Posted on: March 1, 2012 10:33 pm
By Matt Snyder
All of a sudden, in just one offseason, the Miami Marlins have undergone a complete makeover. They have a new name, logo and stadium. New, more colorful uniforms are part of the deal as well. Still, that's all window-dressing if the on-field product resembles the 72-90 one from 2011. And it doesn't. Not only did the Marlins bring in three highly-coveted and high-priced free agents, but they traded for fiery Carlos Zambrano and brought in one of the most outspoken -- and, at times, effective -- managers in baseball. How Ozzie Guillen's new-look troops fare in the 2012 season remains to be seen, but two things are certain: More people will be in attendance to find out and it's not going to be boring.
Major additions: SS Jose Reyes, LHP Mark Buehrle, RHP Carlos Zambrano, RHP Heath Bell, LHP Wade LeBlanc
Major departures: RHP Javier Vazquez, C John Baker, RHP Burke Badenhop, RHP Chris Volstad
1. Jose Reyes, SS
2. Emilio Bonifacio, CF
3. Hanley Ramirez, 3B
4. Giancarlo Stanton, RF (a.k.a. Mike Stanton)
5. Logan Morrison, LF
6. Gaby Sanchez, 1B
7. John Buck, C
8. Omar Infante, 2B
1. Josh Johnson
2. Mark Buehrle
3. Anibal Sanchez
4. Ricky Nolasco
5. Carlos Zambrano
Wade LeBlanc is the injury replacement.
Closer: Heath Bell
Set-up: Edward Mujica, Mike Dunn
Important bench players
C Brett Hayes, IF Greg Dobbs, OF Scott Cousins, OF Bryan Petersen
Prospect to watch
For this year, there really aren't many guys on the radar ready to jump in and immediately help. Third base prospect Matt Dominguez is in Triple-A, but he's now blocked by one of the team leaders in Hanley Ramirez. All the other highly-ranked Marlins prospects are in the lower-levels of the minors. So we'll go with Dominguez here for this reason: Should he have a big first three months in Triple-A while the Marlins are in the thick of the pennant race, he makes for good trade bait at the deadline. Maybe they could use him to upgrade the bridge to Heath Bell or even as part of a package to landing a really good center fielder.
Fantasy breakout: Logan Morrison
"Morrison's track record suggests both his walk rate and BABIP should rebound, and in fact, his .268 BABIP from a year ago looks like the result of some horrendously bad luck. He is a strong bet to improve on his OBP and, at worst, maintain the home run power he displayed in 2011. Add in some improvement and subtract out his minor league demotion and DL time from last season, and Morrison suddenly profiles as a No. 3 mixed league OF." - Al Melchior [Full Marlins team fantasy preview]
Fantasy bounce-back: Hanley Ramirez
"Ramirez had a miserable first half last season, and just when he started to get untracked, he suffered a shoulder injury that led to season-ending surgery. As the season progressed, Ramirez adjusted and started hitting more line drives and flyballs, and his batting average and power numbers rose accordingly. Even though his overall stats were pale compared to his norms, a good sign for Ramirez was that his home run per flyball rate was not much lower than usual." - Al Melchior [Full Marlins team fantasy preview]
Everyone behaves, Ramirez and Johnson stay healthy and have big seasons while the youngsters (Stanton, Morrison) develop into stars. Especially now that there are two wild cards, the Marlins have a great shot at the playoffs with this group. And once you get there, anything can happen, so I'd say an optimistic outlook has them winning the third World Series in franchise history. If you look at the upside in the offense and rotation in particular, it's hard to argue against a best-case scenario being a championship. Then again ...
Utter disaster. The club doesn't respond to Guillen, Johnson injures his arm again, Zambrano melts down, Morrison quibbles with management over Twitter, Ramirez starts slow and demands a trade due to wanting to play shortstop again ... you get it. I can't think of another club with such high-peak and low-valley potential entering the 2012 season. This group of personalities could be the new Bronx Zoo champion or a catastrophic mix on the field that finishes last. Almost literally, anything could happen. As I said in the intro, it certainly won't be boring. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the show.
