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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Marlins at Midseason

“The Marlins don’t run like they should,” stated former Marlins manager Jeff Torborg now an analyst for Fox Sports during a telecast a few weeks ago. Torborg’s Marlins of 2002 and the first month of 2003 led the Major Leagues in stolen bases. This year the Marlins are currently 14th in National League in steals and have relied too much on a failing power game in the middle of the lineup to manufacture runs. Yet the Marlins incredibly sought to deal A.J. Burnett a great young starting pitcher to the Yankees for Gary Sheffield, who is a misfit entering the twilight of his career. Sheffield, a power hitter would have done little alleviate the Marlins problems in manufacturing runs with a short/running game. Everyone around the team would admit freely that the Marlins have underachieved this season. The big question is can the team meet expectations in the second half of the season and if the team continues to under perform will heads roll?


The Marlins starting rotation is among the best in the Major Leagues. All Star Dontrelle Willis has 13 wins and one of the best ERA’s in the National League. A.J. Burnett and Brian Moehler have been solid as well. Josh Beckett’s injuries have hurt the Marlins recently but Beckett should return to form in the second half. Al Leiter, the highest paid Marlin has been a disaster, but even Leiter’s poor play cannot diminish the strength of this staff.



Todd Jones has proven to be a good stopgap as a closer, replacing the very disappointing Guillermo Mota. The rest of the set up men, and middle relievers have been inconsistent. While the bullpen has blown games they have often times been the victims of fielding errors and poor clutch hitting.



Carlos Delgado was one of the biggest free agent signings in the MLB’s off season. Delgado has good statistics despite a late June slump but has stranded too many runners when he has had the shot to knock in critical runs. Considering the likely National League MVP is longtime Marlins first baseman Derek Lee, now starring for the Cubs, the pressure will really be on Delgado in the second half of the season to improve his overall performance.



Luis Castillo is having his best season since MVP caliber 2002 season. Castillo and Alex Gonzalez still represent a great double play tandem, and Castillo is showing great speed again on the base pads this season. Castillo has finally become comfortable hitting second and he has seen better pitches this season hitting ahead of the newly acquired Carlos Delgado.



Alex Gonzalez has sacrificed power for average as a hitter this year. His fielding has not been a rock solid as it once was but he’s still one of the best Shortstops in the league.



Mike Lowell is probably one of the nicest guys in professional sports. He’s also a home grown Miamian. Nonetheless, when you are trying to win a championship sentiment has little place in the lineup. Lowell’s poor hitting and below average fielding have cost the Marlins dearly. Either Lowell needs to improve soon or Jeff Conine needs to replace him as an everyday player.



Juan Encarnacion has been solid, if unspectacular. He provides a steady bat and is among the best fielding right fielders in the game. Encarnacion may be the only hitter in the Marlins lineup who has gotten timely hits in the first half of the season. The Marlins have spoken about trading Encarnacion for a middle reliever. I hope they don’t make the serious mistake of dealing him.



Juan Pierre has had a disappointing year as a lead off hitter, and seems to have lost a step as a base runner. Pierre is liability in Center Field because of his weak arm, though he has amazing closing speed. Nobody on this team works harder and is more consciences of his game. Expect Pierre to rebound with a strong run after the All Star break.



Cabrera has improved his fielding from the error prone 2004, and is one of the top young players in the game. He is the cornerstone of this franchise and continues to improve his hitting and leadership almost every month.



Paul LoDuca was named to the All Star team as the backup catcher. He is a solid professional backed up by Matt Treanor who is a very promising young reserve.



MLB all time pinch hit leader Lenny Harris, Damion Easley and Jeff Conine lead one of the most potent benches in the National League. This group has been very valuable providing several clutch hits in pinch hitting situations.



Trader Jack McKeon has run his course with this franchise. McKeon injected life into an underachieving team two seasons ago and led the team to the World Series Championship. McKeon’s old school methods don’t seem to be working with this team and his in game management has deteriorated substantially over the past season and a half. McKeon will not be around next season. Hitting coach Bill Robinson has been criticized by the local media and his job is probably in more immediate jeopardy than McKeon's.



The Marlins have remained fairly healthy all season with a lineup that boasts four All Stars and several more former All Stars. Yet the Marlins find themselves only two games above .500 and struggling to develop any consistency. Surely, the Marlins have all the tools to make a strong second half run, but they cannot wait until August. They need to go on a big run right after the All Star break. The Marlins have one of the best road records and one of the worst home records in Baseball. This inconsistency will persist if McKeon continues to push the wrong buttons. Considering Atlanta wil likely win the NL East again, the Marlins will be fighting for a Wild Card against better a managed club (Mets) a more argueably more talented club (Phillies) and more gritty clubs (Astros, Nationals). The Marlins better figure out what has gone wrong and fix it quickly if they want to have a shot at postseason.


egcanes said...

