Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Around the NL East: Hope for Miami

Photo by USA Today
By Steve Roney

Yes, it's still the Braves in the catbird seat, but after faltering in two losses against the Nationals, the division lead is certainly in doubt. Meanwhile, Tim Hudson reached an important milestone and there seem to be signs of life in Miami.

Atlanta Braves (19-12)
Atlanta's hold on the division has remained fairly constant, with the lead now 2.5 games over the Nationals, who finally broke through early last week with two victories in Atlanta. Evan Gattis has cooled sufficiently and will lose at-bats whenever Brian McCann returns from the DL, and the outfielders not named Justin are showing no signs of perking up just yet, though Jason Heyward could be forgiven, as he is disabled while recovering from an appendectomy.

Andrelton Simmons flashed a bit of power last night, hitting two home runs in a win over Cincinnati, though the real story of the week was starter Tim Hudson, who won his 200th and 201st career games. The milestone victory came at home against Washington and featured another rarity to help mark the occasion: Hudson also homered to help his own cause. In an era with innings limits, pitch counts, and the attendant liberal use of the bullpen, wins by starters -- an imperfect stat to be sure, when measuring value -- are becoming relatively scarce, and only a handful of active starters are within striking distance. It would not be surprising to see 200 victories become the Hall of Fame benchmark that 300 wins currently is.

Player of the Week: Hudson, SP: 2-0, 14.1 IP, 13K, 2.51 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, 1 HR

Miami Marlins (10-23)
Is that a pulse emanating from Miami? The Marlins won three of seven games this week to climb out of absolute last place in the major leagues, breaking double digits in the win column May 5 in a 14-2 beatdown of the Phillies. Perhaps the most impressive part? They did it all without Giancarlo Stanton, who still resides on the disabled list. Leading the charge were 22-and-under sensations Jose Fernandez, who has been much discussed in this space, and Marcell Ozuna, who has not.

Fernandez dazzled after consecutive underwhelming starts, spinning seven innings of no-hit ball against Philadelphia in a 2-0 victory, and Ozuna, an outfielder who made his debut last Tuesday, has sparked the offense in a huge way, batting over .400 since making his debut. Both Fernandez (No. 5) and Ozuna (No. 75) were ranked as top-100 prospects before the season by Baseball America, along with four other Marlins farmhands. Perhaps there's reason for optimism in South Beach after all. Enjoy these kids for the next five and a half years, Marlins fan.

Player of the Weak: Ozuna, OF: 4 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, .407 AVG

New York Mets (12-16)
Now dangerously close to falling behind the Marlins into last place in the division, which seemed at best improbable a week ago, the Mets have lost seven of nine, and desperately need some balance. Matt Harvey is 4-0 on the season, with a 1.56 ERA; starters not named Matt Harvey are a combined 4-12, with ERAs ranging from 4.34 all the way up to 7.20. David Wright is hitting like his old steady self, batting .313 with five homers and 23 RBI; no other regular is within 30 points of his batting average.

John Buck has continued his fireworks show, leading the team with ten home runs and 29 runs batted in, but an on base percentage under .300 doesn't do anyone any favors. Lucas Duda sports a Jekyll and Hyde stat line, with an OBP of .411 and a batting average of only .250, and six home runs but only ten runs batted in. If he can get some more hits to fall, and if the Mets can put some more runners on for him, that wonky line will straighten itself out -- and New York might win a few more, too.

Player of the Week: Wright, 3B: 6 R, 3 HR, 4 RBI, .353 AVG

Philadelphia Phillies (15-18)
Victims of Miami's small resurgence, Philadelphia is decidedly on the other end of the spectrum: bereft of youth, beset by declining skills on all sides, and with little in the way of help on the horizon (just two top-100 prospects according to BA, No. 89 Jesse Biddle and No. 100 Roman Quinn). Domonic Brown continues his will-he, won't-he breakout season, tying with Chase Utley for the team lead in home runs with six but so far struggling to maintain a batting average above .250.

Delmon Young is back from injury, but aside from bringing down the average age of the lineup slightly, it remains to be seen if he'll be able to make a positive contribution. The rotation continues to underperform, with Kyle Kendrick and Cliff Lee pitching nicely but getting no help from their mates. Roy Halladay, who has been pitching like something is physically wrong with him, has landed on the DL;  apparently, something really is.

Player of the Week: Brown, OF: 4 R, 3 HR, 4 RBI, .280 AVG


Whack-a-Mule said...

Mule is delighted with Mark's designation
of the Marlin's Marcell Ozuna as
"Player of the Weak(sic)" !

"Rem acu tetigisti"

Sec. 3, My Comfortability Sofa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sec. 3, My Comfortability Sofa said...


Sec. 3, My Comfortability Sofa said...

"Player of the Weak" is cute, but it's Chase's post, not Mark's.

Section 222 said...

And it's Steve Roney's story, not Chase's.

NatsJack in Florida said...