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Tags: 2012 spring training, Anibal Sanchez, Brett Hayes, Bryan Petersen, Carlos Zambrano, Edward Mujica, Emilio Bonifacio, Gaby Sanchez, Giancarlo Stanton, Greg Dobbs, Hanley Ramirez, Heath Bell, John Buck, Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Logan Morrison, Mark Buehrle, Marlins, Matt Dominguez, Matt Snyder, Mike Dunn, Mike Stanton, NL East, Omar Infante, Ozzie Guillen, Ricky Nolasco, Scott Cousins, spring training, spring training 2012, Wade LeBlanc
Posted on: December 18, 2011 2:24 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.
The new-look Miami Marlins went out and spent some cash on big free agents this offseason, but had that cash been around (or, you know, owner Jeffrey Loria willing to spend it before getting his new ballpark), the team could have kept some of the notable talent in South Florida. While the Marlins sent Josh Beckett and Miguel Cabrera out after winning a World Series, it's intriguing to think of what could have been had the Marlins stayed homegrown.
1. Logan Morrison, CF
2. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
4. Mike Stanton, RF
5. Josh Willingham, LF
6. Alex Gonzalez, SS
7. Brett Hayes, C
8. Robert Andino, 2B
1. Josh Johnson
2. Josh Beckett
3. Chris Volstad
4. Jason Vargas
5. Livan Hernandez
Closer - Steve Cishek
Set up - Chris Resop, Chris Leroux, Sandy Rosario, Alex Sanabia, Rick VandenHurk
Long - Brad Hand
Notable Bench Players
The bench is deep and versatile, including young and old alike, infielders and outfielders. Some of those guys include Gaby Sanchez, Edgar Renteria, Ross Gload, Matt Dominguez, Mark Kotsay, Chris Coghlan and Jeremy Hermida. Of those, Sanchez and Dominguez are good, young players that are just blocked by superstars, while the rest are clearly bench players.
Gonzalez, Cabrera, Stanton? Does any pitcher want to face that heart of the order? That's two MVP-worthy players plus the best young power hitter in the game. The bottom of the lineup offers a respite, but it's not like it's a wasteland. The top of the rotation can stand in just about any postseason series, throwing Johnson and Beckett back-to-back.
Of course, once you get past the two Joshes, things get a little easier. And once you get past them to the bullpen, the road gets a little easier, as well. Cishek may one day be a closer, and had three saves last year, but there's a reason the team went out and signed Heath Bell. Morrison probably isn't the first choice to play center field, but he's athletic enough to do it, and having Stanton in right helps out, as well. Cabrera hasn't played third base since 2008, but it was a way to fudge the lineup a bit.
Comparison to real 2011
The Marlins were 72-90 in 2011, the same as their Pythagorean record. Of course, they didn't have Johnson for most of the season, so it's hard to really predict where he'd be with this squad. This team is probably better than the 2011 team, scoring more runs, but also struggling in the rotation, just as the regular Marlins did. Better than the 2011 team, this team is not as good as the 2012 team is shaping up to be.
Next: San Francisco Giants
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Tags: Adrian Gonzalez, Alex Gonzalez, Alex Sanabia, Brad Hand, Brett Hayes, C. Trent Rosecrans, Chris Coghlan, Chris LeRoux, Chris Resop, Chris Voldstad, Edgar Renteria, Gaby Sanchez, Heath Bell, Homegrown, Jason Vargas, Jeremy Hermida, Josh Beckett, Josh Johnson, Josh Willingham, Livan Hernandez, Logan Morrison, Mark Kotsay, Marlins, Matt Dominguez, Miguel Cabrera, Mike Stanton, NL East, Rick Vanderhurk, Robert Andino, Ross Gload, Sandy Rosario, Steve Cishek
Posted on: September 6, 2011 10:37 am
By Evan Brunell
Inning limit: As Stephen Strasburg prepares to dazzle baseball with his skills Tuesday night in his much-anticipated return from Tommy John surgery, the question arises as to exactly how many innings the Nats can get out of its presumptive ace next season.
As the Washington Times writes, Washington determines inning limits on an individual basis, taking into account "their age, conditioning, innings in the previous season and big- league innings before the injury." For example, Jordan Zimmermann was shut down at 161 1/3 innings this season, the season after his own Tommy John surgery. That represented a 20 percent increase over his previous career-high set in 2009, which is a traditional barometer in baseball.
