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Trade deadline passes with no deals for Marlins

MIAMI — About 15 minutes before Wednesday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Marlins sent out a text to an undisclosed team about a possible trade scenario.

“We threw out a couple of names,” president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said.

The last-ditch, Hail Mary proposal was eventually answered with a, no thanks.

With that, the Trade Deadline passed without the Marlins making any moves.

It’s not surprising, because the club was bracing to stay the course. It has been discussed internally for a while with owner Jeffrey Loria, Beinfest, general manager Michael Hill and the rest of the organization.

“I think when Mike and I got in the office this morning, and updated Jeffrey, I don’t think we thought anything was going to happen,” Beinfest said. “It kind of turned out that way. We were on the phone. There were texts. There were some ideas. We threw out an idea late. It was kind of a normal day. We never got the sense that anything was close.”

The Marlins still could be active in August, when the waiver trading period gets underway.

“You never know,” Beinfest said. “Things change every day. Injuries. People on a run, not on a run. You just never know. We’ve made a bunch of deals in the last year. Today wasn’t our day to make a deal.”

It was expected that the Marlins would not move slugger Giancarlo Stanton, barring an overwhelming offer that never materialized. Closer Steve Cishek and lefty reliever Mike Dunn had drawn interest in recent months. All three are expected to be core players as the organization moves forward the rest of the season and into 2014.

Even a veteran like Chad Qualls, a free agent after the season, has value to the organization in its attempt to win as many games as possible.

Placido Polanco could be a candidate to be moved in August. There could be a potential match with the Yankees, who may have a need for third base depth.

Joe Frisaro

Could Red Sox sway Marlins to move Stanton?

MIAMI — It’s a day away from the non-waiver Trade Deadline, and all appears quiet in Marlins camp.

Wednesday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline is expected to come and go with little to no activity.

Still, you never know.

Contending teams have been calling regularly on a number of core Miami players. They’re repeatedly told closer Steve Cishek is not available. Most likely that will be the stock answer to any core player wearing the multi-colored Marlins’ uniforms.

As the deadline appears, worth watching is if a contender can offer a substantial package of players that would lure in slugger Giancarlo Stanton.

The 23-year-old, viewed as a building block in Miami, is not expected to go anywhere. Not just for the remainder of 2013, but in 2014 and perhaps beyond, either.

Right now, the Marlins have pretty much closed the door on any Stanton offers. The challenge for a contender is seeing if they can convince the Miami brass to even listen?

It’s no secret that the Rangers and Pirates have repeatedly checked in on Stanton. All their calls have been met with a resounding, “No.”

Is there a team out there who won’t take “no” for an answer and somehow get Miami to say, yes?

If there is a sleeper squad, it could be the Red Sox.

A league source said Boston may be willing to part with whatever it takes in hopes of swaying the Marlins to relocate Stanton to Fenway Park.

The Red Sox indeed have a strong system, and it would likely take four or five players alone to secure Stanton’s services.

But is there a fit between the clubs?

The Red Sox top prospect is shortstop Xander Bogaerts, ranked by MLB.com as the sixth overall prospect in the game.

But the Marlins have Adeiny Hechavarria, a shortstop many in the organization feel is the best defender at his position in the National League. What if Bogaerts is able to switch to second base? If so, an Hechavarria-Bogaerts middle infield could be attractive to Miami.

Boston’s No. 2 ranked prospect is Jackie Bradley, a left-handed hitting outfielder, who also likely would have to be included in any potential deal.

From Miami’s point of view, is there a need for Bradley? If Stanton is dealt, the organization could then go with Christian Yelich in left, Jake Marisnick in center and Marcell Ozuna in right. So where would Bradley fit? Or is he an upgrade over any of the players Miami already has in the outfield. If not, it wouldn’t make sense for the Marlins.

Ozuna, however, will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing left thumb surgery. Certainly, outfield depth would be needed.

Another position the Marlins would likely want is pitching. The club pretty much seeks a pitcher in return of any trade they make.

Pitchers Allen Webster and Henry Owens are Boston’s third and fourth ranked prospects, respectively. Lefty Trey Ball was the No. 7 overall pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.

