Tagged: Emilio Bonifacio

OH DEAR. (No, you can’t spell Burke Badenhop without it. Thank you for asking.)


We told you the new nickname was a bad idea. 
Whether it was the fault of his newfound title or not, “the Dragon” was slayed Saturday night in game two of the Marlins-Cubs series at Land Shark Stadium.
Hopper lasted just 1 2/3 innings and gave up six runs–5 earned–and walked four. But Badenhop’s rough start merely scratched the surface of the insanity this game had to offer. We pretty much saw it all in Saturday night’s ten-inning affair, and a good deal of it made us wish that the flashy red memory eraser thingy in the Men In Black movies was actually real and available for over-the-counter purchase. 
The Marlins had plenty of time to dig themselves out of the hole they were in after Badenhop struggled, and dig they did. Carlos Zambrano worked three innings and hit our all-star shortstop on the knee with a pitch before he left the game due to stiffness in his back. The Marlins scored once in the second, third and fourth innings and put two runs on the board in the fifth, and Brian Sanches, Kiko Calero and Luis Ayala held the Cubbies scoreless through the sixth inning.
Renyel Pinto managed to work out of trouble in the seventh, but he couldn’t hold the score in the eighth, so the Fish trailed the Cubs 8-5 as they faced former Marlins closer Kevin Gregg.
Although it seemed too much to hope that Kevin would pitch for the Cubs in the ninth the way he pitched so often for the Marlins in 2008, Gregg came through for the Fish. With two outs, Ronny Paulino hit his first career pinch-hit home run to bring the Marlins within two runs. Chris Coghlan and Nick Johnson followed with singles, and then the collective jaws of South Florida dropped to the ground as Emilio Bonifacio–playing for the injured Hanley Ramirez–tripled to tie up the score.
The tie was short-lived, unfortunately, and in the top of the tenth, Leo Nunez gave up a solo shot to former Marlin/current Marlin killer Derrek Lee, who was 4 for 6 on the night, and won it for the Cubs in extras.
Call the game exciting if you want, but whatever excitement the Marlins created for fans by “battling back,” they more than made up for with their abysmal defense and myriad men left on base.
I guess when Dan Uggla snapped the Marlins error-free game streak Friday night, the Fish didn’t make any immediate plans to start a new one. Maybe they wanted to make up for lost time. Whatever the case, the Fish committed three errors, two of which were Jorge Cantu’s as he struggled in his first start at third base this season.
Unearned runs obviously didn’t help the Marlins cause, and neither did the 14 runners the team stranded. On more than one occasion the Marlins left the bases loaded, and the Fish squandered chance after chance to take the lead from the Cubs.
Some good news in the middle of the giant mess of Super Saturday was Nick Johnson. The Marlins newly acquired first baseman was everything fans were hoping he would be in his debut as a Fish. Johnson was on base five times, going two for three with two walks, a run and an RBI.
Overall, this game pretty much sucked real bad.

The Marlins are trying to kill us.

gaby pine copy.jpgFish fans all over the world danced through the streets Tuesday, shedding tears of joy and relief at the news the Marlins had at last called up third baseman Gaby Sanchez from Triple-A New Orleans. 

Not that Sanchez is the surefire answer to all or any of the Marlins offensive woes, but fans have been excited to see what Gaby can do, and more importantly, if he can do it better (if slightly slower) than Emilio Bonifacio.

The relief and joy were short-lived.
Quickly after the news of the call-up, Fredi Gonzalez announced to the media that he would use Gaby “as a pinch-hitter…[blah blah blah]…here and there…[blah blah blah].” 
Allow me to translate: 
Bonerface isn’t going anywhere, people. For reasons no sane person will ever understand, we are still wildly enamored with Emilio, and he is staying put at third base. Meanwhile, we fully intend to use Gaby Sanchez in much the same way that we used Brett Carroll earlier this season– as pine ornamentation.”
As easy as he is on the eyes, Marlins, I think I speak for all Fish fans when I say, that is not what we had in mind.
Like everyone else, I’m struggling to understand why Gaby was called up at all. He’s not here to start. He’s not here to platoon with Bonifacio. And if his role is really going to be off the bench, the question is why? Why call up Sanchez to use him in a role that is typically far better suited to veteran hitters, which we already have in Helms and Gload? 
Have we learned nothing from Brett Carroll? 
The same thing was done to Brett earlier in the season when the Marlins dubbed him Keeper of the Bench, using him as a defensive specialist and a pinch hitter “here and there.” Nobody got to see what Brett was capable of offensively because he was getting roughly one at-bat per month. Fredi even admitted that it wasn’t fair that they hardly used him, and when they finally started putting him in the lineup, Brett produced. And now they’re going the same ride-the-pine route with Gaby Sanchez.
If Gaby’s not going to play, then why is he here? Honestly, I can only come up with one thing: The Marlins are trying to torture us to death. Because impossible as it may seem, they have actually figured out a way to make The Bonifacio Experiment even more excruciating for fans to endure. Now, not only do we have to deal with watching Emilio be…Emilio, we have to be teased mercilessly by the presence of Gaby Sanchez, sitting so invitingly mere yards away, yet having no chance to prove that maybe, just maybe, he could be an improvement over Speedy the Out Machine.
I think I finally have an idea what it must be like to die of thirst when lost at sea, surrounded by billions of gallons of water.
Enjoy the pain, Fish fans. I have a feeling it’s here to stay.

