Thursday, July 31, 2008

Manny Traded...

... to the Dodgers? Yes, it's true. Seemingly coming out of nowhere, Manny Ramirez has been traded out of Boston to Joe Torre and the Los Angeles Dodgers. All day, it seemed a matter of time before the Marlins and Ramirez came together, but in the end the Fish were just asking too much in return, and the Pirates and Red Sox found another dance partner.

The Marlins did make an important acquisition in left handed reliever Arthur Rhodes, but the big catch got away. Time will tell if they have enough pieces to make a run at October.

Marlins PLEASE get MANNY

What is going on. It's past 4 pm and no word yet?

Come on Fish! Get him away from the AL East!

More Evidence of "Deadness"

Ken Rosenthal has now joined ESPN in calling the Manny deal "dead." This looks like the presiding viewpoint now.

I'm disappointed, but it's really not a catastrophe. Manny would have been exciting, could have vaulted the Fish into the playoffs, and should have brought 10,000 more fans to the park. The Marlins still come away from the deadline with a host of prospects, a good squad, and a stronger pen.

Gerald Laird could still be acquired as well. With Annibal Sanchez and Josh Johnson back, it's almost as if the team picked up two arms. The team, as is, will contend.

Manny Update: ESPN vs. The World

ESPN likes to refer to themselves as "the worldwide leader." That epithet could be put to the test today.

While ESPN continues to declare the Manny trade dead, other sources are in disagreement. The latest word out of Pittsburgh has the Pirates agreeing to the deal, with the Marlins and Red Sox just battling over cash. If that's the case, the trade is still very much in the works.

Who's right? We'll find out in the next two hours.

Manny to the Marlins "Close to Dead"

Those were the words from Peter Gammons, as expressed to media sources and on ESPNNEWS' MLB Trade Deadline special.

Before we all lose hope, however, there are conflicting reports. The always dependable Ken Rosenthal seems to think there's still a good chance, and the Red Sox could be bluffing in the hopes of getting a better deal.

Why the holdup? The Marlins are apparently a shrewd bunch. As Manny continues to make disparaging comments and hold the Red Sox more and more hostage, the Marlins have been pressing for more prospects. There's no doubt that the Red Sox are desperate to get rid of him, but the Marlins may have to back off some.

Let's see what the word is at 3PM. Maybe the teams get back to the table and agree to something. The greatest catalyst for a deal is always a deadline.

Arthur Rhodes at a Glance

Arthur Rhodes has had a storied career in Major League Baseball, stretching across 5 teams (Seattle twice) and including a few memorable incidents (remember when his earrings were so bright, they were distracting the hitters?)

Even at 38 years of age (almost 39), he can still throw some fireballs. In 22 innings of work, he compiled a 2.86 ERA, a 26-13 K/BB ratio, and a 2-1 record. He wasn't as strong last year, but relievers tend to have see-saw type seasons, especially late in the career.

Gaby Hernandez was a very steep price to pay for Rhodes, but this should help solidify the Marlins' pen as they make a stretch run.

Apologies to Gerald Laird

As several readers have pointed out to me (one even in a comment), perhaps I was a bit hasty on judging Gerald Laird.

While I'm still not convinced this year is much more than a fluke, his numbers are actually quite impressive in 2008. When I examined his stats, I must have been looking at 2007 and before.

Here are his season stats:

.320/.376/.448, 4HR, 13Doubles

Those are pretty good, but we all know Texas plays in a bandbox. Surely those are home-inflated stats, I thought. Here are his Home/Away splits:

Home: .292/.364/.396
Away: .347/.387/.500

Hmmmm. Somebody feels like an idiot (that would be me). So thank you to the readers who had more sense than I did. Laird would be a great acquisition and a huge upgrade, at least based on this year alone.

Manny the Marlin at 50-50

Reports are flowing in on the Manny to the Marlins situation, all of which contain differing information. Until or if a deal gets done, I doubt we'll know which players and/or teams are involved.

The one thing most sources seem to agree on, however, is that the deal is about a 50-50 go. The indicator, they claim, will not be agreed upon players so much as time constraints. There are so many variables being tossed around that the deal just might not be completed by 4PM. This should be very interesting.

It's worth noting, however, that suddenly Ryan Tucker isn't a certainty and neither is Mike Stanton. Who is it then? Lots of confusing information. I'll do my best to sort it out before the end of the day.

Trade Made! (No, not Manny...)

It looks as though the Marlins have been reading our blogs. Well, that or they are aware of the blatantly obvious. The Fish have added to their bullpen by adding Seattle Mariners' reliever Arthur Rhodes. The Marlins gave up pitching prospect Gaby Hernandez.

First, the numbers. Rhodes is in his 17th MLB season, and has appeared in 36 games with the M's this year. He has a very neat 2.86 ERA, and 26 strikeouts in just 22.0 IP. Left handed batters are hitting a lowly .200 against Arthur.

Great move for the Fish. Pinto and Miller have been up and down all year, (lately down) and closer Kevin Gregg has been decent recently, but also has had his share of letdowns. Rhodes coming in gives Fredi a good lefty option to come out of the pen.

Manny Mania: The Scoop

Just got back from the Marlins' scintillating 7-5 win over the Mets...which further solidifies my belief that the Fish should go for it all, RIGHT NOW.

What better way to do that than by adding one of baseball's all-time greats, Manny Ramirez. And this wouldn't just be Manny...this would be a motivated Manny. This would be a case of Manny being the best Manny.

Here are the details:

Some reports had a three-way trade between the Marlins, Red Sox, and Pirates already done. Things have since stalled a bit, so no word on whether it's finalized. The main contents of the deal involve Jeremy Hermida going to Pittsburgh, Jason Bay going to Boston, and Manny Ramirez coming to Florida. The Marlins would be throwing in Ryan Tucker and likely Mike Stanton (two of their top five prospects, according to rotoworld), while possibly receiving a prospect back. The Red Sox would pay all of Manny's salary.

My thoughts? DO IT! The price is steep, certainly, but Manny is a sure thing. This is a franchise desperately in need of a publicity stunt. The Marlins are deep enough in pitching prospects that they can afford to make the sacrifice.

One thing I have to say: No matter what criticism people levy on the Marlins, they have always shown a propensity to make bold moves. While the rest of the league plays cowards, the Marlins go for it. The Marlins may be cheap, but they have guts. And guts won them two titles already.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Manny to the Marlins? Terry Glenn to the Dolphins?

Trade Rumors regarding Manny Ramirez have been heating up as of late, and the Florida Marlins are now front runners in the Manny sweepstakes. The deal would reportedly include Jeremy Hermida or Josh Willingham, and a couple other young players.

Terry Glenn is also close to coming to terms with the Miami Dolphins. Terry Glenn was recently waived by the Dallas Cowboys. Hopefully he'll have someone capable of throwing him a football by the time the season rolls around.

Exciting times in South Florida

Add Gregg Zaun to the List

The Marlins seem determined to acquire a catcher, and they're scouring the league for all available has-beens, former mediocres, and replacement level options. Why? I don't know.

Like Paul Lo Duca and Pudge Rodriguez, Gregg Zaun also has some sentimental ties to the club. You may remember him starting in the late 90's before finding a home in Toronto. The Marlins just love to bring back old flames, so this fits right into their designs.

Much like Laird, however, Zaun hasn't been a productive regular for a while. I'd much rather keep the prospects and settle for a Matt Treanor/John Baker duo.

Other Marlins Trade News

Here are the other rumored deals:

1. Arthur Rhodes - This deal has an excellent chance of happening. As long as it doesn't cost the Fish too much, I'd be for it. I wouldn't want to give up a good prospect, however. I expect this to come through.

2. Gerald Laird - UNDER NO CONDITION SHOULD THIS DEAL HAPPEN! Unfortunately, I'm afraid it will. Why are the Marlins interested in Laird? He sucks. There's absolutely no reason to acquire a catcher because he has a bigger name, when his stats are atrocious.

3. Brian Fuentes - Fuentes will be traded somewhere, but don't expect it to be Florida. The Marlins ARE in the mix, however, and the possibility remains. The Rockies are probably asking too much for it to be worthwhile for any team.

I'll be keeping you posted!

Manny to the Marlins? GREAT IDEA!

It's been confirmed. The Marlins are in serious talks to acquire Manny Ramirez from the Red Sox. Before I get into the details, let's be frank about's still a long shot.

Here's how the deal would go down. Jeremy Hermida would likely be a centerpiece of the deal. I would imagine the Red Sox would also want a good prospect, perhaps a Ryan Tucker type. A Hermida-Tucker deal could work out well for both teams. Perhaps Hermida reaches his unmatched potential in a different uniform, while the Marlins get Manny on a one-year rental. After the season, the Marlins would get two draft picks as compensation for Manny signing elsewhere, and Cam Maybin may be ready for the big club (move Cody Ross to the corner).

This is a deal I'm 100% for.

Additional Thought: If the Marlins are going to trade for Manny, why not go the extra mile? Go sign Barry Bonds! Imagine this lineup:

1. Hanley Ramirez, SS
2. Jorge Cantu, 3B
3. Manny Ramirez, LF
4. Barry Bonds, 1B/LF
5. Dan Uggla, 2B
6. Josh Willingham, LF/1B
7. Cody Ross, CF
8. Matt Treanor, C
9. Pitcher

Sure, the defense would get even more atrocious, but that's a murderer's row if I've ever seen one. And you can get Bonds for NOTHING. And the Marlins would finally create a buzz around the team.

Beinfest...if you're reading this, make it happen!


What better day to come back from my little mini-vacation than on the eve of the MLB Trade Deadline. And the best part about it? The Marlins are DEFINITELY buyers.

I'll be providing updates throughout the next two days on the latest rumors and speculation. I have a feeling something big could be in the works (cough*Manny*cough). Stay tuned!

Terry Glenn Coming to Miami?

In other NFL news... yes, there are other rumors swirling around training camps outside of the great state of Wisconsin. One such rumor is that the Dolphins are looking into adding ex-Cowboys receiver Terry Glenn. Bill Parcells and Terry Glenn go way back. Glenn was drafted by Parcells in New England and played for Parcells and new Dolphins coach Tony Sparano in Dallas. The Cowboys released Glenn last week.

