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Frank Wren became general manager of the Braves in 2008. He inherited a team that was two years removed from its 14 straight division titles and was a combined 163-161 after the streak ended. The mediocre teams he inherited had taken a hit both in the farm system (to keep the streak alive) and in [...]
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Hello. I hope you're having a good day, person reading this via the Internet.
Today is Tuesday, November 6th. Unlike most Tuesdays, there is something rather newsworthy happening on this Tuesday. Today is Election Day. Unless you are reading this post weeks later, of course. If you are unaware or reading this from a different country, today is the day where millions of Americans participate in the beautiful system of democracy by casting their votes to decide what will be the next flavor of Mountain Dew. Or something like that. Just like the Founding Fathers intended.
But most importantly, I am writing about the Miami Marlins.
The Marlins have had quite the eventful offseason so far. Since crashing and burning over the course of the 2012 season, they have done some wheeling, dealing, hiring, and firing. But after the flood of activity, there is a chance the Fish will be as quiet as a mime for the rest of the winter.
In case you missed the transactions that the club has made recently, here's a quick recap:
The Marlins hired a new manager. His name is Mike Redmond. Actually, I think it is Michael but as far as I know he is cool with everyone calling him Mike. He was introduced last week. He talked about taking batting practice in the nude and promising to fans that "things are going to get better," as Jeffrey Loria undoubtedly laughed quietly to himself.
The Marlins signed Kevin Kouzmanoff. He received a Minor League deal with an invitation to Spring Training. Miami is hoping he can provide a little pop to an offense that was devoid of all power during the last season. Who knows, there's a chance Kevin Kouzmanoff is the Marlins' starting third basemen come Opening Day 2013. Just like the Founding Fathers intended.
The truth is that on this particular day, no transaction that the Miami Marlins could make will overshadow what happens in the state and country in the political realm. Unless there's a video of Nate Silver teaching a squirrel how to wate rski somewhere out there, there is really nothing that will overshadow politics on this Tuesday in November.
But maybe this election and the political process is a lot like the game of baseball. We listen to the pundits for months, talking about what a team or candidate is doing right, but each prediction and prognostication is met with a degree of uncertainty. The Miami Marlins may be a bad team next season. They may be a good team. The process of rebuilding from a disastrous 2012 season has just begun. But the bottom line is that we will not truly know until the results are in and we begin the cycle all over again.
We learned yesterday that the Miami Marlins have about $12 million available to them to improve the 2013 team from the one that is currently built. If you will recall, the current incarnation of the Marlins is not all that different from the one that featured struggling players like Gorkys Hernandez, Bryan Petersen, and Greg Dobbs in the starting lineup. Even with the return of Emilio Bonifacio and Logan Morrison to the lineup, the Fish figure to be pretty weak without any additions to the team.
The Marlins have a number of positions that could be filled with free agent talent, but this year's free agent crop is relatively weak. With the team low on free agent options and money but high on need, the gains the club will make are going to be incremental. Still, a decent contract with the team's $12 million could buy them some additional assistance for when the 2014 reinforcements like Jose Fernandez and Christian Yelich come to assist the major league club. With that in mind, are there any interesting players that could add to the team's chances in 2013 and / or help the club when they are better in 2014?
Cabrera has had two amazing seasons with the Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants, having hit a combined .320/.386/.480 (.370 wOBA) in those two seasons. He was having the best year of his career in 2012, hitting .346/.390/.516 (.387 wOBA) and putting up a 4.6-win season according to FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement (fWAR). Before being out for the remainder of the season, Cabrera was leading the National League batting title race by a relatively large amount and was sure to have an MVP-caliber season by the end of the year had he remained on the Giants' roster. In addition to all of that, he is still just 29 years old entering 2013.
Had Cabrera simply had an injury to finish off 2012, there would be question marks but four-year deals coming his way this offseason. But the manner in which he was held out of the 2012 year was a more controversial one than that. Cabrera was suspended for 50 games for violating MLB's substance abuse policy, having been caught taking steroids in a recent test. In addition, when faced with the accusation, he denied allegations and cited a business from which he supposedly acquired a faulty supplement, only to later be discovered as having set up a fake company for that exact purpose.
