The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on March 29, 1998 · Page 55
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March 29, 1998

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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 55

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West Palm Beach, Florida
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Sunday, March 29, 1998
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i. ' 16C THE PALM BEACH POST SUNDAY, MARCH 29, 1998 r ? Baseball '98 Marlins roster No. Name B-T Ht. Wt. Age 57 Antonio Alfonseca R-R 6-5 235 25 58 Dave Berg R-R 5-11 185 27 25 Bobby Bonilla S-R 6-4 240 35 2 Josh Booty R-R 6-4 240 22 28 John Cangelosi S-L 5-8 160 35 30 Craig Counsell L-R 6-0 170 27 40 Vic Darensbourg L-L 5-10 165 27 8 Jim Eisenreich L-L 5-11 195 39 32 Alex Fernandez R-R 6-1 215 28 60 Gabe Gonzalez S-L 6-1 160 25 15 Cliff Floyd L-R 6-4 235 25 41 Oscar Henriquez R-R 6-6 220 24 49 Felix Heredia L-L 6-0 175 21 61 Livan Hernandez R-R 6-2 220 23 3 Ryan Jackson L-L 6-3 185 26 23 Charles Johnson R-R 6-2 220 26 4 Mark Kotsay L-L 6-0 180 22 27 Derrek Lee R-R 1 6-5 205 22 43 Eric Ludwick R-R 6-5 210 26 34 Brian Meadows R-R 6-4 200 22 47 Rafael Medina R-R 6-3 195 23 24 KirtOjala L-L 6-2 210 29 39 Jay Powell R-R 6-4 225 26 16 Edgar Renteria R-R 6-1 180 22 21 Jesus Sanchez L-L 5-10 153 23 10 Gary Sheffield R-R 5-11 205 29 9 Gregg Zaun S-R 5-10 180 26 V " k ' i '' Note: Bobby Bonilla and Alex Fernandez start the season on the disabled list. How about those Marlins? There are plenty of questions surrounding the defending World Series champion Marlins. Here are 10: What the heck happened here? THE ASSOCIATED PRESS There will be days more than last season when Livan Hernandez and his Marlins teammates just won't be able to get any relief. Patience, progress key for Marlins in '98 1 The off-season payroll purge has left the Marlins with a collection of rookies and other inexperienced talent who have no chance for the playoffs. They will, at times, be fun to watch. And they will, at times, be brutal. On the bright side . . . Things may look bleak for the Who is left? C V --.) "Marlins immediate 'future. But there is hope. The Marlins feel they . have plenty of talented Twelve players are gone from the World Series roster, but returning players include Gold Glove catcher Charles Johnson, World Series MVP Livan Hernandez, World Series heroes Craig Counsell and Edgar Renteria, Gary Sheffield, Jay Powell, Felix Heredia . . . and, in some ; -although untested young arms in their system. And there are examples from the past. -Atlanta's Tom Glavine (right), C V VfrT? way or another, Bobby Bonilla (wrist, ankle) and Alex Fernandez (rotator cuff). Which Gary Sheffield will show up? for example, lost 17 games and posted an ERA over 4.50 in 1988, Jaut in 1993 he won 22 games as the Braves won the National League West. Here are a few teams' pitching staffs that have weathered a rough season or two only to develop into a top group: Good question. The Sheffield who hit .314 with 42 home runs and 120 RBI two years ago did that for a team that wasn't contending and didn't offer him much protec- tion in the lineup. The Sheffield who slumped to .250, 21, 71 in 1997 did that on a World Series team. Tough guy to figure, but he's gotten in shape late in spring, and while a $10 million salary will always be too much for any player, he could return to 1996 form without surprising too many people. ATLANTA BRAVES 1988, 54-106 last NL West, 39 games out 1993, 104-58 Won NL West Is that Josh Booty? Yes it is. The 1994 bonus baby is playing third base until Bonilla comes off the disabled list. Keep an eye on Booty. He's a tremendous defensive player with as much power as anyone in the lineup. But he will strike out an awful lot. You can, as Jim Leyland might say, take that to the bank. When will Bonilla play? He's been saying May 1, but his recovery from offseason surgeries is going quicker than expected, and he could be back by mid-April. He will be with the team until then, too, the loudest and most expensive cheerleader to them, or do they throw up their hands? It's a matter of having perspective and keeping the player moving forward. They have to keep a positive outlook rather than just ignoring the player." New Marlins pitching coach Rich Dubee will have to be patient and keep believing in the talent of his pitchers, no matter the results. Buddy Bell was the perfect manager, if there could be one, for the '96 Tigers. Sager was in his first season with the Tigers, and he'd