Would those five or four of those five get a deal done? Or it could be a combination of three or four top prospects, and a player or two already on Boston’s big league roster?

For Stanton, pretty much any team would have to be willing to clean out their farm system. Even then, the Marlins may so no.

The main reason why the Marlins aren’t expected to make any major moves now is they like where they are headed. Team chemistry is the highest it’s been in years. On the field, the club has played drastically better the past two months, and with a wealth of talented pitchers, they may be a year or two away from being a contender. That’s staying with what they have, and making minor adjustments.

Stanton, remember, is just 23, and there is no urgency to move him.

While eligible for free agency in 2014, he won’t be a free agent until after the 2016 season. Miami coud be serious contenders by 2015, which falls within Stanton’s arbitration-years window. So even if the slugger doesn’t accept a substantial multi-year offer from Miami, he could stick around a while.

It’s clear as long as Stanton stays in Miami, rumors that he will eventually be moved will follow.

Joe Frisaro

Marlins unlikely to make major deals

MIAMI — Trade speculation promises to rise as Wednesday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches, and the Marlins are content to pretty much remain inactive.

The club already made its major move, dealing Ricky Nolasco to the Dodgers for three pitching prospects on July 6.

Pretty much every contending team in need of relief pitching has already been told closer Steve Cishek and lefty Mike Dunn are not available. Several other clubs have inquired about veteran Chad Qualls, a free agent at the end of the season.

Even for Qualls, who is not guaranteed to be part of Miami’s plans for ’14, isn’t actively being shopped.

The Marlins are leaning towards retaining Qualls, barring a team overpaying for the right-hander, who has done a solid job in a setup role.

Why not deal Qualls? It’s pretty simple. The Marlins are looking to win as many games as possible in the second half. If the team was in a downward spiral right now, their thinking likely would be different.

But Miami, while 39-62 overall, is 26-21 since May 31.

It’s a pretty remarkable turnaround since starting off 14-41 in April and May.

With young pitchers like Jose Fernandez, Nathan Eovaldi, Jacob Turner and Henderson Alvarez each throwing well, the organization doesn’t want to see winnable games slip away due to inexperienced relievers.

So if the return for Qualls isn’t something worth the Marlins’ while, then they are perfectly satisfied with keeping the veteran through the end of the season.

The biggest name on the Marlins repeatedly mentioned in trade speculation is Giancarlo Stanton. Each day brings another report with the 23-year-old slugger’s name attached.

It’s been reported that the Rangers and Pirates are calling regularly, and they repeatedly are told the same thing — no.

The bottom line with Stanton is he isn’t available, not now and pretty much not in the offseason.

Stanton will qualify for arbitration for the first time in 2014, and his salary will jump into the neighborhood of $6.5 million or perhaps another half million more.

Whatever the exact figure will be is affordable for the Marlins.

Besides, the club already has said publicly that it plans on approaching Stanton about a significant multi-year offer. Even if he doesn’t accept it, the Marlins are willing to retain the slugger through at least the start of 2014.

Quite simply, the Marlins need Stanton’s power. That has been magnified even more with the recent left thumb injury to Marcell Ozuna, a candidate to eventually replace Stanton in right field.

As an organization, there isn’t a surplus of power. So the team is looking to find it from within. The Marlins aren’t planning on being active in the free agent market for a power hitter, so retaining Stanton is a high priority.

The Marlins are last in the Majors in runs scored with 321, and that figure is pretty far back of the White Sox, who rank 29th in runs with 377. Stanton missed all of May with a strained right hamstring, and that’s when the team struggled miserably.

Miami also is last in home runs with 61, two behind the Giants.

And the Marlins’ slugging percentage of .337 also ranks at the bottom in the Majors. The Yankees are next in that category at .371.

Candidates who could be moved are Ryan Webb and Justin Ruggiano.

Between now and the Trade Deadline, calls are expected to come in and go out, but the Marlins aren’t expected to be a main trade attraction by the middle of next week.

Joe Frisaro

Ruggiano likely candidate to be traded

MIAMI — With their top two prospects called up, the Marlins have a couple of outfielders who are expendable.

Justin Ruggiano and Juan Pierre will see their playing time drastically reduced now that Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick have been promoted from Double-A Jacksonville.