Assuming the same 20 percent increase, Strasburg would throw 147 innings in 2012, up from 2010's 123 2/3 innings between the majors and minors. That limit is based off his previous high, not off any complications from the surgery, which could factor in -- although other pitchers have cracked 200 innings a year after surgery, so that shouldn't hold Strasburg back. Washington won't make any type of determination until spring training, which is the smart move. Bank on a cap similar to Zimmermann's 160, but that could always change if the Nats find themselves in a postseason race down the stretch.
Mattingly eager: Don Mattingly, skipper of the Dodgers, is eager to see Strasburg at work against the Dodgers. "He's created a buzz, that's for sure, last year, and [he] continues to," Mattingly told MLB.com. "And he's produced. When he's pitched, he's pitched well."
Span back: The concussed Span is back with the Nationals after resting at home in Tampa for the past week. Span, who suffered the injury on June 3 and later hit the disabled list retroactive to Aug. 3, still harbors hope of returning this season. "I do truly believe that I will be back on the field," Span told MLB.com. "When? I don't know. But I will be back out there. If things go good, I would like to go into the offseason having played in some games here. I'd rather do that than go into the offseason not playing at all."
It's always interesting to hear a player's take on concussions, as it remains a relatively new (at least, as far as admitting the injury and properly diagnosing it goes) injury and one that is still undergoing plenty of research. Here's Span's take:
"It's not a normal injury," he said. "Sometimes you start wondering if people believe what you're telling them about how you feel. So mentally, it's little things like that. You know how this game is and all masculine sports -- everybody feels that if you're not bleeding, you should go out there and play. And I tried doing that, so it's not like I didn't try. So that's been tough for me."
Retirement? Hideki Okajima doesn't know what his future will hold, but it's definitely not Boston. Despite pitching well in Triple-A after a failed early-season stint with the Red Sox, Okajima hasn't returned since being outrighted off the 40-man. Once a strong setup man, the ensuing years haven't been kind to the Japanese left-hander, but he didn't help himself by saying he'd rather remain in Pawtucket than return to Boston when he was first demoted back down to Triple-A.
Now, Okajima isn't sure what type of offers he will get from other clubs in the winter, but wouldn't rule out a return back to Japan or even retirement.
"I didn't expect to be in this situation, but this is reality," he told the Providence Journal. "I am here. It's obviously very disappointing to be in this situation in this point in the year, but this is reality and this is where I belong right now. I've accepted that fact and just have to rethink how I approach the game so I can be where I want to be next season."
Ziegler adjusting: It took some time for the former A to adjust to life as a Diamondback, both with the transition to the NL and trying to conform to Arizona's philosophy of varying times to the plate to help control the running game. He hasn't allowed a run or walk in his last 4 1/3 innings over six games, stranding eight baserunners. "The National League style of ball is different and it took a little getting used to," Ziegler told MLB.com. "Hitters are more aggressive early in the count and it made a difference just in how I had to approach each at-bat."
9/11: The Yankees won't be in the city for the 10th anniversary of terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 this Sunday, so will hold a ceremony on Wednesday. Click through to read what the ceremony will hold. (MLB.com)
Furcal wants to return: Rafael Furcal hopes to return to the Cardinals after the year, a prospect St. Louis is hoping comes to pass. The Cards have a busy offseason on their hands, so Furcal may have to wait, but given the shortstop's brittle body, isn't expected to command a significant deal. Ideally, the Cards would ink Furcal for one season on an incentive-laden contract. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Social media: After being part of one of the more controversial plays -- and certainly the most controversial in replay history thus far -- the Marlins' Bryan Peterson discussed the play for a half-hour on Twitter before calling it quits when tweets got derogatory. It's incredible how fast the social media revolution has hit baseball, as now players are taking to Twitter to discuss controversial plays with the fanbase. That would have been unheard of five years ago. (MLB.com)
Drafting time: Baseball players take their fantasy sports seriously. Just check out this photo Matt Kemp tweeted of the Dodgers' fantasy football draft. (Kemp's Twitter)
Rookie time: The Marlins called up third baseman Matt Dominguez as part of September callups. It's the first stint in the bigs for Dominguez, who was considered a heavy favorite to open the year as the starting third baseman. He won't play extensively down the stretch, but will be showcasing himself to be next season's starting third baseman. (MLB.com)