Somebody Fetch Me My Antidepressants

andrew-miller-marlins-loss.jpgSunday’s game was a pretty big one for the Marlins. Unfortunately, somebody forgot to mention that to Andrew Miller. 

After the Fish dropped the first two games of the series and saw Saturday’s promising start by Josh Johnson rained out, the Marlins needed Big Game Andrew to come up with a quality outing to give the team a chance to salvage at least one game of the series. 
Instead, Miller chose the finale against the Phillies to have the exact opposite of a quality outing, and pitch horrendously (which may be putting it mildly). 
In the top of the first on Sunday afternoon at Land Shark Stadium, sighs of relief were breathed when a wild Miller managed to wiggle out of a bases-loaded situation without the Phillies scoring, thanks in part to a heads up play by Emilio Bonifacio. But BGA wasn’t so lucky in the second.

With two outs and the pitcher at bat, that elusive third out evaded Andrew again. Three singles later, the bases were loaded, and Miller hit Chase Utley to score the first run of the game. Things went (even more) downhill from there. By the time he was yanked, Andrew had given up four runs on six hits and four walks. 

We’re not exactly sure at which point Miller decided that less than three innings was anywhere remotely close to an acceptable start, but for the second game in a row he lasted only 2 2/3.
To be fair, Andrew Miller could have pitched a perfect game, and it would not necessarily have earned him the win on an afternoon when the Marlins lineup was playing a delightful game of “Who Can Leave the Most Men On.” Of course, HLD&S would never dream of taking anything away from talented Phillies rookie J.A. Happ–we tip our cap to you, sir– but the Fish did their best to make him look good on the mound Sunday afternoon. For real. When the bases are loaded and there are no outs, not scoring would seem to require a lot more effort than just giving in and putting a run or two on the board.
For the second game in the series the Marlins matched the Phillies in hits, but completely failed to hit when it actually mattered. The Fish blew every chance they were given, went 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position, and were shut out by the Phils for the second time in the series. It actually caused us physical pain to watch.
The one thing Marlins fans had to cheer about in an otherwise maddening game was the bullpen, which pieced things together admirably after Miller hit the showers. Brian Sanches pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings, Burke Badenhop struck out the side in the top of the fifth and tossed a scoreless 6th, Luis Ayala and Renyel Pinto followed with scoreless innings of their own, and after Dan Meyer gave up a run, Brendan Donnelly handled the last two outs of the ninth. Unfortunately, their very nice effort was wasted due to the fact that–as previously mentioned–NO ONE on the Marlins squad could manage to hit with runners in scoring position. 
The Marlins have lost three in a row, have dropped every single game they have played against the Phils at Land Shark this season, and fall to seven games behind their division rivals as they head back out West to face several teams that, unfortunately, are not the Nationals.
HLD&S is officially depressed.
Rick Vanden Hurk has been called up to start Monday night in San Diego. Andy Gonzalez was optioned to AAA to make room for the Incredible Hurk on the roster. 

The Golden Hooks

HLDS Golden Hook Award.jpgWhile the rest of the nation enjoyed the All-Star Game (aka The Annual Giving of Home Field Advantage to the American League), HLD&S was busy hosting its semi-annual Golden Hook Awards.