Ruggiano, especially, becomes a candidate to be traded by the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. The 31-year-old can play all three outfield spots, and he provides power. His 12 home runs lead the Marlins. but he’s mired in an 0-for-30 slump since his last hit on July 8.

The dryspell has dropped his batting average to .202.

According to various reports, the Yankees, Rangers, Phillies and Giants have a level of interest.

Because he is out of options, and doesn’t figure to be part of the team’s plans next year, Ruggiano is a strong candidate to be moved either at the deadline or sometime in August, during the waiver trade period.

Pierre, meanwhile, is 35 and he is a favorite of the organization. The veteran speedster likely will remain with the club for the remainder of the season, unless there is a contending team interested in his services. That doesn’t appear to be the case.

If Ruggiano is dealt, Pierre could see more playing time in spot starts. Yelich is playing left field, but he could move to center field if Marisnick is given a day off or replaced in a double-switch situation.

A key member of the Marlins’ 2003 World Series team, Pierre’s role now is mostly as a pinch-hitter or pinch-runner.

Pierre remains popular in the clubhouse, and he is seen as a valuable asset to provide leadership and insight to the young players.

Pierre lives in South Florida, and when he retires as a player, the Marlins would strongly consider having him work in their organization, perhaps as a coach.

Joe Frisaro

Marlins leaning towards staying the course

MIAMI — Teams that reach the All-Star Break firmly in last place typically consider making major moves by the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

That may be the case for many clubs. But it’s not what the Marlins are thinking.

After falling 5-2 in 10 innings to the Nationals on Sunday, Miami entered the break with a 35-58 record. Still, there is plenty of reason for optimism, mainly because its young core is coming together.

Since May 31, the Marlins are 22-17. And they are 21-17 since June 1, compared to a 14-41 mark in April and May.

The fact they’ve built some positive momentum has the Marlins leaning towards staying the course as the July 31 deadline approaches. They aren’t anticipating making any major trades.

Giancarlo Stanton, Logan Morrison, Steve Cishek and Mike Dunn have all been mentioned in trade speculation. All four are eligible for arbitration next year. But the bottom line is all four are considered building blocks for the remainder of this year and in 2014. Don’t expect any of them to be dealt. Of course, a team willing to dramatically overpay could change things. But that is highly unlikely.

In summing up the first half, first-year manager Mike Redmond noted the Marlins are pleased with the improvement, but they recognize there is plenty of room for improvement.

“By no means are we satisfied with where we are at,” Redmond said. “We know we can get better. We know we can continue to improve. We’ll go out there in the second half, and hopefully have a great second half and finish strong.”

The Marlins pretty much made their big move already. A week ago, they dealt Ricky Nolasco to the Dodgers for three pitching prospects.

It was no secret Nolasco was available, because the right-hander will be a free agent after the season. The Marlins feel they have a group of young starting pitchers to replace Nolasco, so they weren’t planning on making an offer to retain him.

With Stanton, there isn’t an obvious replacement. His power is critical for a team that is last in the Majors in home runs. And he’s a threat at Marlins Park, which has allowed the fewest amount of homers of any stadium this year.

Morrison also is viewed as a building block because he is the primary power threat from the left side, and he has the ability to become highly productive. Injuries slowed him down, and the team wants to see what he can do playing regularly.

Cishek has not been made available, largely because with so much strong, young starting pitching, the Marlins are counting on a reliable closer to secure wins. The organization doesn’t want to demoralize its young pitching by having late leads disappear.

For another club to acquire Cishek, its bidding likely would have to start with their No. 1 prospect. Even then, finding a match appears remote.

The Tigers, for instance, have a need. But even their top prospect, Nick Castellanos, may not be a fit. Castellonas plays third base and outfield, two areas the Marlins already have prospects.

The Marlins just signed their first-round pick, third baseman Colin Moran, for $3.5 million. Moran is viewed as the third baseman of the future. And they have young outfielders like Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick. Both could be called up in the second half. So there is an outfield surplus, which also limits the trade market.

Candidates the Marlins could trade are relievers Ryan Webb and Chad Qualls. Placido Polanco, Justin Ruggiano and Greg Dobbs are position players who are possible trade pieces.