Good news: The Mets got encouraging reports on two injured players integral to the team. Johan Santana is proceeding on pace and will throw on Friday in a minor-league game. With playoffs likely over after the weekend, that would line up Santana's next stint to come in the majors, where he'd throw two or three innings. Meanwhile, Ike Davis participated in baseball activities all weekend pain-free. Doctors still need to sign off on his ankle, but it appears as if he will be 100 percent for spring training. (ESPN New York)
Speaking of... Speaking of Davis, here's some more stuff on the Mets first baseman, who believes he won't need surgery on his ankle. "The bottom line is there are gonna be some effects from this my whole life," Davis told the New York Post. "Either arthritis or something else later on, but as long as it's not sharp pain, [I can play]." While doctors are expected to sign off on his ankle, Davis says it's a day-to-day thing at this point, so surgery remains possible.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Tags: AL Central, AL East, Brad Ziegler, Bryan Peterson, Cardinals, Denard Span, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Don Mattingly, Evan Brunell, Hideki Okajima, Ike Davis, Johan Santana, Marlins, Matt Dominguez, Matt Kemp, Mets, MLB Rumors, Nationals, NL Central, NL East, NL West, Pepper, Phillies, Rafael Furcal, Red Sox, Stephen Strasburg, Twins, Yankees
Posted on: April 1, 2011 11:23 pm
By Evan Brunell
Poor Matt Dominguez.
All but handed the starting third base job to open spring training, Dominguez struggled through camp by hitting .309/.306/.395 in 43 at-bats. That caused the 21-year-old to lose a grip on both a starting job and major-league spot. It was clearly the correct idea, as Dominguez is still a ways away from the majors and it never made sense that the Marlins would rush him. While Dominguez is Florida's third baseman of the future, his time isn't now.
But things took a turn for the worse Friday when he was hit by a pitch in a minor-league game and fractured his elbow, as the Miami Herald learned. He is expected to be sidelined for two months, which really sets back his timetable, and it's difficult to think he can hit the majors before September at this point, even if he recovers well, heads to Triple-A and discovers his stroke.
Posted on: March 24, 2011 1:09 pm
Edited on: March 24, 2011 1:25 pm
By Evan Brunell
All offseason, the Marlins were adamant about giving 21-year-old Matt Dominguez a shot at the third base job. That never made sense, as Dominguez had yet to play at any level higher than Double-A and hit .252/.333/.411 despite all-world defense. While Dominguez was named the No. 66 prospect in CBSSports.com's top 100 prospects list, it appeared clear he wasn't ready for prime time. Given Florida's notoriously cheap ways, it was likely Florida was hoping to get away with paying Dominguez the minor-league minimum, along with being unsatisfied with the options for third.
Fortunately, the Marlins backed off that plan by optioning Dominguez to the minors after the third baseman hit .190 in 42 at-bats. While this compromises Florida's depth, it was the smart move.
However, the team insists it will not move second baseman Omar Infante to third, and it certainly won't move Chris Coghlan back to second or third, even if that may be the right move for Coghlan. Instead, Coghlan will attempt to play center field. Given the team's insistence on keeping Infante at second and Coghlan in center, they are hemming themselves in to third-base replacements. While the team may have valid reasons for these decisions, it is very strange they are locking themselves into this position. After all, if there's a second baseman or center fielder vastly better than the options at third, wouldn't it make sense to bring them in given the flexibility of Infante and Coghlan?
In any event, the internal options for third are Donnie Murphy, Wes Helms, Emilio Bonifacio and Greg Dobbs. Helms is unlikely to get extensive playing time as he is essentially a glorified pinch-hitter at this point. Dobbs, as FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal says, "looks 're-energized'," as a scout tells him. Dobbs spent the last four years with the Phillies where he totaled a .261/.310/.427 line in 943 plate appearances, but had an especially poor last two years as the first two years of his Phillies career had a .284/.331/.467 line, certainly capable of starting. The 32-year-old is limited defensively, however, which could open the door for Murphy or Bonifacio, who are considered the top internal options, as the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports.
Bonifacio was the starting third baseman for the Fish in 2009 and got off to a hot start, but tailed off to end up with a .252/.303/.308 line in 509 plate appearances and followed up with a .261/.320/.328 mark in 201 plate appearances. While he can steal bases -- 33 in the last two years -- that offensive line is hard to swallow.