So as a result of the massive controversy surrounding Cabrera, the likelihood of him receiving a long-term contract this offseason is greatly diminished. With the concerns about the effects of the drugs on his performance and health in the last two seasons, teams are going to be wary of whether the work he did was legitimate. Teams are much more likely to be looking for short-term deals so as not to get burned by a longer contract, and Cabrera will want to prove himself in a short-term deal with a lower salary in order to score a long-term extension the next time out.
For the Marlins, this is a perfect situation, as the upside is high while the yearly commitments are going to be light. The only question is whether a team that just got out of a controversial and ugly 2012 year is going to want to suffer another media outcry for signing a player who tested positive for PED usage.
The third base market in this offseason is terribly light, but the Marlins have a major need at two infield positions, including third base. The Marlins can potentially fill the slots with Emilio Bonifacio and Donovan Solano, provided they acquire an outfielder. The other option for the Marlins is to sign an infielder at either second or third base and fill their center field opening with Bonifacio.
But as mentioned, the infield market this offseason is extremely light, and the only true option is Kevin Youkilis. Youkilis's option was declined and the White Sox did not offer the qualifying offer, though they will consider bringing him back to Chicago next season. But a number of other teams are at least interested in acquiring the only true third base option on the market, and some of those teams could be willing to give Youkilis a multi-year deal despite his advanced age and declining abilities. After all, Youkilis hit just .235/.336/.409 (.328 wOBA) this past season, and even with the White Sox he only managed a .236/.346/.425 (.339 wOBA) line.
Youkilis's bat may very well be in decline, and if the Marlins are interested, it will only be for one year to allow him to prove his worth for a longer deal. If another team swoops in with a three-year contract, you can take the Marlins well out of the bidding.
Pagan is exactly the type of player with whom the Marlins want to build their team. He is speedy, having accumulated 21.5 runs above average over the past three seasons on bases, including both stolen bases and extra bases on hits or outs. Over the last three seasons, Pagan has hit a respectable .281/.334/.415 (.326 wOBA) over the past three years, and combine that with solid baserunning and he would make an excellent choice for what the Marlins would perceive as a good leadoff or second hitter.
The problem with Pagan is his desired potential long-term deal. MLB Trade Rumors reported that it was likely Pagan was looking for a five-year deal worth $60 million. Yes, the Marlins have the listed $12 million available this year, but there is no guarantee the Marlins will be ready to commit that much in future seasons, especially with the backloaded Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle contracts. A long-term deal for Pagan might be a risky venture at his age (31 in 2013), and the Marlins may not want to go past three or four years for that kind of candidate.
It would something of a homecoming for Ross, who got his start with the Marlins and has been around a league average player for the past five seasons. The Marlins know that he can play all three outfield positions and do so competently, meaning the team can plug him either in center or left field in 2013. If Ross is not asking for more than $7 million a season, the Fish may be able to give him a three-year deal. The problem with that gameplan is that Ross may be more willing to play for a competitive team in 2013 rather than a rebuilding club that can only promise a shot at contention in future seasons. Still, a Ross return would at least be amicable to the fan base, who adored him during his time with the Marlins.
The same can be said of Scutaro that was said of Ross. The 37 year-old may be amicable to a short-term deal, and his value has never been really met on the open market, as he is consistently a league average player but paid much like other defense-first middle infielders. However, his services may be more in demand following a stellar playoffs and World Series victory with the Giants, and there is a very good chance that he too is more interestd in playing for a contender than playing for a poor team.
These are all players the Marlins could consider, but do not count the team as in the lead for any one player. With the small amount of money the club has available to them, thye could make something happen with these mid-level free agents, but each comes with their own problems and none of them are likely to receive more than a two-year deal from the Marlins,
Alan Trammell 1987 Donruss Opening Day As a kid, collecting the ‘Opening Day’ set was a nice way to add more cards to your collection. Whether you were a set builder, team collector, or player collector, these added sets were … Continue reading →
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Editor's Note: Everyone, please welcome Jon Melton to the Fish Stripes crew! He will working on Fish Bites every Friday, but due to some time constraints and editing difficulties regarding Fish Bites this week, his first piece will be published today. Sorry to Jon and Scott G for publishing both of your Fish Bites on the same day, we'll be back to your regularly scheduled program starting tomorrow with Brian.
