Showing posts with label Miami Marlins. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Miami Marlins. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

New York Yankees win offseason with acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton

Giancarlo Stanton
The first day of the winter meetings Monday was described as "quiet" -- except, of course, for the reigning National League MVP getting traded.

The New York Yankees acquired outfielder Giancarlo Stanton from the Miami Marlins in exchange for second baseman Starlin Castro and two prospects, right-handed pitcher Jorge Guzman and infielder Jose Devers.

Stanton hit 59 home runs for the Marlins in 2017, and he's going from a pitchers' park in Miami to a hitters' paradise at Yankee Stadium. He joins a lineup that already features Aaron Judge, who hit 52 homers last season, and Gary Sanchez, who hit 33 home runs last season.

Yeah, that's some formidable right-handed power there, and you can expect the pundits to tab New York as the favorite to win the American League East in 2018, if not the favorite to win the World Series.

There's no question the Yankees just won the offseason in this trade. There is no possible acquisition that any other team can make that would be bigger than acquiring a league MVP who is coming off a 59-homer season.

But let me tap the brakes on any effort to crown the Yankees now. Remember, the Boston Red Sox won the offseason a year ago at this time with the acquisition of left-handed ace Chris Sale. And although Sale did win 17 games for Boston, and although the Red Sox did win the AL East, they were eliminated from the postseason in the first round by the eventual world champion Houston Astros.

One big, splashy offseason move does not guarantee a championship the following season by any means. There still are questions with the Yankees. Do we think Aaron Boone is going to win a World Series in his first year as a major league manager? I'm not a fan of Joe Girardi, and I don't care that the Yankees let him go, but I'm not convinced Boone is an upgrade.

Will Stanton stay healthy? He was healthy in 2017, all right, but that was only the second time in the past five years that he's appeared in 120 or more games. And will he be as effective if he's asked to DH more frequently? It wouldn't be the first time we've seen an accomplished NL slugger struggle to adjust to a new role.

The other thing I wonder about the Yankees: Can they win a title with Sanchez behind the plate? For all his offensive skill, Sanchez is brutal at one of the most important defensive positions on the field -- if not the most important. I think it's hard to win a world championship with a poor defensive catcher, and Sanchez is that. He had a league-high 16 passed balls last year, to go along with 13 errors. That's terrible.

The Yankees are concerned about Sanchez, too, and I think that's one reason they hired former major league catcher Josh Bard to be Boone's bench coach.

It remains to be seen what this Stanton move will mean, if anything, for the Red Sox. Will they make a big move before these winter meetings are over? 'Tis the season to stay tuned to the MLB Network ...

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Giancarlo Stanton has 56 home runs -- do we care?

Giancarlo Stanton
Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton has a chance to become only the sixth man in baseball history to hit 60 home runs in a season.

With 10 games to play, he has 56 home runs.

No doubt, Stanton's chase for history gives Marlins fans a good reason to watch the final week and a half of the season, despite their team being out of postseason contention. And really, as a baseball fan, I feel as though I should be interested in this. However, in all honesty, I can't bring myself to care.

The steroids era has made it impossible for me to get excited about home runs. Sixty-home run seasons were once almost unheard of in the game. Babe Ruth hit 60 in 1927, and nobody touched that figure for 34 years, when Roger Maris broke Ruth's record with 61 home runs in 1961.

Another 37 years passed, and all of a sudden we had this rash of 60-homer seasons between 1998 and 2001. Mark McGwire hit 70 in 1998 and 65 more in 1999. Sammy Sosa hit 66 in 1998, 63 in 1999 and 64 in 2001. And, of course, Barry Bonds hit 73 in 2001, a "record" that still stands.

But as we all know, everything that Bonds, McGwire and Sosa accomplished is complete crap. They were aided by drug enhancements. All three men are cheats and liars, and hopefully none of the three ever gets elected to the Hall of Fame.

What does that have to do with Stanton? Well, absolutely nothing. I have no reason to believe that Stanton is cheating or on steroids. But unfortunately, when I think of 60 home runs, I don't think of Ruth and Maris and the great feats they accomplished. I instead think of those three drug cheats -- Bonds, McGwire and Sosa -- who left a stain on the game forever.

If Maris still were the single-season home run record holder, I think I would feel much differently about Stanton's pursuit. I would be following his at-bats carefully. Perhaps I would even be cheering for him.

However, thanks to the steroids era, the mystique surrounding 60-homer seasons is long gone, As a fan, I'm now indifferent to big home run totals, and probably always will be.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Yoenis Cespedes returning to Mets; Edinson Volquez to Marlins; Jon Jay to Cubs

Yoenis Cespedes
Finally, a few free-agent signings to talk about.

