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Marlins Zoom

5 Takeaways from Marlins Zoom Call Featuring Jeter, Hill & Mattingly

The Miami Marlins resume their 2020 season tomorrow in Baltimore, weather permitting. On Monday, the Marlins hosted a Zoom call with CEO Derek Jeter, President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill and manager Don Mattingly. The three discussed the team’s COVID-19 related issues, as well as what’s to come.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from the Marlins Zoom call this afternoon.

Marlins Zoom: COVID Not Result of ‘Salacious Activity’

Over the last week plus, members of the national media have posited irresponsible rumors and wild accusations about the Marlins COVID-19 outbreak. MLB and the team conducted investigations and both determined players were lax with the protocols. No discipline has been levied toward any player or the organization.

Marlins CEO Derek Jeter said on the Zoom call Monday that the affected players are “doing ok.” Jeter reinforced the reports that the players were largely asymptotic or suffered just mild symptoms.

“All things considered, they’re in good spirits,” Jeter said of the 18 players and three staff members who’ve tested positive.

Jeter blamed the COVID issues on a “false sense of security” and said: “Guys let their guard down and as an organization we have to pay the price.”

Jeter flatly denied the rumors surrounding the outbreak, saying there was no “salacious activity.” He admitted a couple players left the hotel in Atlanta, but just to get coffee and buy clothes. One went eat dinner at a former teammate’s house.

“Hopefully, this has been a wakeup call not only for our team but the rest of baseball and sports in general.”

Players are Expected to Return

Jeter also claimed the team expects all 18 players to return at some point this season.

“I expect them to come back. They expect to come back,” Jeter said. “Who knows what that timeframe is, but our players are looking forward to getting back on the field.”

While the team hasn’t officially moved all 18 players to the IL, several have been. Jorge Alfaro, Garrett Cooper, Harold Ramirez and Jose Urena all await their teammates on the injured list. Among those expected to be placed on the list Tuesday: Sandy Alcantara and Miguel Rojas.

One Marlin who will not return in 2020 is Isan Diaz. The second baseman informed the Marlins that he’s opting out for the remainder of the 2020 season and posted his full statement to his Instagram Story.

“This has been a tough week to see so many of my teammates come down with this virus, and see how quickly it spreads. After much deliberation and thought, I have made the difficult choice of opting out for the remainder of the 2020 season. This has been a decision that I have discussed with my family, and I feel it’s the best one for me and my overall well-being. I will deeply miss my teammates and competing on the field. I wish my brothers the best and look forward to taking the field again with them soon!”

Jeter spoke with Diaz prior to the announcement and backs his young star.

“Every player has the right to opt out,” Jeter said during the call. “We support and respect him for making that decision. We look forward to him coming back next season.”

Manager Don Mattingly also had kind words for Diaz.

“We respect Isan and his right to make a choice for himself,” Mattingly said. “We’ll support him through that and look forward to him being back next year with us.”

Marlins Zoom: Some Prospects to Join the Big Club

Marlins President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill also took part in the Zoom call. Hill expressed concern for the afflicted players and reiterated that the team is supporting them in every way possible.

He also called the reality of replacing more than half an active roster over a week’s time a considerable undertaking.

“When you have to put 18 players [on the IL], it’s something that you never really expect,” said Hill. “It’s been a challenge for our entire baseball operations department.”

Hill and his staff have signed several free agents, made multiple waiver claims, completed two trades and purchased a contract from an independent league. Many of those players will join the team in Baltimore.

But, in order to fill all 30 roster spots, the Marlins will also call up a handful of prospects.

Monte Harrison, Jorge Guzman and Humberto Mejia all received a call up, per Hill. Big-name prospects, like Sixto Sanchez, Edward Cabrera and Jazz Chisholm, did not.

“We’re not going to put a player in the big leagues who we don’t feel is ready to be in the big leagues,” Hill said.

Who’s On the Roster Now?

The Marlins roster on Tuesday will look very different from Opening Day’s. Hill revealed on the Marlins Zoom call that, in addition to Harrison, Guzman and Mejia, the team also promoted INF Eddy Alvarez, C Ryan Lavarnway, RHP Josh A. Smith and RHP Nick Vincent.

Alvarez, a Miami native and former silver-medal-winning Olympic speed-skater, will make his MLB debut, as will Harrison, Guzman and Mejia.