Even they may not be moved in July.

Chances are the Marlins could make more moves in August, during the waiver-trade period than by the end of July.

Right now, the club wants to see how its core progresses together.

Joe Frisaro

Marlins’ next step after Nolasco trade

MIAMI — Having already completed one big trade this month, what would it take for the Marlins to pull off another?

A hefty return, that’s what.

On Saturday, the Marlins dealt Ricky Nolasco to the Dodgers for three pitching prospects. Moving the 30-year-old right-hander was expected, because he is eligible for free agency after the season, and he wasn’t part of Miami’s future plans.

The Marlins made it a point to get ahead of the market on Nolasco, not wanting to risk having a chance to complete a deal fall through. The Dodgers, eager to add rotation depth, became the ideal fit.

Although the Marlins didn’t lure in any of Los Angeles’ top five prospects for Nolasco, they trimmed about $5.5 million (the remainder of Nolasco’s salary this season) and adding three quality arms to their system. And in Angels Sanchez, 21, Miami got a starter who they feel has a chance to be solid in the future.

Also in the deal, Miami received relievers Steven Ames and Josh Wall. They did inquire about right-hander Chris Withrow, ranked the Dodgers’ eighth best prospect, but were told he wasn’t available.

Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest made it clear the organization remains open for business on the trade front, but that they also aren’t necessarily to unload any of their core players.

The most prominent name in the organization is Giancarlo Stanton, the 23-year-old slugger. But Stanton isn’t on the market, and he isn’t expected to be dealt this season. There is a chance he could be moved in the offseason, if he declines a multi-year offer. Even if he does, it isn’t automatic he will be traded.

Basically, Stanton could fill a bulk of the $11.5 million that Nolasco was making this year. So financially, the Marlins are well positioned to take on Stanton’s first-year salary in arbitration.

The next player teams would likely have interest in is closer Steve Cishek. Like Stanton, Cishek will be up for arbitration in 2014. The 27-year-old right-hander with the deceptive, side-arm delivery is an ideal trade chip because he is affordable for three more seasons, and three years away from being up for free agency.

All those reasons are factoring into why the Marlins also want to keep Cishek.

If the Marlins were to listen to offers for Cishek, they’d likely command another team’s top prospect.

Hypothetically, let’s say the Tigers were interested in Cishek. To get the Marlins’ full attention, they’d probably have to have Nick Castellanos, Detroit’s No. 1 prospect according to MLB.com, in the package.

Maybe the Tigers would be willing to over-spend, but the Marlins are in position to ask for that, otherwise they have no reason to move one of the promising, young, affordable closers in the game.

Joe Frisaro

Nolasco rumors picking up steam

ATLANTA — Everything is lined up for Ricky Nolasco to start for the Marlins against the Braves at Turner Field on Wednesday night.

Still, those plans could easily change.

The Marlins have been actively shopping Nolasco, and a deal could possibly get done prior to first pitch.

The Dodgers appear to be the frontrunner among more than a half-dozen teams that have expressed some level of interest. And indications are, if it is not Los Angeles, Nolasco still could be headed West.

The Rockies, Giants and Padres also have made inquires. On the East Coast, Baltimore has been active in discussions.

With Nolasco, it is not a matter of will he get traded, it’s when.

Around the Marlins’ clubhouse, many thought Nolasco was going to be dealt last week, prior to his June 28 start against the Padres.

The Marlins rotation also is prepared to move forward without Nolasco. Henderson Alvarez is scheduled to be reinstated from the 60-day disabled list to start against the Braves on Thursday.

As of now, the rest of the rotation has been bumped back one day. Jacob Turner is scheduled for Friday at St. Louis, followed by Nathan Eovaldi (Saturday) and Jose Fernandez (Sunday). If Alvarez is pushed up to start on Wednesday, the rest of the rotation could also move up a day and still be on five-days’ rest.

The Marlins will have to make a roster move to reinstate Alvarez either Wednesday or Thursday.

There is rain in the forecast in Atlanta for Wednesday and Thursday. So, the rotation still could be impacted if there is a rainout or two.