While this would be an instant veteran upgrade to a very inexperienced wide out group, I'm not sure how much production Glenn has left. Hes had 2 right-knee surgeries last year and only played in the final 2 games of the season last year for Dallas, making 2 catches in the Cowboys playoff loss to the Giants. I mean, he was released by the Cowboys for a reason, right? On the other hand, the price is right, and he probably wouldn't demand a big contract. He is 34 and a minor injury risk. He also has 4, 1,000 yard seasons, including one as recent as 2006. So go ahead and bring him in, work him out, and if all else fails, he'll be a great instructional model for the 'fins current receivers. Of course, if the Dolphin's QB-still-to-be-named can't get him the ball, it'll be a moot point.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Bouwmeester Signs 1 Year Deal

Trade has got to be coming.

Hearing date was tomorrow, obviously they wanted to get it done today. Somthing is going on.

Schneider Schneider Trade Rumours are heating up this morning as well...Many of the same teams, but it is possible that Florida or Tampa could be in this one as well...I will add Schneider to The Chart after making some more calls...(added) look to Ottawa and Montreal here...

4.8 for the one year BTW. JM still has hopes to sign him long term.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

It's Time to go to Dallas

Dramatic 3-2 wins over the Cubs on consecutive days have masked the fact that the Marlins are in a team-wide batting slump. With Jeremy Hermida and Jorge Cantu the lone exceptions, the Fish just aren't hitting, even with the wind blowing out at Wrigley.

Luckily, there may be an in house solution. I had a chance to personally witness Dallas McPherson of the Albuquerque Isotopes, and the guy is a major league player stuck in Triple-A. Not only is he a better hitter than Mike Jacobs, he would probably be one of the top three hitters on the Marlins if he were allowed to come up.

McPherson's ridiculous stats are aided by Albuquerque's mile-high altitude, but most of his prodigious homers would sail out of any park. He has hit 35 so far this season, with 77 RBI, a .399 OBP and .290 average in 330 ABs. His home/road splits are a little troubling (he's hitting .315 at home and .259 on the road and 23 of the 35 jacks have been at home) but he leads the PCL in homeruns.

Jacobs has hit 20 home runs but his .239 average and sub .300 OBP do more harm than good. The problem is what to do with him. He seems to be a vital part of the clubhouse and is definitely one of the likable guys on the team. He would be difficult to trade because even bad teams have decent first basemen and Jacobs is the anti-utility player. Optioning him to the minors would send a bad vibe and could disrupt clubhouse chemistry, while trading him for another Major Leaguer could be accepted under the guise of strengthening the team.

I saw McPherson play three games, a small sample size. I don't know what Beinfest's scouts are telling him, but from what I saw he is a better player than Jacobs in every aspect of the game, can play both corners and hit lefties and righties. At worst he will be a September call-up that can add a BIG bat to the bench for the stretch run.

ALSO ALSO: Isotopes leftfielder John Gall, a quintessential Quadruple-A player was summoned to the U.S. Olympic team. He is a Triple-A All-Star that never sticks in the Bigs. An Olympic gold medal would be the highlight of his career... Jason Wood continues to plug away for the 'Topes, he delivers big hits and is Mr. Versatility. The Marlins should welcome him back for September... Isotopes Park is the nicest minor league stadium I have ever been to. The altitude makes for some wild games and lots of homers. The park has a hill ala Houston in centerfield, 428 feet from home plate. The right-center gap is 404 feet, a mark the McPherson easily clears time and again.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Latest on Bouwmeester

His Arbitration hearing is scheduled for July.29.08
He has recently rejected a multi year contract extension from the Panthers worth a little over 5 million a year. It is apparent that the Panthers are low balling him since he is worth (to the team) about 6 million a year.
Lets all keep in mind that Bouwmeester is the player who this organization was planning on building around. This organization also was planning on building around Luongo but didn't want to pay up. Jokinen was also "untouchable" and would not be traded by the Panthers.
The Panthers 3rd overall pick is about to pack his bags and leave Florida like so many other great players have before him. Its tradition in Pantherland to always trade away their best talent just to stay under the playoff line come the end of the season. At least the Panthers are consistent losers.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Canes Suffer A Hit On The O-Line

Freshman offensive lineman Brandon Washington, one of the national champ Northwestern Bulls that was supposed to be an integral part in the Canes eventual revival, will have to wait a season to make any sort of impact on his new team. He, along with two others - linebacker Antonio Harper and safety C.J. Odoms - are headed to Milford Prep (NY) since they could not get academically qualified for the beginning of the fall semester.

Miami desperately needs offensive lineman help, with recruiting at the position precariously thin over the years. Washington's absence puts even more pressure on freshman Ben Jones, also from Northwestern, to help bolster the o-line, which outside of spring impressives Jason Fox, Orlando Franklin, and Joel Figueroa, has many more question marks than answers.

Perhaps the key to the season is how much protection the offensive line can give a freshman starting quarterback (the Canes have nothing but freshmen at the quarterback position) - you know teams will be gunning for the green QB. Newcomer fullback Patrick Hill - known to blow a few people up in his pre-Miami days - will be heavily counted on to be the last line of defense to protect either Robert Marve or Jacory Harris once the season starts.

In other news - I can't wait for football season (as you can surmise from the July college football posts).

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hudson vs. Nolasco: Great Matchup

There's a lot at stake tonight, and it rests in the hands of two excellent pitchers.

The Marlins will put forth the ace of their staff, Ricky Nolasco, but he'll have to outperform Tim Hudson. Hudson has done well in his career against the Fish, but the Marlins did get to him once this year.

It's worth noting that the Marlins offense has been slumping of late. Pitching has been winning the last few games, with a few home runs sprinkled in (such as last night, when the Marlins amounted 4 hits, essentially silenced except for Mike Jacobs' 3-run bomb). The Marlins will need a stronger showing to beat Hudson.

NL East Race is Riveting

With the Phillies playing the Mets (and making tremendous ninth inning comebacks) and the Marlins battling the Braves, the NL East is rocking right now.

The Marlins have held their own. They could have overtaken first place with a win on Monday, but they kept pace with a nice recovery last night. The decision to call up Rick Vanden Hurk? Brilliant! He only gave up 0 hits in 5 innings.

By all accounts, Andrew Miller will be out until the end of July and Annibal Sanchez will be back soon. That means Vanden Hurk will probably make one more start, at most. When Miller gets back, the Marlins will have 6 starters for 5 spots. My hunch is that Chris Volstad gets sent back down, but performance could change that. It would be a shame, considering how well he's pitched.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Predictable Pre-Season Talk

As sure as the sun rises and the sun sets, every team in the college football landscape claims to have made some pivotal and earth-shattering changes that will lead inexorably to their holding up the crystal football trophy at the end of the season. The 2008 Miami Hurricanes are no exception. Today's article in the Herald highlights their "new attitude," which as you can effortlessly surmise - involves more discipline, more toughness, and more justifiable excitement over next season's prospects.

This Canes fan is not buying it. Even under the horrific Larry Coker regime, it was the same ol' song and dance, and it is now the stuff of legend how disturbingly undisciplined and uninspired those teams were. There is a new seven-player council (full of veteran Coker recruits) enforcing a rigid new code of on and off-the-field behavior cultivating the habits and practices of champions. That is nice, but what ultimately matters - and I think the players in this group, including Eric Moncur, Jason Fox, Colin McCarthy, and Glenn Cook know this - is that this team gets back to championship contention by winning and winning often.

Of course, you don't turn a 5-7 team around overnight, and baby steps like this one may help. But it sounds too much like July 2006 and July 2007 to be taken seriously at this point. Let's start with a season of more "W's" than "L's" before we talk of reviving the slumbering giant.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Jason Taylor Traded

According to, Miami Dolphins DE Jason Taylor has been traded to the Washington Redskins for draft picks. The 'fins recieve a 2nd rounder in 2009 and a 6th rounder in 2010. Wow.

This offseason has been full of drama for the Dolphins and JT. That has now come to an end. Taylor reportedly asked for a trade at the beginning of this offseason, and the Dolphins were originally looking for a first round pick. They didn't get that. They got what will probably amount to a good 2nd stringer and a guy who might make the practice squad.

As if there wasn't enough drama around Taylor, the Dolphins so far have failed to comment on the trade, even after the trade was announced. In fact, Dolphins spokesman Harvey Greene stated that, "we're not prepared to confirm that." Jason Taylor said all the right things while saying nothing. "I love Miami (and) will always cherish my 11 years with the Dolphins," Taylor said in a statement. "Having said that, I'm looking forward to meeting with Mr. Snyder and getting to know my new coaches and teammates. I'm just proud to be representing our nation's capital as a Redskin." Well, the Redskin's don't mind commenting on it. And ESPN doesn't have a problem reporting it. And I don't have a problem saying the Dolphins might have the worst defense in 2008. Joey Porter and Channing Crowder don't scream leadership to me. Their most experienced DE right now is 4 year vet Matt Roth (who?). 2008 1st round draft pick (32nd overall) Philip Merling will probably have to play a cruicial role in the upcoming season.

Now I know JT wasn't exactly looking forward to coming back to play for the Dolphins. He's made it known he wants out (I still think he exaggerated his "brushoff" by Parcells to give him more reasons to be traded.) The question became would you want someone who doesn't want to be there, but a high caliber player on the field playing for you? Probably not, but he's been the Dolphin's face for years. You think Dolphins, you think Taylor. Trading him is losing the final piece of what used to be the Dolphins puzzle. Now it just looks like a 4 year old tried to tackle a 1500 piece jigsaw.

The Dolphins are going to have problems scoring points to begin with, unless one of our three backup QB's learns very quickly, or one of our five 3rd WR's turn into Randy Moss. Tack on a defense that might not be able to keep the points off the board, and we might be in for another long year. But look on the bright side, another high draft pick in 2009, plus an extra 2nd round pick, we might have a great college team next season. Then again, it's only July. I guess I should wait until at least October to throw in the towel.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Marlins 2nd Half Outlook

The Marlins begin post-All-Star game play tonight trailing the co-division leaders New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies by a game and a half. The Mets are riding a 10 game winning streak that has put them back in the playoff picture. The Phillies visit south Florida for a 3 game weekend series that could set the tone for the remainder of the season for both teams. TSFFB favorite Jamie Moyer goes against Marlins ace Ricky Nolasco in game 1 tonight.