The Marlins promoted Jordan Yamamoto from Jupiter and activated Lewis Brinson and Matt Joyce from the injured list.

The team will have several of the recent acquisitions in tow, too. All are bullpen arms, including LHP Richard Bleier, RHP James Hoyt, LHP Brian Moran, RHP Mike Morin and RHP Justin Shafer. Free agent second baseman Logan Forsythe will also be with the club.

Mattingly has yet to meet all of the players acquired but knows some from previous tenures with the team.

Harrison will likely slide right into the starting lineup. Mattingly mentioned one of the reasons for Harrison not making the club out of summer camp was in an effort to get Harrison consistent at-bats.

“I think the South Florida fans are going to love this guy,” Mattingly said of Harrison over the summer.

Tough Road Ahead

The Marlins are faced with a monumental task of piecing together a team on the fly. And these players have a tough road ahead. Miami will play four games in three days versus the Orioles, proceed to face the New York Mets, then travel to Buffalo to play the Toronto Blue Jays. The Marlins aren’t currently scheduled for a home game until August 14th.

Mattingly announced Pablo Lopez will start tomorrow’s game and Elieser Hernandez will start one of the two games for Wednesday’s doubleheader. There was no mention of Caleb Smith, which means he might be IL bound.

The Marlins are currently 2-1 and in second place in the NL East, 1.5 games behind Atlanta. This week, they’re facing an Orioles team that sports the third-best record in the AL (5-3).

Marlins Outbreak: On to Baltimore

The Miami Marlins haven’t seen the field in a week and won’t do so again until at least Tuesday. We hope. The Marlins have been dealing with the league’s worst COVID-19 outbreak, and while some thought it was an isolated issues for MLB, other teams, like the St. Louis Cardinals, have seen their own issues with the virus crop up.

The Marlins hold first place in the NL East despite playing only three games this season. If they’re going to keep that position or challenge for a spot in the playoffs, they’ll need to navigate the coming days and weeks carefully. Here’s a look at the latest with the Marlins Outbreak.

Buses Home, On To Baltimore

With 21 members of the organization, including 18 players, testing positive for COVID-19, the Marlins outbreak seemed on the brink of cancelling their season. The team remained sequestered in two Philadelphia hotels this week, but on Friday, they finally got MLB approval to transport the sick players home via sleeper bus.

They’ve since arrived in South Florida, where they will be quarantined. Thankfully, none of those who have tested positive with the Marlins have reported major symptoms.

Harold Ramirez told Telemundo this week he doesn’t have a cough anymore and his body aches have gone away. Miguel Rojas took to Twitter on Thursday to thank fans and supporters and say he can’t wait to get back on the field to represent Miami.

While the recent round of negative COVID tests is good news, the Marlins remain in a holding pattern. The healthy Marlins are still in Philly, as MLB has postponed their games through the weekend.

The current plan is for the Marlins season will resume on Tuesday in Baltimore. They’ll play four games there in three days, then likely move on to play the New York Mets and then Toronto Blue Jays, who are playing home games this year in Buffalo, NY.

Don’t look now, though. Isaias might have other plans.

Trades!

One of those roster holes will be filled by LHP Richard Bleier. Miami acquired Bleier from the Baltimore Orioles for a player to be named later or cash considerations. The 33-year-old was born in Miami Beach and grew up in Davie. He attended South Plantation High School and Florida Gulf Coast University.

He made his MLB debut in 2016 with New York Yankees and has pitched the last three seasons with Baltimore. He owns a career 8-1 record and 2.99 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in 177.1 IP working almost entirely out of the bullpen. This season, he’s appeared in two games and did not give up a run in three IP.

The left-handed pitcher relies on sinker and cutter, with a fastball, curve and slider, too. His ability to locate, induce ground balls at a 59-percent rate and surrender hard hits only 21-percent of the time, will help the Marlins bullpen.

Bleier said via Instgram: “I’m excited for the next chapter of my career heading home to Miami!”

On Saturday afternoon, the Marlins also acquired RHP James Hoyt from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for cash. The 33-year-old Hoyt pitched three years for the Houston Astros before joining the Indians in 2020. He sports a 4.16 career ERA with 104 strikeouts over 80 IP. Hoyt had been designated for assignment on July 28th.