Murphy had a nice cup of coffee with the Marlins in 2010 as a 27-year-old. On his third team, he appears to hit left-handers well enough to draw some starts, but his time against righties in the bigs leaves much to be desired.
The team will also explore external options, with Rosenthal citing Pedro Feliz as one option. Feliz is in camp on a minor-league deal and would earn $800,000 in the majors. Feliz is highly unlikely to make the team, and for good reason. Even for the Royals, Feliz is particularly bad, as his total .218/.240/.293 line in 429 PA reveals. He started the year with the Astros before being released and finishing the season with the Cardinals. Even his once-excellent defense was abysmal, so it's difficult to imagine even the Marlins having interest.
It's very likely the team will have a revolving door at third the entire season, unless the club can swing a trade. In the outset, look for Dobbs and Bonifacio to share time.
Posted on: March 2, 2011 2:47 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2011 4:44 pm
By Evan Brunell
CBSSports.com's Top 100 prospect list is out, casting light on players that will eventually become household names. But until that happens, these prospects need to tap into their potential and prove they can hack it at the big league level.
Below is a list of top prospects that could make an impact on the majors in 2011. Before getting into the list, "impact" is defined as those who are projected to break camp with the team and play an important role with the club. Others, such as Jesus Montero, Dustin Ackley, Brandon Belt, all will have an impact once the hit the majors -- but that's likely to come in the summer months, and are listed at the end of the article.
No. 3. Domonic Brown, PHI
Brown is battling for the starting right field job and although Ben Francisco is proving to be a stiffer challenger than thought, Brown will still get ample opportunites in the majors. There's some thought he could return to Triple-A, but he has nothing left to prove at that level and progression will only come with playing time in the bigs. Philly may have to swallow hard and deal with the growing pains, but the payoff will eventually be huge.
No. 6. Jeremy Hellickson, TB
Hellickson could step in and replace Matt Garza without batting an eye, as the youngster is fully prepared to pitch in the cauldron that is the AL East. Hellickson will turn 24 on April 8, but already has 36 1/3 innings of major league experience under his belt. He walked just eight (plus two intentional) plus whiffing 33, which is an impressive debut but only underscores just how ready he is for prime time.
No. 9. Aroldis Chapman, CIN
Chapman won't be closing in Cincinnati, but will put pressure on Francisco Cordero as the setup man. We all saw what Chapman could do last season and he should continue to baffle hitters. The Reds considered making him a starter but opted to keep him in the bullpen which may unfortunately preclude a move to the rotation. It is difficult for teams justify moving young players that succeed in the 'pen back to the rotation.
No. 16. Kyle Drabek, TOR
Of all the names on this list, Drabek has the most tenuous hold on a roster spot but the team seems excited about his potential and wouldn't rule out a run at 200 innings. He shouldn't have too much trouble cracking the rotation and even if he starts in Triple-A, it won't be for long. One can't project Drabek to replace the man he was traded for (Roy Halladay), but he should eventually anchor the rotation.
No. 19. Freddie Freeman, ATL
As mentioned in the Top 100 list, Freeman lacks the ceiling of other first baseman such as No. 18's Brandon Belt, but is ready for the majors now and is locked in at first base. He figures to have a couple All-Star appearances in his future but not much beyond that. He should settle in as a valuable first baseman over his first six years, largely thanks to being under team control.
No. 29. Mike Minor, ATL
Minor doesn't have the ceiling of other top pitching prospects (similar to Freeman and first base), but he's also ready for the majors and was noticeably effective in the majors last season before he tired and lost velocity at the end of the season. If Minor can withstand the rigors of a full 162-game season, he should be an excellent No. 4-5 starter for the Braves, with the potential of more.
No. 33. Chris Sale, CHW
Sale is similar to Chapman in that he could start, but the White Sox have opted to keep Sale in the bullpen. He could vulture a few saves, but Matt Thornton is still expected to be the closer. That opens the door for Sale to play an important role in the late innings. He may be asked to switch to the rotation for 2012.
No. 66. Matt Dominguez, FLA
Dominguez can't quite hit, but boy, he can sure pick it. Already compared to Mike Lowell at the tender age of 21, Dominguez is expected to open the year at third for the Marlins. It appears Florida understands Dominguez will be a non-factor on offense and is willing to take that risk. But why start the service clock of an impact player when he could use more seasoning? Dominguez will never be a great hitter, but an extra year in the minors could go a long way. Read more from Scott Miller.