A Quick glance at the schedule for the remainder of July shows that we should have a pretty good grip on this team's postseason chances by the end of the month's trade deadline. After the 3 game set against the Phils, the struggling but persistent Atlanta Braves come to town. Josh Johnson and Chris Volstad will get their all-important 2nd start of the season, 1st home start, and we should get a little clearer picture of the impact they will have. Then comes the test. A 4 game set at Wrigley Field against the NL's best, followed by a 3 game series back at home against the New York Metropolitans. The first week in August sees the Fish travel north for back-to-back 3-game sets against the Phils and Mets again. The Marlins don't have an off day for the final 13 days of the regular season, and the last 7 sees the Marlins on the road. A random, 1 game (series?) against the Reds, followed by 3 against the Nationals and then what potentially could be a huge finale against the Mets.

Should the Fish come home from New York August 11th no worse then 2 or 3 games back, then they'll have to be taken seriously. All the NL East talk on the "4 letter network" has been around the Phils and Mets. No mention of the Marlins. Of course, it's a distinct possibility that by then, they are 5 or 6 out and hoping for catastrophic collapses to befall Philly and\or New York, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's see how these first 2 weeks go to get us to the trade deadline. Adding a solid bullpen guy or a veteran catcher could go a long ways to getting us to October baseball. Oh yea, and just in case, the last 3 games of the year are in Shea Stadium.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Marlins Looking To Add a Little Pudge?

Reports from are saying that the Florida Marlins are talking to the Detroit Tigers about reacquiring Ivan Rodriguez. The Marlins, whose catching woes are fairly well known in South Florida, have been in search of veteran catcher for awhile now. Early rumors had the Fish interested in the Nationals' Paul Lo Duca, Colorado's Yorvit Torrealba, and Cincinnatti's David Ross, but it appears as though the Marlins aren't very excited by any of those options.

So far, the Tigers appear as though they aren't interested in a trade quite yet. They are trying to get back into the AL Central race and hope that Pudge is a part of that. But if they slip far enough back by the trade deadline, Rodriguez might become available.

The Marlins are also looking into bolstering the bullpen, especially if a catcher isn't on the market. The loudest rumors have been about the Rockies' Brian Fuentes. Owner Jeffery Loria says he has no issue adding to the payroll. I would hope not, considering the Fish are just 1.5 games back and have the league's lowest payroll by some $22 million.

It looks as though the Marlins are a team to watch as the July 31st trade deadline looms. Who's going to be wearing the black and teal when the first pitch of August is thrown?

Panthers Schedule Breakdown

Panthers Schedule Breakdown

October: 9 games (5 home, 4 away)

The Panthers open the season with two back-to-backs in the first month, including one to start the season. They face some tough competition with opponents like Minnesota, Montreal, and San Jose. There are only a few games you can look at and say Florida should win (Atlanta at home, Islanders at home, at St. Louis). If the Panthers can escape October at around .500, the first month will have to be considered a success.

November: 14 games (5 home, 9 away)

Once again the schedule makers have done nothing to ease the Panthers pain during their historically worst month of the season. Florida starts the month with a five game road trip, featuring two back-to-back sets. Not only do the Panthers face stiff competition in the West (and their first game against Olli Jokinen in Phoenix, November 8th), but also face the defending champion Red Wings, Devils twice, and rival Rangers twice. In action basically every other night, Florida will be hard pressed not to repeat a struggling November.

December: 14 games (6 home, 8 away)

Florida continues the trend of getting road games out of the way early in the season, as their season total finishes 2008 at 16 home games and 21 road games. This month features the Panthers second five game road trip in as many months, this time taking them on a trip throughout Canada facing the Senators, Oilers, Flames, and Canucks. Florida receives visits from Colorado, Nashville, and Montreal, as well as facing the new look Lightning in a home and home set. If the Panthers are anywhere near the .500 mark after 2008, they will be looking up heading into the home stretch.

January: 12 games (7 home, 5 away)

Florida faces its most relaxing stretch of the season when they don’t leave the state of Florida for eight straight games, although they do face difficult foes in Dallas, Philadelphia, Carolina, and Montreal. Despite a relatively difficult level of competition, this is the month Florida needs to make its move. With so many home games, not to mention tilts against recent underperforming teams in the Islanders and Maple Leafs, this could be the Panthers chance to get back into the division race, if they aren’t in it coming into the month.

February: 13 games (7 home, 6 away)

This is another month that the Panthers have a chance to make a move. A month that starts off with three of four against Toronto and the Islanders, Florida also has a season long five game home stand. The Panthers get a heavy dose of the Atlantic Division this month, facing the New York and New Jersey teams five times. With only one back-to-back all month, the Cats need to capitalize and move up the standings.

March: 15 games (8 home, 7 away)

March will once again be a month for fans to come see the Panthers many times at home. An equally longest five game home stand commences for the second time in as many months, with three opponents from the Panthers very own Southeast Division. Florida visits Buffalo twice in a matter of weeks, takes a trip to Philadelphia and to Dallas. Somehow the Panthers only get one back-to-back set this month, despite playing nearly half the days of the month.

April: 5 games (3 home, 2 away)

Unlike last season, Florida ends the season with just two straight against division rivals, rather than the nine of last year. Florida gets Atlanta twice down the stretch, but faces a tough Pennsylvania stretch, hosting Pittsburgh and visiting Philadelphia in the season’s final week. The Panthers close with a home game against Washington, one that all Panthers fans hope will end with the biggest celebration in a decade.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Panthers Opening Night Announcement

The NHL announced today that the Florida Panthers will open their season on October 10 on the road against division rival Carolina Hurricanes. The home opener for the Cats comes the following night, October 11, against another divisional foe, the Atlanta Thrashers. The full season schedule will be released tomorrow.

Only 86 days to go! Who'll make the starting roster? Who will score the first goal this season? Who wants to make a road trip to Raleigh?

A New UM Basketball Star In The Making?

The Hurricanes basketball team has been holding some informal scrimmages this summer, and the word on the street is that 5 star, 6"6 small forward DeQuan Jones out of Marietta, Georgia has been all sorts of impressive.'s 5th-rated small forward in the Class of 2008 is already the most athletic player on the Hurricanes roster as a true freshman. If you don't believe me, just enter his name on YouTube. Think a young Josh Smith - someone who does not care if he has to take off from the free throw line to throw down a monstrous dunk over an opponent in his way. Jones is explosive and penetrates to the basket with abandon. There are even rumblings about DeQuan working his way into the starting lineup this season - and this on a team with all of its starters returning and a pre-season #8 ranking according to ESPN's Andy Katz. If Jones doesn't get Canes basketball fans excited, maybe fellow freshman Reggie Johnson will - the 4-star center (measuring in at almost 300 lbs.) breaks backboards.

Oh, Danny Boy...

I can only imagine that Dan Uggla can't wait get out of Yankee Stadium. A rally-ending double play ball in the top of the 10th with the go-ahead run on 3rd, followed by consecutive errors in the bottom of the 10th almost made him the feel-bad story of the night. Fortunatly for Uggla, Rockies pitcher Aaron Cook induced 3 straight ground balls to get out of the bases loaded, no one out jam. Then, in the top of the 12th, with the bases loaded and 1 out, Uggla stepped to the plate... and struck out on 3 straight pitches. You'd think that would complete the night, but no. The ball found him again with the winning run on 2nd in the bottom of the 12th, and Uggla bobbled that one. This time he was able to regroup in time to get the out. And wouldn't you know it, bottom of the 13th... E4. Uggla sets the record for most errors by a player in an All-Star game. (To be fair, the error in the 13th was excuseable. The ball took a wicked nasty hop right before getting to Uggla.) Oh yea, Uggla added a 3rd strikeout in the 15th. And to top it all off, the American League won.

The only good news about all this is that much of Uggla's action happened in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. Half the stadium was empty, and I can't imagine too many people were still watching. If only there wasn't a SportsCenter...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Quick Notes

I've been away and busy lately, so I've gotten kind of lazy with the writing. But, I promised more quick notes, and I've gotta please the people. So, with no further ado:

-Brett Favre is such a good kid!(That's what we're calling 40 year olds nowadays.)He just has so much heart!(He wants to leave the people who have supported him through thick and thin for years, and may I add, would probably take a bullet for him.)AHHH I LOVE BRETT FAVRE!!!!!...........I hate ESPN.

-Peyton Manning is having a surgery of some sort. AHH!! Oh No!! What are we going to talk about for 12 months a year???? Jim Sorgi?!!....I hate ESPN

-Chris Volstad was jaw dropping...just don't expect that every game. He's gonna have his bad starts just like everyone else. Am I allowed to announce that I am attempting a reverse jinx?

-Did anybody else hear Chase Utley say "F*** You," to the New York fans during the Home Run Derpy introductions? Love to see the great player/fan communication during All Star Weekend.

-The NL's lineup looks great....until you remember that Cubs fans are allowed to vote.

-Hamilton deserved to win, and he will always be remembered as the real "winner" of this derby. Morneau must not feel too accomplished. Canadians always have to ruin everything. (Classless? Yes. Funny? Ranging from not really to mildly.)

-The Fish are finally getting on national TV this Saturday. The game between the Marlins and Phillies should have an attendance in the high 20,000's to low 30'000's. 60-70% of the crowd bought the tickets thinking that "The Marlins" were the band opening for Jerry Rivera.

-If the NL wins the All Star Game, I am giving all credit, regardless of the situation, to Hanley Ramirez.

-Next up on my must-see list: C.C Sabathia hitting an inside the park home run.

-The Heat have 2 players playing for their national team. Joel Anthony is playing for Canada in the upcoming Olympics, if they qualify. So while we do give them humorless jabs in relatively unknown blogs, we do give them Joel Anthony. Happy Canada?

-What is more impressive? Justin Duchscherer's ERA or his last name?

-Hanley has just gotten his second hit in the All Star Game. Followed by the inevitable comment from Tim McCarver, "That was the worst pitch anyone has thrown tonight." Brett Favre would have hit a home run off of that.

-Lebron James' large involvement in this year's "Zo's Summer Groove," has already brought up rumors of Lebron to the Heat in 2010. I have also recieved word now that Chris Paul, Nate Robinson, Tim Hardaway, Damon Jones, Penny Hardaway, Kevin Durant, and that one kid who played in the random 3-on-3 game, will also be joining the Heat soon.

-Miami Heat stars, Stephane Lasme and Kasib Powell, have also stated that they feel threatened by the rumors involving "that one kid who played in the random 3-on-3 game."