As everyone knows, the Golden Hook is the most sought-after accolade in the game of baseball, awarded semi-annually by HLD&S to only the most deserving of Marlins. The “Hookie” is so coveted, in fact, that it is rumored to be the reason Manny Ramirez wanted to play for the Marlins last season. (True story.)
And now, without further delay, the envelope, please. And the Hookie goes to…
JJ is our first recipient of a Golden Hook, for obvious reasons. The All Star ace leads the Marlins pitching staff  in every category that matters, and is one of the best pitchers in the league. Need we say more? No. But we still will, of course. It is HLD&S’s firm belief that had Johnson started in the All Star Game, the National League would have pulled out the victory.
If this bestowment needs to be explained to you, then you obviously happened upon this blog while searching for information about fishing reels. Move along.
You know that feeling where you get all queasy in your stomach and you feel like puking and your heart starts thumping wildly and chills of fear make the hair on the back of your neck stand up? No? OK, think back to the last time Matt Lindstrom came into a game. Are you with us now? Thought so. Kiko Calero has never given us that feeling. When K-Lero comes into a game, usually warm fuzzy feelings–and more importantly, OUTS–ensue.
All that stuff we just said about Kiko Calero? Yeah, just do a “find and replace” in your brain to swap Kiko’s name with Dan’s, and mentally paste that right here. Thanks.
Seriously. Not getting benched or demoted to low-A or kicked out of the game of baseball entirely requires some serious skills when you happen to be the worst player of all time. (Admittedly, we may have gone a bit far with the “of all time” part.) Considering his struggles, the fact that Bonifacio has somehow managed to still be leading off and playing third base for a Major League club has garnered him his very first Golden Hook. (HLD&S stands by its statement that accusations we paid an awards presenter to impale the third baseman with the trophy are completely fabricated. And besides, a broken bone would be far more advantageous to us if we’re talking DL stint.)
Looking at the Hopper’s contributions to the first half of the Marlins season, we would be remiss to exclude him from these honors. Whether Hop’s swooping in to save the day when a starter tanks, holding the score for multiple innings when a game goes into extras, or even starting a game when the need arises, he’s been invaluable to the team thus far this season.
It’s been a while since a pitcher made the transition from “starter we are petrified to see on the mound” to “starter we are completely OK with” in just the first half of the season. In our book, that’s worthy of a Golden Hook (HLD&S reserves the right to strip you of your trophy in event that you revert back to your pre-demotion ways. Not a threat or anything. Just sayin’.)
And that concludes the Golden Hooks of the first 90 games of the season. We’ll try not to be as stingy with our praise after the second half. Then again, that may require that the Fish do a bit more to impress us over the next 72 games. 



The cursed West Coast road trip is underway, which means that reading anything we have to say about the next six games makes about the same amount of sense as asking a blind person if your outfit matches.
4:30 AM wake-up calls don’t mix well with 10:15 PM first pitches.
Fear not, though. HLD&S may have been sawing logs through half of last night’s series opener between the Marlins and Giants, but we still learned several valuable lessons from the game:

1) Matt Cain is annoying.

2) If you are planning to give up a home run to Pablo Sandoval, Sean West, it is probably best not to first give up a double and two walks to load the bases.

3) It is significantly more difficult to win a game when your best hitter is sitting out due to an injury.

4) If you are planning to write a recap of a game, it is probably best to stay awake for more than five innings of said game. 

Word on the street is that while HLD&S was enjoying a REM cycle or two, the Fish made an attempt at a rally in the ninth inning. The Marlins scored twice to make it a one-run game, and Bonifacio came to bat with two outs and the tying run in scoring position. 
Now, were HLD&S managing the Marlins, this is the point at which Hanley Ramirez would be yanked from the bench–regardless of his ailments–and shoved into the batters box to pinch-hit for Bonifacio. Hip, schmip. Yes, Bonifacio already had three hits in the game. Yes, our All-Star shortstop hadn’t taken batting practice and would be possibly risking further injury. But regardless of those facts, we would have pinch hit him there. Hanley could be unconscious, seizing, bleeding out and sporting several prosthetic limbs, and we’d still put our money on him over Bonifacio in this situation.  
And that is probably one of the many reasons why Fredi is managing the Marlins, rather than HLD&S (or Pete Rose).

5-4, Giants

Stormy No Longer Raining on Your Parade.

lindstrom dl.jpg

As your leading source of up-to-the-minute Fish coverage, HLD&S is the [three-thousand-and-] first to report that Marlins closer Matt Lindstrom is on the DL with an elbow sprain, and is expected to miss at least the next six weeks of the season.

Don’t panic. 

We realize that the Marlins are suddenly down one extremely satisfying target of fan fury, but relax, people. With just some minor shifting of ill will, you can be back to blasting Matt on message boards and sports talk radio call-in shows in no time. 

