Dysfunctional Marlins air their dirty laundry

Nl Notebook

Mlb Week

October 02, 2005

Nothing can top what happened at Camden Yards this season, but it's nice to know the Orioles haven't cornered the market on dysfunctional families.

Here's a brief rundown of an ugly month in Miami: The Florida Marlins were leading the wild-card race Sept. 12 and then dropped 12 of 15 to fall into last place in the National League East.

Pitcher A.J. Burnett blew up in the clubhouse last Sunday, criticizing the coaching staff for its contagious negativity. The next day, Burnett, who helped carry the Marlins after the All-Star break but slumped down the stretch, was booted from the team by manager Jack McKeon.

McKeon, the feel-good managerial story of 2003, likely will be pushed into an advisory role this offseason - much to the pleasure of some Marlins players.

Then there is star third baseman Miguel Cabrera, who was chastised by teammates in a closed-door meeting last week - after he was benched for two games, one for showing up late for medical treatment and another for coming to the ballpark 45 minutes before a day game.

He also refused to shag fly balls in July and August, drawing the ire of Hall of Famer and club special assistant Tony Perez.

To make matters worse, stalled finances for a proposed new stadium might make it necessary for the Marlins to deal first baseman Carlos Delgado, who has three years left on a four-year, $52 million contract. Delgado said team owner Jeffrey Loria assured him that he'd remain with the club, but the speculation continues.

At least there is no question as to Burnett's future in Miami. The pending free agent wasn't likely to re-sign with the Marlins. Now he is about to hit the open market, reportedly hoping for a Carl Pavano-esque, $40 million-type deal, while carrying baggage.

His agent, Darek Braunecker, attempted damage control after Burnett's blowup.

"It's certainly not going to help us going into the offseason," Braunecker said. "This isn't a bad person. This isn't a guy who's got character flaws. He made some bad judgment calls and said a few things he shouldn't have, but he is not a clubhouse cancer."

Coors Light

Coors Field in Colorado can no longer be considered baseball's premier launching pad. It ranked just 10th overall in homers this season, and both the Rockies and their opponents set an all-time low for home runs and total runs there.

The 11.07 runs per game and 2.09 homers per game are far below the stadium's apex for runs (15.02 in 1996) and home runs (3.74 in 1999). There has been a sharp decline overall since the Rockies began storing baseballs in a humidor in 2002.

"It's been talked about regularly in here, and the fact is the ball hasn't gone out of the yard as much," Rockies second baseman Aaron Miles said. "Who knows what the real reason is, whether it's the humidor, the weather, better pitching or hitters who just aren't as good."

Quick hits

Despite not making the playoffs in his eight seasons, Philadelphia general manager Ed Wade has a contract that expires in 2007, and he said he fully expects to be back. ... Chicago pitcher Greg Maddux's record streak of 17 straight 15-win seasons is over. He has a chance for his 14th win today ... Hector Carrasco, the career reliever who gave Washington's rotation a boost, wants to return to the Nationals as a starter.

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