-After deciding to have Tommy John Surgery, Sergio Mitre will be out for the season. This striking blow came as a huge shock to Marlin fans everywhere.

-Will the Hamilton for Volquez trade be remembered as one of the best straight-up trades in MLB history for both teams? Although, it will always remain 2nd to the trade of Babe Ruth to the Yankees, due to the huge success of "No, No, Nanette."

-Why no love for Milton Bradley? Josh Hamilton is getting all the love from the media for his inspiring recovery from being a drug addict to an MLB allstar. Meanwhile, Milton Bradley has recieved minimal coverage for his inspiring recovery from his addiction to throwing random objects at fans. As well as constant taunting in grade school from the kids who played "Perfection" a lot.

Zo A Big Question Mark

We've been a bit generous in our expectations for Zo. Maybe it's because Mourning has always been such a warrior (remember his insistence on walking off the court, unassisted?). I've mentioned him as part of the starting lineup several times, and it really isn't fair.

According to the latest reports, Mourning is probably out until December. What he chooses to do from there will be determined, but it's safe to say the Heat shouldn't plan around him. He could be a wonderful addition if the Wade-Beasley Heat show promise, but I doubt he comes back to a losing squad.

As is so often the case in the NBA, winning brings winners. The Heat now have that added incentive to get off to a strong start.

Lets Tie the Bouw?

This is taking way too long to sign Bouwmeester. Everyday without signing him is more and more likely that he is a goner. I do not see them doing a 1 year which will result in trading Bouwmeester for some scoring and a defensive player.

I think JM needs to just overpay and get the deal done. Bouwmeester is the most important player on this team, it would be a huge set back if he were to leave the sunshine state. So much for sunshine!

Jeff Allison Gets Some Attention

As you know, we've been checking in on Jeff Allison here at The South Florida Fan. An unfortunate victim of pain-killers and poor personal choices, he finally seems to be on track for Single-A Jupiter. He endured a string of tough starts, but regained his form enough to qualify for the league's All-Star game. Way to go Jeff!

Last night, Peter Gammons made a point of mentioning Allison in connection with Josh Hamilton. Hamilton was a similar case, and his unlikely return to prominence serves as an inspiration for people like Allison. No matter how low things get, if you have the talent and can find a way to seek redemption, the possibilities are out there. For the sake of Jeff Allison and many others, I hope Josh Hamilton's story becomes the catalyst for many more.

We'll continue to update you on the Jeff Allison saga as it goes on.

Hanley Good to Go

For those of you concerned about Hanley's sore shoulder, be at ease. He's good to go tonight in the All-Star game, where he'll be leading off the game.

Considering how understated the injuries were to Sergio Mitre, Josh Willingham, Mike Jacobs, and Dan Uggla, I feared the worst. Day-to-day from the Marlins has become a synonym for week-to-week or month-to-month. Is Mitre even going to pitch this year?

I'm so excited for Hanley...let's hope he represents well!

Favre to the Dolphins Update

The Dolphins are still being mentioned in connection with Brett Favre. Here's three reasons to believe it can happen and three reasons not:

Why it Can:

1. The Packers announced today that they would trade Favre only to an AFC team. With the Ravens supposedly balking, the Dolphins become the favorites among AFC teams.

2. We all know Bill Parcells respects old quarterbacks. Remember how long he held Tony Romo out for Drew Bledsoe?

3. The Dolphins REALLY NEED A QB if they're going to contend at all. Acquire Favre and the franchise is going for it all now.

Why it Won't:

1. If Favre is saying he won't play in Tampa because "it's too hot," that's not a great sign for Miami either.

2. Does Brett Favre really believe this Miami team, 1-15 just one year ago, has been revamped enough to win right now?

3. The longer this situations plays out, the more likely it is that Favre and the Packers settle their differences and unite again.

Stays retired: 25%
Plays for Packers: 40%
Plays for Dolphins: 7.5%
Plays for Another Team: 27.5%

Uggla Fails to Make 2nd Round. No Shame Whatsoever

If Dan Uggla had hit two home runs, then we might be dealing with a little humiliation. That's not what happened, though. He blasted six, which is usually enough in other years. Not this time, however. Certainly not with Josh Hamilton pummeling 28 homers in one sitting.

Uggla can go home feeling respectable. As for Josh Hamilton, he deserves the medal. The archaic rule system, which discounts earlier round performance, prevented him from beating Justin Morneau...a complete joke. Everyone knows Hamilton was the rightful winner.

So congratulations, Dan Uggla, on a solid showing.

Extra note: Grady Sizemore is half-black, but this was a pathetic display of minority representation by MLB. Not one Latino player could be found? Come on! This was as sure a meeting of the Old Boys Club as a Fuzzy Zeller private golf tournament. MLB, shame on you.

So Lue Thinks He's Too Good For Miami

Following up on yesterday's post about Tyronn Lue scheduled to come to Miami for a physical on Monday - it turns out he never showed up. Lue stood us up. If he weren't so insignificant and inconsequential a player, I'd feel somewhat sad, possibly offended. But Lue's spurning of the Heat is a blessing (not even a "blessing in disguise") - Lue is no upgrade over the Chalmers-Banks-Quinn trio the Heat already have at point guard. If you're going to use up the midlevel exception, you should use it for an upgrade. I'm glad he came to his senses before we did. Now let's find some center depth!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Uggla Goes for 6

Dan Uggla launched six homers in the first round. He had the disadvantage of going first, and Yankee Stadium isn't as kind to right-handed batters.

It was a pretty solid showing...we'll find out if it was enough to make the next round. Usually six is good enough, but the ball seems to be jumping tonight.

At 50-45, It's an Excellent First Half

The Marlins go into the All-Star break at 50-45, 1.5 out of first and in third place. It hurts to fall behind the hurts a lot, but it's only by a game. With a restored rotation and the team regaining some confidence, this should shape up for a strong three-horse race to the finish (and don't discount the Braves either).

Still, let's be practical. Did anyone expect this? Most Marlins fans would have taken 45-50 and a bag of sour peanuts, let alone 50-45. The Marlins are skeptic-defying contenders, establishing reputations and instilling legitimate fear leaguewide. All in all, the Marlins deserve a nice pat on the back.

Let's look at some facts:

1. The Marlins started the year 30-20. They then endured a 14-23 stretch, before closing at 6-2.

2. As you all know, they lead the league in home runs.

3. This was all accomplished with Josh Willingham out for two months, Josh Johnson making one start, and Sergio Mitre and Annibal Sanchez still on the DL.

4. Hanley Ramirez was locked up for six years.

5. Dan Uggla is now a household name.

6. In what appeared to be a dismal spring battle at 3B, Jorge Cantu has thrived, Dallas McPherson has 30+ HRs in AAA, and Jose Castillo helped drag the Giants to the bottom of the league.

Yes, things have been good.

Good Luck Dan!

The South Florida Fan is not going to be secretive about its rooting interests. We very much want Dan Uggla to win the Home Run Derby, and to crush Chase Utley in the process.

I haven't been this enthused for a Derby in years. Even when the Marlins' Miguel Cabrera was in it, there wasn't as much excitement. Dan Uggla's rise to stardom is a heartwarming story, and he can cement his reputation with a strong showing tonight.

And of course...if he doesn't do all that well, his name will still be DAN UGGLA!

Home Run Derby Lacks All-Star Power

Tonight's Home Run Derby has a couple of Floridian interests, which is good for us. But for national viewers, there isn't much to be excited about. The line-up includes Florida Marlins slugger Dan Uggla and Tampa Bay Rays rookie Evan Longoria. Longoria was the "final vote" winner and was the last player added to the All-Star roster. Uggla is tied for 4th in the NL with 23 homers on the season.

The other participants in the dinger derby are Lance Berkman, Chase Utley, and Ryan Braun fro the NL, and Josh Hamilton, Justin Morneau, and Grady Sizemore for the American League. While all these players are having nice seasons, but they aren't reminiscent of the great mashers that are usually seen in this contest. We won't have a slug-off like we saw with Griffey vs. McGwire in Fenway Park. No Pujols or Giambi. The Yankees tried to get Alex Rodriguez to participate, but he declined. The defending champ, Vlad Guerrero, said he was going to be in it, and yet he's not. The top 2 HR hitters (Ryan Howard and Adam Dunn) this season didn't make it to New York, so they aren't in it. The only returner from last season's derby is Justin Morneau. This year's lineup just doesn't have that "it" factor that usually comes with this event.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. There will be 6 first-timers in the game tonight, including a true rookie (Evan Longoria) who wasn't even in the Bigs until the 2nd week of the season. Josh Hamilton's personal story is incredibly inspirational. Grady Sizemore is a leadoff hitter who also leads the American League in home runs. There are great stories here, just not the ones you might expect at a Home Run Derby. Is it the beginning of a post-steroid era? Are more superstars passing up on the event because of the fear that it might "ruin their swing"? Personally, I never understood how a 2 hour event could mess up something you've been perfecting since you were 8 years old in little league, but apparently it happens.

In any case, there is sure to be a show tonight. You just might not recognize the starting cast.

Is Lue To Heat the Right Move?

According to the Miami Herald and Sun-Sentinel, free agent point guard Tyronn Lue is scheduled for a physical today with the Heat, and could be extended a contract offer following the physical. Lue is a 10 year NBA veteran, and is 31 years of age. Last year, he averaged 5.8 points and 1.5 assists per game playing for the Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks.

This is about the best that the Heat could do in this uninspiring free agent point guard class of 2008. Their other options are Keyon Dooling, Carlos Arroyo, Anthony Johnson, and Sebastian Telfair, and they only have $1.9 million in midlevel exception money to spend.

I must say, I'm spectacularly unimpressed with Lue and the other available free agent point guards the Heat have shown interest in. I think I'm content to just retain Mario Chalmers, Marcus Banks, and Chris Quinn, and call it a day. With Chalmers' impressive performance in the Orlando summer league, the more pressing need for the Heat seems to be center, where you have a not-even-certain-to-be-healthy Alonzo Mourning and Mark Blount as the only options.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Marlins Trade Wishes

If the Marlins are to be buyers at the trade deadline, there are several needs that could be addressed.

As of two weeks ago, most of the focus centered on center field and catcher. Why? I don't know.

Cody Ross has been enormously productive out in CF, and his defense has been adequate enough. The Marlins have been rumored to covet Wily Taveras (the organization has always liked those speedy leadoff types), but that would be an obvious downgrade. Stick with Ross.

