To fill us in on the state of the Marlins I turned to Craig Strain of the excellent Fish Stripes. Here we go.
1. What's going on with Dontrelle? Rough patch? Regression to the mean? League catching up to him? A combination thereof?
Craig Strain: Really, none of the above, but a rough patch would be the closest. At the start of the season someone in the organization, presumably the pitching coach, decided that if Dontrelle slowed down his pitches they would have more movement. In the past he threw his fast ball in the mid-nineties and the bright idea was that when he threw harder his pitches straightened out. This is actually true in that when he got all ramped up and threw in the upper nineties everything started to straighten out.
So the stupid idea was borne to have him throw in the mid-eighties, while this increased the movement on his pitches he couldn't control anything. And therefore the walks increased and base runners were constantly on causing him to continuously pitch out of the stretch.
In short, they tried to fix what wasn't broken and screwed everything up. He will be fine, he just needs to be himself again.
2. Hanley Ramirez is a beast at the plate, but most defensive metrics rate him rather poorly with the glove at shortstop. What are your impressions of his defense watching him on a regular basis and where do you think he'll ultimately wind up?
Craig Strain: The boy is only 23 and is still learning the game. Hitting comes naturally for him while fielding is something he has to work on. Hanley really isn't that bad in the field but he sometimes loses concentration. Since he is more comfortable playing short, I doubt the team will move him to another position anytime soon. Ramirez has the tools to be a good shortstop but it is just going to take some time and coaching.
3. Miguel Olivo: six unintentional walks in 354 at-bats, though he's going to have to slow down his pace if he hopes to break Shawon Dunston's modern-day record of eight unintentional walks in a full season. Can Miggy do it?
Craig Strain: Yes! Olivo is allergic to walks and avoids them like the plague. As you're watching the series, take note, if the Mets pitchers will throw him a first pitch strike, he will swing at it. In his mind there is no need to get in the position where a walk is a possible outcome.
3. What's the story with the new stadium deal? Bring us up to speed.
Craig Strain: Sadly, there isn't much to report on the stadium front. The team for the seventh-year in a row didn't get funding from the state and are $30 million short in their quest to build a stadium. Presently they sit and wait to see if the University of Miami will vacate the Orange Bowl and opt to play their games in Dolphin Stadium and thus leaving the location unused. The Orange Bowl is owned by the City of Miami and has already been earmarked for renovation. Some feel that if the Hurricanes head north, that money could be used to close the Marlins stadium gap. At which point the Orange Bowl would be razed and a new stadium for the Marlins built in its place.
But really, who knows. Some members of the city council have indicated the money is for the Orange Bowl and if the renovation doesn't take place, the Marlins aren't going to get it.
Nothing like being loved.
4. How has Mike Jacobs been doing? His numbers are down from a year ago and right now he profiles more like a backup first baseman. Where does he project?
Craig Strain: Recently, not so good. He just set the team record for at bats without a hit going 0-for-33. He broke the streak last night. One of the reason that Jacobs numbers are down is due to the fact he is facing lefties this season. Last year he platooned with Wes Helms and Helms batted against the lefties. It is true that he needs to show that he can be everyday first baseman if he going to have longevity at the position. Given that he is young and this is the Marlins, who know a couple of things about raising young players, he still has a couple of years to prove he can be an everyday first baseman.
5. Talk to me about being a Marlins' fan. The team obviously has a lot of great young players, but ownership seems committed to not spending any money on anything. What does that say to the loyal fan base, or to the front office even?
Craig Strain: I love being a Marlins fan. But I will say this, it's not for the timid. I can't say I really blame the ownership for not wanting to spend money at this point. The Marlins remaining in South Florida doesn't appear that secure to me. The present stadium lease runs out after the 2010 season and after which the team will be homeless. Since there is no stadium revenue stream presently, or in the foreseeable future, it is understandable that the ownership is leaning to the cheap. That said, the fire sales haven't help much with the fans. Just when you really start liking a player, they get shipped off. Oh, the Marlins do have fans, in case you wondering, but most stay at home on weekday nights and watch the games on television, due to the stadium being so far away from almost everywhere.
I don't think the rest of the front office has as much of a problem with the going on the cheap. If you will remember, almost everyone in front office came over from Montreal before MLB took that team. In some respects, the Marlins have closer ties to the now defunct Expos than the Nationals do. So the ownership not spending money, ain't nothing new.
Welcome to Marlins fandom.