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Youthful Marlins Are Shaking Up Baseball


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WOW Marlins are all over the National Media now.





The Florida Marlins are going to change the way owners and general managers look at their teams.


The lesson of the Marlins is that if you've got baseball people who can evaluate talent and if you don't fall in love with your veterans and if you're willing to let that local columnist roast you until he has to apologize seven months later, you can do spectacular things.


The Marlins aren't just the most remarkable story in baseball. They're a blueprint for the future.


The Marlins dismantled their team last winter to cut payroll. Experts expected them to lose, oh, 120 games. Instead, they might go to the playoffs.


They acquired quality kids and they promoted their own quality kids.


Rookie right-hander Josh Johnson could win the National League's Rookie of the Year and Cy Young Award. Florida rookie pitchers have 38 victories in all.


The Marlins got Dan Uggla in the Rule 5 draft of unprotected players last winter. He came from the Diamondbacks, was inserted into the lineup and has 20 home runs and 75 RBI.


Two other Florida rookies - Josh Willingham and Mike Jacobs - have 36 home runs and 127 RBI. Shortstop Hanley Ramirez has 136 hits, 41 stolen bases and 96 runs.


The Marlins have used 21 rookies in all. They're so young they don't know they're not supposed to be doing what they're doing.


It's not just the Marlins. Detroit wouldn't be in first place without rookies Justin Verlander, Zach Miner and Joel Zumaya, who've combined for 28 victories.


Closers? Two rookies - Boston's Jonathan Papelbon and the Dodgers' Takashi Saito - have 50 saves through Tuesday. You could see both in the playoffs.


Had you checked the list of baseball's top prospects last spring, you'd have found Arizona shortstop Stephen Drew atop most lists. When the Diamondbacks needed a jolt, they called him up. He's hitting .319.


Arizona also force-fed outfielder Chris Young, who's hitting over .300.


You'd have found Delmon Young's name right below Stephen Drew's name among the top prospects. His season was sidetracked when he threw a bat at an umpire. Having served a 50-game suspension, he's joining the Devil Rays this week.


Lastings Milledge? The Mets thought he was a year away. They've had him up for two different stretches. The Mets couldn't acquire a proven starting pitcher but found four wins from rookie John Maine. He might be in the playoff rotation.


Likewise, the Angels and second baseman Howie Kendrick. He's hitting .317. Jared Weaver has shown that the special kids can throw whatever is thrown at them.


Even the Yankees are learning to like kids. With Brian Cashman firmly in charge of the baseball operation, Robinson Cano got a chance to play last season and gave the Bombers an injection of energy. He has become a regular.


Likewise, 22-year-old Melky Cabrera hit .285 when injuries to Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui created openings.


Last week, the Yankees ran rookie Jeff Karstens out to the mound in Seattle in a pennant-race game. He pitched into the sixth inning and got his first big-league victory.


The Astros brought up Luke Scott hoping to spark a dismal offense. He has been among the National League's top hitters since the All-Star break. He has show what can happen when the kids get a chance. He's one of the lessons of this strange season.

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Great article. But what local columnist recently apologized?



I don't know if you could call it an "apology", but Capozzi recently wrote this piece on the Marlins, and admitted his expectations of the team were wrong. I am guessing he is who Richard Justice is referring to.



Some Marlins missed, others not so much

By Joe Capozzi


Palm Beach Post Staff Writer


Sunday, August 27, 2006


Of all the games in the major leagues on Aug. 13, the most significant one was a Marlins' 6-5 win against the Arizona Diamondbacks that improved Florida's record to 55-62.


Big deal?


Flash back to spring training, when it seemed like a foregone conclusion to all the experts around baseball (including this writer) that the 2006 Marlins, with a roster of rookies and a paltry $15 million payroll, would finish the year with the worst record in franchise history.


In June, when they were playing the best stretch of any major-league team, it became evident that the Marlins were not going to end up with as bad a record as many thought.


And two Sundays ago, they made it official: With their 55th victory, they guaranteed that they'll finish with a better record than the worst team in history - the 1998 Marlins went 54-108.


Now, what remains to be seen is how a surprising team will finish the season. Entering Saturday, the Marlins needed two more victories to shut up the experts (including this writer) who predicted at least 100 losses.


And what if "Dontrelle, Miguel and the seven dwarfs," as one baseball agent dubbed them last winter, finish with a winning record?


Let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. Let's look instead at how those other Marlins are doing - the ones with fatter wallets and thicker r?sum?s who were traded away in the off-season to build the 2006 team.


First baseman Carlos Delgado (.259, 32 homers, 88 RBI) is having a terrific year. It looks as if he finally will get to do with the Mets what he didn't in 12 season in Toronto and one with Florida - in his own words: "sniff the playoffs."


But not every former Marlin smells so good in New York. Catcher Paul Lo Duca (traded for minor-league prospects) leads the Mets with a .314 batting average. But his divorce and alleged gambling activities pushed the wars in Israel and Iraq off the covers of the New York tabloids.


In Boston, pitcher Josh Beckett has been getting lots of ink, too, and it's not always flattering. He might be 14-8, but apparently that's not good enough.


Here's what columnist Bob Ryan of The Boston Globe wrote the other day: "The truth is that Josh Beckett is a mystery. Is he stupid? Is he stubborn? Is he lacking in focus? Is he a National League fraud? I do not know for sure what the answer is, but if someone can't find the solution to his problem, he will represent a monumental miscalculation and a colossal waste of money. His second-half performance (3-4, 6.17) has been pathetic."




Beckett's teammate, third baseman Mike Lowell, is having a decent year - .285 with 14 home runs and 60 RBI entering Saturday - especially by the standards of his horrible year with the Marlins in 2005 (.236-8-58).


Lowell is hitting .275 for August, which is encouraging since his monthly batting averages have dropped from .318 in April to .316 in May to .274 in June and .255 July.


At shortstop, former Marlin Alex Gonzalez went on the disabled list last weekend with a strained oblique muscle in his right side. He was batting .270 with nine home runs and 43 RBI but had just three hits in his previous 35 at-bats.


When Gonzalez comes off the DL, it might be too late for his teammates to make a realistic run at the playoff. And that wasn't quite what GM Theo Epstein had in mind when he signed free-agent Gonzalez and traded Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez to get Beckett and Lowell.


Ditto with Cubs' GM Jim Hendry, who traded away Ricky Nolasco, Sergio Mitre and Reynel Pinto to get Juan Pierre. The center fielder is hitting .282 with 44 stolen bases after rebounding from a horrendous start. But he isn't going to the playoffs.


In Minnesota, Luis Castillo (traded for two minor-league pitchers) is having a typical year, hitting .291. He might have the best shot of former Marlins to reach the American League playoffs.


As for the current Marlins, they play before paltry crowds and they'll probably miss the playoffs. But at least they'll be able to relax this off-season with the satisfaction of having proved just about everyone wrong. This writer included.


Source --http://www.palmbeachpost.com/marlins/conte...pozzi_0827.html

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