The biggest bat on the market is no longer available. Yoenis Cespedes on Tuesday agreed to return to the New York Mets on a four-year, $110 million contract, pending a physical.

This is a good move for both player and team. The contract is worth $27.5 million a year on average, which is the highest ever for an outfielder in MLB history. Cespedes has to be happy with that, and he also has to be pleased by the full no-trade clause included in the deal.

It's a good move for the Mets because the commitment is four years to a 31-year-old player, not five or six years. That's palatable, especially since New York is 106-74 with Cespedes in the lineup and 18-23 without him since the Cuban slugger joined the team in a midseason trade in 2015.

Cespedes finished eighth in the NL MVP balloting in 2016. He hit .280/.354/.530 with 31 home runs, 86 RBIs and 25 doubles.

Volquez to Marlins

The Miami Marlins signed veteran right-hander Edinson Volquez to a two-year deal worth $22 million.

Volquez, 33, had a good season in 2015 for the Kansas City Royals, recording a 3.55 ERA over 200.1 innings and helping the team to its first World Series title in 30 years. But he regressed in 2016, posting a 5.37 ERA while allowing a league-high 113 earned runs.

You can't blame the Royals for moving on. Kansas City has Jason Vargas coming back from arm surgery, and he'll be their No. 4 starter behind Danny Duffy, Yordano Ventura and Ian Kennedy. The Royals still have one spot open in their rotation, and I'm sure they believe they can do better than the declining Volquez.

The Marlins? They need pitching help of any sort after the shocking death of Jose Fernandez in late September. They'll be hoping Volquez can return to his 2015 form with a return to the National League.

Jay to Cubs

I'll call it right now: If the Cubs want to repeat as World Series champions in 2017, they need to re-sign center fielder Dexter Fowler, who ignited their offense in 2016 with a .393 on-base percentage, 84 runs scored and 45 extra-base hits in 125 games.

Apparently, the Cubs are thinking of moving on, however, since they signed veteran Jon Jay to a one-year, $8 million deal. Perhaps the Cubs consider Jay a stopgap measure until prospect Albert Almora is ready for a full-time role.

Jay is capable of playing all three outfield spots, and as a left-handed hitter, he hangs in there nicely against left-handed pitching - .288 lifetime vs. righties, .284 vs. lefties. In 2016, Jay hit .311 against lefties and .282 against righties, so the Cubs don't need to platoon him.

This is a player who will do a decent job for the Cubs, but if Fowler leaves as expected, the North Siders will almost certainly have a lesser offensive player batting leadoff next season.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Rare series win: White Sox take two out of three from Marlins

Billy the Marlin
Is there any solace in beating a National League team?

The White Sox have won only two series since the All-Star break, and both of them have come against NL teams. The South Siders took two out of three closely contested games against the Miami Marlins over the weekend.

Here's a recap of how it went down:

Friday, Aug. 12
White Sox 4, Marlins 2: Left-hander Carlos Rodon has started throwing his changeup again since he returned from the disabled list.

Through his first 16 starts of the season, Rodon threw a grand total of 87 changeups, or 5.4 per game. In his last three starts -- including Friday's -- he's thrown 54 changeups, or 18 per game.

Rodon's last two starts have been excellent, and he picked up his first win since May 22 in this game. He went six innings, allowing just one run on three hits. He struck out four and walked three, and did a good job of protecting the lead after the Sox scored three runs for him in the first two innings.

The common denominator for Rodon (3-8) since his return? Rookie catcher Omar Narvaez. Unlike the veteran catchers on this team, Narvaez has Rodon using all of his pitches, and that seems to help.

Also good news from this game: David Robertson worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning with two strikeouts for his 28th save of the season. Robertson has been struggling, and it's imperative he get back on track if the Sox are going to have any success at all the final month and a half.

Saturday, Aug. 13
White Sox 8, Marlins 7: Have we mentioned that James Shields stinks? Somehow, the rest of the Sox managed to overcome another terrible outing by Shields, who squandered an early 4-0 lead and got knocked out in the fourth inning.

Shields' final line: 3 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 1 HR

His ERA with the Sox is up to 7.34 in 13 starts. We can't say this is bad luck either. His FIP is 7.11, so these horrible statistics are not a fluke. Shields is giving up a ton of hard contact, and the Sox appear to be stuck with another terrible veteran pitcher through the 2018 season.

What a travesty.

On the bright side, the Sox bullpen combined for six scoreless innings in this game, allowing the Sox to rally for the win. A two-run eighth inning was the difference. Justin Morneau's pinch-hit, RBI double tied the game at 7, and then Dioner Navarro scored on a wild pitch to provide the winning run.