I thought this analysis was right on the money. Cabrera is a freeking gem. He deserves a better mentor than brain-stem Jack. How's this for a poll:

Which so-called "coach" had more faculties intact at the end of their career?

a. Don Shula
b. Ronald Reagan
c. Grandpa Jack McKeon
d. Strom Thurmond

egcanes said...

One more point on Kartik's excellent analysis. When it comes to "telling it like it is," I go to Kartik's World for the straight dope, unfiltered and unbiased. I do, however, think there is a 100,000 gorilla issue lurking at the third base position that Kartik did not address. I'd like to see a franker and more candid analyis of Lowell's troubles and the possible root causes.

Kartik said...

You must be talking about the rumors about the juice? Oh god, that's a subject for another day but a subject we will address!

Tony said...

I'm not sure firing McKeon is the answer. I do believe that we can probably trade one of our starters who we don't have the money to re- sign and get a value hitter.

Anonymous said...

This team stinks! Give up on them already!

Joe said...

The Marlins have a couple of problems. First off, they have weak middle relief and secondly they have an inconsistent lineup. I'd move Pierre down to 7th or 8th and let Castillo hit leadoff.

TJ said...

I believe that Lowell will really pick it up in the 2nd half. The steriods rumors are insulting and out of control thanks to the jokers on Miami sports radio.

JRF said...


Give up on this team already. It's a lost season for them. Maybe they can off load Leiter and Lowell in the off season and replace them with suitable young players and make a naother playoff run next year.

Anonymous said...

Todd Jones is not a real closer. If this team is going to be contender they need to make a move like they did in 2003 when they traded for Urbina. Actually with Urbina and Looper that team had two bonafide closers. This team has none.

Matt said...

The Marlins don't need to change Managers. What they need is for some veteran players like Carlos Delgado and yes, Mike Lowell to show some leadership. Al Leiter can help in this department also since he has been so lousy as a starter.

Anonymous said...

What makes you think that the Braves will easily win the division? I think they could finish 4th.

egcanes said...

Anyone who thinks Lowell can "pick it up" again in the second half must also believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. See Bret Boone for reference.

As for Leiter, he's history. Perhaps he can work suing the NL batters for whiplash as he's watched all their blasts find their way to the fish tank seats.

Anonymous said...

Do we know for sure if the Florida Marlins are paying their payroll and social security taxes? Don't assume anything!

Anonymous said...

Leiter has so little on his pitches he probably has given up very few home runs. His problem is walks and line drive hits.

Luisinweston said...

I think we need to make a couple of trades.

1- Get a solid set up man. Dangle Conine and Encarnacion as bait

2- Break up the lineup with another left handed hitter

3- Perhaps trade for a close and move Jones to a set up roll

4- Hit Pierre 6th or 7th to give some speed in the lineup and have someone on base for Gonzalez to get more RBIs.

Jill said...

The Marlins bullpen needs serious help. that would be the first concern to address if I were McKeon.

Anonymous said...

Do you really believe that McKeon should be fired? This guy led us to a World Series Trophy and we have been above .500 every year he has been here. I think he deserves the benefit of the doubt. He has earned it.

Gregg said...

I find it so funny that these announcers have no guts to criticize Al Leiter since he's part of the "announcer crowd". During this past weekend against the Cubs, they were comparing him to Greg Maddox as if Maddox was only slightly better.

Who are you trying to fool!!!

Leiter stinks!!! He's one of the worst starting pitchers in the league right now. He has no control whatsoever. His opponents on-base % is probably around .400

I believe last Sunday was the last start in his career.

Matt said...

This team has serious problems all which lead back to the overpaying of both Al Leiter and Carlos Delgado. Honestly, has Delgado been that much beter than DLee or Hee Sop Choi was? Choi is having a na excellent year with the Dodgers and Lee is probably the best player in Baseball today.

These two salaries effectively put the Marlins out of the sweepstakes for any big name players at the trade dealine. We couldn't secure Danny Graves or bring back Ygi Urbina, and both went to divsion rivals who already had better bullpens than we did.

We are in big trouble.

barryepolitics said...

aaronson might not be perfect but he knows how to get out the vote in the condos.

Kartik maybe a nice guy but in terms of politics nice guys finish last.

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I am the host of the Major League Soccer Talk and EPL Talk Podcasts and am frequent guest on other (world) football shows. I am also the publisher of various other websites including this one. I work in public/government relations in addition to my soccer work and have a keen interest in history, politics, aviation, travel,and the world around us.