It actually appears to be a "Steve Roney" and not Mark or Chase.

karlkolchak said...

"Enjoy these kids for the next five and a half years, Marlins fan."

More like two-and-a-half before they hit arbitration.

Theophilus T. S. said...
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Theophilus T. S. said...

Too many cooks roil the froth.

Section 222 said...

NJ, I invite you to pay up on the NIDO Spreadsheet. :-)

NatsJack in Florida said...

Now updated.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

The Braves may still be on top but they have problems throughout their lineup and rotation. Freddi leads off with BJ Upton with his .148/.231/.269/.500 and he K'd 4 times in 4 official at-bats. Heyward who is on the DL for another week wasn't producing before he went on the DL and Uggla isn't doing much better.

Where they have found a way to win is that combo of JUp, Chris Johnson, and Freeman as their most consistent players.

While the Braves are still a couple of games ahead of the Nats, the Braves have also had a much easier schedule.

baseballswami said...

I find it interesting that Miami sent all of their "elite" players to Toronto and we all thought they were left with with the dregs after stripping their team bare. What is actually happening is that those very same players who did not click in Miami are not clicking in Toronto either. The players that remain in Miami seem to have a chance to be a decent team. So was it the organization or was it the players? Not that I think the Miami organization is a paragon of baseball ownership or anything, but maybe they did the right thing in sending them packing as early as they did?

baseballswami said...

Also -- since I have been at work all morning I did not get to chime in on the Bryce situation. Question for all of you -- do you think that the umpire persecuting the team's little brother helped rally them on Sunday? That game seemed like a perfect set up for an implosion, but yet, they rallied. They have not exactly been rallying a lot this season. I was thinking that maybe someone picking on Bryce, who has already been playing hurt, got their backs up and they rallied around each other a little more. I have heard people say that they team needed a fight or something to spark them -- was that it?

EmDash said...

The Marlins-Blue Jays case is really interesting. I remember being a bit skeptical when the were hailed as instant contenders after trading for most of a terrible team, but I didn't expect them to flame out as badly as they have been either. They made some bets on players, and every one turned out poorly - Reyes and Josh Johnson couldn't stay healthy, and Buehrle and Dickey couldn't perform as well in a stronger offensive division. It's a bit sad, and I hope the team can at least try to compete for their fans' sake.

JD said...


I think you hit it. From a baseball perspective there was no reason to hold on to overpriced, oft injured under performers. They weren't going anywhere with them any way.

The issue here is that they signed all these guys with great hype and fanfare to go along with their new publicly financed stadium in a pretense that they will use their new found wealth on the team instead of lining their pockets. In fact Loria et all never had any intention to run a team with a top echelon budget. They have pulled their shtick before and shame on Commissioner Bud for letting them in and for allowing them to continuously fleece the fans.

Alphabet Soup Erik said...

If they weren't the Marlins, everybody would have praised what they did last year by unloading all of that garbage. Many of you on this blog said what a joke this franchise was last year when they gave up all of these "stars" and decided to cut their losses. I thought it was a great move. What did they really lose? Reyes (injured all of the time), Buehrle, Josh Johnson (nuff said), Hanley Ramirez (only good player of the bunch, but he would be too old by the time the rebuilding process pays off at all, Anibel Sanchez (easily replaceable), Heath Bell (over the hill). Just wait until they get two #1 picks in a row (or maybe 3). They had to rebuild once they knew they couldn't win with their current hand.

JD said...

We should be right there whenever the Marlins decide to dump Stanton's salary. I hear the Mets inquired and were told that it will take Wheeler, D'Arnaud +. To translate to Nats I think we are talking Rendon, Goodwin +. I wouldn't do that.

JD said...


You miss my point entirely. The issue here is that they tricked the local governments into building a new stadium for them where they also get all the concessions and parking rights promising to field a strong contending team. Then they sign every free agent on the market continuing with the charade and finally dumping everyone so they can continue to get profit sharing money from the Yankees et al and stuffing their pockets.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

JD, any corporation or individual that heard there was a 'no trade' clause should've thought twice about anything more than a 1 year commitment with Loria on advertising, suites and season tickets. He has done it before to that fanbase and I think any hope for 'trust' has been ruined forever. The taxpayers really got screwed.

Reyes is a star but just doesn't seem the type of star to lead a team. Buehrle is good as a #4 or #5 pitcher and Josh Johnson was injured and a risk.

I said after the trade I felt bad for the Marlins fans but thought if any of those players materialized they got in return they would have a good young team. It wasn't a horrible trade in much the same way Boston sold that grouping to the Dodgers.

JD said...


'It wasn't a horrible trade in much the same way Boston sold that grouping to the Dodgers.'

That's exactly right. If you are paying top dollar you should field a winning team otherwise you go back and rebuild. I think Beinfest knows what he is doing baseball wise; he always has.