watch Bell walk calmly through the clubhouse the stalwart captain of a sinking ship. Bell never treated anyone with kid gloves, nor did he rant and rave. "You don't look at results, you look at progress," Bell said. "It was the most difficult year I've ever spent in baseball, but I understood what I was getting into. I don't think you can ever prepare yourself, but you put it in perspective so you can get through it. We knew we weren't any good, so we could move on." Of course, Detroit wasn't coming off a championship season. The differences in the '97 and '98 Marlins are dramatic, in terms of personnel and most certainly results. Marlins manager Jim Leyland isn't so worried about grooming the next Cy Young. He just wants these guys to throw the ball over the plate and, as Bell did, look for individual improvements, no matter how slight. Livan Hernandez is the Marlins' opening day starter and the only returnee from last season's rotation. He was the World Series MVP, but nobody knows how his second season will go. "The thing you gain is somebody's going to have to step up and be the guy," Sager said. "Can Livan be that guy? He becomes that through experience. "My advice would be to try to get something positive out of it. You won't see it until the end of the season, and sometimes it won't be obvious. But you learn how to handle both winning and losing." Last week, with only a handful of spring training games remaining, Florida catcher Charles Johnson thought about the high expectations of last season's team when it broke camp. It was expected to compete for the World Series championship from opening day. This season, no one, including the players, knows what to expect. "We have to look at the little picture this year." Johnson said. PITCHERS From 24C "Our pitching staff was horrible," Smith said. "It was not even major-league caliber. There's no comparison. We didn't have talent. It's a little easier to go through whatever struggles the Marlins might have because they know they're eventually going to be good major-league players. "We had a lot of guys happy to be in the big leagues. They were worried about their jobs, not about the team winning." How bad were the Tigers? Consider: They had no home wins in September, and no wins at all by a starter in that month. Sixteen starters combined for 29 wins. Atlanta Braves starter John Smoltz won 29 games that season, including post-season starts. No pitcher won 10 games for the first time in Detroit history (96 seasons). Pitchers allowed a major-league record 241 home runs, including 14 grand slams and 118 solo shots. All 27 pitchers allowed at least one home run. The '96 Marlins allowed 113 total. "It was death, basically," Thompson said. Thompson, who is now the ace of the Detroit staff, broke into the majors that year. It was, as for any young man, a dream come true to make it to the big leagues. But being thrown into that kind of situation was a rude awakening. He was 1-6 in 11 starts, with a 4.58 ERA the best of any starter, although Omar Olivares was 7-11 with a 4.89 ERA in 25 starts. Last season, Thompson was 15-11 and was named to the All-Star team. "It was not what I thought it was going to be like," said Thompson of '96. "I was ready to win. But I saw the bottom. "I was a young guy. I didn't say much, I didn't talk to anybody. There was a lot of negativity. You just want to hide." Pushing a young player is always a concern. Even when his talent shows he can pitch at the highest level, an organization has to be sure he's mentally tough enough to withstand the pressure of the majors. Especially when the team is struggling. It also has to make sure the people leading the team can handle the situation with patience. "What is the reaction of the manager and pitching coach after a pitcher has a bad outing?" Montreal Expos General Manager Jim Beattie said. "Do they talk they have. How's Alex Fernandez? His recovery from rotator cuff surgery is also going better than expected, and he could be pitching again by August. But there's no rush for the cost-cutting Marlins. The more Fernandez pitches, the more of his $7 million salary they'll have to pay. One thing's for sure, though. He can make this pitching staff. Is there a chance they'll start fast? , Pitcher W-L ERA Pitcher W-L ERA 1 i i .Rick Mahler 9-16 ' 3.69 j Glavine 22-6 3.20 . Pete Smith 7-15 3.69 Greg Maddux 20-10 2.36 ' ! Tom Glavine 7-17 4.56 I Steve Avery 18-6 2.94 Zane Smith 5-10 4.30 ! Smoltz 15-11 3.62 . John Smoltz 2-7 5.48 j , Team ERA 4.09 j 3.14 NEW YORK METS i 1967, 61-101 1969, 100-62 last NL East, 