Late Season Push? Decisions, Decisions…

  Well, we’ve come to that time of the year where Big League teams are deciding if they want to make a run at a division title or if they are looking toward next season.  The July 31st trade deadline is coming up and you can bet trade talks are rampant behind closed doors!  Its a tough decision owners and GM’s have to make because it can end up being very costly if the moves they make don’t work out.  But making a run at a playoff berth and a chance at a World Series is not something teams take for granted, and if the opportunity is there most teams will do whatever it takes to earn a spot.

  Our big club is only 4 games out of first place as of today and will no doubt look to make a run at the playoffs.  They have had solid starting pitching and a consistent offense that has kept them in the hunt the entire season.  Now is when our front office will get together with the coaching staff and decide what they feel they need to add in order to stay on top at the end of September.  It might be a front line arm in the rotation, or a big bat in the middle of the lineup.  Whatever it is, you can bet the phone lines are lighting up with potential trade opportunities to see if something fits.

  At the same time, teams will look at what they have in their farm system and decide who they want to bring up in September to help them as well.  We have a lot great players here in New Orleans with Major League experience that can be a inexpensive addition at any time, or at the very least when rosters expand in September.  Our starting rotation right now consists of Rick Vandenhurk, Clay Hensley, John Koronka, Willio Collazo and Hayden Penn.  All of them have major league experience and could be options to help out the major league pitching staff.    Our organization has also gone out and signed some veteran arms as well. We added Luis Ayala a few days ago, and rumor is that Scott Williamson might be coming here as well.   As for our offense, we’ve had pretty consistent production from just about everybody on the club.  Cameron Maybin has been playing very well as of late, and will no doubt be in Florida in the coming weeks for his defense at the very least and Mike Ryan, our only All-Star has been solid all year and could provide some left handed depth off the bench.   
  
   In our situation with the club looking toward the playoffs, it all boils down to what is needed to help the club win. Its rare that a winning team calls up a guy from AAA as a reward for a good season, even though as a player you’d like to see it happen more often.  But you can understand the team not wanting to clutter up a clubhouse with guys that are basically just going to take up space during an important stretch of the season.

  Alot of decisions to be made in the coming weeks, and it will no doubt be exciting push as the season comes to and end and the playoffs begin.

DM

 
    

 

 

  

 

Zephyrs Back in the Mix!

    Don’t count the Z’s out just yet!  Just when you thought we were in for a very long season in New Orleans, we’ve suddenly come to life.  Early in the season we were having a tough time getting the team to click on all cylinders.  One day we would get a solid start out of our pitcher and score no runs, the next day we would score a bunch and get beat.  I think we lost the first 9 home games of the year, and now it seems like we win them all.  Thats what makes baseball such a great game, and why you play the full season.  You never know when something might click and when you might turn it around. 

   Over the past month or so, our starting pitching has been outstanding.  Rick Vandenhurk and Clay Hensley were added to our team to provide some depth and both have been great for us. We are routinely getting our starters into the 6th and 7th innings and consistently keeping us in ball games.  John Koronka who made a couple starts in Florida is back with us and has been solid all year.   Willie Collazo and Jarret Santos have also done a great job bouncing back and forth from starter to reliever as our staff changes. 

   Can’t leave out the offense however, we done a great job picking up or play as well.  Guys are healthy right now and playing some good baseball.  Cameron Maybin has been showing lately why he’s been such a highly touted prospect.  Fantastic defense in center field and swinging a very solid stick.  Its my opinion and the opinion of others that we have one of the best center fielders in all of professional baseball, including the big leagues, so I expect him to be back in Florida before too long.  Gabby Sanchez has also rejoined us after suffering a knee injury that set him back about 8 weeks.  He’s been a nice jolt to our lineup, and has helped get us back on track as well.  He has a settled into the 3 spot in the order, and is continuing to swing the bat the way the Marlins know he can.  Veteran, Mike Ryan has continued to swing a hot stick for us and I expect him to represent us in Portand for the All-Star game.  Jai Miller has come back from an oblique injury and has really stepped it up lately as well.

    I’ve enjoyed some success this season as well, I made a few adjustments at the plate coming into the season and so far they have paid off.  I had minor hamstring injury a while back that set me back about 10 days, so we were playing it safe for a while making sure I wasn’t going to hurt it again.  But I expect my playing time to start to increase as we head into the second half of the season.  I still feel very confident at this stage of my career that I can get back to the Big Leagues and contribute to a major league ball club.  I have learned to play many different positions while not playing everyday and still find a way to be productive and help a ball club win games.  Just need to find myself in the right place at the right time.  For now I’m focusing on doing my part to help this team win games and trusting that the big things will take care of themselves.

