Josh Rosen out, Ryan Fitzpatrick in for Dolphins

Brian Flores clearly wants to win, even if the Miami Dolphins organization does not.

And in that context, he’s gone back to Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starter at quarterback, as the Dolphins travel to Buffalo.

That means Josh Rosen, after three starts and an overall 52.0 passer rating for the entire season, is back on the bench. And it means there will be much debate about whether it was worth trading a second-round pick to Arizona for him, and whether he has any future with this franchise.

Rosen was repeatedly hurried and hit in Sunday’s loss to Washington, but his performance also paled in comparison to that of Fitzpatrick, who rallied the Dolphins to within 17-16 before a two-point conversion failed.

And Rosen hasn’t been that good when given time either, as our Chris Kouffman of Three Yards Per Carry noted:

And Joe Schad of the Palm Beach Post has a sentiment that is similar to ours.

Rosen may have been put in a terrible spot. Awful offensive line. So-so skill players. A coaching staff that, at times, has seemed clueless or worse.

But he hasn’t shown much either. Some escapability and improvisation. Some toughness. But not much special in terms of arm strength or anticipation. And it’s clear that Flores hasn’t been satisfied with his command of the offense.

We thought that, at worst, Rosen would compete with the next quarterback — likely drafted this April — to be the starter at the start of next season. Now that appears unlikely.

Fitzpatrick? Well, he is what he is.

Buffalo is one of his former teams, and Fitzpatrick knows that stadium and the conditions well. The Bills are good, really good, but it shouldn’t stun anyone if there’s some FitzMagic on Sunday. Flores clearly wants that. Do you? Does Steve Ross?

Marlins prospect Alex Vesia is torching the Arizona Fall League

At 10-5, the Salt River Rafters have the best record in the Arizona Fall League, and is in part, thanks to Alex Vesia. This is relevant considering that this is the team that includes seven Marlins high level prospects.

The Rafters roster is comprised of top prospects from the Marlins, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Rays and Twins. Their best reliever so far in the season has been Alex Vesia, who has yet to give up a run in six games while striking out 10 batters.

That alone is impressive but when compounded with the fact that he finished the minor league season not giving up a run in nine games at Double-A Jacksonville while striking out 25 in 16.1 innings, then it looks like the Marlins’ next closer is on the way.

Most of the prospects that play in the Arizona Fall League find themselves in the big leagues not too long after. Case in point is Giancarlo Stanton, the slugger formerly known as “Mike.” He was in the Arizona Fall League in 2009 and made his MLB debut in June 8, 2010.

So consider who are falling victim to Vesia’s vicious velocity. Joe Rizzo is the Seattle Mariners’ 16th ranked prospect, according to MLB Pipeline and Vesia struck him out swinging on three 93-94 MPH fastballs this past Saturday. Greyson Jenista is the Atlanta Braves 11th ranked prospect. After drawing a full count against Vesia on Oct. 2, a series of foul balls and a 92 MPH fastball did him in. Micker Adolfo (No. 11, White Sox) struck out swinging twice in the same week against him. Elehuris Montero (No. 4, Cardinals) is the highest ranked prospect that Vesia struck out.

Vesia’s first performance was his best in the AFL. Zack Short (No. 9, Cubs), Greg Deichmann (No. 17, Athletics) and Nick Allen (No. 6, Athletics) all struck out swinging on the same fastball that has plagued every prospect that’s faced him.

It’s amazing to believe that his minor league season began in Low A Clinton and ended with 100 strikeouts in 66.2 innings through three different levels. At this point, there’s a good chance he joins the Marlins bullpen in 2020 as the next Nick Anderson.

Should Marlins Consider Starlin Castro?

Starlin Castro had a really rough start to the 2019 season and May was by far his worst month. In May he hit for a .208 average with no home runs and 8 RBIs. He performed way below expectations for a veteran who is known for hitting ability.

Castro struggled in the first half of the season, batting for a .245 average with six home runs and 24 RBIs. His poor performance in the first half made it pretty much impossible to trade him at the deadline and if the Marlins did find a suitor for Starlin, they most likely wouldn’t have gotten much in return.

In the second half, Castro reached a new level. He hit for a .302 average, hammered 16 home runs, and drove in 52 RBIs. I know it would’ve been nice to have been able to trade Castro at/before the deadline for prospects but he became really fun to watch in the second half. He went on an absolute tear. Whether you like Castro or not, you can’t deny that he actually reached another level.

There are some people on twitter who believe that Starlin Castro purposely tanked his stats in the first half to stay with the Marlins. He ended up having a very good relationship with Miguel Rojas and Martin Prado and possibly felt like he didn’t want to be traded away from his closest friends on the team so it is a possibility. Do I think that’s the case? No, but it’s possible.

