10 Questions: Florida Marlins
It’s been a month since the Marlins took two of three from the Mets in Shea, and the Mets haven’t been to Miami since May (wow, where did the time go?). For Marlins fans, it’s been a foregone conclusion that the postseason was a pipe dream for quite some time — but the Fish suddenly find themselves in perfect position to play the role of spoilers. While they may not participate in the postseason, the Marlins may very well influence who does. It all begins with a four-game set in Florida starting tonight, before hosting the first-place Cubs for a three-game series, until finally finishing the season with another three at Shea.
To get an inside feel for what’s going on with the Fish, we’ve once again called on Craig at the FishStripes blog to provide us with perspective from the Marlins’ point of view.
1. What’s up with D-Train? Are his troubles due to something mental, mechanical, or do you think there’s a hidden injury?
It’s part mechanical and part mental but not in the way you think. The Marlins pitching coach came up with the “brilliant” idea that if Willis change his delivery and threw his pitches slower he could get more movement. So instead of throwing his fastball in the 90’s he is throwing it in the mid 80’s.
This experiment has been a complete disaster. His pitches do have more movement but he doesn’t have any command of them. If you watch him tonight, watch his delivery, it is not the same as it was in the past. You will get to see the new calmed down version which has all of the scouts aghast and wanting him to speed up his motion again.
In order to go against his tendencies to pitch with high a high energy delivery, he will be out on the mound trying to remind himself to slow down. If Treanor is catching he will try to speed Willis up which usually results in the pitching coach visiting the mound and Treanor and the coach getting into an argument as Dontrelle just stands there. It is quite a sight.
2. The Marlins weren’t playoff-bound as of September, so we’ll guess they’re having some auditions this month. Any suprises? Any youngsters to keep an eye on for the future?
No surprises at this point since but everyone is getting some playing time. I guess Gaby Hernandez, former Mets prospect, is the one to keep an eye on. He will be coming out of the pen.
3. How are the hometown fans responding to the spoiler role? Is the interest still there, or are people into the Dolphins now?
Considering the Marlins made news by having only 275 fans in the stadium for a game against the Nationals, I think it is safe to say that the Dolphins are getting most of the attention.
4. The press seems to think the best shortstop in the NL East is between Jimmy Rollins and Jose Reyes — yet from my perspective it looks like Hanley Ramirez is the top dog. Do you think he’s reached his ceiling, or do you believe there’s even more to come in the next few years?
Ramirez isn’t even close to his ceiling. Hanley is only 23 years-old and is still in the process of learning the game. Assuming he stays healthy, he will become one of the perennial top hitters in the league for years. But whether or not he will be playing shortstop at that time should be interesting. If he can’t get the errors in check he may be outfield bound. Also he isn’t long for the leadoff spot due to his power.
5. Jeremy Hermida seems to have made some strides after injury issues earlier this year. He appears to have a world of talent — do you agree, and what is holding him back?
The Marlins chose Hermida in the first round of the 2002 draft instead of Scott Kazmir. And given that one of the strengths of the organization is identifying young pitching prospects, yeah, I would agree he has a world of talent. Last season Hermida battled nagging injuries for much of the season and the first half of this year was more of the same. Also there was the facing Major League pitchers adjustment period. But after the All Star break everything started to click and Hermida has a .322 BA along with a .962 OPS during that time period. His defensive play is still a work in progress.
6. Armando Benitez, Jorge Julio, and now Marcos Carvajal. Haven’t you learned yet that former Mets who throw in the mid-90s are disasters waiting to happen?
Apparently not. But in defense of the Carvajal acquisition, he is still young and it is possible he can be taught pitch control. If not, he will rightly join the other two as having stuff but having no idea where the pitch is going to end up.
7. Speaking of, what’s going on with Henry Owens? How do he and Matt Lindstrom fit into the ’08 plans?
Owens had shoulder surgery basically at the first of September. He is presently in a 6-month no-throw period so when he rejoins the next season it will probably around the All-Star break. I do believe Owens may be the closer of the future but all that depends on how he recovers from surgery. I don’t really expect him to add very much until the 2009 season.
Lindstrom is still learning to pitch and doing well. He will be the Marlins bullpen in 2008 and mainly used as a late innings guy.
8. Scott Olsen: great talent, two-cent head. Is he a Marlin in 2008?
Yes, I most definitely think he will be. Olsen is actually very well liked by his teammates. When the club has a charity event, a “meet-the-players” function for the fans at some South Florida shopping mall or an outing like the team’s recent visit to Walter Reed Hospital, Scott is always there. If you were a Marlin and called all of your teammates to help you move, Olsen would be the one to show up. His problem is that his emotions get the better of him on occasions. But he is working on that. If he can get his emotions in check and continue to develop his pitching skills, he is going to be a good one.
9. It’s really hard to look at all that young talent on the Marlins roster and not think their time will come. How is the outlook and optimism among Fish fans?
Hard to say. Some believe next year is our year but I don’t agree. Next season will still probably be a pitching nightmare though not as bad as this season. Josh Johnson will be out for all of 2008 and it is possible that Anibal Sanchez will too. Owens may rejoin the pen or may not. Sergio Mitre has thrown over 100 more innings than he did last year and who knows how he will respond next season. Not to mention the pitching coach is messing with the team’s lefty starters.
Sure, the offense will be there and hopefully the defense will improve with another of maturity, but you just can’t slug your way to a World Series win.
My guess is that 2009 will be the year of the Marlin and when the Marlins go to playoffs we expect to win it all. The Marlins have the talent to do it, the real question is whether they can get everyone back to full speed and keep them healthy.
10. What moves — if any — do the Marlins need to make this offseason? Does Cabrera get locked up or dealt away?
I really don’t see the Marlins making any major moves in the offseason. Oh, the team is still trying to find a solution to center field but it is possible it will be addressed in-house. Also, the Marlins probably won’t re-sign Miguel Olivo and will need to find another catcher but they may also handle that within the organization. The Marlins don’t have a lot of money to throw at free agents so major moves aren’t likely.
Cabrera will be with Marlins next season. He will not be signed to a long-term contract, because no one gets a long-term contract until the franchise has a stadium. Welcome to small market baseball.
Thanks again to Craig for those extremely insightful responses (the Dontrelle Willis situation sounds a LOT like a lefty we know who was mishandled in Pittsburgh, eh?). Be sure to visit FishStripes for more great info on the Florida Marlins.