    The summer heat is officially in full affect and New Orleans has got to be one of the hottest places on the planet.  Lets hope the ballclub can continue to heat up as well as we go through the final months of the season.

Peace out!
DM

   

AAA Woes

   Well, we haven’t quite hit June yet and our team has started to feel the effects a season can have on a AAA club.  AAA tends to be a revolving door to the Major Leagues for certain players and generally holds a few prospects mixed with older veteran guys.  That being said, often times when you lose a player to the major leagues, you either don’t replace him at all and play short handed, or they’ll bring up an A ball players to take up the spot for the time being.  AA generally has more prospects and organizations tend to shy away from moving them up and down.

  Our team certainly has a lot of talent, but we’ve really been hit with the injury bug combined with a ton of transactions at the Major League level to our pitching staff.  Our pitching staff has really been taxed and over worked and we’ve had a tough time winning ball games consistently.  We’re going to be fine, just need to get guys healthy and start clicking on all cylinders.

  Two guys that have recently been brought up to our pitching staff are Jay Buente, and Jared Santos. Great kids that have more in common that being pitchers.  Together they started a baseball apparel company called GotEyeWash.com.  They have everything from undershirts, collared shirts, sweat shirts, hats and more.  Very cool stuff that is slowly making its way throughout pro clubhouses and more.  Check them out!

All for now, talk to you soon,
DM

Back On The Road

   

      Well, at this point the season is definetly starting to set in.  Guys are settling into a routine and life on the road again.  After today, we’ll have played 16 games and 12 of them will have been on the road.   For some odd reason the schedule designer thought it would be good to schedule a bunch of 4 day road trips instead of 8.  Meaning, we are on the road for 4, then go home for 4, then back on the road for 4 ect. ect.  Don’t ask me what he was thinking, but you never feel like you get to home and settle in for a few days.  Makes for terrible travel and you feel like every other day you are in the air going somewhere else. It makes no sense to me or any of my teamates.   Oh well..as we like to say in the minor leagues…”If you don’t like, play better!”  Many things in this game don’t make sense but you just have to learn to deal with them, be happy you have a job doing what you love and move on.

    Today we’ll finish of a 4 game series with the Round Rock Exress.  I always love coming back here, as I was a member of the Express in 00′, 01′ and 04′.  I was a member of the innaugural season in 2000, when we won the Texas league title.  Nolan Ryan is a primary owner of the club, with his sons Reid and Reese basically running the show around there.  They do a fantastic job and its without a doubt one of the nicest facilities in the minor leagues for a player and the fans.

  This is the 10yr anniversary of the Express and they decided to put together a “All Decade team”  It was an honor to be chosen as the SS.  Some other notable names on the team were; Brad Lidge, Roy Oswalt, Luke Scott, Hunter Pence and Mike Coolbaugh. 

All for now..

DM

 

 

Opening Day #12

 Wow, its hard to believe that another opening day has come and gone again and the season is under way. 

   Opening day is always very exciting for players no matter where you are or what level you are playing at.  For me personally opening day is always really special.  For one, it means that you’ve been blessed for one more year to have a number, and still have the opportunity to do what millions of other people would love to get the chance to do.  I understand that, and I do my very best not to take for granted, a single day that I wear the uniform.

    I was interviewed by a local reporter in New Orleans that remembers me from when I played there back in 02 and 03.  He asked me if opening day was still exciting for me since I’ve been playing for so long.   I told him there no doubt about it, I’ve been playing this game since I was 6 years old, and I still get the same butterflys in my stomach that I had a a rookie or when I took my first AB in the Big Leagues.  I personally believe that if you as a player don’t get excited for opening day, you should probably be at home doing some thing else.

   Well, we opened up in Nashville this year, and what a beautiful day it was for baseball.  Clear and about 75 degrees.  I’ve opened up here in the past when it was 30 degrees and snow in the area.  You’ve got these big kerosen heaters in the dugout to attempt to thaw you out so you can get through another inning. Not fun at all.  Along with that the Nashville Sounds were purcahsed by new owners and they did some very nice renovations to the stadium that were well overdue.

  In the past when I would come to Nashville I would dread the trip. For me, the stadium ranked up there as one of the worst I’ve ever played in. The old field in Little Rock Arkansas takes the cake with that one.  In the past, the clubhouse in Nashville was full of mold, every year at least 2 or 3 players would come up sick.  It was small, dirty and cramped and a health hazard in every way imaginable.  The stadium lights were very low, and yellow and you had a hard time even seeing what was going on during the game.  The playing surface was subpar at best and as a hitter you just hoped to squeak out a few hits and get out of there. I couldn’t imagine playing there as the home team.