Simply transfer all Lindstrom-related anger from “inability to close games” to “you’ve been playing with discomfort in your elbow for a @#%!$ month, Matt?!?!” and you’re good to go.

See how that works? Malice intact. Crisis averted. However, If you don’t find it satisfying enough to rail on a player who no longer has an impact on the games at hand, we recommend you find a new player on whom to focus all your hatred. Now, if only we could think of such a player. Hmmm.

Leo Nunez is the most likely candidate to replace Lindstrom as closer, but he wasn’t available to pitch Wednesday night as the Fish took on the Orioles in game two of their series. Dan Meyer took the ball instead, and recorded his first career save with a perfect inning. 

Maybe Fish fans have just been conditioned for drama like Pavlov’s dogs, but we felt oddly let down as out number three was recorded without so much as a three-ball count or a fly ball to the warning track. Our fingernails remained intact through all three outs. Not a single expletive erupted from our throats. Our hearts did not skip a beat– not even a minor palpitation. Meyer came in and, well, closed the game. 

Three up, three down. 

Apparently Dan hasn’t read the same version of Closing 101 that our last several ninth-inning men have.

And speaking of other ninth-inning men, does anyone else find it odd that Fish closers always seem to come down with some sort of  mysterious “injury” at the most convenient times? Jorge Julio, Kevin Gregg, and now Matt Lindstrom. We’re not conspiracy theorists by any stretch, but consider our curiosity piqued. 

In other late-breaking news, the Marlins and Ricky Nolasco won game two against the Orioles, extended the team’s winning streak to four games, and are a game over .500. 

Another Stormy Night at Land Shark Stadium.

stormy stadium.jpg

And we aren’t talking about the weather.
When Jorge Cantu slapped a single to left to score Bonifacio in the bottom of the 12th, a 5-year-old Orioles fan scrunched up his face, threw back his head and wailed unabashedly and inconsolably, tears gushing down his little cheeks. 
If it were socially acceptable for grown adults to express their feelings in such a manner, HLD&S would have created a similar spectacle in the top of the ninth, when Matt Lindstrom obliterated a beautiful start from Andrew Miller, a grand slam from Hanley Ramirez and the Marlins’ 3-run lead.
“Stormy” recorded the first two outs in the ninth inning against the Orioles Tuesday night, then proceeded to give up two runs on four straight hits. After Lindstrom was lifted, Brian Sanches allowed a run to score, sending the game into extra innings. 
And that is the last time HLD&S will turn to our neighbor in the top of the ninth to remark on what a charmingly fast-paced game we are enjoying.
After a few scoreless innings from Burke Badenhop, and some stellar defense from the Fish, luckily–or perhaps more fitting a word would be miraculously–Bonifacio managed not to swing at four balls from Brian Bass to draw a leadoff walk in the twelfth. Emilio then took second on a wild pitch and scored on Jorge Cantu’s single, almost making us forget about all the rest of his at-bats in the game. (Almost.)
We’ll just save the whining about Lindstrom continuing to close. To say that Marlins fans are growing weary of the ninth-ining theatrics is stating the overly obvious, and anyway, who else is going to pitch the ninth? Kiko Calero is already on the DL, and Leo Nunez was taken out of the game in the eighth inning Tuesday due to an ankle sprain. Plus, given Fredi’s “stick with him” position, resistance is futile. Matt Lindstrom is the closer, and we will all continue to experience elevated blood pressure, mild strokes, panic attacks and hyperventilation in save situations until he finally learns how to get that third out, or blows enough games to be demoted from his current role. 
Incidentally, after nearly every game Brett Carroll plays, there is an intense struggle between our desire for all major news outlets to shout from the rooftops the greatness of his cannon of an arm, and the selfish desire to keep Brettley as unheralded as possible so that teams will continue to foolishly try and run on him. What to do, what to do.
The Marlins seventh win in the last ten games brings them back to .500 for the first time since May 13th. 


In a HLD&S exclusive, Bullpen catcher Jeffrey Urgelles was seen displaying a bit of a temper after the Fish Matt Lindstrom blew the lead in the ninth against the Orioles Tuesday night. Fans who witnessed the scene were mildly surprised, as it’s pretty rare to see a show of emotion from the Marlins bullpen. Um, but then again, it has to be extremely physically taxing trying to hold that “please enjoy my bottom, ladies” pose through extras. (We recommend Icy Hot, Urgs.)