With Abbott Gone, Castillo and Gonzalez to Patrol Infield

Marlins trade utility infielder Kurt Abbott back to the team where they found him four years ago, the Oakland Athletics. Abbott, who made $650,000 last year and was headed to arbitration lost his starting 2B job when the Marlins acquired Craig Counsell. With a wealth of young talent available in the infield, including Alex González and Luis Castillo, Abbott became expendable. In return, the Marlins receive much needed pitching help with RHP Eric Ludwick.

Cook Traded; Payroll Down to $31 Million

Marlins traded Dennis Cook and his $850,000 to the New York Mets for minor leaguer outfielder Fletcher Bates and pitcher Scott Comer. The Marlins’ payroll is now down to $31 million. Subtracting the $5 million the Marlins will probably receive in insurance for Alex Fernandez’s injury, the Marlins have reached the general range they wanted their payroll to be. Al Leiter and jim Eisenriech are the next players to go.

Alex Arias DFA

Marlins designated Alex Arias for assignment, releasing the last member of the original 1993 Florida Marlins. The 30 year old Arias was one of the leagues best pinch-hitters during his stay with the Marlins. He was originally acquired from the Cubs in 1992 on expansion draft day.

Also, the Marlins picked up Brandon Cromer of waivers from the Pirates. The 23 year-old Cromer hit .232 with eight homers and 36 RBI in 68 games at Triple A last season.

Saunders and Duvall Taken in Expansion Draft

Marlins left-handed starter Tony Saunders was the first selection in the 1997 expansion draft by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Left handed minor league reliever Mikue Duvall was taken in the second round by Tampa Bay. The Devil Rays also chose minor leaguer Randy Winn in the third round. No more Marlins can be taken in the draft. The loss of Saunders along with the injury to Fernandez and the potential trade of Brown and Leiter means that none of the Marlins starting rotation on opening day of 1997, will be around next year (Hernandez joined the team in mid-season).

Leyland to Return for 1998 Season

Jim Leyland announced to day that he will manage the Marlins next year. Leyland stated that he wanted to give Don Smiley a chance to buy the club and get a new stadium. Leyland will evaluate the situation again at the end of next season. Should the Marlins get a new stadium, it is likely that payroll can be raised again and Leyland will stay.

Alou is the First to go

The Marlins took the first step in reducing their payroll by trading team MVP Moises Alou to Houston for closer Oscar Henriquez and pitcher Manuel Barrios, and pitcher Mark Johnson. Both pitchers are right handed and 23 years old. The 31 year old Alou hit .292, slugged 23 HR, and drove in 115 RBI this year, leading the Marlins in HR and RBI. The Marlins reduced their payroll by $20 million over the next 4 years.

Smiley Attempts to Purchase Marlins

Wayne Huzinega has given a group headed by team president Don Smiley 30 days to complete the purchase of the team for $150 million. Smiley has confirmed that the payroll will be reduced, but insisted that once the Marlins receive a new stadium, the payroll may be adjusted. Simley has already had discussion with the city of Miami about a 45,000 seat retractable roof stadium next to American Airlines Arena (the new Heat arena, 2000). Still no discussions with the better candidate, Broward County. With the sale, the Marlins might be eligible to receive $60 million from the state for stadium improvements, money to be used for a new facility.


World Series Game 7: Marlins 3 – Cleveland 2 (W: Powell, L: Nagy)

In front of a frenzied crowd at Pro Player Stadium, Edgar Renteria drove in Craig Counsell in the bottom of the 11th to win the 1997 World Series.

Down 2-0 in the bottom of the seventh, Bonilla hit a homerun to right field to cut the lead in half. In the bottom of the ninth, Moises Alou singled and ended up at third after a Charles Johnson single. Then, with 1 out, Counsell’s sack fly drove in Alou to tie the game. Nen and Powell held the Indians in check until the bottom of the 11th. Bonilla led off with a single. Then advanced to third on a Fernandez error. Bonilla was thrown out at the plate on a Devon White fielder’s choice. Then, with 2 outs, Edgar Renteria, singled to center to score Counsell and win the game 3-2.