   Well, apparantly MLB officials took a tour of the stadium and gave them a huge list of things that needed to be attended to or the opperation was going to be in jeapordy of being shut down.  This year, they put in a new clubhouse for both teams out in center field. The visiting side is still a bit small and cramped, but at least its clean and you actually look forward to taking a nice shower after the game.  They put in new light towers with new white lights so you can actually see the game now, or see that fastball coming at your head!  The playing surface is 10 times better than its been in the past, the infield dirt has a nice clay base and the grass is new and well taken care of.  They basically turned the stadium from one I dreaded going to, to one I’ll now look forward to.

   We’ve opened the season on a positive note, taking 3 out 4 from the Sounds with a nice victory in 10 innings during the series finally.  We’re on to play 4 in Memphis, probably the best over all ball park in all of the minor leagues, and then we head back home to New Orleans for our season opener.

Thanks for tuning in!

DM

 

   

The Season is Finally Here!

   Spring Training has come to and end, all of the hard work in the offseason is behind you and now its time to play ball.  We left Jupiter, FL on the 2nd of April to play an exhibition game with our AA team in Jacksonville and arrived in New Orleans yesterday to get ready for our opener in Nashville on the 9th. 

   The first few days on a new team in a new city are always interesting.  Trying to find pants that fit,  a good locker for the season, a place to live and the list goes on and on.  Its always nice to get all of that stuff out of the way, so you can settled in to a daily routine.  We’ll have a couple workouts here in New Orleans, one during the day and a simulated game under the lights to get everybody acustom to the ball park and the surface.

   We have a really well rounded team this year, and a fantastic staff to work with, I’m really looking forward to this season.  Any player will tell you that the guys you play with and the coaches you play for can really impact your season, either postively or negatively.  You are with the guys so much, that its really important that everybody get along and enjoy being around eachother or it can make for a really long season.  We’ve got some really good looking young prospects, mixed in with some good salty veterans that have been around a while, should be alot of fun. 

More, as the season gets under way!

DM

  

Well Under Way

    Well, we are about half way through Spring Training now, its going to a be a short and sweet one this year.  The Big League club is slowly dwindling down its roster as it approaches the team it will take into the season.  A former teamate of mine, Mike Wood joined us a few days ago, as did John Lindsey, a guy thats been around the game as long as I have.  A few other younger players getting their first taste of Big League spring training are trickling in as well.

   We’ve had some pretty wet weather here lately in Jupiter, and although it tends to cut into your work for the day, some rest for the body is always a welcomed event.  You have to really balance working through sorness in your arms and legs and being smart so you don’t hurt yourself for the start of the season.  So far I think our camp has been pretty lucky, not too many injuries and guys are progressing steadily as opening day approaches.

   At this point in camp, guys are really starting to gel and become friends and now is when it really starts to get fun. In the next week or so, the organization will start to form the teams and make some tough decisions on guys.  Looking forward to getting the season under way.

All for now. 

Maiden Voyage

   Hello fans, my name is David Matranga, this should be fun and I look forward to giving you a players perspective on the life in professional baseball.  Just to give you a little
background on me, I was drafted by the Houston Astros in the 6th round of the 1998 Draft, I grew up in Southern California and went to college at Pepperdine University. I’m married to Sarah and we have 2 kids, Austin and Alexa.

    Well, its hard to believe and it certainly doesn’t seem like its been this long, but this will be my 12th season in pro ball.  You know you’ve been around a long time when you are training with guys that were born in the 90’s when I was born 2 decades earlier! I feel very blessed to have lasted this long and to have been given the opportunity to make a life in baseball.

   I’m excited to be a Marlin this year, and I’ve always been intrigued at how they seem to be so competitive with such a limited budget.  After only a few days in Spring Training I’m starting to learn why.  Today we had our first hitters meeting, it only lasted about 15 minutes, but I left with a very good impression.  The staff in this orgnization is extremely passionate about the game and developing their players into Major Leaguers.  They have a very solid plan in place as to how to get the most out of every one of its players and its not surprising that their minor league system led all of baseball in many different offensive catagories.

We’ve got a good group of guys in camp with a good mix of veterans and solid young prospects.  Pete LaForest, Mike Wood, Matt Craig and Nate Field are some familiar names that I’ve played with or against for quite a few years. All of us hoping to get another crack at the Big Leagues at some point and the Marlins seem like a great place to make it happen!

Thanks for tuning in an I look forward to answering any questions or discussing any topics you’d like to hear about it.

  

 

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