As the great Yogi Bera once said, "It's deja-vu all over again." Another failed season in the books, another Miami Marlins manager cast away like stale Cuban bread. Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria found his man - again - early Thursday morning, making Mike Redmond the seventh man to manage the team since the start of the 2006 season.
Redmond, 41, was on the Marlins' short list of managerial candidates, having brought in Tigers hitting coach Lloyd McClendon two days prior to interview for the same position. With the Marlins ridding itself of nearly every bench coach to go along with Ozzie, it will be interesting to see who else is brought in to round out the rest of the coaching staff.
It's hard to determine if this hiring is a legitimate opportunity for Redmond to be groomed over the long haul or if this is just another loyal puppet that David Samson won't have to feel threatened by. The firing of Ozzie Guillen left a bad taste in the mouths of fans and many players, and it also didn't do much to make the Marlins an attractive landing spot for any respectable, proven managers.
Gone are the docile Fredi Gonzalez and Edwin Rodriguez, former Manager of the Year Joe Girardi, the legendary Jack McKeon and the powder keg Ozzie Guillen. Enter Mike Redmond. For what it's worth, Redmond was signed to a three-year deal, though history has proved that doesn't mean much with this organization. And while his tenure likely will span longer than those of Cookie Rojas and Brandon Hyde, it's hard to believe that this front office will give Redmond what it takes to become the next McKeon or Leyland.
-Redmond joins the club with only two years of managerial experience in A-ball, and though he may not be a "sexy" hire, he shouldn't be dismissed or overlooked. After all, as a former big-league catcher, often times he acted as more of a game manager than an actual manager would.
-Redmond will be officially introduced as the new manager on Friday, hopefully fully clothed. Though he takes the job with the bare essentials, the naked truth remains that he may once again be able to help the Marlins break free from a season-long slump.
-Redmond has garnered plenty of praise from his former manager Jack McKeon, with McKeon expressing his approval on the Marlins' latest move. The kind words are surely welcome, but a decent lineup is worth a thousand words.
-Logan Morrison is busy rehabbing his injured knee and also trying to raise money for the American Lung Association. The move is an apparent homage to his father who died of lung cancer in 2010.
-Mark Buehrle continued to prove to Marlins' management and fans that his signing was a good one, as Buehrle won his fourth Gold Glove award on Wednesday.
Around the League
-MLB and the Yankees are reaching out to victims of Superstorm Sandy in the New York area. The MLB and MLBPA are donating $1 million to the relief fund, and the Yankees have chipped in another half-million. The Yankees are also sponsoring a blood drive in the wake of the New York Blood Center reporting a sizable loss in usable blood due to the storm.
-The Oakland A's have come to terms with pitcher Bartolo Colon, agreeing on a one-year, $3 million deal. First Manny, now Colon. If the A's manage to land Melky Cabrera in free agency, they'll be one stop closer to landing a stadium sponsorship deal with Andro. The Andro Coliseum at Brian McNamee field. Has a nice ring to it.
At Fish Stripes
-Michael Jong talks in-depth about the Mike Redmond hiring here, and what the hiring means to the seemingly endless parade of Marlins' managers.
-A detailed look at Mark Buehrle's Gold Glove Award announcement, along with some dynamite video of Mark flashing the glove on the "Buehrle Meter."
-For all you true baseball geeks that yearn for winter league baseball, a look inside one of the more promising of prospects inside the Marlins' system, Marcell Ozuna.
-Fish Stripes takes an in-depth look at one of the better trades in recent Marlins memory, the deal with Detroit that brought in Jacob Turner and Rob Brantly.
-Fish Stripes author Conor Dorney examines the Marlins and their definition of "underachieving.'