Starlin Castro finished his final year of his 7-year, $60 million dollar contract which he signed back in 2012 when he was with the Chicago Cubs, but there is a club option for him to return to the Marlins if they want him back. The option would cost the Marlins $16 million but there is definitely value in Castro. A veteran presence in the clubhouse and a mentor for Marlins rookie Isan Diaz. Castro could play second, shortstop and third so there is some versatility that comes with him.

If the Marlins do want to bring him back but don’t want to pay him $16 million, there is a $1 million buyout and they could potentially negotiate a cheaper deal. I do believe Castro has bought into what the Marlins are building and that he wants to stay in Miami. He is represented by Magnus Media, who is based in Miami, and also represents the Mesa brothers who signed with the Marlins last October.

In my opinion, I do think that the Marlins should consider bringing back Castro on a cheaper/team friendly contact. He could be more valuable than simply on the field by being a mentor and by possibly recruiting players in the free agent class this offseason.

Recap of the 2019 Marlins

It’s hard to recap such a negative season, but here we go.

Let’s all be honest, no one expected the team to be any good whatsoever. We expected at least a 60-win season with many ups and downs. The Marlins finished the season with a 57-105 record which was pretty much expected.

I’m sure we would’ve loved to avoid 100 losses but it is what is, it did secure the third overall pick in the 2020 draft. But then, this recap would’ve probably been similar, anyway… 

There were definitely some bright spots for the Marlins this season. Just to name a few, Sandy Alcantara started to show what he can do, Jon Berti became the perfect utility man, Harold Ramirez did great in his rookie season, and Isan Diaz started to become comfortable at the major league level. Diaz started making lesser errors and showed comfort at the plate.

Here’s a recap of the positives of the season:

Sandy Alcantara

Alcantara was voted to represent the Marlins in the All-Star Game because of his start to the regular season. His Pre All-Star stats are as follows: 4-8 record, 3.82 ERA, 70 strikeouts, and an opponent batting average of .241. After the All-Star break, he hit a bump in the road where he started to show inconsistency in his fastball command and started to walk more batters. 

August he began to turn things around, in five games started he had a 3.03 ERA in 32.2 innings pitched with a 27:12 strikeout to walk ratio. September came along and he reached another level. In six games started, he had a 2-2 record with a 2.59 ERA in 41.2 innings pitched with a 35:9 strikeout to walk ratio. September became Sandy’s best month without a doubt.

Jon Berti

Jon Berti blossomed into the perfect utility man. He can play all positions in the infield and outfield. He also showcased his insane speed on the base paths. He swiped 17 bases this year, he would’ve swiped more but he spent some time on the IL. In 73 games played, he hit for a .273 average with six home runs and 24 RBIs. Berti is a nice surprise for the Marlins, he definitely made a case for a roster spot next season.

Isan Diaz

Isan Diaz is an interesting story. He absolutely tore up Triple-A pitching and earned himself a call up to the show back in August. He launched a home run off Jacob deGrom in his MLB debut but rookie struggles kicked in early. He was having trouble making routine plays and was uncomfortable at the plate. As he gained more experience he became more comfortable and didn’t think too much while on the field. He ended up finishing the season with a .173 average, five home runs, and 23 RBIs. Not the best stat line but he did only play 49 games while being completely tensed up. It should be fun to see how he plays next year.

Harold Ramirez

Harold Ramirez signed with the Marlins during the 2018 offseason and what a great sign he is. In 119 games, he hit for a .276 average, hit 11 home runs and drove in 50 RBIs. He definitely showcased why he was formerly a Top 100 prospect when he was in the Blue Jays organization. He can play all three outfield positions and has a very decent defense. He without a doubt became a fan favorite for Marlins fans and earned a roster spot for the 2020 season.

Your 2019 Marlins were not the best but they did show improvement. They may have lost six more games this year than they did in 2018 but the pitching held its own and we got to see some rookies showcase their ability. The club next season will be more competitive than it was this year and it’s going to be more fun with more rookies making their debuts and some new faces from free agency…

We will be here to recap when they win the World Series…

Marlins extend Don Mattingly and Miguel Rojas

The Marlins announced the contract extensions of manager Don Mattingly and shortstop Miguel Rojas.

The Miami Marlins opened their final home series of the season with some encouraging news.

Mattingly’s extension runs through 2021 and includes a mutual option for 2022. He becomes the first MLB manager since Terry Collins to have losing records in his first four seasons with a team and return for a fifth season. The Mets went to the World Series in Collins’ fifth season at the helm.

“I think about his leadership, demeanor and overall character,” Marlins CEO Derek Jeter on Mattingly. “He’s all in. He keeps our guys competing on a daily basis.”

