Friday Morning Cram Session, 6/22

Last night, team owner Jeffrey Loria held a closed door meeting with Marlins players and coaches, presumably to express displeasure at the club’s freefall since June 5, which has left them just a game above the Phillies in the race not to be last in the NL East.

Now, many would doubt Jeffrey Loria’s ability to inspire a room full of grown men to play a game better.  They’d say, Jeffrey Loria’s a weasel and a thief, having taken baseball and office supplies from Montreal when he sold the Expos to Bud Selig.  They’d say, he’s an art dealer, not Knute Rockne.  But those people don’t know what Jeffrey Loria knows about public speaking.  While we don’t know exactly what was said during the larger team meeting, we do have an exclusive transcript of his breakout session with the relievers afterwards:

Jeffrey Loria:  Let me have your attention for a moment.  Cuz you’re talkin’ about what? You’re talking about…bitching about that ump who missed a call?  Some son of a bitch don’t want to offer at your slider, somebody don’t want the pitches you’re throwing, some batter you’re tryin’ to screw?  Are they all here?

Ozzie Guillen: All but one.

Loria: Well, I’m going anyway.  Let’s talk about something important.  PUT THAT COFFEE DOWN.  Coffee’s for closers only.

Edward Mujica: (Laughs)

Loria: You think I’m fucking with you?  I am not fucking with you.  I’m here from down town.  I’m here from Conine and McKeon.  And I’m here on a mission of mercy.  You’re name’s Mujica?

Mujica: Yeah.

Loria: You call yourself a reliever, you son of a bitch?

Heath Bell: I don’t gotta to listen to this shit.

Loria: You certainly don’t pal. Cuz the good news is you’re fired.  The bad news is you’ve got, all you’ve got just one month left to regain your jobs, starting with tonight.  Starting with tonight’s game.  Oh?  Have I got your attention now?  Good.  Cuz we’re adding a little something to this month’s saves and holds contest.  As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac El Dorado.  Anybody want to see second prize?  Second prize is a set of steak knives.  Third prize is you’re fired.  You get the picture?  Are you laughing now?

You got leads.  Stanton and Ramirez hit good pitches to give you those leads.  You can’t close the leads you’re given?  You can’t close shit.  YOU ARE SHIT!  HIT THE BRICKS, PAL AND BEAT IT BECAUSE YOU ARE GOING OUT!

Mujica: The leads are weak.

Loria:  The leads are weak?  You’re weak.  I been in this game 15 years.  Well, not IN the game, per se, but owning a team.

Bell: What’s your name?

Loria: Fuck you!  That’s my name!  You know why, mister?  Cuz you drove an H3 to get here tonight; I was driven in a stretch H3 by a chauffuer actually named Jarvis.  THAT’s my name.  And your name is you’re wanting.  You can’t play in the man’s game, you can’t close them, then go home and tell your wife your troubles.  Because only one thing counts in this life: get them to ground out, fly out and strike out!  You hear me? 

A…B…C.  A: Always. B: Be.  C: Closing.  Always be closing.  ALWAYS BE CLOSING!  A.I.D.A.  Attention, interest, decision, action. Attention: do I have your attenion?  Interest: Are you interested?  I know you are, because it’s strikeout or walk.  You close or you hit the bricks.  Decision: HAVE YOU MADE YOUR DECISION FOR CHRIST?  And action.  A.I.D.A.  Get out there.  You got the prospects coming in.  Do you think they came in to get out of the rain?  A guy don’t grab a bat lest he wants to swing.  They’re sitting out there waiting for you to get them out.  Are you going to take it?  Are you man enough to take it?

You wanna work here?  CLOSE!  You think this is abuse?  You can’t take this, how can you take the abuse you get in a game?  You don’t like it?  Leave.  I can go out there tonight, with the stuff you got, and strike out the side for two straight innings.  Can you?  Can you?  Go and do likewise.  A.I.D.A.  Get mad you son of a bitches.  Get mad. 

You know what it takes to pitch out of the bullpen?  It takes brass balls to pitch out of the bullpen.  Go and do likewise, gents.  The outs are out there, you pick ’em up, they’re yours.  You don’t, I got no sympathy for you.  You wanna go out in that game and close, close and it’s yours.  And if not, you’re gonna be cleaning my spikes.  And you know what you’ll be saying, bunch of losers, sitting around a bar sayin’ “Oh yeah, I was a reliever.  It’s a tough racket.”

These are the new leads.  These are the new Marlins leads.  And to you they’re gold, and you don’t get them.  Why?  Because to give them to you is just throwing them away.  They’re for closers.  I’d wish you good luck, but you wouldn’t know what to do with it if you got it.

