Valentine an obvious upgrade for Marlins

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Keeping a team controlled by the game’s most tight-fisted owner in contention is no easy feat, and Fredi Gonzalez has a perfectly acceptable .499 winning percentage in his three years at the helm of the Marlins. Still, Florida’s success owes far more to the underrated Larry Beinfest than anyone else in the organization. Gonzalez has proven to be a liability time and time again with his managerial decisions, and the Marlins would be in better hands with Bobby Valentine at the helm.
Gonzalez simply has too many blind spots. His biggest this year was named Emilio Bonifacio. The 24-year-old became the everyday third baseman and leadoff hitter out of spring training this year, though little in his record justified the decision. He proved to be a big liability after a hot first two weeks, yet he was still impossible to pry out of the lineup until upper management forced his hand by acquiring Nick Johnson, requiring that Jorge Cantu be moved back to third.
Gonzalez just doesn’t seem to have any idea what constitutes good offense. His lineups are always a mess. Hanley Ramirez is, of course, awesome whether hitting first or third. But outside of the third spot, the Marlins got more offense from the sixth and eighth places in the order than any other this year. They received completely inadequate production from the second, fourth and fifth spots surrounding Ramirez, and they only did well in the leadoff spot because of Chris Coghlan’s incredible performance after supplanting Bonifacio.
This is nothing new. In 2008, their top spots for offense, besides Hanley Ramirez way up in the leadoff spot, were sixth and then fifth. Those guys were rarely coming up in the same inning as Ramirez.
Gonzalez has perhaps fared a little better when it’s come to pitching, though his fixation on making the hardest thrower in the pen a closer has been a problem. In 2007, it was Jorge Julio who started off with the job. In 2008, Kevin Gregg was kept in the closer’s role well after his season was shot. In 2009, it was an injury, not a 6.52 ERA over the first 2 1/2 months, that cost Matt Lindstrom his job.
I can’t blame Gonzalez for the Marlins’ defensive woes, as that’s clearly a team effort. Gonzalez seems to have the clubhouse behind him, so if he’s put in a position in which he could have a set lineup without much need for maneuvering, he’d be an adequate manager. He’s no Valentine, though, and he’s probably not the guy to take the Marlins to the next level. Unlike with the Joe Girardi fiasco, a switch was warranted this time.

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.