2009 Record: 33-35 (.485)
2009 Pythagorean Record: 31-37 (.456)
2008 Record: 84-77 (.522)
2008 Pythagorean Record: 81-80 (.503)
Manager: Fredi Gonzalez
General Manager: Michael Hill
Home Ballpark (Park Factors): Dolphin Stadium (99/99)
Who’s Replacing Whom:
- Emilio Bonifacio replaces Mike Jacobs
- Chris Coughlan replaces Josh Willingham
- Ross Gload and Brett Carroll replace Luis Gonzalez
- Ronny Paulino replaces Matt Treanor
- Alejandro De Aza is filling in for Alfredo Amezaga (DL)
- Josh Johnson and Chris Volstad inherit the starts of Scott Olsen
- Sean West is filling in for Anibal Sanchez (DL), who inherits the starts of Mark Hendrickson
- Leo Nuñez replaces Kevin Gregg
- Dan Meyer, Kiko Calero, and Brian Sanches replace Doug Waechter, Joe Nelson, and Logan Kensing
- Cristhian Martinez is filling in for Renyel Pinto (DL)
1B – Jorge Cantu (R)
2B – Dan Uggla (R)
SS – Hanley Ramirez (R)
3B – Emilio Bonifacio (S)
C – John Baker (L)
RF – Jeremy Hermida (L)
CF – Cody Ross (R)
LF – Chris Coughlan (L)
L – Ross Gload (1B)
R – Wes Helms (3B)
L – Alejadro De Aza (OF)
R – Ronny Paulino (C)
R – Brett Carroll (OF)
R – Josh Johnson
R – Chris Volstad
L – Andrew Miller
R – Ricky Nolasco
L – Sean West
R – Matthew Lindstrom
R – Leo Nuñez
L – Dan Meyer
R – Kiko Calero
R – Burke Badenhop
R – Brian Sanches
R – Cristhian Martinez
15-day DL: CF/UT – Alfredo Amezaga (knee contusion); RHP – Anibal Sanchez (shoulder sprain), LHP Renyel Pinto (elbow inflammation)
60-day DL: RHP – Scott Proctor (Joe Torre surgery), LHP – Dave Davidson (shoulder)
L – Chris Coghlan (LF)
S – Emilio Bonifacio (3B)
R – Hanley Ramirez (SS)
R – Jorge Cantu (1B)
L – Jeremy Hermida (RF)
R – Dan Uggla (2B)
L – John Baker (C)
R – Cody Ross (CF)
The Marlins generated a lot of buzz by starting the 2009 season 11-1, but six of those games came against the Nationals, and since then the Fish have gone just 21-34. The Marlins’ .382 winning percentage since those first dozen games would be the second-worst in baseball.
Similarly, Emilio Bonifacio, who stole three bases on Opening Day and went 14-for-24 (.583) over the first six games of the season, has swiped just eight more bags and hit .211/.259/.242 since. Despite that performance, Bonifacio remains the Marlins’ third baseman. It’s not because of his defense, which has been poor, in part because he’d never played the hot corner as a pro before this year. It’s partially because Wes Helms has done little to recommend himself for the job (he’s hit .246/.298/.351 over the last three years and is slugging .307 this year). Still, current first-baseman Jorge Cantu was no worse defensively at the hot corner last year, and Yankee killer Ross Gload (.403/.430/.653 career vs. NYY) is available to slot in at first base, as is Gaby Sanchez, who is hitting .326/.391/.496 in Triple-A.
Bonifacio, who hits second in the lineup, is killing the Marlins’ offense, which is otherwise made up of a bunch of slighty-better-than-league-average hitters and Hanley Ramirez. The one benefit Bonifacio’s presence has had is that it finally got the fish to drop Hanley to the third spot in the order, where his .325/.393/.506 line best fits. Of the league-average hitters, Cantu and center fielder Cody Ross hit for power but won’t walk, rookie left fielder Chris Coughlan has a .385 on-base percentage but no power, second baseman Dan Uggla draws walks and hits for power but is hitting .218 with 52 strikeouts in 65 games, right fielder Jeremy Hermida has eight homers, but just eight other extra-base hits, and John Baker is hitting just .244/.335/.413, but he’s a catcher, so he’s right around league average at those rates.
On the mound, the Fish have a solid bullpen thanks in part to surprising performances from reclamation project Kiko Calero from the right side and former Braves starting prospect and Tim Hudson trade bait Dan Meyer from the left side, both former A’s. They’ve also gotten good work from 30-year-old never-was righty Brian Sanches and currently injured lefty Reneyl Pinto (the latter of whom was acquired back in 2005 along with Ricky Nolasco and current SWB Yankee Sergio Mitre for Juan Pierre in what could yet prove to be one of the better deals of the last five years).
In the rotation, the Fish are enjoying a fantastic comeback season from 25-year-old Josh Johnson, whose 2007 Tommy John surgery many blamed on then-Marlins manager Joe Girardi, who sent Johnson back out to pitch after an 82-minute rain delay in September 2006. Johnson, who will start Saturday’s game, is 13-2 with a 3.16 ERA in 28 starts since rejoining the Marlins last July.
Twenty-six-year-old Nolasco, whom the Yankees will miss, followed up his breakout 2008 campaign by posting a 9.07 ERA over his first nine starts this year, but in three starts since a brief late-May demotion, he’s posted a 2.50 ERA and struck out 18 men in 18 innings against just four walks.
The Marlins have also been pleasantly surprised by the performance of tonight’s starter, Sean West, a 23-year-old, 6-foot-8 lefty who underwent labrum surgery in 2007, but has his velocity back in the mid-90s and has posted a 3.00 ERA over his first five major league starts. West is only in the rotation as an injury replacement for Anibal Sanchez, but he seems likely to stay past Sanchez’s return. Then again, he also seems headed for a fall given his terrible 1.15 K/BB ratio and sub-Mendoza BABIP. Fortunately for the Fish, his minor league performance suggests he could correct those poor indicators before the league is able to capitalize on them.
Despite all that, and in part because of their poor team defense, the Fish are second only to the Nationals with the most runs allowed per game in the NL, but given the arrival of West, the fixing of Nolasco, and the impending return of Sanchez, I expect that to change in the near future. If the Fish wise up and boot Bonifacio from the lineup, they could still salvage a winning record, but even in the weakened NL East, they’re not a playoff team.
The Yankees counter West tonight with Andy Pettitte, whose 1.52 K/BB thus far this year is the second worst of his career (behind only his ugly 1999 campaign), and whose 98 ERA+ is tied with his identical mark from last year for his career worst. Since posting a 2.96 ERA in his first four starts, Pettitte has posted a 5.33 mark and allowed opponents to hit .318/.396/.479 with nine home runs over his last nine starts, in which he’s averaged less than six innings per start. This will be Pettitte’s first start against the Marlins as a Yankee since the final game of the 2003 World Series. None of those things make me happy, nor does the thought of the Yankees facing a hard-throwing rookie left-hander in the middle of a team-wide offensive slump. Then again, the switch-hitter-heavy Yankees have been better against lefties than righties thus far this year.
Derek Jeter’s back in the lineup, but Alex Rodriguez, who grew up in Miami and has played every day since returning from the DL, will miss the first two games of the series (save perhaps for a pinch-hitting appearance) due to fatigue. Since going 5-for-5 against the Rangers on May 25, Rodriguez has hit .176/.337/.297 over 21 games, all starts. Angel Berroa starts at the hot corner tonight because that will fix the Yankees’ hitting slump. Oy.