As for catchers, why are the Marlins even paying attention to David Ross or Paul Lo Duca? Those guys are NOT GOOD. Why not give John Baker a chance to prove himself, and Matt Treanor has been superb defensively. Whatever it costs, these other catchers aren't worth it.

Where do the Marlins really need help? The bullpen! Once the team's strongest asset, it's now the most undependable assortment of garbage outside of that huge Turnpike landfill. Is there anyone the team can count on? It's gotten so bad, the Marlins have been sending guys like Matt Lindstrom and Logan Kensing down to AAA, replacing them with (gulp) Eulugio de la Cruz. A couple reliable acquisitions could make a world of difference.

A Rotation Without Clasps

Nolasco. Miller. Olsen. Johnson. Volstad. Not a weak link among them. Shake it, slam it against a wall, strike at any still holds strong.

That's how I feel about the current state of things. For the first time, Marlins fans can feel confident in their starter, no matter the day or game. Each one has demonstrated an ability to pitch well, especially of late.

From now on, opponents will glance ahead at the Marlins series and think: "I don't feel good about any of these matchups."

Favre to the Dolphins?

Did any of you know that Brett Favre is unretiring? It's amazing how hard it is to get this kind of information... (In other annual news stories, Manny might want to be traded, Ozzie Guillen went on a tirade, Joba Chamberlain might be starting, and Tiger Woods won a major...yes, you get it all right here!)

The most surprising thing about this, however, (sarcasm officially dropped from this point forward), is that the Dolphins are on the short list. I'm not joking now. According to several sources, Carolina and Miami are the top two candidates to acquire Favre via trade.

Why would Favre want to play for the Dolphins? Something tells me it's not to throw to Ted Ginn Jr. Are the Dolphins really good enough to merit this kind of latter-stage move?

Personally, I would LOOOOOOOVE it. How much more exciting would the games be? The Dolphins' greatest weakness is at QB...Favre probably makes them a playoff team, and imagine the deluge of media attention.

We'll be discussing this far more in the coming days, but what are your thoughts?

P.S. Remember when Favre made that shocking appearance in There's Something About Mary? That was in Miami! Could this be about Cameron Diaz?

Valiant Volstad Pitches Gem in Debut

For a split second, Kevin Gregg looked like he may become public enemy #1. But when Jeff Kent's long fly ball fell into Jeremy Hermida's glove for the final out of the game, Gregg earned his 3rd straight save, and Chris Volstad earned the win after surely breathing a giant sigh of relief. In the first major league start of his career, Volstad came within one inning of a shutout, and one out of a complete game. He pitched 8.2 outstanding innings, allowing only 1 run on 5 hits and threw just 100 pitches.

With his family in the stands, the 21 year old Volstad got early help with 3 runs on the board before he even toed the rubber, thanks to Hermida and Jorge Cantu home runs. It was lights out all night for the Gardens High grad. Volstad recorded 6 strike outs, and faced the minimum number of batters in innings 5 through 8. He also got his first major league hit in the game. Big Chris is now 2-0 for the Marlins, who have bounced back after a rough start to the road trip to win to win 3 in a row, and 5 of the last 6.

This start shows so much promise for the Marlins rookie. Drafted 16th overall in 2005, the Marlins have been looking forward to this day almost as much as Chris. Tonight made the wait worthwhile. Congratulations, Chris!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Heat Ink James Jones, Mario Chalmers

The official numbers haven't been released, but the Heat have come to terms with James Jones. The expected figures? 5 years, $22 million.

While that seems like a fairly hefty investment, I'm a big fan of this move. The Heat desperately need a better 3-point game, and that's exactly what Jones gives you. Much like Kapono two years ago, expect Jones to be the recipient of several Wade dish-outs. If he can knock 40% of them down, he's an excellent acquisition.

The Heat have also signed Mario Chalmers. Chalmers has been sensational in the summer league. In fact, he's now the favorite to start at PG. I've been in love with his game since his Kansas days...great draft choice, great move.

Things are looking up at the triple-A.

HR Chase: Hanley and Uggla Even at 23

As many of you know, the Marlins lead the league in home runs. Here's the latest top-5 tabulation:

Florida: 132
Philadelphia: 127
Chicago White Sox: 124
Milwaukee: 121
Texas: 113

(Mandatory note: The Marlins play in a pitcher's park!)

In addition to the team totals, the Marlins have a couple individuals atop the leaderboard. Hanley has now tied Dan Uggla at 23 for the team lead. They both trail Ryan Howard (27), Chase Utley (25), and Adam Dunn (24) for the Major League lead.

Dan Uggla, of course, was hampered by an ankle injury, which sidelined him for two weeks. Who knows how many he would have hit in that time (statistical projection would have him at 27, tied with Howard)...

The good news is that he's back again. This is shaping up for an enthralling Marlins vs. Phillies, Hanley-Uggla vs. Howard-Utley showdown. Bombs away.

Marlins on the Rebound

Things were looking pretty grim for the Marlins. Some thought that 18-17 debacle in Colorado would derail their season...I wondered if they could recover.

Well here are the facts:

1. Since dropping the first three to the Rockies, the Marlins are 4-1. This "nightmare" road trip is now 4-4.

2. Major credit goes to Fredi Gonzalez and Larry Beinfest, for replacing both Ryan Tucker and Mark Hendrickson with Josh Johnson and Chris Volstad. It could not have come a week later.

3. Hanley Ramirez is carrying this team. Last night? Game-winning home run. Remember when he couldn't hit the side of George W. Bush's enormous Crawford, TX barn? All in the past now. This is why he got that hefty contract, and he's earning it all.

So what now?

The Marlins have three games left before the All-Star break. If they can take two of three, they'd cap off the first half with 50 wins (50-45). And let's not forget, they'll have played more road games too.

Volstad Era Begins Tonight!

Ok, so maybe I'm a little premature in labeling it an "era," but 21-year-old Palm Beach Gardens native Chris Volstad will make his first major league start tonight in Los Angeles. This won't be his first appearance, however, as he pitched 2 scoreless innings against the Rockies on Sunday.

Josh Johnson also made his first start last night, and while he didn't get the win, he did pitch well. With Johnson and now Volstad being added to the Marlins starting rotation, there is great potential in South Florida. There is also potential for a great collapse. The oldest pitcher on the rotation is Ricky Nolasco, who is all of 25 years. Scott Olsen and Josh Johnson are both 24, while Andrew Miller is 22. Miller, Nolasco, and Olsen have pitched decently. But the fact of the matter is that this is an inexperienced staff. No pitcher has more than 3 full seasons as a starter. When the latter half of the season rolls around, this might hurt us. Then again, the Marlins did have a couple of 20 something year old kids on the 2003 team named Dontrelle Willis and Josh Beckett, and they seemed to pitch alright (Game 7 in Yankee Stadium anyone?).

Expectations are high for Volstad. The Marlins drafted him at 18 right out of Palm Beach Gardens High, and he's made 15 starts for Double-A Carolina this season, going 4-4 with a 3.36 ERA. The Fish have made it known that they intend for Chris to play an important role on the team for years to come.

Tonight's first pitch is at 10:40 ET, but it's Friday night. So stay up late, come home from the bars early, watch our new kid, and hope for the best.

Monty Off to the Ducks

Monty signes a 1 year 800,000 contract with the Ducks.

ESPN Making UM Football Documentary

Slated for release in 2009, ESPN has decided to make a documentary about the University of Miami football program in the last 3 decades. Hurricane Nation is already abuzz about how exactly the Canes will be portrayed in the film. One thing about UM fans that you should know (in case you do not already know) is that they are hyper-sensitive to "media bias" against them. The documentary will most likely highlight this most distinctive feature of Canes fans' collective psyche - the "us against the world" mentality.

I think it should be fun. I've long thought that Bruce Feldman's book, "Cane Mutiny," spanning the same time period (but released about 4 years ago) and containing some amazing anecdotes (like before the 1986 game against Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl, Canes players Melvin Bratton and Jerome Brown calling up Oklahoma star Brian Bosworth in his hotel room and saying, "This is your mother-f*ing wake up call...We're gonna kick your ass," and then proceeding to just that on the field), should have been made into a movie of some sort.

The Hurricanes do in fact elicit a wide range of emotions - there are those who swell with pride for the UM story, and others who revile, loathe, and detest the orange-and-green clad. One thing is certain - it is a compelling story, and a LOT of people will watch when it finally does come out. The championships, the fatigues, the taunting, the bad-assness, the braggadocio, the Rock, Ray Lewis, Vinny Testaverde, Warren Sapp Ed Reed, Clinton Portis, Kellen Winslow, Wide Right the smoke, the memorable games - no matter which team you call your favorite, it should be a wild and rollicking ride through recent Hurricane history.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Forbes Florida Marlins Valuation was 97.4% Accurate

I thought I had been following this issue closely, but in preparing a longer post regarding the stadium deal, I came across an amazing number in the Florida Marlins Ballpark Project Report issued on January 22, 2008 by Miami-Dade County Manager, George Burgess. In section 22(i), Community Benefit Obligations, the Florida Marlins assumed team value is stated at $250,000,000.

Forbes estimated the team's value back in March of 2008 at $256,000,000. As part of estimating every MLB team's value, Forbes determines each team's operating profits and then applies its internally developed metrics [i.e. the hard part] to arrive at the team valuations. The point is that the revenues and expenses are the most straight forward aspects of the data they provide. The valuations themselves are subjective, short of a sale which would provide a benchmark. Or in the case of the 2008 Florida Marlins, a publicly issued document which was negotiated between local governments and the Florida Marlins in which the team ties itself to a reasonable valuation.

End of manufactured controversy. In being off just 2.4% [256/250], Forbes basically nailed the number on the head. Contrast that with Marlins President David Samson's comments to the Sun-Sentinel's Juan Rodriguez at he time the Forbes 2008 numbers were publicized:

'Every year I continue to be surprised at the absolute inaccuracy that a so-called reputable magazine is willing to print,' Marlins President David Samson said. 'We've never gotten called by them. We've never been asked to verify, deny, confirm, nothing. It's just a shame their readership is forced to read numbers that aren't true. 'I know the number they have for the Marlins is simply wrong. They have no information of any kind on which to base that article.'
I had earlier posts which delved into why the Forbes numbers are credible and how Mr Samson has the unenviable task of trying to debunk perceptions as to the Marlins recent profitability. No need to speculate now. The Marlins, through Samson, are lying about their numbers and the county manager's memo is the proof.