Mattingly said he’s thrilled to have the opoprtunity to see this though. He’s seen the prospects first hand and has read the reports. His extension is a good sign that the minor league talent that has been brought in over the last two years is on the way soon.

“Hopefully by the time I’m done, this team is in a great place,” Mattingly said.

Rojas’ deal with Marlins is for $10.5M over 2 years and an option. Jeter called Rojas “the true example of a professional.”

“This front office has been transparent since last Spring Training. Derek and Bruce,” Rojas said. “They are always going to tell you the truth trom day one.”

Rojas has been with the Marlins since 2015 as a part of the Dee Gordon trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He has grown from utility infielder to starting shortstop and team leader. When Mattingly was asked in July about who should be the Marlins All-Star, he chose Rojas for his leadership.

The Marlins should have about $25 million is coming off the books with Martin Prado’s contract expiring and Starlin Castro’s $1M buyout. That money should be spent on improving the team, especially the bullpen. While Jeter was non-committal on the issue, he did emphasize that he wants his top prospects to have a clear pathway to the big leagues.

“They’re coming and we don’t want to block their way,” Jeter said.

 

Diaz and Cooper homer but Marlins bashed by Mike Moustakas

Mike Moustakas celebrated his 31st birthday by hitting two home runs, including a tiebreaking, two-run shot in the ninth inning to lead the Milwaukee Brewers over the Miami Marlins 7-5 Wednesday night.

“Obviously two homers is pretty cool no matter what day it is but on your birthday it’s pretty special,” Moustakas said. “But even more so is the win, especially with Yeli going down. Everyone has to step up even more.”

In his first full season with the Brewers, Moustakas has more than 30 home runs for the second time in his career. His career high is 38, achieved in 2017 with the Kansas City Royals.

“He’s having a big year,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Moustakas. “He hurt us in Milwaukee a little bit. I think we left a changeup up the first time. I’m not sure if [Jose Urena] was trying to go in. He’s a pretty good fastball hitter.”

Diaz and Cooper, just as Moustakas

For the Marlins, the loss spoiled a night in which progress was made with some of their young players. Isan Diaz and Garrett Cooper hit back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning to tie the game 5-5. Diaz is hitting .162 since being called up on Aug. 5, but has hit 26 home runs with a .305 batting average and .973 OPS in Triple-A New Orleans. Of his 19 hits in the big leagues, three of them are doubles and three are home runs.

“I think that’s what happens when you stick to your plan and put a good swing on the ball,” Diaz said. “I was very fortunate with that, brought some momentum to our side. We tried to keep it rolling, but we fell a little short tonight.”

Cooper now has 15 home runs and 50 RBI and is slashing .282/.346/.449 in his first full season in the big leagues. He batted .306 before the All-Star Game but .258 afterwards. His home runs have been the same between the two halves.

“I think the second half has been more of a learning curve for me, trying to drive the ball a little bit more,” Cooper said. “I think my hard-hit percentage is way up this half. You teeter on trying to get your hits, and you teeter on trying to drive the ball.”

The Marlins now have 127 home runs on the season, which is the fewest in MLB. Miami has 66 homers at Marlins Park, which is 27th in the league at home, and as spacious as the fairly new ballpark is, visiting teams don’t seem to have any difficulty hitting bombs there. It’s nights like this that make it seem like these youngsters are close to turning the corner.

Christian Yelich out for the season with fracture knee

Christian Yelich will not be the Superman that took the Brewers to the NLCS in 2018 again this season.

The Milwaukee Brewers defeated the Miami Marlins 4-3 on Tuesday yet took a major hit in their playoff push.

National League MVP Christian Yellich fractured his knee on a foul ball in the fist inning and left the game. The Brewers announced that he will be out for the remainder of the season.

“We’ll fly him back to Milwaukee (Wednesday) for further testing,” Brewers general manager David Stearns said after the game. “We don’t have a definitive timeframe other than we know that he’ll be out for the remainder of the season right now. We also don’t know whether surgery is required. He’ll need further diagnostic imagining (Wednesday) in Milwaukee then meet with our doctors and we’ll plot a plan going forward.”

Yelich hit .329 with 44 home runs and 97 RBIs along with 30 stolen bases this season for a Brewers team that entered the game only two games behind the Chicago Cubs for the second NL wildcard spot. He led the majors in slugging percentage and OPS prior to the inury.

“We feel awful for Christian,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “That’s the thing that resonates with me right now. He’s a special player and it’s a joy to watch him play every day. He’s the best at what he does. Not being able to see that every day is not good.”

What makes this extra tragic is the injury occurred at his original stomping grounds. Yellich’s career began in Miami and his last two years with the Marlins were Don Mattingly’s first two as manager.