As of Wednesday morning, Miami’s immediate focus is on completing a deal for Nolasco.

At issue is the remaining $5.7 million on his $11.5 million this season.

Nolasco, a free agent after the season, is completing a three-year, $26.5 million contract.

On a last-place Miami team, Nolasco has pitched better than his 4-8 record.

The 30-year-old right-hander has a 3.93 ERA, and he’s struck out 83 while walking just 25 in 105 1/3 innings.

The Marlins acquired Nolasco from the Cubs at the 2005 Winter Meetings.

Like now, the Marlins then were going through a transition period. Nolasco was a highly-touted prospect in the Cubs’ system. He was dealt to Miami along with Sergio Mitre and Renyel Pinto for Juan Pierre.

In his eighth season, Nolasco has established a number of Marlins records, including wins (80), games started (196), innings pitched (1,218 2/3) and strikeouts (994).

From the start of Spring Training, it was evident Nolasco was a candidate to be traded by the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Rumors the Southern California native could be moved picked up in recent weeks. And in his last two starts, Nolasco has had his struggles. He gave up six runs (five earned) on a season-high 11 hits in a June 28 loss to the Padres.

On June 21 at San Francisco, he alowed three earned runs on nine hits in 5 2/3 innings in a no-decision.

Despite his recent troubles, a National League scout said: “He did nothing to not get himself traded.”

– Joe Frisaro

Speculation still centered on Nolasco

ATLANTA — When Ricky Nolasco exited after five-plus innings in his start last Friday against the Padres, it appeared he could be making his final appearance with the Marlins.

But now that he has been announced as Miami’s starter on Wednesday night at Atlanta, it is evident the 30-year-old will be with the club at least a few more days.

The subject of constant trade rumors, Nolasco is expected to be dealt before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. It’s just a matter of when.

Right now, nothing is imminent.

One source said, “There are many lines in the water, but nothing has been lured in.”

On Sunday, Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest spoke generally about Nolasco to Jim Bowden and Jeff Joyce during an MLB Network Radio appearance on Sirius/XM.

“As far as all the rumors, we’re getting to that time of the year when this stuff starts to fly,” Beinest said in his radio segment. “Obviously there’s been a lot of stuff out there on Ricky and understandably. He’s a would-be free agent and making a lot of money here. People will speculate we have some good young pitching coming and he may not be part of the program. All those things are fair.

“We’ll see what happens. I’m not going to get out there and talk about everything, especially rumors.”

The Dodgers are believed to be the frontrunners for Nolasco, a Southern California native who would be an ideal fit.

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com added the Rockies have offered two decent prospects, but they are hesitant to pick up all of the remaining $5.7 million owed to Nolasco this season.

Nolasco is making $11.5 million in the last of his three-year, $26.5 million contract.

The Giants, Orioles, Rangers, Pirates and Red Sox all have had some measure of interest.

Clearly, money is an issue. Not every team at this point is willing to absorb nearly $6 million. The Dodgers appear the most willing, but then the Marlins may risk getting a lesser prospect in exchange.

Most likely Nolasco will be moved by the All-Star Break because the organization is getting Henderson Alvarez back into the rotation after the right-hander has missed all of the season with shoulder inflammation.

The Marlins have other young starting pitchers they want to see, and Nolasco is not part of their long-term future.

– Joe Frisaro

Nolasco may have made final start for Miami

MIAMI — After giving up four straight hits to start the sixth inning on Friday night, Ricky Nolasco handed the ball Marlins manager Mike Redmond and he trotted towards the dugout.

The Marlins Park crowd gave the 30-year-old a nice applause in what just might have been his final appearance in a Miami uniform.

Nolasco, a free agent after the season, had a rough night in a 9-2 loss to the Padres. But the veteran right-hander has enough of a track record to draw plenty of interest on the trade market.

It is no secret Nolasco is expected to be dealt by the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

It certainly appears a deal will get done well before the end of July,, and it could be made before Nolasco’s next scheduled start, which would be Wednesday at Atlanta.

The Dodgers, Padres, Giants, Orioles and Pirates are among teams interested. The Dodgers are believed to be the frontrunner.