No. 71. J.P. Arencibia, TOR
Arencibia had quite an introduction to Toronto, but quickly faded after inconsistent playing time. Now finally handed to the keys to the starting job, there appears to be no question that Arencibia can hit. Catching, however, is another matter. The Jays have a couple other catchers in the system that could supplant Arencibia before long, which would shift the 25-year-old to first base or DH.
No. 85. Craig Kimbrel, ATL
Kimbrel is the favorite to open the year as closer, although he may share time with Jonny Venters. Kimbrel posted a ridiculous strikeout rate last year and could quickly rise up the ranks of top closers. Carlos Marmol has proven that walking a ton of batters is OK as a closer as long as you strike out players, bit still, Kimbrel could stand to improve in that area.
No. 86. Danny Espinosa, WAS
A converted second baseman, Espinosa will start alongside Ian Desmond for the Nationals. He showed intriguing power in his 112-plate appearance look in 2010, but probably showed more power than he will produce over a longer season. The bright side? His .214 batting average was an anomaly. The jury is still out on just how good he can be at the major-league level and it appears likely he will eventually settle in as the top infield option off the bench, although he'll get every chance to prove he can be more.
No. 95. Jake McGee, TB
McGee has to be considered the odds-on favorite to emerge as long-term closer of Tampa, but will start off setting up whoever wins the gig -- likely Kyle Farnsworth (cringe). McGee has excellent stuff and could have played well in the rotation, but the Rays moved him given his injury and durability issues. He's just as good a bet as Chapman, Sale and Kimbrel on this list to have a nice, long career as closer.
ON THE BUBBLE:
Tags: AL Central, AL East, Aroldis Chapman, Blue Jays, Braves, Chris Sale, Craig Kimbrel, Danny Espinosa, Domonic Brown, Freddie Freeman, J.P. Arencibia, Jake McGee, Jeremy Hellickson, Kyle Drabek, Marlins, Matt Dominguez, Mike Minor, Nationals, NL Central, NL East, NL East, Phillies, Rays, Rays, Reds, White Sox
Posted on: November 14, 2010 2:57 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2010 4:02 pm
Dan Uggla could be a former Florida Marlin as early as this week, FoxSports.com reports .
Yesterday we wrote Uggla is likely on his way out in Florida , but today the report is the Marlins are "down the road" with several clubs and he could be moved this week.
The team had expected to move 2009 Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan to third base for 2011 from left field, but it looks like with Cameron Maybin traded to San Diego, Coghlan would move to center field. Emilio Bonifacio would play second for the Marlins and top prospect Matt Dominguez will take over at third.
The Marlins could have plenty of takers for Uggla, who will likely earn around $10 million in arbitration after hitting .287/.369/.508 with 33 home runs, his fourth consecutive season with 30 or more homers. He's the first second baseman in history to accomplish the feat. Among the potential suitors are the Tigers, Nationals, Braves, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Giants, Orioles and Cardinals.
The FoxSports.com report notes the Cubs and Angels are not interested, as the Cubs are searching a first baseman and left-handed hitter, while Uggla's attempts at defense turns off the Angels.
UPDATE: Buster Onley (via Twitter ) says two executives cast the Blue Jays as the favorite to land Uggla.
-- C. Trent Rosecrans
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 12, 2010 11:40 pm
Edited on: October 13, 2010 10:35 am
As the sports world waits for the crowning of a champion, 22 other teams are busy preparing for spring training. What went wrong for these teams, and what does 2011 hold? MLB Facts and Rumors here at CBS Sports will be answering those questions through all of October. Now: the oft-maligned Florid Marlins.
The Marlins were slapped on the wrist in the offseason for not spending enough money on major-league payroll, then had their financials leaked. Meanwhile, owner Jeffrey Loria walked Fredi Gonzalez right out of town and into the grateful arms of the Braves, and the team missed .500 by one game.
WHAT WENT WRONG
The Marlins had a gaping hole at catcher for much of the season. John Baker was on the verge of establishing himself as a permanent starting catcher, but his 2010 season was cut off as soon as it had began and he underwent Tommy John surgery. That left Ronny Paulino, good only against lefties, to play full time before angering the organization after testing positive for PEDs. That left the team with Brett Hayes and Brad Davis down the stretch.
