Tag:Marlins
Posted on: December 6, 2011 11:46 pm
 

Is 'mystery team' on Pujols the Angels?



By Matt Snyder


DALLAS -- For the past two days, it was thought that free agent first baseman Albert Pujols was choosing between the Miami Marlins and the only team he's ever known: The St. Louis Cardinals. Tuesday night, however, reports surfaced that there was an unknown, third team bidding for Pujols' services. The belief, according to sources of CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler and several other reporters, is that this "mystery team" is the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

The move would be intriguing. First of all, earlier this winter, the Angels were telling everyone who would listen they couldn't spend much money this offseason. But lately they've been said to be the frontrunner for free agent pitcher C.J. Wilson. Also, asked earlier Tuesday by media if he preferred a pitcher or hitter, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he'd rather have a pitcher.

MLB Winter Meetings
Still, the Angels don't have that one big bat in the middle of their batting order, and Pujols definitely would fill that void. It's possible the Angels could backload what will likely be a very long-term deal in order to get through the next few years of rough payroll. Also, a move to the American League would make sense, considering Pujols could serve as a designated hitter once he hit his late 30s. That could extend his career a bit.

So is it the Angels? We still can't be sure. CBSSports.com's Scott Miller is "highly skeptical" that it's the Angels because he doesn't believe owner Arte Moreno would shell out that kind of dough at this time.

Others have speculated the Cubs are the mystery team, in an attempt to make sure the Cardinals either lose Pujols to the Marlins or overpay to keep Pujols.

The situation is certainly fluid. Stay tuned.

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Posted on: December 6, 2011 11:36 am
Edited on: December 6, 2011 12:08 pm
 

Marlins optimistic on signing Albert Pujols



By Matt Snyder


DALLAS -- Could Albert Pujols seriously be taking his talents to South Beach? The Miami Marlins have grown optimistic on landing the superstar first baseman, CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler has learned. Monday night, Scott Miller reported that the Marlins had increased their offer to Pujols. Knobler and Miller have learned the Marlins new offer to Pujols is for 10 years, but the dollars are not yet known.

Rumors have been flying like mad here at the Winter Meetings with Pujols. His agent, Dan Lozano, met with the Marlins, Cardinals and Cubs Monday. Of course, Cubs president Theo Epstein said he was meeting with Lozano in regards to pitcher Rodrigo Lopez, not Pujols -- feel free to believe him whatever you wish here.

Hot Stove Season
Some more: Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune says that this situation will be decided within "the next 36 hours" because the Cardinals need to know if they still have Pujols. On the other hand, a source indicated to CBSSports.com that this isn't necessarily the case. Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the Cubs have submitted an offer to Pujols, but MLB.com's Carrie Muskat said that isn't true. Derrick Gould of the Post-Dispatch reports the Cardinals don't believe they'll get a chance to match an offer, should Pujols get one from a different team he wants to accept.

Also, a 10-year deal is menacing. He's 31 years old, so that seems a bit much, but it more than shows how serious the Marlins are in landing the St. Louis star.

Pujols is the best player in baseball. He's been in the league for 11 seasons. He's won three MVPs and finished in the top five in voting 10 times. The one year he didn't finish in the top five, he finished ninth. He leads all active players in career batting average, slugging percentage and OPS, while having already accrued 445 home runs.

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Posted on: December 5, 2011 5:06 pm
 

'Super-professional' Ramirez to move to 3B



By Danny Knobler


DALLAS -- Once more, Jeffrey Loria said it won't be a problem. Once more, he insisted that Hanley Ramirez will accept the move to third base forced by the Marlins' signing of free-agent shortstop Jose Reyes.

Do you believe him?

"Hanley is a super-professional," Loria, the Marlins owner, said Monday. "We will work with him, make everything comfortable for him."

They won't be trading him. Loria loves Ramirez, and considers him part of the plan, part of the core. They won't, for now, be moving him to center field, although the Marlins have a need there and some opposing scouts think Ramirez would be just the guy to fill it.