Nate Jones had a 1-2-3 eighth inning, and Robertson made it stick in the ninth with his 29th save of the year. Adam Eaton threw out Giancarlo Stanton at second base to end the game. Stanton made an ill-advised decision to try to stretch a single into a double. Not only was he thrown out, but he suffered a groin injury that sent him to the disabled list for his trouble.

Sunday, Aug. 14
Marlins 5, White Sox 4: Chris Sale's bid to win the Cy Young suddenly isn't looking so good after he failed to finish off a potential series sweep.

This game was tied at 3 into the seventh inning before the Sox ace coughed up two runs to take the loss, keeping him winless since July 2.

Sale has had some bad luck since the All-Star break. Robertson has blown two games with two outs in the ninth inning that would have been wins for Sale, and Sale (14-6) has also suffered 2-1 and 3-1 losses that could have easily been wins on another day.

But this one was not the fault of Sale's teammates. He was just bad, giving up five earned runs on eight hits over 6.2 innings against the Marlins' Sunday lineup.

The Sox tried to come back and get him off the hook. Tim Anderson homered in the bottom of the ninth to cut the Miami lead to 5-4. After that, the Sox got three singles from Narvaez, Eaton and Tyler Saladino, but pinch runner Carlos Sanchez was thrown out at home plate trying to score on Saladino's base hit to end the game.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Pete Rose, Ichiro and other people with more than 4,000 professional hits

Ichiro Suzuki
Miami Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki now has 4,257 hits in his professional career -- if you combine his numbers in the major leagues with his totals from the Japanese League.

Pete Rose, of course, holds the record for hits in the majors with 4,256. Ichiro passing that figure with his combined total has provoked plenty of discussion of late, and Baseball Digest posted a graphic on its Facebook page that I thought was interesting enough to share here.

We normally think of Rose and Ty Cobb as the only two men in the 4,000-hit club, because they are the only two to achieve that milestone in the big leagues. But what if we included all the other professional leagues -- all the minor leagues in the U.S., the Japanese League, the Mexican League, the Cuban League, the Negro Leagues, so on and so forth?

Baseball Digest's research turned up nine men who achieved 4,000 professional hits. Here they are, from highest to lowest:
Julio Franco

1. Rose
Majors: 4,256
Minors: 427
Total: 4,683

2. Cobb
Majors: 4,189
Minors: 166
Total: 4,355

3. Ichiro
Majors: 2,979
Japanese League: 1,278
Total: 4,257

4. Julio Franco
Majors: 2,586
Minors: 618
Mexican League: 316
Japanese League: 286
Dominican Winter League: 267
Korean League: 156
United Baseball League: 6
Total: 4,235
Minnie Minoso

5. Hank Aaron
Majors: 3,771
Minors: 324
Total: 4,095

6. Jigger Statz
Majors: 737
Minors: 3,356
Total: 4,093

7. Minnie Minoso
Majors 1,963
Minors: 429
Cuban League: 838
Mexican League: 715
Negro League: 128
Total: 4,073

8. Derek Jeter
Majors: 3,465
Minors: 554
Total: 4,019

9. Stan Musial
Majors: 3,630
Minors: 471
Total: 4,001
Stan Musial

The first thought that comes to mind when looking at this list is, who the hell is Jigger Statz? Well, he was born in Waukegan in 1897 and played eight big-league seasons, including four with the Cubs from 1922-25. He played his last game in the majors with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1928, but he continued to play in the minors until 1942, retiring just before his 45th birthday. I guess that's how you accumulate more than 3,000 minor league hits.

There are two players with White Sox ties on the list, the first of which is Julio Franco. I remember Franco playing shortstop with the Cleveland Indians when I was a little kid in the early 1980s. He was the designated hitter for the Sox in the ill-fated, strike-shortened season of 1994. He hit .319 with 20 home runs and 98 RBIs -- and remember, that season ended the second week of August. Franco's last game in the majors came as a 48-year-old with the Atlanta Braves in 2007. He collected six hits as a 55-year-old playing in the United Baseball League two years ago. I don't know if there's a more traveled player in the history of the game than Julio Franco.

Lastly, Minoso, aka Mr. White Sox, appears at No. 7. The only thing I can say about Minnie is this: How the hell is that man still not in the Hall of Fame? That injustice needs to be corrected. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Ozzie Guillen to manage again -- in Venezuela

Ozzie Guillen
Every now and then, you hear somebody ask either White Sox manager Robin Ventura or GM Rick Hahn if they think Ozzie Guillen will manage in the major leagues again.

Their answers are usually some combination of "yes" and "I hope so."

I'm a little more skeptical. Guillen, who managed the Sox to their only World Series title in the last 99 years in 2005, left the organization on bad terms after the 2011 season. He feuded publicly with then-GM Ken Williams, apparently failing to realize the GM wins the overwhelming majority of the time in GM-manager power struggles.