For the last two seasons, the Marlins have been waiting on Cameron Maybin to break out. They'll have to wait some more, as Maybin hit just .234/.302/.361 in 322 plate appearances and Cody Ross got the bulk of playing time in center before he was sent to the Giants. Florida remains high on the 23-year-old, but at some point has to start producing.
Ricky Nolasco has been far, far better than his ERAs of the last two seasons might indicated. Nolasco shacked up respective ERAs of 5.06 and 4.51 in 2009 and 2010, but his xFIP tells a far different story at 3.28 and 3.55, respectively. Luck and poor defense abandoned Nolasco, however, so he remains a tantalizing pitcher who just needs breaks to go his way.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
The Marlins introduced some intriguing prospects to the majors, the most interesting of all being Mike Stanton (pictured, right). At just 20, Stanton bashed 22 home runs in 396 PA along with 22 doubles, good enough for a .259/.326/.507 line. All he has to do is cut down on strikeouts, raise the batting average and he will be a once-in-a-generation stud. As it is, he's already a once-in-a-generation power hitter.
He's joined by Logan Morrison, a natural first baseman who is playing out of position in left for the moment. In 287 PA, LoMo hit .283/.390/.447 and gives the Fish an incredible 3-4 combo for years. First baseman Gaby Sanchez also impressed, albeit at the advanced age of 27.
Josh Johnson was a dominating pitcher and proved Florida made the right call in signing him to a four-year deal just before the regular season. Johnson had a pedestrian 11-8 record thanks to bad luck, but was absolutely stellar in other facets of the game. His 2.30 ERA, 3.15 xFIP and 186 punchouts in 183 1/3 innings makes the 26-year-old one of the best pitchers in the game.
HELP ON THE WAY
Florida has graduated most of its better prospects already in Sanchez, Stanton, Morrison, Scott Cousins and Alex Sanabia. However, there are still two top prospects that could make an impact as soon as 2011.
Matt Dominguez, despite not playing above Double-A, is a candidate to start at third base for Florida as early as 2011. While that may be an aggressive move, Dominguez is major-league ready with the fielding and his bat should eventually come around. First, the team needs to figure out who plays where between Dominguez, Dan Uggla, Morrison, Sanchez and Chris Coghlan.
Catcher Kyle Skipworth will eventually be the answer to Florida's catching issue. While he can't step in and contribute in that capacity in 2011, he could make his debut in advance of a 2012 job. Skipworth will spend most of the year in Double-A as a 21-year-old and needs to improve his contact skills. The power is there, all Skipworth needs is to string together a few more hits.
EXPECTATIONS FOR 2011
The Marlins expect to contend, which is partly why owner Jeffrey Loria fired Fredi Gonzalez. What he didn't realize, however, was that the talent of the Marlins was pretty much of a .500 team. The club should be better next year with full seasons from Stanton and Morrison, but need to upgrade its rotation and find a capable catcher to make some noise.
SUGGESTIONS FOR 2011
The Marlins shouldn't rush Matt Dominguez to the majors. He deserves to see his bat develop more in a less strenuous setting. However, the team should plan around Dominguez' eventual promotion, even if that's not until 2012. In addition, Logan Morrison is too much of a liability on defense to stick in left field.
The club should stick Coghlan in left field with the intention of leaving him there for the next few years, or until either Scott Cousins or Isaac Galloway knock the door down. Morrison shifts to first base, with Sanchez being dangled as trade bait for either a catcher, top relief pitcher or a starter that can give Florida a deep rotation.
Dan Uggla (pictured above, right) is entering the final year of his arbitration, and the club would do well to sign him for three- to four years, although Uggla may be looking for a longer deal than that. If the Marlins can convince Uggla to take three or four years, they can go into 2012's rebranding as the Miami Marlins with a new stadium and have Uggla as a name to sell fans on. If not, Coghlan can shift to second and free agency or internal promotions used for a left fielder. Florida could also opt to trade Uggla this offseason, put Coghlan at second and package Uggla and Sanchez for a major upgrade. The latter scenario is unlikely, plus Uggla is needed by Florida if they hope to win over the next several years.
Florida will hang around the wild card chase and could even put a scare into a few teams down the stretch, but will ultimately fall short.
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-- Evan Brunell
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