When it comes to Loria, when that shyster comes into your town you better hide your Women and children and hold on to your wallets real tight.

Alphabet Soup Erik said...


I think they tried to build a contender and had to jump ship once they realized it wasn't going to work. I don't buy into the whole trickery concept in this case regarding the stadium, etc. They sold off their players after WS wins because they couldn't afford to keep them playing in that dump of a stadium. I can't really fault them for that. Didn't the Ravens just do the same thing? Granted they have a salary cap, but the bottom line is that professional sports boil down to that bottom line. Just wait until we lose Desmond, Zimmermann, Harper, Strasburg or Gio because we gave Zimmerman and Werth contracts that were entirely too big and too long.

NatsLady said...

OK, Erik, if you are around, I published and it didn't "take". I haven't published since yesterday's "injury daze."

Here is the post. In the on-going series, some of which are in my blog reading list, some aren't.

Opening Day Starters


JD said...


Whatever you say. Just keep in mind that the Marlins get oodles of money every year in equalization payments from other teams and they don't put that money into the team.

Don't tell me that what they did last year was try to contend. They were in on every free agent including Pujols with great fanfare specifically to try and make a splash in an effort to sell their stadium out and placate their critics.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Erik, I can see what you are saying but they always had that 'no trade' as their fail-safe if they didn't win immediately and you knew it was a possibility. The taxpayers are the ones who had no say in it and were screwed.

It was clear a few months into the season that combo of Reyes with Hanley wasn't going to work. Their pitching wasn't getting the job done and they team lacked chemistry.

baseballswami said...

But I think the Miami brain trusts really did think those players were going to get them a ring. I don't think they were trying to fake anything - they just are really, really poor judges of talent. Toronto obviously went to the same well thinking it was just a Miami thing. Fool me once... fool me twice.

Alphabet Soup Erik said...

For those that bash Loria, what would you have done if you were in his shoes? Just asking. I am much more neutral than most on that guy, because I just don't think he did anything I wouldn't have done. He wanted a new stadium (which was absolutely needed) and promised to build a contender. He tried (poorly) and failed. He then decided to cut his losses by getting rid of these players and starting over. He probably knew (like Steve M said) that this was a strong possibility. So...he took a long-shot gamble, got a new stadium, and is rebuilding now like he thought he might have to do. At least he has a new stadium to do it in...and taxpayer dollars go to much dumber things anyways. If they have a really good team in a few years at least now they will have a stadium that brings in the $ to keep some of the players there...if their loser fans show up. Will they do it is the question. I guess a strong fan base really can help win championships!!!

NatsJack in Florida said...

Next thing you know, someine will step foreward telling us what a wonderful job Angelos has done bringing baseball back to DC

Section 222 said...

Erik, check out this article by Jeff Passan. It's one of a number of good summaries of why Loria is so despised. One of the main reasons is the long history of moves designed to maximize profit regardless of outcome on the field.

Alphabet Soup Erik said...

Nice informative argument NatsJack. Like I said...answer my question. What would you have done? Fund the new stadium out of your own pockets? The only mistake he made (and nobody knows for sure who really pulled the trigger) was signing those guys in the first place...and I can even argue that even that wasn't a mistake. They received quite a few prospects for dead weight. A good start to the rebuilding process that may have been almost a foregone conclusion to them in the first place. They were in an all or nothing situation last year because they knew the Braves and Nats were set for a good 5 years. What did Loria really cost the franchise by these decisions?

Eric said...

>OK, Erik, if you are around, I published and it didn't "take". I haven't published since yesterday's "injury daze."

If this is to me (just being clear as I have a 'c', whereas Alphabet has a 'k'), if my read on the blog roll is correct, it's a matter of two cycles converging: 1) The blog roll crawler has to make a pass where there's new content on the blog AND 2) it has to be your blog's "turn" to show up when the crawler passes.

I suspect yours will be up soon. Washington Sports Bog wasn't too far below yours yesterday, and it's at the top of the list now.

Alphabet Soup Erik said...

Section 222,

Good article summarizing the disdain for Loria and hearing his side of the story. I still don't disagree with what he is doing. As an owner, you are damned if you spend money and damned if you don't. If the Nats stunk and still played in RFK (drawing what the Marlins did) I wouldn't have minded doing what they did. Stanton, 6 of the top 100 prospects, 2-3 future top 3 picks and a new stadium is a good start. I have yet to see evidence of him solely seeking to maximize profits at the expense of performance on the field. The political side of his dealings is no doubt very shady, but honestly, who wouldn't do the same thing.

A DC Wonk said...
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Section 222 said...

The political side of his dealings is no doubt very shady, but honestly, who wouldn't do the same thing.

Really? Your expectations are pretty low I guess.

I don't love the Lerners by any means, but they sure seem like they care more about this city and the fans than Loria does about Miami and the Marlins fans.

DWS said...

Loria has fooled enough. Time for a commissioner to not embarrass himself. If not what's the point?

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