Then, Guillen managed the Miami Marlins in 2012, where he praised Fidel Castro, went 69-93 and got fired after one season.

Even though Guillen has proven himself as a manager, I would be surprised if another major league team gives him a shot. With the way the media culture is today, front offices like to control the message they put out to the public, and it's just impossible to muzzle Ozzie Guillen. He's the type of man who is not afraid to let you know what he thinks, and he'll give you an honest answer to any question -- even if it's not what the questioner or the public wants to hear.

I don't necessarily think that's a bad trait to have, but teams just don't want someone with that type of personality to be the face of their franchise anymore.

It's different in Venezuela, where Guillen is a national hero, and he's getting another shot to manage in his native land. Guillen was hired Wednesday to manage the La Guaira Sharks of the Venezuelan Winter League next offseason.

The La Guaira team president and vice president said in a statement that hiring Guillen, "has been an aspiration of ours since we acquired the team in 2004."

I'm sure a lot of people will be happy to see Guillen back working in the game, even if it is just the Venezuelan league. But will it lead to something more down the line? You never know, but I doubt it.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

White Sox claim Jacob Turner off waivers from Cubs

Remember when Jacob Turner was a top-30 prospect and one of the jewels of the Detroit Tigers farm system? Well, now he's a White Sox reclamation project.

The South Siders claimed the 24-year-old off waivers from the Cubs this week. Turner did not pitch in the majors in 2015, spending most of the year on the 60-day disabled list because of a strained right flexor tendon and right shoulder inflammation.

The Tigers took the right-hander with the ninth overall pick in the 2009 amateur draft. In July 2012, Detroit made Turner the centerpiece of a deal with the Miami Marlins that netted them pitcher Anibal Sanchez and infielder Omar Infante.

Turner made 20 respectable starts for the Marlins in 2013, going 3-8 with a 3.74 ERA in 118 innings. But he imploded in 2014, compiling a 5.97 ERA in 20 games (12 starts). Miami designated him for assignment, and he eventually got traded to the Cubs for two minor leaguers.

Turner pitched even worse for the Cubs the last couple months of 2014 (6.49 ERA in 34.2 IP), and hasn't been seen in the majors since.

This is a classic example of the Sox taking a flier on a guy who is still young. He obviously has some talent, based on draft position and previous prospect rankings. It is more than likely he is just a bust, but if that's the case, the Sox will simply cut him next March. There is no harm in taking a look at a guy such as Turner in spring training.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

White Sox acquire pitcher Dan Jennings from Miami Marlins

The last time I saw Andre Rienzo pitch in person, he gave up a home run to Minnesota outfielder Oswaldo Arcia that landed on the concourse beyond the right-field bleachers at U.S. Cellular Field. That ball had to travel at least 460 feet.

White Sox fans won't have to worry about seeing such horror from Rienzo any longer, as the less-than-mediocre right-hander was traded Thursday to the Miami Marlins in exchange for left-handed relief pitcher Dan Jennings.

The Sox already added Zach Duke to be the main lefty out of their bullpen, but it never hurts to have two left-handers around to pitch in relief. Perhaps Jennings can be that second guy.

Jennings, 27, worked in 47 games last year for the Marlins. He compiled a 1.34 ERA and 1.5337 WHIP. He allowed 45 hits and struck out 38 in 40.1 IP. At one point, Jennings had a stretch of 19 consecutive appearances where he did not allow an earned run.

I don't think I'd count on Jennings to be a high-leverage reliever. He gives up a few too many hits for that. However, he's a guy who can be used in the sixth or the seventh inning. He's also the type who will probably pitch in games where the Sox are trailing, so Duke can be saved to pitch in games where the Sox are leading.

It is important for manager Robin Ventura and pitching coach Don Cooper to understand that Jennings is not a left-handed specialist, so don't use him in that way. In fact, left-handed hitters have hit more than 50 points higher than right-handed hitters against Jennings over the course of his career:

Career vs. left-handed hitters: .289/.354/.403
Career vs. right-handed hitters: .238/.322/.389

The trend of being more successful against righties also can be seen in Jennings' 2014 numbers:

2014 vs. left-handed hitters: .299/.364/.390
2014 vs. right-handed hitters: .265/.326/.398

Modern managers love to use left-handed pitchers against left-handed hitters, but Jennings is one pitcher where Ventura will need to go against the conventional wisdom. He shouldn't bring Jennings in specifically to face a left-handed hitter unless that particular hitter is especially weak against left-handed pitching.

As for Rienzo, well, the 26-year-old will not be missed on the South Side after going 4-5 with a 6.82 ERA in 18 games (11 starts) in 2014. Maybe he will benefit from a change of scenery, but he was not in the Sox' plans.