Chalmers Continues Strong Summer League As Heat Lose

I think the question deserves to be asked, albeit at this extremely early stage of their NBA careers - was Mario Chalmers, not Michael Beasley, the real gem of the 2008 Draft?

The reason I ask is because, in Wednesday's loss to Indiana in the Orlando Pro Summer League, the Heat's Chalmers showed why he is a legitimate contender for the team's starting point guard job. He did have 7 turnovers, but this was a vast departure from his comparatively error-free Monday and Tuesday efforts. Super Mario finished with 23 points and 6 assist in the 95-84 loss to the Pacers. What has impressed (and surprised) is Chalmers emerging point guard talent - he drives to the basket hard (he finished 17 of 17 from the foul line in yesterday's game), he creates opportunities for other people (averaging 7 assists a game in summer league is pretty remarkable for someone who wasn't considered a true point guard coming out of college), and he's a shut-down defender. His stat line for the tournament reads thus far: 17.7 points, 7 assists, and 2.7 steals per game. He already outplayed Rose (and it wasn't even close). Thursday, he gets the chance to face fourth overall pick Russell Westbrook as the Heat take on Oklahoma City.

For Beasley's part, he posted 17 points and 8 rebounds, but hardly made a significant dent in the game. This is a positive development if we're looking at silver linings - when you score 17 points and grab 8 boards in an "off" night, you're probably an exceedingly special talent. Beasley was virtuoso on Monday, and quite pedestrian on Tuesday and Wednesday. Chalmers has been masterful in many different ways in all three games. Advantage Chalmers for now, advantage Heat in the long run for nabbing two players with such glaring promise.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

What Signing James Jones means for Miami

The recent acquisition of James Jones by the Miami Heat seems like a great move, until you see the amount of money he signed for. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE this guy. Growing up in Miami I remember watching him at the U and loved him. The issue with this signing isn't the player, but what signing this player means. Signing Jones does not leave very much money to sign a center and a point guard, which are our biggest needs, and everyone knows it. However, we aren't the New York Knicks here. Were not signing a bunch of good players regardless of what we need (see Knicks guards), and hoping that they will somehow form a formidable lineup with a fluid rotation, all while ruining these players' careers due to the playing time they now have to share with the rest of the good players at their position. We've got Pat Riley at the helm, and he knows exactly what he's doing. So what is the meaning of all this?

This means that there is probably some kind of trade being worked out that people do not know about, and I can tell you that it probably has to do with Shawn Marion and/or Udonis Haslem. When asked about the move for Jones, Riley alluded to "future moves" possibly being made. This is not a certainty by any means, but wouldn't it be such a Pat Riley thing to do?

One rumor I have heard (it hurts to type this), is a trade involving Shawn Marion and Udonis Haslem for Ron Artest and Brad Miller, with some other little pieces involved. Talk about a risk.

Bouwmeester, Trade or No Trade?

Panther fans, would you like to see JM trade Bouwmeester and get some value for him or sign him to one more year and possibly lose him if this team is unable to make the playoffs again?

If a long term deal is not made, I would trade him.


Heat Close To Signing James Jones; Beasley Human After All

The Heat will likely sign former UM standout James Jones to a 5-year deal this morning. Jones played for Portland last season, where he posted the NBA's third best 3-point shooting percentage (44.4%). The Heat has needed a 3-point specialist since Jason Kapono, the league's best downtown sharpshooter, departed. Jones, a 6-foot-8 forward and a hometown kid throughout (he played for Miami's American High before playing for the Hurricanes), is also a solid defensive player and shot-blocker. Many are speculating that the Jones signing could spell the end of the Dorrell Wright experiment, which has taken far longer than Pat Riley hoped for. The Heat now absolutely must shift their focus to shoring up the point guard and center positions through trade and the midlevel exception.

In summer league news, Michael Beasley turned in a wretched performance Tuesday, going 1 for 13 and finishing with 9 points and 7 rebounds, as the Heat again cruised 90-81 against the New Jersey Nets. Of more concern to Beasley and the Heat is that Beasley left the game early in the 3rd period with a bruised left shin, which could limit his effectiveness the rest of the week.

Mario Chalmers starred in the victory, finishing with 19 points and 9 assists. Kasib Powell (17 points) and former Georgia Tech shooting guard Anthony Morrow (19 points) were also impressive in the Heat's second summer league game.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

John Beck On His Chances

Phinsider took notice of a compelling interview John Beck had with a local Utah affiliate. Click here to see the full report.

As always, I'll provide a noteworthy excerpt:

"One of the interesting things he tells us is how all of his throws this offseason were watched by both Tony Sparano and Bill Parcells. They were also taped for future viewing. He points out that he realizes that this new regime has no allegiance to him, even noting how some draft picks from 2007 are already on different teams. Clearly, John knows he has to impress if he wants to not only start to open this season but to also remain the starter for all of 2008 and beyond."

I always thought Beck was a heady guy. He seems to know his place, but it will take a hell of a lot more to succeed in the NFL.

Treanor Hurt, John Baker Up

Matt Treanor looks like he'll be going to the DL. He injured an abdominal muscle last night while trying to avoid being hit by a ground ball...the outcome? The ball hit him and he hurt himself. Double whammy.

This puts the Marlins catching situation in an interesting spot. Treanor's hitting may have been mediocre (at best), but his fielding was spectacular. His presence behind the plate will be sorely missed.

I thought Mike Rabelo might be recalled, but it seems the Marlins want him to work things out. That's the right move. Instead, the popular John Baker will get his big shot. I'm not sure what the distribution of starts will be between Hoover and Baker, but I wouldn't be surprised if Baker gets a good number.

Matt Birnbach - a longtime Baker proponent - provides us with some commentary on John Baker:

"John Baker trained hard this off season trying to get in shape for Marlins camp and maybe an outside shot at making the team. He didn’t see too many at bats in Spring games as he lost out to Matt Treanor and Paul Hoover (Mike Rabelo had to rehab in the minors first.) As of his calling up, he was hitting .316/.394/.492 with 21 extra base hits (6hr) in 193 at bats. Against lefties, he was hitting .382/.443/.455 in 55 at bats.

It will be interesting to see what the 27 year old rookie can do. It’s been a long time coming for him, and if he gets off to a hot start, he might have himself a job for awhile."

Round 1 Goes to Beasley AND Chalmers

Michael Beasley had 28 points and 9 rebounds, while Mario Chalmers finished with 11 points, 6 assists (to just 1 turnover), and 6 steals in comparison to Derrick Rose's 10 points, 5 assists, and 5 turnover, as the Miami Heat steamrolled past the Chicago Bulls 94-70 on the first day of the Orlando summer league. The Heat's 2008 draft dazzled, and schooled the Bulls' last 3 drafts. Not only did Chalmers outplay Rose, but Beasley looked dominant against NBA regulars Joakim Noah and Tyrus Thomas. He was driving aggressively to the basket, hitting baseline jumpers, and even connected on a 3 pointer. Chalmers, meanwhile, showed stifling defensive acumen, suffocating Bulls guards including Rose.

It is just one game. It is a summer league game. But against NBA competition (Noah, Thomas, and Rose), both Beasley and Chalmers dazzled. As far as the Beasley vs. Rose comparison, there was none - in the end, they both played to their college numbers, and that is a winning proposition for the Heat every time. So smile, Miami - the Heat aren't back, but they're closer than ever with these two competitors waiting in the wings.

What a Difference a Day Makes...

Following the 3rd game of the Marlins-Rockies series, it felt as though things were starting to come apart. Our starting rotation, with Ryan Tucker and Mark Hendrickson, couldn't get out of the 4th inning of a game and was looking extremely hittable. The Marlins blew a 9-run lead, and closer Kevin Gregg blew consecutive saves. The Marlins fell to 3.5 games back and were falling fast.

Turn the page to game 4 on Sunday. Chris Volstad gets called up from Carolina and enters the game down 4-3. Two scoreless, well pitched innings later, the Marlins have the lead, Volstad goes on to get the win and is promptly inserted into the starting rotation. Kevin Gregg pitched a solid inning Sunday, albeit with a 5-run lead. We also learn that Josh Johnson will be joining Volstad in the starting five. Johnson gets the start Thursday, Volstad on Friday.

Now, we come to tonight's game in San Diego. Emerging staff ace Ricky Nolasco pitches an 8 inning gem, giving up just 5 hits and 1 run. Due to the way the batting order fell in the top of the 9th, Nolasco came up just an inning short of the Marlins first complete game in 264 games. Kevin Gregg comes in and retires the Padres in order, recording the save.

Just to touch on it, the umpiring call made on Hanley's potential RBI double in the 7th was questionable, at best, although if you were listening to the Padres radio crew, they saw it as "the crew coming together, and they got the call right." Even the Marlins crew thought it was the right call, but it was more of an issue of overturning the original call. No one had a better view than the 3rd base ump who made the call.

Anyways, we'll never know what was said in the umpire conference, or who said they saw what, but whether it was fair or foul turned out to be a non-issue, thanks to Nolasco and Gregg. Nolasco threw like the staff veteran he is (despite being just 25, he is currently the oldest starting pitcher on the Marlins). He bested Greg Maddux, who still has not won since his 350th win came May 10th. With the new rotation, hopes are high. And thanks to the floundering Phillies, the Marlins are now just 1.5 games back of the division lead.

What a difference a day makes...

Awful Umpiring - Part 2

After watching Joe West do a great imitation of the Federal Government - bloated, impervious and mistaken - I have a suggestion for an additional piece of equipment for managers to have in the dugout.

A protractor. Not to be impaled on Mr West [tempting, but wrong], but rather to prove mathematically that a line drive that lands just inches foul about 10 yards past the third base bag and continues into foul ground against the stands coming off the bat of a right-handed hitter cannot have been foul when it went past the third base bag.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Awful Umpiring Strikes Again

I don't know what the result of this game will be. It's currently 2-1 Marlins through 7, and this travesty of an umpiring crew may have little impact on the game. That being said...

MLB umpiring is an absolute disgrace. What makes this particular situation so horrendous, however, is not just that the second base umpire (Joe West) overruled a foul-line call at third base (he couldn't possibly know), but that he had the gumption to throw Fredi Gonzalez out of the game...AFTER FIVE SECONDS.

