Is it Time to Ax Kranitz?

We’re probably going to get nailed for this one, but we’re going to throw it out there: the Florida Marlins should fire Rick Kranitz.

Yes, he was Baseball America’s Major League Coach of the Year last season leading 4 rookies to win 10+ games. And yes, we’re a bunch of fans who aren’t there every day and have never played the game.

But, there is something wrong with the pitching staff. Despite our defense and despite our strikeouts, it’s the pitching that has let the team down this year. Here are some of the talking points:

  • Injuries: You can’t always blame a coach for injuries but someone has to ask why Kranitz didn’t stand up for his pitcher (Josh Johnson) and tell Joe Girardi that JJ cannot return to a game after a 70 minute rain delay. We will never know if that was the main cause of JJ’s injury but it’s clear the front office thinks so. Similarly, he missed Anibal Sanchez hiding his injury. I don’t know if it’s tough to identify that problem, but clearly the pitcher didn’t have a good trusting relationship with his coach. Toss in Logan Kensing and Carlos Martinez and the bottom line is that four of his pitchers needed Tommy John surgery. That’s just way too much.
  • Successes: It seems to me like none of the projects thrown at Kranitz really succeeded this year. We cannot point to a rookie who has really impressed us. Rick VandenHurk has ups and downs and masks brilliance with explosive innings where he stops pitching and starts throwing. Neither Jorge Julio (who is doing well in Colorado) nor Armando Benitez succeeded in reviving their careers with the Marlins.
  • Dontrelle: Dontrelle Willis is a mess right now. His delivery is problematic and he is more erratic than ever. Kranitz may have tinkered too much with both the physical delivery and with the strategy (cutting his pitches). Like many of our pitchers these days, Dontrelle keeps falling behind guys and getting into high-pitch jams.
  • The 5th-Inning Wall: If you’ve watched the fish this year, you probably know that by the time our starter hits the 5th inning he’s either close to 100 pitches or on the verge of blowing the game open. Some crude math shows that our starters account for 59% of innings pitched this season. That means that in a 9-inning game, our pitchers last an average of 5-1/3 innings. In each of the last two years, our starters accounted for over 70% of innings pitched (6-1/3 innings).

This is just one man’s opinion.

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