any rash moves… LF Logan Morrison, mired in huge slump(.223 over the last 28 games) was back in the lineup August 1st after being rested by Florida skipper Jack McKeon. Trader Jack also rested veteran CF Mike Cameron,38, a blow August 1st, playing youngster Bryan Peterson in center although the 17 year veteran has 6 hits in his last 23 at bats with two doubles, two homers and 4 rbi. “He’s fine,” McKeon said. “Just going to give him a day. Working hard.”
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