That would have made the game 3-1. Now...2-1.

These umpires think they're bigger than the game, picking fights with managers before they even say anything. Nobody has bigger egos than these charlatans.

Uggla To Compete in HR Derby

Just a quick, informational post. Dan Uggla plans on competing in the Home Run Derby this year at Yankee Stadium. Unfortunatly, he won't be hitting it towards the short porch that the lefties in the lineup will have their eyes on. Uggla ranks 2nd in the NL in home runs with 23, and 4th in slugging percentage (.620).

5 of the 8 players have been announced. Joining Uggla will be Marlins fan-fav Chase Utley, along with Josh Hamilton, Lance Berkman, and Grady Sizemore. Defending champ Vlad Guerrero has told that he plans to compete as well, but that has yet to be confirmed by

The Home Run Derby is Monday, July 14 at 8 on ESPN.

Dolphins Getting Some Attention

Aside from the now-forgotten (I think?) Bill Parcells-Jason Taylor saga, the Dolphins have gotten some pretty good press. Most experts approved of their draft, the management seems sensible, and fans are optimistic. All great things...unless the team falters.

In the meantime, FinsNation provides a a pretty good sampling of what people are saying. Of course, he also manages to slip in his unique brand of humor, which never fails to get me huffing and puffing.

And see...I'm not the only one who thinks 9-7 is possible.

Josh Johnson and Chris Volstad In! Who's Out?

Imagine the utter delight I felt this morning when I learned that not one - but both - of the Marlins' dead weight rotation inhabitors were being relegated to the pen.

Yep, that's right! As reported here by Fish Stripes, both Ryan Tucker AND Mark Hendrickson are out. I never thought it would happen. I hoped, prayed, dreamed, but never believed. Finally, we're rid of Hendrickson!

How exciting will it be to see Josh Johnson pitch on Thursday, then Volstad on Friday. Suddenly, the Marlins have a good hurler going every night (and boy do they need it with the current status of the bullpen...Hendrickson included!) The next five games? Nolasco-Miller-Olsen-Johnson-Volstad. I like all five of them right now.

I would imagine Ryan Tucker gets sent down to AAA once Josh Johnson is officially called up. I like Tucker a lot, but it's obvious he needs more refinement. Hendrickson gave a great April, a mediocre May, and a horrible June-July. The time was right. I hope he regains some form in his new role, but he just couldn't be put out there any more.

Early July Heat Tidbits

* It wasn't quite that big a scare after all. After being accidentally elbowed in the chest during his first Heat practice, Michael Beasley received a diagnosis of a fractured sternum, but doctors say that he will be able to play all of the summer league games this week in Orlando, the first spotlighting a matchup of #1 (Derrick Rose) and #2 (Beasley) as the Bulls take on the Heat on Monday. Beasley will wear a protective vest underneath his Heat summer league jersey and said, with characteristic bravado, "I'm going to play until my chest caves in." I like him already.

* Everyone is eagerly awaiting 2010, not because there's a temporary moratorium on estate taxes (well, maybe for some tax law geeks and the soon-to-inherit), but because that's when Dwyane Wade, Lebron James, and a host of other gems become available free agents. The Heat appears to be saving for that year as well - they obviously want to be in a position to retain Flash. So as far as the Heat's free agent options are concerned, then, they're just looking to use as much of the $6 million mid-level exception as they can.

* Some names being thrown out as options - Portland forward James Jones (former Miami Hurricane sharp-shooter and shot-blocker extraordinaire), Pacers center David Harrison, former #1 pick and current bust Kwame Brown, Nets center Nenad Kristic, and Golden State center Patrick O'Bryant. Color me unimpressed with the viable options.

* One intriguing option is Golden State guard Monta Ellis. Ellis appears interested in becoming a member of the Heat, and the Heat seem to be reciprocating. Two problems with that scenario, however: (1) the Warriors are desperate to keep Ellis, especially after Baron Davis departed so unceremoniously to the Clippers and (2) Ellis comes with a price tag, and he isn't even a true point guard, the real "need" position for the Heat.

* Summer league notes: St. Joe's rookie forward Pat Calathes has had a few strong days of scrimmaging, and there's speculation he may make the Heat regular season roster as a 3-point specialist; former Miami Hurricane center Anthony King (projected to be a power forward at the next level) has earned himself a place among the Heat summer leaguers in Orlando. King is an extreme longshot to make the Heat roster, given the logjam at power forward and his limited offensive skill set.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Volstad Debut a Success!

Highly touted pitching prospect Chris Volstad made his Major League debut in relief today. The South Florida product (he graduated from Palm Beach Gardens High School, and attended Sunday School with yours truly...) came in and pitched 2 scoreless innings and actually got the win. Called up from Double-A Carolina just this morning, he came into the game in the 5th inning, with the Marlins trailing 4-3. A 2 run single by Cody Ross in the top of the 6th gave Volstad the win.

Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez announced that the 21 year old will be placed in the rotation, and Chris will get his first Major League start on Friday against the Dodgers. Drafted in 2005 out of high school, Volstad is expected to be a long-term starter with the Marlins. It's great to see a hometown kid make it with the hometown team like this. Go get 'em, Chris!

Congratulations Hanley, Uggla

The Marlins will be represented by Hanley Ramirez (starting) and Dan Uggla (reserve) at the All-Star game. Both are extremely deserving, and this comes as no surprise.

The All-Star Game should be an exciting spectacle, a smorgasbord of a farewell to Yankee Stadium. I've been there a few's sad to see it go.

Here's something that might interest you: Hanley Ramirez will probably bat leadoff, meaning he'll be the first hitter of the game. Aside from that being a pretty cool thing, it's also a warning to get the game on early. You won't want to miss the beginning.

As a representative of The South Florida Fan, let me extend a gracious congratulations to these two All-Stars, who comprise the greatest middle infield in all of baseball: Hanley Ramirez, Dan Uggla.

Marlins Won a Game? Yep

Okay, now that the Colorado air is cleared, we Marlins fans can take solace in a victory. Sure, the Fish should have cruised to 3 of 4, blowing two games in truly horrendous fashion (one in truly truly truly truly truly abominable despicable unmentionable fashion), but alas, the losing is over.

There were a few bright spots from the game today. First of all, how about the debut of Chris Volstad? If you didn't know, he's a MAJOR part of the Marlins future. He came in and shut the Rockies down, earning a relief victory. Well done!

Cody Ross was UNBELIEVABLE in this series (along with the rest of the overshadowed offense). Just how good was Ross? As says:

"He went 12-for-20 with six runs, four doubles, two homers and a whopping 15 RBI. The strong weekend boosted his average over 30 points to .266, and he now has 15 homers and 47 RBI on the season."

Not only should Cody Ross be playing every day, but I would play him over Jeremy Hermida too. In fact, Ross has been at an All-Star level since May. I half wondered if Clint Hurdle would give Ross a bench spot.

It's also worth noting that Mike Jacobs - much criticized - has responded with a little hot streak. Could he have been motivated by our recent comments? Regardless of what you think, Jacobs has earned a few more days away from the microscope.

Ahhh. I'm so glad they won today...

Thank You Stanley C.

The South Florida Fan is prepared to honor Stanley C. for incredible fortitude in a time of baseball cholera.

I wasn't able to step to the computer and write. Few could. Stanley C. bit the bullet, and for that he deserves an honorary award.

And now that I've said that...18-17???? Without doubt, the WORST game I've ever watched. At least it was Independence Day, right? I have no more words...

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Opposite Coasts, Opposite Direction

On the Atlantic side of things, the Marlins are struggling like, well, like fish out of water. Florida was once again rocked by the Rockies (I'm full of the obvious puns tonight!), this time by the score of 12-6. A common thread in many of these recent losses is a lack of longevity in starting pitching. Tonight's starter, Ryan Tucker, last just 4 innings. He gave up 8 runs on 7 hits, with 6 of those runs coming in his final inning. This marks a Major League record 263rd straight game without a complete game pitched. To make matters worse, one of the Marlins more reliable relievers, Justin Miller, was put on the 15 day DL earlier today. Closer Kevin Gregg has had a rough stretch, failing in his last 2 attempts to record a save. On the season, Gregg is 15 of 21. The Marlins are going to have to find longer starts from someone in the rotation if they hope to keep pace.

Meanwhile, on the other coast (of Florida), the Rays have the best record in baseball. With their win over the Royals tonight, Tampa extended its winning streak to 6, and its lead in the AL East is at 4 games. The Rays are 9-1 in their last 10. Perhaps the most telling stat is their home record, 35-13. The friendly confines of the Trop have been... devilish... to their opponents. The Rays, as opposed to their Floridian counterparts, have 3 pitchers who have complete games this season, including 3 time CG-er, James Shields. Closer Troy Percival, although currently on the DL, is saving games at a much better clip (19 of 21). Quality pitching = wins.

The Marlins are still only 3.5 games back of the Phils, but now sit just one game over .500. To make things worse, the Mets are starting to play well. They are just one game behind the Fish after their win against the Phillies. The Fish continue their tour of the NL west with 1 more against the Rockies tomorrow, and then a trip to lowly San Diego where they need to make a statement. A 4 game series against the struggling Dodgers offers more opportunities to turn things around before the All-Star break. Oh yeah, the first series after the break is at home against the Phillies.

The Rays lead the highly financed AL East by 4 games, and are playing like a team that will be there in October. Tampa still has 2 more against the Royals, then a quick 2 game set with at Yankee Stadium, followed by a 3 game series in Cleveland against another surprisingly wallowing team in the Indians. They won't see Boston or New York again until the first week in September.

With one week to go before the break, both clubs have opportunities against lesser opponents to show that they are planning to play meaningful baseball well into September. Hopefully, Florida will have multiple representation in October.

Simply Unbelievable

It was just one of those nights. The Marlins have reached a new level of incredulous-osity. The final score was 18-17. That is only the tip of this mile-high iceberg.

The Fish had a 9 run, 13-4 lead going to the bottom of the 4th inning. Then the Rockies started launching the rockets. The Rocks scored 12 straight runs via the long ball. Colorado hit 6 home runs in the game. And guess how the Rockies won the game in the 9th... an error and a 2nd Kevin Gregg blown save in the last 24 hours. After Gregg gave up 3 straight singles to start the 9th and lose the lead, Hanley Ramirez had a chance to turn a double play that would have put a runner on 3rd but with 2 outs, but instead dropped the flip from Amezga to allow the Rockies to load the bases with no outs, and eventually get the win.