Nolasco, the Marlins’ all-time leader in wins, is 80-72 in eight seasons with the organization. He also holds franchise marks in a number of categories, including games pitched (212), starts (196), innings pitched (1,218 2/3) and strikeouts (994).

Nolasco is well aware he could be on the move soon. The right-hander just doesn’t know if Friday’s loss was his final game with Miami.

“I’m the wrong person to answer that question,” Nolasco said. “That’s for the front office and stuff. I’m not thinking like that. I’m just thinking day by day, coming in, doing my work and getting ready for every fifth day.”

Another indicator that Nolasco may indeed be moved within a few days is the fact Henderson Alvarez is ready to join the rotation. Alvarez, acquired from the Blue Jays last November, had another impressive rehab performance for Double-A Jacksonville.

The right-hander also threw on Friday, tossing 7 2/3 scoreless innings with seven strikeouts and no walks against Mobile. In two rehab games with the Suns, Alvarez has threw 14 1/3 scoreless innings with 13 strikeouts and no walks.

Alvarez opened the season on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. Healthy, he is lined up to replace Nolasco in the rotation.

For Nolasco, the Marlins will likely receive a mid-to-upper range prospect. The return could come down to how much of the remaining roughly $6 million Nolasco is owed for the rest of the season.

While Nolasco is on the verge of being traded, the Marlins are showing signs of keeping Giancarlo Stanton. It appears not just through the end of the season, but for 2014 as well.

Stanton is eligible for arbitration next year, and the club plans on approaching the slugger about a long-term contract. Even if Stanton isn’t looking to get locked up to a multi-year deal, the Marlins have internally discussed that fact the right fielder could basically fill the salary slot Nolasco has this year.

Nolasco is making $11.5 million, and Stanton could approach $7 million to $10 million in arbitration.

A portion of that $11.5 million the team also could put towards retaining first baseman Logan Morrison next year, when he also reaches arbitration for the first time.

Joe Frisaro

Marlins would listen to offers for Stanton

MIAMI — Giancarlo Stanton is a force in the middle of the Miami Marlins. But like any player in the organization, the 23-year-old slugger is not considered “untouchable.”

But that doesn’t mean the Marlins are actively looking to deal Stanton or that the club is planning on trading him anytime soon.

Still, Stanton speculation is running high.

On Sunday, the All-Star right fielder’s name surfaced once again after a Sirius/XM/MLB Network Radio report.

Marlins assistant GM, Dan Jennings, was a guest on the “Front Office” show, with hosts Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette.

Jennings was asked if the Marlins would listen to offers for Stanton. Per company policy, the team does so on any player.

“Oh, I think that’s been our M.O.  I know in the 10 years I’ve been here that’s our M.O.,” Jennings said during the radio segment. “We’ve never not listened to a deal on any player. Sometimes I chuckle when I hear people say, ‘This guy’s untouchable,’ and ‘That guy’s untouchable.’  You know what? They may be untouchable until someone either overwhelms you or you get a package back that makes such a significant improvement on your club going forward. So we’ve always been willing to listen.”

Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest has long stated the same points.

“I think Larry, he’s never said, ‘No.’ But what we’re not going to do is move a player for less than what we value their ability,” Jennings said. “In Giancarlo Stanton you’ve got a [23-year-old] guy that we think going forward has got a chance to be a .300 hitter and [hit] 50 home runs and be a guy that is a big-time run producer. So while we’re not shopping him, certainly not looking to move him, yeah, if someone knocked on our door and said, ‘Hey, would you guys consider this and this and this,’ you have to listen.”

Basically, Jennings repeated the team policy, and there isn’t anything new here, other than a team official publicly addressing Stanton by name.

Yes, the Marlins would move Stanton, but only for a tremendous haul, which means, he would essentially clean out the top prospects of any organization. It would basically take four or maybe five players to complete a deal for Stanton.

Stanton will not be arbitration eligible until 2014, and he isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2016 season. So the Marlins are in no rush to trade Stanton. Yet, it remains highly unlikely he will agree to a long-term contract.

It is appearing more inevitable that sometime before he reaches free agency that Stanton will be moved, because the Marlins are reloading their roster, and will look to add as many quality pieces in the next few years.

– Joe Frisaro

 

 

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