Isan Opts Out

Isan Diaz informed the Marlins that he’s opting out for the remainder of the 2020 season. Here is Díaz’s full statement, posted to his Instagram Story:

“This has been a tough week to see so many of my teammates come down with this virus, and see how quickly it spreads. After much deliberation and thought, I have made the difficult choice of opting out for the remainder of the 2020 season. This has been a decision that I have discussed with my family, and I feel it’s the best one for me and my overall well-being. I will deeply miss my teammates and competing on the field. I wish my brothers the best and look forward to taking the field again with them soon!”

Diaz’s memorable debut came on Aug 5th when he homered off Mets ace Jacob DeGrom, much to the delight of his father who was being interviewed on camera by Fox Sports Florida’s Craig Minervini at that moment. However, it was an underwhelming 2019 for him in the MLB after tearing up Triple-A. Diaz finished slashing .173/.259/.307 with five HR and 23 RBI. He struck out 59 times in 201 PAs.

In 2020, Diaz went 2-for-9 with three strikeouts, but made solid contact on several at-bats.

Mattingly called Diaz the Marlins’ second baseman “now and of the future.” He’ll lose whatever development may have come this season, and if he’s not the one, there are a couple of intriguing prospects behind him. Jose Devers, the 20-year-old lefty who came over as part of the Stanton trade, is one and Joe Dunand, a 24-year-old Miami native who went to Gulliver Prep and the nephew of ARod, is the other.

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MLB Season on the Brink

MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported today there are no new Marlins positives from yesterday’s tests. They’re holding at 18 positives for now. But a new rash of positives have sprouted within the St. Louis Cardinals organization. The Cardinals have had six positive tests over the last couple of days, three players and three staff members.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told MLBPA executive director Tony Clark on Friday that if the sport doesn’t do a better job of managing the coronavirus, it could shut down for the season.

According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the conversation between Manfred and Clark was “not a threat but a reality check that was relayed to players — and has spread quickly among them: We — all of us — need to clean this up, because if we don’t, Major League Baseball in 2020 is going to be over.”

Manfred has since backtracked off that position some, saying he’s “not a quitter.”

This weekend is seen as a crucial juncture for the sport, both in terms of hoping for a limit of positive tests and in players abiding by protocols. The Marlins outbreak could be the defining development of the year.

Other Roster Moves

On Monday, the team announced the addition of two pitchers via waivers, RHP Justin Shafer and LHP Josh D. Smith. Shafer is a South Florida native and Smith pitched for the Marlins in 2019.

Shafer made 40 relief appearances for the Blue Jays over the last two seasons. He sports a 3.75 ERA with 41 K and 32 BB over 41 IP. Smith pitched six games for Miami in 2019 and posted an 8.31 ERA. He surrendered four earned runs over 4.1 IP.

A day later, the Marlins announced they claimed RHP Mike Morin off waivers from Milwaukee. Over a six-year MLB career, the 29yo Morin has appeared for five different clubs, posting a 4.65 ERA.

Free agent signings

Miami also signed minor league free agent outfielder Travis Snider, who last played in MLB in 2015. Over an eight-year career, 32yo Snider played 630 games and hit 54 home runs. His slash line in 2015, his last year in the Majors, is .232/.315/.350.

Wilkin Castillo’s signing signals the return of a former Marlin. Castillo spent most of 2019 with the Marlins’ Triple-A affiliate New Orleans, but he played two games for Miami. He went 1-for-7 with two RBI. His 6/22/19 start came nearly 10 years to the day (6/20/09) of his last MLB appearance.

Pat Venditte‘s signing brings back the “switch pitcher” after he was with the club in Spring. 35yo Venditte has the ability to work off the mound with either arm, depending upon the handedness of the hitter.

Venditte’s career ERA sits at 5.03 over 68 innings pitched. He’s another MLB-experienced arm to add to a Marlins pitching staff that must have been decimated by the COVID outbreak.

Marlins outbreak

Updates on Marlins COVID Outbreak

The Miami Marlins are in uncharted territory. The team landed in Philadelphia last Thursday and haven’t left since. They could be there through Sunday considering MLB has paused Miami’s season as the Marlins deal with this COVID outbreak.

The details of this story continue to change, but here’s what we know so far.

15 of the 33 players on the Marlins roster, and two members of the staff, have reportedly tested positive for the virus. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported Miguel Rojas as one of the new positives. Rojas leads the NL with a .700 batting average, .750 OBP, 1.300 slugging percentage, 2.050 OPS and .476 OPS-plus.