Not to be lost in this catastrophic collapse, the Marlins did score 17 runs on 22 hits. Ramirez was a triple short of the cycle, Cody Ross had a 5 RBI night, and Mike Jacobs went 4-4 and reached base all 6 times he came to the plate.

Unfortunately, the Rockies scored in every inning but the 8th. Simply put, the 2 teams combined for 35 runs on 43 hits, 21 of those hits were for extra bases. The All-star break needs to hurry up and get here, because the Marlins can't seem to do anything right of late, and the Phillies are starting to get hot. Obviously there is lots of baseball left to play, but after tonight's action, the Marlins are 3.5 games back of the Phils in the East, and 4 back in the wild card.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Marlins Give One Away (again)

Add another one to the "remember-these-losses-in-October" file. Despite Jorge Cantu's 2-run, lead claiming home run in the 8th, despite Wes Helms' game-saving play in the 10th, and even despite Cody Ross' RBI double in the 11th, the Marlins lost the opening game to the Rockies, 6-5.

A well pitched start from Andrew Miller will be forgotten (6.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 5 K), as it was the Fish-pen that lost this one. Relievers gave up lead off walks in the 9th, 10th, and 11th innings. While able to wriggle out of trouble in the 9th and 10th, the Marlins came up just short of a miraculous escape in the 11th to fall 2.5 games back of the Phils. Kevin Gregg was the actual culprit who earned the loss, and I do mean earned. Following a leadoff walk, he follwed that up with a throwing error on a sac bunt attempt, a walk to load the bases, a grounder that was able to get the runner at home just to give us Fish fans a glimmer of hope, and then the game winning, 2 run single you knew was coming. If the Marlins hope to keep pace with the big boys, they're going to have to learn how to close games out. There have been far too many losses snatched from victory in the first half of the season.

An interesting side note; when Rockies' manager Clint Hurdle was asked on Tuesday how he would respond to increased criticism of the team, as expressed by e-mailers to newspapers, he responded with this: "Stop coming, then. That's the best statement you can make." How did the fans respond? They sold out the place tonight, 48,000+ ... against the Marlins.

Hey, Marlins fans, stop coming!

Brand, Maggette, Interest Heat, BUT...

We've talked about the possibility of Elton Brand joining the Heat for a while now. Some people are all excited, thinking the Baron Davis signing (to the Clippers for the max) paves the way for Brand to leave.

Hold those thoughts.

According to a number of credible sources, Brand and Davis were working together. The only reason Elton Brand opted out of his contract was so he could re-sign for less money. Unselfishly, he wanted the Clippers to have the cap room to sign Baron Davis. Wouldn't it be nice to have a guy like that on the Heat?

The Heat still have a chance, however. It would come down to whether the Clippers want Marion, and the Heat would have to sweeten the package.

The other Clipper popping up in Heat reports is Corey Maggette. I've always liked Maggette, back to his early Clippers days. He gives you instant scoring, quickness, and could really take over the scoring load in Wade's absence. The chances? Not all that likely, but the Heat are on the short list. Stay tuned.

Mike Jacobs: 18 HRs and Criticized???

Yes, that's right. Mike Jacobs has been coming under a lot of fire lately, despite his 18 home runs. The latest to lead the charge? Marlins Today, in this scathing, but first-rate analysis of Mike Jacob's inadequacies.

Let me give you a nice chunk:

"Let me start off by saying his 18 homeruns are awesome. If he was in the American League, he would be one off the lead. Then again, if he was in the American League, he could be a designated hitter, but we’ll get into that later. Compared with those first baseman that have enough at bats to qualify, Jacobs ranks in the bottom of nearly every major category. He’s 13 out of 14 in batting average at .233. Only Ryan Howard’s .218 is worse. Mike’s on base percentage is dead last at .262. Next closest is Ryan Howard at .311. That’s embarrassing. One thing Jacobs does exceptionally well is hit the ball for extra bases. His .506 slugging percentage has him tied for 4th with Derrek Lee. So we have a slugger that can barely hit his weight, and will not take a walk for his life. His 11 walks have him at 36th in the entire major leagues for first basemen. Daryle Ward (42 at bats), Wes Helms (144 at bats), and John Bowker (201 at bats) are the only ones to be worse. His .768 OPS (on base + slugging) ranks him 12th out of 14th with only Carlos Delgado and Adam LaRoche being worse. So even with his tremendous slugging, he’s still one of the worst first basemen in the National League."

They go on to say this about his fielding:

"You can watch with your eyes all you want and you may not see a worse fielder."

Ouch! I'm not really sure where I fall in this argument. I don't want to discount Jacobs' contributions, but he does seem to be home run or bust these days. When the Marlins are down 3 in the 9th and he's leading off, forget it.

I would like to see him show more patience, earning deeper counts and - (cringes) - actually try and shorten the swing! Either way, the 6th spot in the lineup suits his prototype.

Speaking of Hanley...

Likely All-Star Game starter Hanley Ramirez can add another award to his ever-expanding trophy case. As Fish Stripes reports, Hanley Ramirez was named NL Player of the Month for June.

During that span, he batted .298 with 10 home runs.

To be honest, I didn't even realize it. Maybe it's because his April was so incredible and May so made June seem average. 10 homers is a ton for one month, especially for a shortstop. Congratulations Hanley!

P.S. Hanley still takes that outside strike a lot, but at least he's reading it better now.

All-Star Projections: Hanley, Uggla Are Locks

The grand "Selection Show" for the MLB All-Star Game is Sunday at 2PM EST. Needless to say, this hardly carries the excitement of other selection shows, namely the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

Still, I'm looking forward to hearing Hanley Ramirez and Dan Uggla announced. Hanley has an excellent chance of being the starter at shortstop. According to the last voting figures, the undeserving Miguel Tejada would need a strong push to match him in votes.

Uggla will be a reserve, barring injury to Chase Utley (whether you think Uggla is better than Utley or not, their numbers are comparable enough that we can't be upset). It's amazing how productive the Marlins' middle infield really is.

As for others...very little chance. Jorge Cantu and Kevin Gregg have the slimmest of chances. They would have to be manager's picks, and as far as I know, neither is all that close with Clint Hurdle. Ricky Nolasco has built a solid case, but not strong enough. At 9-4, 3.94 ERA, Nolasco is putting together a superb season, but he would have needed the ERA at least a run lower to get serious consideration.

So Hanley should start, Uggla a reserve, the rest get a nice break. Two All-Stars isn't bad, especially when they're both so good.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Optimism in South FLA

Believe it or not, the Florida Panthers may actually compete next year.

Without leading scorer Olli Jokinen, the Panthers may actually end up with a better team next season. After the trade to Phoenix, many fans said it would take a huge free agent signing to bring optimism back to Florida.

Enter Cory Stillman. While Stillman isn't a superstar, he brings many things to the table that Jokinen couldn't. Stillman is a leader, with multiple Stanley Cup victory experience, and doesn't give up much in terms of scoring. He will put up close to the same amount of points Jokinen will, plus he's a team player.

Even though I would have loved one more free agent signing, the Panthers may actually be in decent shape. Atlanta is reeling, losing Bobby Holik, and not being able to acquire someone to replace the loss of Marian Hossa. Rob Hainsey is all they have to show from free agency thus far.
Carolina has picked up some talent on defense finally, but at the expense of Panthers-killer Erik Cole. Washington swapped Cristobal Huet for Jose Theodore, a downgrade in my eyes, while the Lightning have given a whole new meaning to the term the best defense is a good offense.

The Panthers clearly have the best goaltender in the division, and the best defense now as well. Throw in an offense that will now suffice with Stillman, plus the potential of the young guns, and Florida has to have a chance in the Southeast Division this year. Oh, and having a hard working, motivating coach can't hurt either.

Unlike any season in recent memory, I see reason for optimism in South Florida. Even if it is just July.

Amazin' Amezaga Really is Amazing

No matter how low his batting average sinks, I'll always be an Alfredo Amezaga fan. It really can't be helped.

How do you not like everyone's favorite clubhouse buddy, the best fielder at every position, who takes pitches willingly and does whatever he's asked. Then he steps to the plate today after a 90 minute rain delay and blasts a home run.

If this 3-2 Marlins lead holds up, Ricky Nolasco will owe it all to Amezaga. Amazing, amazing stuff.

Nice, Warm Welcome for Beasley

Michael Beasley was forced to leave his first practice as a member of the Heat due to a violently caught an elbow to the chest from a fellow teammate. (My money is on Mark Blount) Beasley left practice for precautionary purposes and to undergo further evaluation to make sure there was nothing more complicated to this injury then what met the eye. Beasley's first game with the Heat's NBA Summer League team is on Monday against the Orlando Magic.

Welcome to the NBA, Mr. Beasley.
- Old quote by Pat Riley
"This is the NBA, as in No Babies Allowed!" (Clean Version)

Beasley to Face Rose on Monday

Can't wait to see Michael Beasley in a Heat uniform? Can't wait to see Beasley prove who got the better of the deal between Miami and Chicago on draft night? Well, truth is, you don't have to wait. The Heat open summer league play on Monday in Orlando against the most anticipated of rivals - Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls. Beasley is on record as saying that one of his goals as a professional is to go down in history as the best player to emerge from the 2008 Draft. The first step of that ambitious journey takes place on Monday.

The Heat, who will be coached this summer by assistant and Heat legend Keith Askins (Erik Spoelstra used to have this role, but he has bigger fish to fry now), will feature a lineup including second round pick Mario Chalmers, returning players Daequan Cook, Stephane Lasme, and Kasib Powell, as well as undrafted free agents Pat Calathes (the St. Joseph's forward whose brother, Nick, plays for the Florida Gators), Louisville center David Padgett, and Davidson point guard Jason Richards.

For those that suffer from post-football, post-basketball July funk, this is always an exciting time. I count August in that annual ennui as well, but this year we have the Beijing Olympics to relish! September rolls around and college football is in full swing again. In the dog days of summer, it's always nice to have some highlights to look forward to.

One final note: Greg Cote argued for the Heat to hotly pursue Clippers star Elton Brand in yesterday's Herald. While I would love for this to happen, it seems incredibly unlikely - Brand has expressed a strong desire to remain a Clipper, and L.A.'s probable signing of Baron Davis will likely reinforce Brand's preference to build a contender in the city of angels.