Fish Bites is back today. Here are your links for personal enjoyment.
- First off, tonight’s game, the start of a three-game set on the road against the Houston Astros. As you recall, we just beat the Astros in three out of four games in South Florida, but this was the pitching matchup we lost, Ricky Nolasco vs. Bud Norris. My suspicion is the Astros won’t be so lucky to catch another of Ricky’s periodically poor starts, and he should dominate their somewhat hapless lineup. Go Fish!
- Craig over at FishStripes has got the scoop on Gaby Sanchez coming back up to the bigs to join the team in Houston. The question is whether or not he’ll start with Nick Johnson day-to-day with a hamstring injury. Speaking of which, is anyone surprised Nick Johnson is injured? Anyone? Let’s hope Sanchez gets a chance to shine over someone who’s already proven he’s terrible.
- Joe Capozzi over at the Palm Beach Post says Hanley Ramirez’s fielding is much improved. He’s right, in so much that Hanley’s fielding wasn’t bad last year, and it isn’t bad this year, at least according to your major defensive metrics. Last year Total Zone Rating ha Hanley almost three runs better than average, while UZR had him about average. This year, UZR has him at below average at around -3 to -4, but that’s still an acceptable shortstop given Hanley’s hitting ability. However, I suppose the errors are what most people are interested in, because they don’t know that scotuing plus errors doesn’t tell you much about defense.
Anyway, error runs via UZR the past three seasons (2007-2009): -7.6, -3.7, -0.2
Compare that to range runs the past three seasons: -13.1, 2.4, 2.1
In other words, 2007 seems like an outlier year in terms of range, so as long as Hanley cuts down on the errors, he’s a decent to slightly below average shortstop. Not bad (and the mainstream media was right..ish.)
- The Marlins agree to terms with all their draft picks, a good thing to see given the big mess Scott Boras was causing regarding phenom college starter and first pick in the draft Stephen Strasburg. And in case you missed it, Strasburg signed for four years, $15.67M.
- Starter Anibal Sanchez went three innings in a rehab start for Double-A Jacksonville last night. He was capped at 50 pitches and threw 45, and Craig (two appearances today!) speculates that Sanchez is ready for the big leagues. I agree, but the question what we’ll see of Sanchez. He’s not been the same pitcher since the shoulder injury.
- Of course, that’s why we’re in the hunt for John Smoltz, says Juan C. Rodriguez, our favorite beat writer for the Sun-Sentinel (because he likes us too!). Smoltz was released yesterday and the Marlins are interested. I am too, as I would support the move. Smoltz got beat up, but he’s still striking out major leaguers and not walking them (7.4 K/9, 2.0 BB/9). He’s given up a fluky home run total, but everything else looks the same. Not to mention he’d be moving from the American Leauge (aka the Big Boy League) to the National League (aka Quad-A, in some circles), and better yet, out of the AL East and into any NL division. The only issue is his ability to get out of the fifth inning; the Marlins already have a few starters who have issues with that, and getting another one wouldn’t necessarily help.
- Finally today (no saber-links, promise those tomorrow), Tracy Ringolsby on FOXSports.com thinks the Marlins playoff hopes are a mirage. I’m not going to argue semantics with Mr. Ringolsby, Hall of Fame baseball writer and all that, but when your reasoning is that “only pitching wins championships/wins pennants/makes playoffs,” you’re not focusing on the right things. The Marlins have outscored opponents by three runs, meaning Pythagorean has us as more or less a .500 team. Average teams shouldn’t make the playoffs. But to state something like this:
And while those three are a combined 29-19 with a 4.11 ERA, thanks primarily to Johnson, the eight others who have drawn starts for the Marlins are 11-19 with a 5.66 ERA.
Their rotation has worked only 658 2/3 innings, tied with the Dodgers for 11th in the NL, leaving a heavy workload for an inexperienced bullpen that doesn’t have a bona-fide closer.
That’s why even though the Marlins have won 17 of their last 25 games, but they were swept by Washington in the midst of all this. It’s why the fact they have 25 of their final 44 games on the road creates a reality check amid the recent success.
I can’t listen to this argument, full of pitcher W-L records and need for a closer and being swept by Washington somehow dragging down a 17-8 record. The argument is ridiculous, even if the premise is correct.