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Closer could be a current starter


Nolasco might be moved to fill stopper opening


By Juan C. Rodriguez and Mike Berardino

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Posted December 6 2006


LAKE BUENA VISTA ? The Marlins won't use any of their starters to acquire Devil Rays center fielder Rocco Baldelli, but one of them could address another need.


Pitching coach Rick Kranitz endorsed the idea of converting a starter to a late-inning reliever, the way the Red Sox did with Jonathan Papelbon and the Cardinals with Adam Wainwright last season. The most likely candidate is Ricky Nolasco, who has a good fastball and unlike his counterparts is more of a max-effort, two-pitch guy.


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"It's an interesting concept," said Kranitz, who Tuesday received the Baseball America Major League Coach of the Year award. "There's no doubt about it. ... Those five guys we have are five guys we want to count on everyday, but if they can help us in the backend of the ballgame, I don't see why we wouldn't do it or at least explore that option."


One option the Marlins no longer are exploring is using any of their premier arms to land Baldelli. A National League official familiar with the Marlins strategy said: "Put it to rest."


The Marlins may put to rest the notion of turning Nolasco or any other rookie starter into a reliever before spring training. At this point, neither Kranitz nor General Manager Admin Beinfest is ready to rule out anything.


Beinfest said Marlins pitchers and catchers could report for spring training in two months with an unresolved closer situation.


"It's a very real possibility, and we may have some internal options that at the end of the day we may say, `These are really good arms, let's give them a chance' given what our other opportunities were and what it may cost us," Beinfest said. "We're working on a bunch of different ideas."


The Marlins may still make a late run at a Dan Kolb or Rudy Seanez. They'll also take a hard look at any pitchers not tendered contracts by next week's deadline.


Another option: Armando Benitez.


A 47-save All-Star in his only season with the Marlins (2004), Benitez has fallen out of favor with the Giants and could come cheaply. Though Benitez is due $8 million for the final season of a three-year deal, the Giants could be motivated to eat perhaps all but $1 million or $2 million for the right prospect or prospects.


The Marlins, while wary of his troublesome right knee, have told people they would be open to a Benitez return if the price were right. Benitez, 34, has been working with a personal trainer in South Florida, where he still maintains a home, although most of his work is limited to a stationary bicycle.


In the end, Beinfest may determine the arms he has in house are better than overpaying for what's available -- whether that relates to the bullpen or center field.


"We would rather err on keeping the pitcher too long than giving up the pitcher early and having him perform elsewhere," Beinfest said. "If the pitcher is performing and is at a reasonable rate, there will always be a need for it."




Keeping a promise to help the Marlins find a solution to their stadium dilemma, Major League Baseball President Bob DuPuy met with local politicians and team officials in Miami-Dade County on Tuesday.


Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina said he spoke with DuPuy about progress toward building a stadium in Hialeah west of I-75. Sites in downtown Miami are also under consideration.


"I think our site is very accessible to baseball fans throughout South Florida," Robaina said. But, he added, "at the end of the day wherever this community decides baseball should be, I'll support it because my goal has always been to keep baseball in South Florida." ... Tuesday, the Marlins met with the Red Sox, perhaps to discuss a deal for David Murphy or Jacoby Ellsbury.



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Jacoby Ellsbury sounds pretty good.


Scouting Report: Ellsbury was on of the best players in the NCAA in 2005. He is very fast, plays excellent defense, and has shown a great ability to get on base. Decent gap power for a centerfielder who projects as a lead-off hitter. Has often been compared to Johnny Damon. Also said to be a team leader.



Ellsbury has few holes in his game and is capable of beating teams in a lot of ways. He has excellent makeup and instincts. His best tool is his speed, and it?s evident both on the bases and in center field, where he catches everything hit his way :thumbup . He has been clocked in 6.55 seconds over 60 yards. He has become more patient, rarely swings and misses and is comfortable hitting with two strikes. His style of play and physical appearance have drawn comparisons to Johnny Damon at a similar age, but scouts say Ellsbury has a better swing. They question whether he?ll grow into the same power, though




I like :)

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Girardi was on Mike and the Mad Dog show a month or two ago and said he though he could be a great closer. This idea has been out there for a while (and I've been championing it since the start of last season).


Still, I'd rather he be used to get a centerfielder. A good centerfielder has a lot more value to a team like us than a good closer. Especially when we are to closers what the Broncos are to running backs.

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- No, Martinez is out for the year thanks to TJ.

- Tank is a little too valuable in his current spot to close especially when other pitchers fit the closer mold better.


I think it's Mitre vs Petit for the 5 spot.

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