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Notes: Gonzalez high on flexibility


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Notes: Gonzalez high on flexibility

Skipper understands importance of adapting to situations

By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com

 

MIAMI -- Flexibility promises to be a big part of Fredi Gonzalez's managerial style.

 

The new Marlins skipper understands the importance of adapting, not only to his personnel but also to the various ballparks.

 

"I think in a perfect world, pitching and defense and some good baserunning [are critical]," Gonzalez said. "But you need those boppers in the middle of the lineup every once in a while. For the most part, everybody tells you pitching and defense [are essential], because I don't think over the course of a whole year you can outslug everybody. It's hard to score 12 runs every night."

 

The Marlins feel they have balance in their lineup. There is speed and power at the top of the order. National League Rookie of the Year Hanley Ramirez stole 51 bases from the leadoff spot. Dan Uggla, who hit second last year, topped the team with 27 home runs.

 

Gonzalez's philosophy on base stealing is to evaluate each situation.

 

"I think you can be aggressive and not be dumb," Gonzalez said. "For example, you've got Hanley Ramirez, who stole 51 bases. You go to [hitters' parks] like Philadelphia or Cincinnati, it's hard to run those guys in those parks because you have a chance to get those guys thrown out. Anybody can [hit] the ball out of those ballparks."

 

On the flip side, when the Marlins are playing in a spacious park, like RFK Stadium in Washington, the home run isn't as great a threat. So, generally speaking, Gonzalez may be more apt to send a runner in a big park because runs may be harder to manufacture.

 

So circumstances will factor into how often Gonzalez gives the green light to his baserunners.

 

"In a place like Colorado, you hate to run yourself out on the bases when anybody who comes to the plate has a chance to hit the ball out of the ballpark," Gonzalez said. "Your style has to vary a little bit. Or if you try to steal in those ballparks, you better make sure you're going to make it."

 

Starting Trio

 

Three Amigos? Agent Matt Sosnick represents a number of Marlins, including four of the club's five starting pitchers.

 

The California-based agent's clients include Dontrelle Willis, Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco and Scott Olsen.

 

The trio of Johnson, Nolasco and Olsen each won more than 10 games as rookies. Trying to market their collective success, Sosnick is in the process of pitching a promotional idea to the "Three Amigos" Mexican restaurant chain.

 

The strength of the Marlins is their strong, young rotation. Willis and Anibal Sanchez, who threw a no-hitter in his 13th big-league start, round out the starting five.

 

"The Marlins' rotation, if they keep it together, is as good or better than any rotation in the league," Sosnick said.

 

Marlins fans interested in getting Olsen's autograph will have their opportunity on Saturday. The 22-year-old lefty is scheduled to appear at Sawgrass Mills Mall in Sunrise from 1-3 p.m. ET. He will sign autographs as part of the Marlins Holiday Mall Tour.

 

Willis, who is arbitration-eligible for the second season, is expected to be offered a one-year contract by the Marlins. Those contract talks should intensify in December.

 

Willis made $4.35 million last year, and his 2007 salary is expected to be in the $6 million range. The left-hander will be eligible for free agency after the 2009 season.

 

Cabrera second in HR Derby in Venezuela: Slugger Miguel Cabrera prides himself on being a complete hitter, not necessarily a power hitter.

 

Yet the three-time All-Star has the ability to put on an impressive power display. During the All-Star festivities in July in Pittsburgh, Cabrera finished third in the CENTURY 21 Home Run Derby.

 

And recently, in his native Venezuela, Cabrera placed second in a home run contest. Without much preparation, as he is resting this offseason, Cabrera finished as a runner-up to Giants catcher Eliezer Alfonzo. :blink:

 

Cabrera is deciding whether to play for the Aragua Tigers in the Venezuelan Winter League. The 23-year-old has played for the Tigers the past few seasons, typically joining the team in mid-to-late December.

 

Lineup comes of age: When the Winter Meetings begin next week in Orlando, the Marlins will be hoping to upgrade in center field. While the team is weighing trade and modest free-agency options, general manager Admin Beinfest said recently that the lineup should remain pretty much the same as 2006.

 

"We're always looking to improve and we won't shy away from anything," Beinfest said. "But [the lineup in general] is not an area that we're concentrating on.

 

"We have to evaluate what we have, what our options are and our allocation to our payroll, and spend in the right areas. We were happy with our lineup."

 

Beinfest points out that first baseman Mike Jacobs, who hit 20 home runs as a rookie, should show improvement next season, especially now that his right ankle has healed.

 

"Jacobs hit 20 home runs and played on one leg half the season," Beinfest said. "A lot of good things happened there. It's not an area we are [looking to improve]."

 

The team is hopeful that right fielder Jeremy Hermida, who had an injury-plagued and inconsistent rookie season, blossoms to what the team has projected.

 

"If he does perform the way he can, that will obvioulsy add to our lineup," Beinfest said.

 

Added experience, the team hopes, will cut down the Marlins' franchise-high strikeout total of 1,249, the most in the Major Leagues in 2006.

 

"I think by virtue of experience and making the adjustments, hopefully those numbers will decrease," Beinfest said.

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