40 games out won World Series Pitcher W-L ERA Pitcher W-L ERA - Tom Seaver 16-13 2.76 Seaver 25-7 2.21 Jack Fisher 9-18 4.70 Koosman 17-9 2.28 Don Cardwell 5-9 3.58 Gary Gentry 13-12 3.42 Jerry Koosman 0-2 6.14 McGraw 9-3 2.25 Tug McGraw 0-3 7.94 Nolan Ryan 6-3 3.54 Team ERA 3.73 2.99 NEW YORK METS 1983, 68-94 1986, 108-54 last NL East, 22 games out won World Series " Pitcher W-L ERA Pitcher W-L ERA Jesse Orosco 13-7 1.47 Bob Ojeda 18-5 2.57 Ed Lynch 10-10 4.28 j Dwight Gooden 17-6 2.84 - Mike Torrez 10-17 4.37 Sid Fernandez 16-6 3.52 Tom Seaver 9-14 3.55 Darling 15-6 2.81 Ron Darling 1-3 2.80 Roger McDowell 14-9 3.02 Orosco 8-6 2.33 Team ERA 3.68 3.11 BALTIMORE ORIOLES 1967: 76-85 1969: 109-53 .6th AL East, 15 games out lost World Series Pitcher W-L ERA i Pitcher W-L ERA Tom Phoebus 14-9 3.33 Mike Cuellar 23-11 2.38 Dave McNally 7-7 4.54 McNally 20-7 3.21 - Jim Hardin 8-3 2.27 Palmer 16-4 2.34 . Woe Drabowsky 7 5 1.61 Phoebus 14-7 3.52 ,Oim Palmer 3-1 2.94 , . Team ERA 3.32 2.83 KANSAS CITY ROYALS 1984:84-78 1985:91-71 .won AL West ' won World Series Pitcher W-L ERA Pitcher W-L ERA , Bud Black 17 12 3.12 Saberhagen 20-6 2.87 LaryGura 12 9 5.18 Liebrandt 17-9 2.69 . Charlie Liebrandt 117 3.63 Gubicza 14-10 4.06 MarkGubicza 1014 4 05 Jackson 14-12 3.42 . Bret Saberhagen 1011 3.48 Black 10-15 4.33 Danny Jackson 2 6 4.26 Team ERA 3.92 ; 3.49 7 Actually, yes. The Marlins' first 16 games are against teams that finished under .500 last season, and the next four are against the expansion Arizona Diamondbacks. One problem: The Diamondbacks' pitching staff is better than Florida's. What can we expect from Livan Hernandez? 8 Eventually, you can expect him to pitch as well as he pitched last year. But everyone faces adversity, and since Hernandez hasn't faced any yet, he's due. He's got the makeup and the ability to handle it, though. What's the best that can happen? This should be the supreme test of Jim Leyland's abilities as a manager, and anything approaching a .500 record with this collection of young pitchers should be considered an achievement. 9 What's the worst that can happen? 0 The worst finish for a defending World Series champion is the 74-88 mark posted by the 1991 Cincinnati Reds, and this team has an outstanding chance to finish worse than that The good news is the Expos and Phillies should keep them out of last place. - Dan Graziano in person at the Pro Player Stadium box office by calling TicketMaster at (561) 96-3309 or by mail. If purchasing by mail, make a check or money order payable to Florida Marlins, or list your credit card number and expiration date (MasterCard, Visa and American Express are accepted) and send to Florida Marlins Ticket Office, 2267 N.W. 199th St., Miami. Ha.. 33056. Indicate date of games and number of tickets desired. There is a $4 postage and handling fee for all Marlins at a glance Last season: 12-70 Marlins finished second in the National league East to the Atlanta Braves and made the playoffs as a wild-card qualifier. They won the National league pennant and beat the Cleveland Indians in seven games to win the team's first World Series championship. Manager Jim Ixyland Iveyland starts his second season with the Marlins and his 13ih in the major leagues. Coaches: Lorenzo Bundy (outfield and baserunning), first year. Rich Donnelly (third base), second yean Rich Dubee (pitching), first year, Bruce Kimm (bullpen), second yean Milt May (hitting), second year. Tommy Sandt (first base), second year. Key returning players: Pitchers livan Hernandez. Jay Powell. Felix Heredia. Catcher Charles Johnson. Shortstop Fdnar Renteria. Right fielder Gary Sheffield. Third baseman Bobby Bonilla. Directions: To get to Pro Player Stadium, take Florida's Turnpike south to Exit 2X (199th St.). Came times: The home opener, on Tuesday against the Chicago Cubs, starts at 4:35 p.m. On weekdays, Fridays and Saturdays, most Marlins home games start at 7:05 p.m. Sunday home games start at 1:05 p.m. in April, May and September, and at 4:35 p.m. in June, July and August. Please check the schedule for exceptions. - Dan Graziano Second baseman Craig Counsell. Outfielder Cliff Floyd. Key new players: First baseman Derrek Lee. Pitcher Rafael Medina. Outfielder Mark Kotsay. Key losses: Outfielder Moises AIou. Pitchers Kevin Brown, Al loiter. Tony Saunders, Robb N'en and Alex Fernandez (injured, out at least half of this season). First baseman Jeff Conine. Center fielder Devon White. Tickets: Tickets for Marlins home games at Pro Player Stadium can be purchased

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