He's the new third baseman, and if there was any doubt, new closer Heath Bell said out loud Monday that third base now belongs to Hanley.

Will he be happy?

Who knows, but new manager Ozzie Guillen could face his first big challenge in making it work.

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Posted on: December 5, 2011 11:12 am
 

Large-market Marlins? It's entirely possible



By Matt Snyder

DALLAS -- Remember back when the Marlins pushed their chips to the center of the table, going large for free agents and eventually winning the 1997 World Series?

Remember the following season, when the Marlins decided they couldn't afford the high-priced talent and went firesale, leading to a 108-loss season -- the most losses ever for a team coming off a World Series championship?

Of course you do. That's why it's easy to see the reactions to the Marlins signing Heath Bell and Jose Reyes (and maybe a few more big names).

It won't last. This is window dressing. They'll be having another firesale in two years.

I'm not so sure. Granted, it's entirely possible. After all, if the attendance continues to be lackluster, the Marlins can't afford to operate at the level they're hoping to reach. But there are two reasons to believe this time around it's actually legitimate.

Hot Stove Season
1. Market size. The Marlins don't play in Omaha or Albuquerque or Boise or Raleigh. There's nothing wrong with those places, but they are small markets. The Miami metropolitan area is not a small market. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach metro area population is surpassed by only seven other metro areas: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, Houston and Washington/Baltimore. And four of those seven areas share two ballclubs. Notice Boston, Detroit, San Francisco/Oakland, Minneapolis, Phoenix and St. Louis -- among many others -- are behind the Miami area. So this is absolutely an area with the tools to sustain a successful large-market baseball team.

2. The new stadium. Last time the Marlins went on a spending spree, there was no new stadium anywhere on the horizon. Owner Wayne Huizenga declared his intent to sell the team before the World Series run. There just wasn't enough revenue coming in to maintain one of the higher payrolls in baseball. Hence the 1998 firesale.

Now, here is the big question: Will the new stadium and new signings be enough to keep fanfare steady throughout the entire season and for seasons to come? We don't know the answer to that. If the Marlins average 30,000 fans per game -- as management believes they will -- they will become a large-market team for the long haul. It will be difficult to start thinking in that mindset, but that's the truth.

Of course, if attendance can't survive the initial expected bump in 2011 and dwindles back down to around 20,000 fans per game, having a payroll in nine figures simply isn't realistic. In that case, we'd be liable to see another firesale.

So what'll it be? Small-market or large-market Marlins? Time will tell. But it's at least interesting to imagine the latter. And it's finally realistic, too.

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Posted on: December 5, 2011 12:23 am
Edited on: December 5, 2011 12:25 am
 

Marlins, Cubs to make runs at Albert Pujols

Albert PujolsBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The Marlins' signing of Jose Reyes was hardly a shock -- it appeared from the start they'd offer him the largest contract, they did and now he'll be modeling the new Miami uniforms. But the Marlins may not be done, as ESPN.com's Jayson Stark reports the team is expected to make "an aggressive run at (Albert) Pujols."

Pujols has already visited Miami, but the offer he received was reportedly less than the nine-year, $198-million offer the Cardinals offered Pujols last winter. However, the Marlins increased their initial offer to Reyes and could do the same for Pujols.

Hot Stove Season

According to Stark, the way the Marlins' $106 million deal is structured, the team could still afford to add Pujols or another top free agent. The Marlins are scheduled to meet with Pujols' agent Dan Lozano on Monday or Tuesday. The Cardinals are scheduled to meet with Lozano on Monday in Dallas.

Another team that could have an interest in Pujols is the Cubs, CBSSports.com senior writer Danny Knobler tweeted. Other teams seem to believe the Cubs are interested in signing the first baseman, but would dangle a shorter contract with a higher average salary than what the Cardinals are offering.