1997 World Series Game 6: Cleveland 4 – Marlins 1 (W: Ogea, L: Brown)

Chad Ogea drove in 2 runs and held the Marlins to 1 run in 5 innings as Cleveland took game 6, 4-1 to force a game 7. Brown struggled again, allowing 4 earned runs in 5 innings. But the Marlins had several chances to cut the lead in the 5th, 6th, and 7th innings, but left went 0-10 with runners in scoring position. Devon White (3-5) and Charles Johnson (2-4) accounted for 5 of the Marlins’ 7 hits. The World Series is down to game 7 on Sunday night. Leiter and Wright are the likely starters.

1997 World Series Game 5: Marlins 8 – Indians 7 (W: Hernandez, L: Hershiser)

Moises Alou’s 3-run home run in the top of the 6th gave the Marlins a 5-4 lead, a lead they would maintain to win 8-7 and take a 3-2 lead in the World Series. Livan Hernandez, who struggled in the first 6 inning, walking 7, suddenly recovered and pitched all the way to the ninth, leaving the game for Rob Nen to close. Sandy Alomar drove in 4 runs in the first 3 innings giving the Indians a 4-2 lead. But Alou proceeded to homer in the 6th, score a run off a Charles Johnson single in the eighth, and drive in Arias in the ninth. All in all, Alou went 3-5, driving in 4 and scoring 2. Charles Johnson had 3 hits, scoring 1, and driving in 2. Devon White recovered from a horrible slump with 2 hits, a walk, and 2 RBI. The late runs by Alou and Arias were very important, as Rob Nen allowed 3 runs to score in the ninth to cut the deficit to 1. The Marlins head back to Pro Player Stadium where they can win the World Series on Saturday night, or Sunday night if necessary.

1997 World Series Game 4: Cleveland 10 – Florida 3 (W: Wright, L: Saunders, S: Anderson)

The Cleveland Indians beat the Marlins 10-3 in the coldest game in World Series history. Tony Saunders allowed 6 earned runs in 2 innings and the Marlins never recovered. Matt Williams led the way for Cleveland with 3 hits, 3 runs, 2 RBI, and 2 walks. Alou hit a 2-run home run for the Marlins. This win ties the series at 2 and assures the that the final game of the World Series will be held at Pro Player Stadium.

1997 World Series Game 3: Florida 14 – Cleveland 11 (W: Cook, L: Plunk)

Down 7-3, the Marlins come from behind to beat the Indians 14-11. Gary Sheffield drove in 5 runs with a home run, double, single, and walk. Daulton had a home run and scored 3 runs on 2 hits and 2 walks. Pitching 4-2/3 innings, Al Leiter never seemed to maintain any consistency, allowing 7 runs (4 earned) as the Indians grabbed a 7-3. The Indians scored on 3 Marlins’ errors (including a crucial mistake by Bonilla), Leiter walks, and a Thome home run. But a very impotant 2-run home run by Eisenriech, a Renteria single, and a Sheffield double tied the game. With the game tied in the bottom of the 7th, Sheffield made a crucial catch hitting the outfield wall off Thome’s bat allowing. In the ninth inning the Marlins scored 7 runs to take the lead. Robb Nen struggled, allowing 4 runs, but closed the Indians in the bottom of the ninth.

Here is what happened in the top of the ninth (game tied 7-7): Bonilla walked, Daulton singled, but Bonilla’s aggressive running brought him to third and sent the ball off Grissom’s hand into the dugout. Bonilla scored. Floyd walked. Daulton scored on a failed pick-off move by Cleveland’s Plunk. Charles Johnson the singled. Counsell reached on an error by Tony Fernandez scoring Floyd. Renteria walked. Sheffield singled to right with the bases loaded driving in Johnson and Counsell. After a wild pitch advanced the runners, Bonilla singled to right, scoring Renteria and Sheffield. When it was over, the Marlins had a 14-7 lead.