Things to Know about the Florida Marlins

The Mets escape to cooler waters, heading down to Florida to play the Marlins this weekend. Here are some things you might want to know about them:

Record: 47-52, last place NL East
Manager: Jack McKeon, lifetime 1,026-951 (.519%) managerial record, two time manager of the year (1999, 2003). Saying that McKeon is hands on would be putting it lightly – in 2003, he required his players to have bathroom passes if they wanted to leave the dugout during the game.
Park: Sun Life Stadium. Not a great home run park, but a fair park for hitters and pitchers, both righthanded and lefthanded.

Can they hit? Not particularly
Can they pitch? Somewhat
Can they field? Somewhat
Who’s their best player? Hanley Ramirez. He’s having a rough year and . . . is a free spirit of sorts. But he’s started hitting again under McKeon, coincidence or not, and remains the Marlins’ best player.

3B – Emilio Bonifacio – S
2B – Omar Infante – R
LF – Logan Morrison – L
SS – Hanley Ramirez – R
1B – Gaby Sanchez – R
RF – Mike Stanton – R
CF – Mike Cameron – R
C – John Buck – R

Other than Monday’s quick makeup, the Mets haven’t seen the Marlins in a while. Here’s the short version: The Fish are about average at getting on-base, but they don’t hit for a lot of power and they don’t run well, so they’re below average offensively. They picked up Mike Cameron to play center field because Chris Coghlan is injured and has struggled when healthy. Some of their hitters are good – second year players Logan Morrison, Gaby Sanchez, and Mike Stanton are playing well – but they have awful depth and that has sunk them this season.

But what I really want to talk about is just Hanley Ramirez. In one random game, this past Monday at Citi Field, Ramirez did this:

– Carried his bat with him running down the line, then flipped it when the ball fell in for a single.
– Threw handfuls of bubble gum to the fans behind the visiting dugout.
– Grounded out to third, and was still walking off the field a few pitches into the next at-bat.
– Went 2-4, stole a base and scored a run.

That was just one game. He’s almost entering Manny Ramirez territory. Imagine how interesting it must be to watch this team all season, with Ramirez, Morrison, and McKeon – the Marlins might have three of the four strangest figures in baseball in their clubhouse right now.

Pitching Matchups:

7/22: RHP Chris Volstad (5-8, 5.59 ERA) vs Mike Pelfrey (5-9, 4.67 ERA)

A faceoff of tall, struggling righthanders. Volstad is a low strikeout, sinkerball pitcher who’s had some problems with home runs this season. Sound familiar? His strikeout-to-walk ratio is actually at a career high, but he just gives up a ton of hard contact – line drives, home runs, hard ground balls. He’s a worse version of Mike Pelfrey, with a true changeup instead of a split-change.

7/23: RHP Clay Hensley (1-2, 2.70 ERA) vs Chris Capuano (8-9, 4.16 ERA)

A rematch of Monday’s 4-1 Marlins’ win. Hensley is a starter-turned-reliever-turned-back-to-starter-a-week-ago, as the Marlins needed another arm in the rotation with Josh Johnson still on the DL. You could argue Florida needs three starters, actually, with Volstad and Javier Vazquez both sporting ERAs above 5.00, but they just don’t have any pitching depth. So relievers go to the rotation. Like Volstad, Hensley is another groundball pitcher, but he does a better job keeping the ball in the park, having allowed 26 home runs in 418.2 big league innings. He has a 4.26 ERA in 41 career starts, but his command is iffier when he’s a starter.

7/24: RHP Anibal Sanchez (6-3, 3.52 ERA) vs Dillon Gee (9-3, 3.67 ERA)

With Johnson out, Sanchez has been the Marlins’ best starter this season. Now 27 years old, his strikeouts are way up this season, his walks are down, and he’s setting career bests in ERA and FIP. Over the past three seasons, Sanchez has a 114 ERA+, and since 2010, 63% of his outings have been quality starts (the MLB average is 50% quality starts). If the Marlins decide to move him at the deadline, he’d be the best pitcher on the market.

The Mets miss RHP Javier Vazquez and RHP Ricky Nolasco.

C – Brett Hayes – R
IF – Greg Dobbs – L
IF – Wes Helms – R
OF – Bryan Petersen – L
OF – Dewayne Wise – L

Outfielder Bryan Petersen has hit .351/.434/.569 with 11 home runs in 67 Triple-A games this season; Dewayne Wise made that catch that one time. Among the backup third basemen, Gregg Dobbs is playing well this season, while Wes Helms is not, but I’m still 50% certain they’re the same person. Have you ever seen them standing next to each other in pictures? Think about it.

RHP – Leo Nunez
LHP – Michael Dunn
LHP – Randy Choate
RHP – Edward Mujica
RHP – Burke Badenhop
RHP – Brian Sanches
RHP – Steve Cishek

I thought this group would be one of the best bullpens in the NL, but the results have been only good-to-middling so far. They have gotten a ton of work this season, as the Marlins’ relievers are first in appearances and second in innings pitched. No one pitcher in particular has a heavy workload, but collectively it may be beginning to add up. There aren’t any weak links, but not enough standouts to push this group into the NL’s elite. The only reliever worth mentioning is lefty specialist Randy Choate, who, despite being pulled mid-batter on Monday, has a 1.33 ERA and 26 strikeouts against 6 tentional walks in 20.1 innings. Everyone else has been decent.

And those were some things to know about the Florida Marlins.


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2 responses to “Things to Know about the Florida Marlins

  1. One other thing to note about the fish – the Mets seem to flounder against them. Not being a SOG (Statistically-Oriented Guy) I can’t quote a bunch of numbers to prove my point, and maybe I’m mistaken and the numbers would show it. But in my personal perception of the recent history between these two teams it seems the Marlins have the Mets’ number. Particularly, thinking back to the Big Fail of ’07, my recollection of it is that the Marlins, as much as any team, were the ones who stuck the knife in the Mets’ gut.

    So, Mr. Flood, you’re a big SOG (at times) – what kind of numbers have the Mets put up against the fish over the past five seasons?

    • Patrick Flood

      Well, without looking anything up, the Marlins have had a lot of very good righthanded pitching over the past few seasons. Johnson, Nolasco, Sanchez recently. The Mets big hitters, Beltran, Reyes, Wright, all hit lefties better than righties. That would explain some of it.

      2011: 2-3 vs Marlins
      2010: 6-12 vs Marlins
      2009: 7-11
      2008: 10-8
      2007: 11-7

      Which is 36-41, or five games under. It’s been worse the past two seasons, but the Mets won the season series in 2007 and 2008. They actually went 4-3 against the Fish in September 2007, and 1-2 against them in September 2008. But they were 0-2 in game 162s against the Marlins, which are the ones we all remember.

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