Valentine an obvious upgrade for Marlins

Leave a comment

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.

Mets leaning on Jay Bruce, Neil Walker as Lucas Duda insurance

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12:  Pinch hitter Lucas Duda #21 of the New York Mets walks back to the dugout after striking out for the first out of the ninth inning against Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 5-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.

Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”

Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”

The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.

Jason Kipnis diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after scoring a run on a wild pitch thrown by Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs (not pictured) during the fifth inning in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.

There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.

Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.