“Obviously awful, we all know Yeli and what kind of guy he is,” Mattingly said. “You hate to see a player like that get hurt down the stretch. He’s stepped into the superstar realm as a player, and MVP last year. You don’t want to see that happen to a team down the stretch.”

The injury may be the difference between whether or not Yellich wins his second consecutive MVP. Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger now has 2 1/2 weeks to improve on his 44 home runs, 106 RBI, 11 stolen bases, .306 batting average and 1.049 OPS.

Brewers took the loss in a social media battle in Miami

The Milwaukee Brewers community manager decided to be funny on Monday before the first game of the four-game series between Milwaukee and Miami.

The Brewers official account made fun of the Marlins using Christian Yelich – of course -, and his MVP award bobblehead.

However, the joke turned back to the Brewers, when some Marlins fans reminded the account they have not won any World Series, ever…

The Brewers made fun of the Marlins, and the joke came back to them real quick. Some fans in Miami still defend their team.

For now, the Brewers are fighting to get into the playoffs, a couple of games back in the National League wildcard, and the Marlins are in the middle of a rebuilding process that might take a while.

But don’t you ever forget. They have two World Series titles…

 

We talked to outfielder Harold Ramírez before the second game of the homestand. Check it out clicking here!

Help the Bahamas donating at Marlins Park!

You can help our neighbors in the Bahamas donating at Marlins Park!

The Miami Marlins Foundation will donate all 50/50 Raffle proceeds – and match those funds raised – from the upcoming homestand to the relief efforts after Dorian did a lot of damage in the Bahamas.

In addition, fans attending games this homestand can help donating $1 at any Marlins Park concession and round up their purchases at the Marlins Park retail stores. Donations by fans will be matched by the Miami Marlins Foundation.

Needed items include water, canned goods, can openers, mosquito spray, sunscreen, diapers, baby formula, first aid items, flashlights, batteries, and small generators.

The Marlins thank partners Pepsi, Sedano’s Supermarkets, W.B. Mason, and Goya for their pledged donations to the Marlins organization’s efforts.

For more information on the Miami Marlins, please visit the team’s official sites, Marlins.com and MarlinsBeisbol.com.

 

GCL Marlins win division as Dorian cancels playoffs

Dorian is already impacting Florida sports.

The Gulf Coast League announced on Wednesday that the final two games of the season and the league playoff series has been canceled.

The decision was made in preparation of the incoming impact of Hurricane Dorian heading towards Florida.

“In an effort to ensure that all players, coaches and staff members have a chance to evacuate and prepare for the storm, we have decided to cancel the final two regular-season games, as well as the playoffs,” said Tim Brunswick, Minor League Baseball’s senior vice president of baseball and business operations. “After discussing the options with the teams, the decision to end the season early was the best choice for the safety of everyone involved as that is our top priority.”

Thursday, Aug. 29, will serve as the final game of the season. The GCL Marlins don’t have games scheduled for that day and have a half-game lead in the East division. The GCL Phillies West claimed the North division title and GCL Orioles clinched the South division championship. With the hurricane Dorian, they’ll have to settle for that achievement.

The GCL Marlins were comprised with mostly players selected in the 2019 MLB Draft. There was plenty of bright spots from the backfields of Palm Beach County’s spring training complexes. Shortstop Nasim Nunez posted a .340 on-base percentage with three more hits than walks and stole 28 bases. He was selected in the second round of the draft. Victor Mesa Jr., an 18-year-old outfielder who signed with his brother, Victor Victor, as an international free agent, led the GCL Marlins with a .284 batting average and a .764 OPS.

First baseman Zachary Owens had the second highest batting average with .280. He was selected in the 33rd round out of Eastern Michigan University.

Lorenzo Hampton, who played college ball at FIU, also batted .280 with a .747 OPS and led the team with 31 RBIs. He was selected in the 28th round.

Andrew Narni was drafted in the 16th round out of the University of Arizona and was the most impressive reliever of the group. He posted a 0.98 ERA in 13 games with 30 strikeouts in 18.1 innings pitched.

Anthony Maldonado (11th round out of Bethune-Cookman) and Zach King (13th round out of Vanderbilt) were two other impressive relievers on the GCL Marlins. King went 2-0 with a 1.65 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 16.1 innings. Maldonado struck out 15 batters in 11.1 innings and posted a 1.59 ERA.

Evan Fitterer was a fifth-round selection out of high school in California and the most impressive starting pitcher on the team. He started the most games of the group (8) and posted a 2.38 ERA with 19 strikeouts in 22.2 innings pitched.

Most of these guys will move on to the next stage, which will be Batavia. The Muckdogs are also experiencing success in the New York-Penn League and the Clinton Lumberkings punched their ticket into the Midwest League playoffs. These are certainly good signs for an improved farm system.