Craig Strain from Fish Stripes was nice enough to answer a few questions about the Marlins season so far.
NH: Hanley Ramirez has struggled to start the season (hitting just .210/.306/.309) and now they're talking about putting him on the disabled list with a stiff back. What kind of impact has his slow start had on the team? What do you expect from going forward?
CS: Obviously, the offensive would be better if Hanley hadn't started the season off in a two-month slump. In the course of the season every player goes through a down period, naturally, you hope it doesn't last as long as Hanley's has. But Hanley has never been the lone catalysts for the Marlins offensive, and hopefully he never will be. The loss of production is nothing any club wants, however, the Marlins can work around it.
The reason the Marlins are considering placing him on the DL is presently the team has only player who can play short stop. Since the Marlins are, at this time, going with 12 position players, it really shortens an already short bench. And if Bonifacio gets hurt, there is no one to play short. If Hanley is not a guarantee to play everyday, a short stop will be called up.
Not really sure, but he is too talented to go through a season long slump. I think when it is all said and done, he will finish with another off-year for Hanley. But he should rally back and finish with decent numbers.
NH:. Ace Josh Johnson has been on the DL with a sore shoulder. He was eligible to come off the DL on June 1, but says he still isn't 100%. One of the ways the team has tried to use the bullpen to cover for his spot in the lineup with poor results while also leaving them unavailable in the following games. There isn't a true option in AAA. What will the team do if Johnson still isn't ready to come back?
CS: In JJ's first missed start the Marlins called up Jay Buente from AAA. Buente had a rough outing and was DFA'd after the game and was later claimed off waivers by the Rays.
In his second missed start, the Marlins went with starter by committee and they only allowed one run and got the Marlins only win in the Dodgers series in LA.
The problem the Marlins have run into is that the pitchers who are close to Major League ready in AAA are either just coming off the DL or are still on it.
Since Ricky Nolasco follows JJ in the rotation normally the bullpen isn't needed the following night.
Starter by committee is not a longterm solution, but it can be an effective band-aid for a couple of starts. Naturally, it is a huge headache for manager Edwin Rodriguez trying to hold some relievers back and it requires the all the other starters to put up solid outings.
The Marlins are hopeful that JJ will return very soon but since he has yet to throw off the mound, I have some doubts. I guess they will jump off that bridge when they come to it.
NH: Despite Ramirez's slump and having Johnson on the disabled list, the Marlins are 31-23 and just two games back of the Phillies in the NL East. How have the managed to remain competitive and weather these problems?
CS: The Marlins, albeit young, are extremely talented. Hanley is the not the only batter who can produce. JJ is not the only pitcher who can pitch. Would the team be better with them on it and performing? Of course, no question. But the Marlins are not a team that is built around just two players and the others are there just to fill out roster spots. Though it does seem that way when the National Sports Media talks about the team.
Everyone else on the team keeps doing what they do and even without Hanley and JJ, the Marlins are good enough to win games.
NH: Giants GM Brian Sabean is blaming Marlins rookie Scott Cousins for Buster Posey's broken ankle. What's your take from for the other side of the play?
CS: I'm sorry Posey got injured but it was clean, legal baseball play. I'm not going to go into details about the play, I'm tired of doing so.
After the play Cousins started receiving death threats and the Marlins had to get Major League Baseball security involved to protect Cousins. And now Sabean goes off and shoots his mouth off which will only pour gasoline on the fire.
I can understand he is upset about losing Posey for the season, but I expect a GM to have a little more decorum than to call it a "malicious" act on the radio. Cousins wasn't trying to hurt Posey.
And oh, by the way, did Sabean pull J.T Snow aside the after 2003 playoff game when Snow plowed into Pudge Rodriguez and tell him that was unacceptable. Maybe he did and I just missed it. But my guess is that it is okay when a Giants player barrels into a Marlins catcher, but not the other way around.