The team remains quarantined in their Philadelphia hotel awaiting results of the latest round of testing. The Marlins took the opening series of the year against the Phillies 2-1. They won’t play again until at least next Tuesday.

MLB’s Statement

In a statement this afternoon, the league said: “Given the current circumstances, MLB believes that it is most prudent to allow the Marlins time to focus on providing care for their players and planning their Baseball Operations for a resumption early next week.”

MLB postponed this week’s series between the Phillies and the Yankees. New York will instead play the Orioles on Wednesday and Thursday.

The Marlins are scheduled to host the Phillies in Miami Tuesday, but it remains unclear whether they’ll be allowed to play.

Andy Slater reported earlier today that Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said the Marlins should follow the quarantine protocols (14 days) upon returning to South Florida. However, Florida governor Ron DeSantis put an exception in place for sports teams to travel in and out of the state without quarantining.

 

MLB said in their statement that more than 6,400 tests have been conducted since July 24th and, other than Miami, no franchise has seen a positive test. However, to think this will be unique to one club seems naïve.

Marlins Roster Moves

If the Marlins get to their game next Tuesday and have to play, they’ll need to fill out their roster. Over the last few days, the team has claimed three relief pitchers off waivers and signed a minor league free agent. All four of these new players have been added to the team’s 40-man roster.

The Marlins will need to move additional players to the IL in order to create more space on the 40-man. So far, only Jorge Alfaro, Garrett Cooper, Harold Ramirez and Jose Urena have been placed on the 10-day IL.

The players added so far are: OF Travis Snider, RHP Justin Shafer, LHP Josh D. Smith and RHP Mike Morin.

Snider last played in MLB in 2015. He signed as a minor league free agent and could play either corner outfield spot. Over an eight-year career, Snider played 630 games and hit 54 home runs. His slash line in 2015, his last year in the Majors, is .232/.315/.350.

Miami claimed a pair of pitches off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds. Shafer is a South Florida native and played collegiately at the University of Florida. Shafer made 40 relief appearances for the Blue Jays over the last two seasons. He sports a 3.75 ERA with 41 K and 32 BB over 41 IP.

The other Red added to the roster is a former Marlin. Josh D. Smith pitched six games for Miami in 2019 and posted an 8.31 ERA. He surrendered four earned runs over 4.1 IP. The Marlins have another Josh Smith, Josh A. Smith, in the 60-man player pool as well.

Morin comes to the Marlins via Milwaukee. Over a six-year MLB career, the righty Morin has appeared for five different clubs, posting a 4.65 ERA.

Possible Call-Ups

A number of position players at the team’s alternate training site in Jupiter awaited a call-up. Lewis Brinson has worked out after missing all of the summer camp due to COVID-related issues. He’s almost certainly to be among the call-ups.

The same can likely be said of Jordan Yamamoto. A surprise option to Jupiter, Yamamoto started 15 games for the Marlins in 2019. He had a blistering start to his career, with back-to-back starts of seven scoreless innings, but he struggled to end the year. He finished 4-5 with a 4.46 ERA and couldn’t win the fifth starter spot out of summer camp.

Monte Harrison could make his MLB debut. One of the last cuts of summer camp, Harrison sports power and speed as an outfield prospect. A wrist injury late in 2019 kept Harrison from joining the team last September.

Among the other position prospects on the 40-man roster are 1B Lewin Diaz, RF Jesus Sanchez and SS Jazz Chisholm.

Marlins CEO Derek Jeter’s Statement

On Tuesday, Marlins CEO Derek Jeter released a statement as well.

“We continue to take this entire situation very seriously. All of our players, coaches and staff are, understandably, having a difficult time enduring this experience. After receiving additional test results on our Major League team this morning, we reached out to the Commissioner’s Office with concern for the health and safety of our team as well as our opponents.

“We have moved to a daily testing schedule while we isolate and quarantine appropriately, along with enacting additional preventive procedures with our traveling party. We look forward to safely returning to Miami where we conducted a successful and healthy Spring 2.0 before departing on the road and experiencing challenges. For the time being, we will remain in Philadelphia and gather information in order to make informed decisions and prepare for our return to action next week.”

Beyond all of this, another frustrating element of the coverage has been the lack of respect for the Marlins. Both ESPN and Twitter have published content with Miami’s old logo. The team switched its logo and primary colors in November of 2018.

Check out our discussion on YouTube from this afternoon: