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Beinfest pleased with young players

With pitching as foundation, GM aims to build another winner

By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com

 

Admin Beinfest, with manager Joe Girardi, has been impressed with the play of young shortstops Hanley Ramirez and Robert Andino this spring. (Alan Diaz/AP)

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JUPITER, Fla. -- Marlins general manager Admin Beinfest knows something about building winning teams.

Respected around the league for being crafty and creative, Beinfest has demonstrated in the past that making bold moves can pan out. Some of his more daring deals landed Dontrelle Willis, Juan Pierre, Juan Encarnacion, Jeff Conine, Carl Pavano and Paul Lo Duca.

 

With the organization now on a limited budget, Beinfest was asked to dramatically scale back payroll while again looking to find pieces to build upon for the future.

 

Although the names have changed from the past few seasons, Beinfest's belief that teams win with pitching remains the same.

 

Through trades and draft picks, the Marlins feel they have a collection of young arms to give themselves a strong shot of contending in the near future. It just may take a little while for the talent to flourish.

 

"If you believe in our theory that pitching wins, and you have to have to pitching in order to give yourself a chance to win, [the outlook is bright]," Beinfest said. "It sets the tone early in every game. I think we've made great strides putting together what could be a championship-quality pitching staff in the future.

 

"Will there be changes along the way? Absolutely. There will be injuries and some changes, but we're really happy with the pitching. We think it's vital to short- and long-term success, and we'll build from there."

 

The Marlins have yet to set their rotation, claiming only Willis, the Opening Day starter, is a lock. Veteran Brian Moehler is a pretty strong choice for a spot, as is second-year left-hander Jason Vargas. Sergio Mitre, acquired from the Cubs as part of the Pierre deal, has more big-league seasoning than the other candidates. Rounding out the field are rookies Josh Johnson, Scott Olsen and Ricky Nolasco, another former Cub.

 

When Spring Training began, the field for starting pitching jobs was about 10-12. Now it's down to seven vying for five places.

 

"So much attention goes to the pitching, because so many of the big trades centered around pitching," Beinfest said. "There is balance here. You don't want to overstate the impressions now, because the regular season is when it counts. Looking at things in a vacuum here in Spring Training, these guys have done a wonderful job."

 

In assessing camp, Beinfest feels the organization is well positioned at shortstop, with Hanley Ramirez and Robert Andino both turning heads.

 

 

"I think we have two very impressive young shortstops," Beinfest said. "Andino and Ramirez have been outstanding. They are well above average defensively. Both are very gifted in different ways. Hanley has a little bit more power. Both can do a lot of things. That's an asset to the organization."

 

Right fielder Jeremy Hermida hasn't posted great numbers yet, but he has all the skills to be a future star. And Josh Willingham, who homered in Wednesday's win over the Orioles, has made tremendous strides in winning the starting catcher job.

 

While Willingham continues making progress defensively, he still may be asked to play left field down the line.

 

Regarding how the catcher spot winds up, Beinfest said it will go down to the last few days of camp. Manager Joe Girardi has liked what he's seen from Willingham, Miguel Olivo and Matt Treanor.

 

"We'll see -- no final decisions have been made," Beinfest said. "The main thing for Josh is we want his bat in the lineup. Not to speak for Joe, but he's been impressed with all three catchers -- Treanor, Willingham and Olivo. They've all done a nice job working with the pitchers. We'll see how it goes."

 

An area where the club would like to upgrade is the outfield. Center field and left field are areas the team is considering trade options. But the Marlins are reluctant to deal away pitching unless it gets high value in return.

 

Complicating possible deals are budget limitations. Basically, the Marlins are weighing deals for players with little to no big-league service time. In the meantime, Reggie Abercrombie, Chris Aguila and Eric Reed are battling for those two outfield spots.

 

"We know there is an outfield challenge," Beinfest said. "That hasn't really changed from the winter. We're going to continue to look at it and work on it.

 

"But guys like Abercrombie have been given an opportunity, and they've stepped up. That's what you're looking for in camp, and then we'll adjust from there

 

 

 

Notes: Nolasco embraces change

Former Minor League starter may move to 'pen this spring

By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com

 

Ricky Nolasco has appeared in three Grapefruit League games, including two starts, and he hasn't allowed a run in 8 2/3 innings. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

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JUPITER, Fla. -- In 101 Minor League games, Ricky Nolasco made 100 starts. But the right-hander's fastest path to the big leagues may be coming out of the bullpen.

Since Spring Training began, Marlins management has not ruled out converting a projected starter or two to a reliever. A few days ago, the club informed Nolasco that they wanted to see him throw out of the 'pen.

 

The 23-year-old is embracing the opportunity.

 

"I'm just taking it as a positive," Nolasco said. "Whatever they feel is best for me to be slotted at -- I'm up for anything. [i'll do] whatever they feel is best for the team to help contribute and win ballgames."

 

Nolasco was scheduled to throw in relief on Thursday, but the game against the Mets was rained out. Now, he is slated to travel with the club to Vero Beach on Friday, where he is in line to throw an inning of relief in the 7:05 p.m. ET game against the Dodgers.

 

The potential move out of the rotation is no reflection on Nolasco's performance. If anything, it is a compliment, because he's thrown well and the team is in the process of piecing together its relief corps.

 

Nolasco has appeared in three Grapefruit League games, with two starts, and he hasn't allowed a run in 8 2/3 innings. In those contests, he's surrendered four hits, struck out five, while walking three.

 

Last Sunday, he gave up one run in 3 2/3 innings in a Triple-A game against the Mets.

 

Obtained from the Cubs as part of the Juan Pierre trade, Nolasco says his arm bounces back quickly after starts, and he doesn't need an prolonged period of time warming up.

 

"The day after I start, and throw 100 pitches, I'm out there long-tossing," Nolasco said. "I feel I recover well."

 

Nolasco would fit the mold as a reliever because he's throws strikes and doesn't walk many batters.

 

Speaking generally, manager Joe Girardi says players will need to be flexible.

 

"The only way to find out a guy's certain role is to try it out," Girardi said. "That's something [Nolasco] will have to learn. I'm not saying he won't start the season as a starter. I'm not saying he's going to make the team. What I'm saying is we need flexibility.

 

"He and some other guys are going to have to adjust. It's just because, when you're talking about the team, it's not only what role you're suited for, but it's what's best for the club."

 

Rainout rescheduling: Thursday's rainout has shuffled the Marlins' pitching order for Friday.

 

Brian Moehler, who was supposed to face the Mets on Thursday, will now pitch on Friday in a Class A game on a back field at Roger Dean Stadium.

 

The altered pitching schedule now has Moehler, Chris Resop, Carlos Martinez and Nate Bump pitching in Jupiter. Josh Willingham and Tom Wilson will catch in the Minor League game.

 

In Friday's Grapefruit League game against the Dodgers at Vero Beach, Dontrelle Willis will start. Nolasco, Randy Messenger, Kerry Ligtenberg and Joe Borowski will see action in relief. Miguel Olivo and Matt Treanor are the two catchers making the trip.

 

Rotation options: Unsure of who the final five starters will be on the Opening Day roster, Girardi on Thursday noted the solution may be to carry six starters.

 

That doesn't mean the club will go with a six-man rotation, but because so many young arms are in camp, the team is thinking about carrying an extra starter who could be used in long relief and spot starts.

 

With so many young pitchers, the team is figuring out ways to protect the starters from being overworked.

 

"We're going to have innings for all our starters, whether we carry 11 or 12 pitchers," Girardi said.

 

An extra starter on staff offers the alternative to have a starter who may be struggling skip a turn in the rotation, rather than being optioned to the Minor Leagues.

 

Megrew's status: Left-handed reliever Michael Megrew has been bothered by a impingement in the back of his throwing shoulder, and he doubts he will be able to pitch off the mound by the time Spring Training ends.

 

As a Rule 5 Draft pickup, time is crucial for Megrew.

 

With Rule 5 choices, they have to make the team or be offered back to their original club, assuming they clear waivers.

 

In December, the Marlins selected Megrew out of the Dodgers system. Rebounding from Tommy John surgery, the left-hander has not thrown in the Grapefruit League this spring.

 

Even though Megrew hasn't thrown much this spring, he still could end up as a Marlin.

 

The Marlins could place him on the disabled list, allowing him time to recover to get a better look at him.

 

Rule 5 players must spend 90 days of active service with the team that selected them, or be awarded back to their original team, should they clear waivers.

 

Even if Megrew is physically unable to pitch this season, he could still be placed on the disabled list for the entire season, but some time in 2007 he still would have to spend 90 days of active service with the Marlins.

 

Coming up: On Friday, Willis will pitch for the first time in a Grapefruit League game since returning from the World Baseball Classic. The D-Train will make the 7:05 p.m. ET start at Vero Beach against the Dodgers, who will go with Derek Lowe.

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An area where the club would like to upgrade is the outfield. Center field and left field are areas the team is considering trade options. But the Marlins are reluctant to deal away pitching unless it gets high value in return.

 

Thank God for that! Meaning no deal for Gathright, I hope...

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Two Maybe's

 

Maybe Juan Pierre bounces back and has a great season with the Cubs... so great that they want to give him an extension and let him roam CF for years to come

 

And Maybe Wood and Prior contiune to get nicked up and become reliable.

 

Then Maybe we could trade one or two SP's for CF Felix Pie. I know that's three maybe's but oh well. If we make a trade in 06' with our pitchers i want it to be for a stud, even if we're giving up plenty ourselves. Gaithright just doesn't do it for me unless were giving up a bottom tier guy and we all know Tampa's history of trades.

 

Now for someone like Pie, Jeremy Reed, Lastings Milledge, one of the kids from Arizona, or Willy Tavarez...i'm just saying. If we're not getting a stud we might as well stay put and try to cherrypick someone for 07'.

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all that was worth something in return were already given up ... the idea of landing a stud young kid for another is bogus ... it just doesnt happen that way

 

major league proven talent for raw unproven talent sure ... not a nobody that could be good for another dude who could be better

 

 

not true. recall we traded three unproven prospects to the Yanks for one unproven prospect -- Mikey Lowell. That worked out well for a little while...

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