Wow, inspiring stuff.  I wonder what he said to Gaby Sanchez.  Very strange that, for all of Loria’s expert motivation, it didn’t have an affect on the bullpen’s performance tonight.  Mujica and Choate conspired to steal the lead in the 8th and take it across the street to the Red Sox, who win this one and sweep the series.  Maybe next time, Loria should give his “No retreat, no surrender!” speech.


Pitcher of the Night: Travis Blackley, 8 IP, 3 H, 0 BB, 1 R, 6 K
Blackley went 17-3 with a 2.61 ERA at AA as a 20 year old back in 2003.  He was a huge prospect out of the Seattle system who encountered arm troubles that essentially destroyed him and forced him to rebuild himself from the ground up.  And while he doesn’t get the W in this game, he went toe to toe with Clayon Kershaw.  Blackley will probably go the way of Bryan Bullington (rather than Ryan Vogelsong) soon enough, but for now he’s a fun story. 

Hitter of the Night: Will Middlebrooks, 3-4, HR, 4 RBI
Middlebrooks singled in a run twice, and then crushed a two run homer to dead centerfield at Fenway to tie the game in the 8th inning.

Defensive Play of the Night:  Brandon Moss

Not a ton of great plays last night, but Moss went far to his right to make a diving stop and fired a great throw to Blackley to record the out.  (Sorry, there’s no video again this morning.  MLB doesn’t want you to see their product unless you click on Moss’ name.)

Game Changer of the Night: Yoenis Cespedes

Cespedes hits a 3-run frozen rope that just stays fair to give the A’s a come-from-behind win against the Dodgers.  (Again, sorry there’s no video today. MLB doesn’t think you can handle it.)

Trade Bait of the Night: Kevin Youkilis
Yes, we talked about him yesterday.  But he sat today and, well, you can see what Middlebrooks did above.  And it’s not like the Red Sox don’t have holes to fill.

Injuries of Note:
Troy Tulowitzki, Groin Surgery

As TCM pointed out yesterday, the Rockies are a mess anyway.  With Tulo out for 6-8 weeks, it’s time to trade anything that isn’t nailed down.

Cliche of the night: Tie!

“I got a good pitch to hit right there, and it just felt good to be able to come through for my team. It definitely felt good. To help us get a victory felt really awesome.” – Danny Espinosa

“I just wanted to give my team a chance to at least come back, go out there and battle. When all was said and done, I think it was one of those great team wins.”  – Gio Gonzalez


Pirates: Andrew McCutchen, 3-4, 2B, 3B, 2 R, 3 RBI
Look, The Common Man knows we talked about McCutchen just on Wednesday, but another huge game means The Common Man gets to talk about his co-favorite player in the National League (with Bryce Harper).  McCutchen is now hitting .339/.397/.574, which is the highest OPS in the National League by almost 100 points.  He’s also stolen 14 bases.  If you haven’t voted for him in the All Star Game, you’re not exactly doing yourself any favors.  You should be watching this guy as much as possible.

Twins: Jeff Manship, 1 IP, 3 H, 2 HR, 1 K, 3 R
In a microcosm, Manship is everything that has been wrong with the Minnesota Twins for years now.  His fastball tops out in the low 90s, he can’t command it when he overthrows, and he has no way to miss bats.  He’s already 27, has less than 75 career innings and an ERA of 6.11 to his name, and the Twins keep talking about how he could be a valuable piece as a back-end starter or a reliever.  No.  Just no.  Just stop.

Rays:  Joel Peralta, 1 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 2 R
Maybe Peralta should have just taken his suspension and been grateful for it, the little cheater.  His ERA pops up to 4.20 and he gets hung with the loss after a Danny Espinosa double plates Jesus Flores and Adam LaRoche.

A’s: Derek Norris, 0-3
Norris makes his Major League debut, and did nothing really, aside from nailing Dee Gordon as he tried to steal second.  Norris grounded into a double play, flied out and lined out.  So he should fit in well in Oakland.  (In actuality, Norris has a lot of power and patience, and hopefully he can transcend his low batting average to become an above average backstop.)

A’s: Coco Crisp, 1-3, BB, R
On June 12, Crisp was hitting .165/.224/.226.  In his last seven games, however, he’s hit .423/.542/.461.  Don’t worry though, Crisp also got caught stealing and picked off in this game.

Cardinals: Kyle Lohse, 7 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 1 HR, 4 K, 1 R
Sometimes The Common Man forgets that Kyle Lohse is still pitching.  It seems like forever ago he was in a Twins uniform.  TCM is legitimately flummoxed, but here Lohse is with a 2.98 ERA in 14 starts, and it doesn’t necessarily feel weird.