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Posted on: December 5, 2011 12:10 am
Edited on: December 5, 2011 12:39 am
 

Reyes rounds out an impressive Marlins lineup

Jose Reyes Hanley Ramierez

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The winter meetings haven't officially started and the Marlins already seem to have locked up the Hot Stove League title with the signings of Jose Reyes and Heath Bell -- and they could add more.

So what does this mean to the product on the field come April? Well, the rotation may still need some tinkering, but the lineup -- assuming everyone is healthy -- appears stout.

With Reyes, let's look at the new-look Miami Marlins lineup:

Jose Reyes1. Jose Reyes, SS

When healthy, Reyes is the best leadoff hitter in the game, and one of the few real difference-makers in the top spot of the lineup. Reyes has a career .341 OBP and 370 stolen bases -- good for eighth among active players, with only one of the other players ahead of him on the list in his 20s, like the 28-year-old Reyes. Reyes is coming off his first career batting title, hitting .337/.384/.493 in 2011 and also led the league in triples (16) for the fourth time in his career. The knock on Reyes, though, is his ability to stay on the field. After playing in at least 153 games from 2005-2008, he played in just 36 games in 2009, 133 in 2010 and 126 last season. But when healthy, few in the game are as good as he is.

Omar Infante2. Omar Infante, 2B

While Infante didn't return to his All-Star form from a year before in 2011, he's a steady second baseman, if not exactly Dan Uggla. Infante hit .276/.315/.382 and led the league with 17 sacrifices if you're into that kind of thing. He has a career .318 OBP, but had a .353 OBP from 2008-2010 with the Braves. He's a solid No. 2 batter, especially sandwiched between Reyes and Hanley Ramirez.

Hanley Ramirez3. Hanley Ramirez, 3B

Ramirez will have to move to third to make room for Reyes, something he's been reluctant to do -- but it's probably best for him and the Marlins. At 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, he's physically more of a third baseman than a shortstop and the team's defense should benefit from the switch. The Marlins had been in the market for a third baseman and all of a sudden they have one with a .306/.380/.506 career split with 134 home runs in six seasons -- and will be just 28 when the season starts. With Reyes and Ramirez, the Marlins now have batting champs from two of the last three seasons in their lineup.

Mike Stanton4. Mike Stanton, RF

Perhaps the most exciting young player in the game, Stanton hit 34 home runs last season in his first full season, while hitting an impressive .262/.356/.537 overall. In an era where there seems to be fewer young power hitters, Stanton has it in spades. He's also proven to be an outstanding defensive outfielder and is under team control for several more years.

Logan Morrison5. Logan Morrison, LF

Morrison, 24 had a disappointing sophomore season, even finding himself sent to Triple-A in August. Even with the trip to the minors, he put up a .247/.330/.468 line with 23 home runs and 72 RBI. That's not ideal, but it's not bad for a 23-year-old in his second season in the majors, especially one that put up a .283/.390/.447 line as a rookie. He was also much better in the first half, hitting .267/.343/.489. The talent is there and he should get better.

Gaby Sanchez6. Gaby Sanchez, 1B

Sanchez was lost in the monster National League rookie class of 2010, but still put together a solid rookie season and pretty much equaled it in his second season, hitting .266/.352/.427 with 19 home runs in 2011. Sanchez is 28, the same age as Reyes and Ramirez, but with much less experience.

Emilio Bonifacio7. Emilio Bonifacio, CF

A switch-hitter, the speedy Bonifacio played all three outfield spots, as well as second, shortstop and third last season for the Marlins, but the team's biggest need now is center field, and he can stick there now that he doesn't need to fill in at any point for Ramirez at short. Bonifacio put up a .296/.360/.393 line last season and stole 40 bases. The team also has former Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan, who started 64 games in center last season, but struggled, hitting just .230/.296/.368 and is expected to start next season in Triple-A.

John Buck8. John Buck, C

The oldest player in this lineup, Buck is just 31. While not an offensive superstar, he's a solid catcher and did put up a .316 OBP last season and hit 16 home runs. He also hit 20 homers in 2010 for the Blue Jays.

That's a pretty good lineup, and also a young one -- only Buck and Infante will be 30 or older at the start of next season. That said, the Marlins may not be done. Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports Miami is expected to make "an aggressive run" at Albert Pujols. As good as the Marlins' lineup looks now, that could push it into a different stratosphere. Even without Pujols, that thing in center field could get a workout at the Marlins' new park.

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Posted on: December 4, 2011 7:06 pm
Edited on: December 5, 2011 12:37 am
 

Marlins, Reyes agree to deal

Jose Reyes

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The winter meetings don't officially start until Monday, but the hot stove heated up Sunday as free-agent shortstop Jose Reyes has agreed to a six-year, $106 million contract with the Miami Marlins, CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler confirms. Reyes will not have a no-trade clause, as is the Marlins' policy.

Once reports surfaced on Sunday that the Marlins had upped their offer north of $100 million, it became obvious the Mets couldn't stay in the bidding, with general manager Sandy Alderson coming out and saying as much in an impromptu press conference at the winter meetings in Dallas. 

Hot Stove Season

Along with the Mets, the Brewers were interested in signing Reyes, but sources had told CBSSports.com senior writer Scott Miller that the Marlins were optimistic they could sign Reyes, and they did just that when they outbid everyone. How much did they outbid their competitors? Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman tweeted that the Mets and Brewers weren't willing to offer more than $75-$80 million over six years. Neither team was interested in going seven years for the 28-year-old because of his history of injuries.

Miami already had one of the game's premier shortstops, but like when the Yankees acquired Alex Rodriguez, the Marlins will move Hanley Ramirez to third base to make room for Reyes.

Miami has already agreed to a contract with closer Heath Bell and seems ready to be the offseason's biggest spender as it readies to open its new ballpark in April. The team is still in the running for veteran left-hander Mark Buehrle and even possibly C.J. Wilson. Miami could also sign Cuban center fielder Yoennis Cespedes, another high-ticket free agent.

Keep track of all the free agent moves with the CBSSports.com Free Agent Tracker. 

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Posted on: December 4, 2011 4:57 pm
 

Mark Buehrle drawing plenty of interest

Mark Buehrle

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Mark Buehrle may not be the top starter on the market, but he may be the most sought-after, in part because he's reportedly seeking just a three-year deal.

According to Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated, 14 different teams are in on the left-hander who will be 33 in March. FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal reports that the Rangers, Nationals and Marlins are the most aggressive on Buehrle and that the Nationals prefer Buehrle to Wilson because of the length of contract. 

The Hot Stove

Those three may be the three teams that Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reports are interested in Buehrle. Cowley tweets that three teams have already offered three-year deals with sufficient money to Buehrle, who is expected to command an average of at least $14 million per year. Heyman notes the Twins and Diamondbacks are among the teams interested in the lefty, but he may be too rich for their blood.

One thing that could complicate Buehrle's courtship is his demand for a no-trade clause. The Marlins, as a team, don't give out no-trade clauses. Miami has already hosted Buehrle on a recruiting trip, but he left without signing. 

Buehrle has won at least 10 games, started 30 and pitched more than 200 innings in each of his 11 full seasons in the big leagues, including a 13-9 record with a 3.59 ERA in 31 starts in 2011. He saw a slight rise in his strikeout rate over 2010, but it's been on a downward trend since 2005, when he struck out 6.1 per nine innings. Still, he's a workhorse and has all the intangibles you could ask for, not to mention he's won three Gold Gloves in the last three years. Overall, he's posted a 161-119 record with a 3.83 ERA in his career.

But the most desirable part of Buehrle is his desire for a three-year contract in a weak pitching market. No team wants to be saddled with a Barry Zito or Carlos Zambrano, and even if Buehrle underperforms, he'd only be on the books for three years. He's also not returning to the White Sox, and according to Rosenthal, he's "intrigued" by a move to the National League.

There are few places where Buehrle wouldn't fit -- especially in a rotation with a strong No. 1 starter already in place.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com