The Marlins made an adjustment to their starting rotation on Monday, albeit not the one that has been speculated about over the last several days.
Instead of dealing ace Josh Johnson, who it appears the Marlins are intent on keeping according to most reports, Ozzie Guillen announced that Carlos Zambrano would be heading to the bullpen while southpaw Wade LeBlanc will take his spot.
It’s hard to argue with taking Zambrano out of the rotation, as he has put up some atrocious numbers, especially over the last couple months. Big Z has posted the fourth-worst FIP of any NL starter in the month of July and his numbers from June weren’t much better. The most incredible stat of all is that since June, Zambrano has posted a BB/9 rate of over seven.
After all that I’ve just said, it’s clear that LeBlanc at the very least can’t be a downgrade to what Zambrano was currently giving them. He’s pitched well out of the bullpen this season for the Fish with a 1.15 ERA in 11 games, and now he’ll get a chance to show the club what he can do in his first regular starting role since his time with San Diego.
Prior to the trade, Sanchez was toiling in Triple-A New Orleans hitting around .290 after a dreadful start in the majors. Them trading Casey McGee to the New York Yankees for Chad Quails left first base open for Sanchez, who will likely start at first base for the Pirates with Garrett Jones moving to right field.
What does this mean for the Miami Marlins?
A better Logan Morrison.
Knee issues have curtailed both of Morrison’s only two full seasons in the Major Leagues. It was because of Gaby Sanchez that Morrison was playing left field in order to get his bat in the lineup. The 24-year-old is in the DL now and likely for the rest of the season after struggling through 93 games hitting .230 with 11 home runs and 36 RBI.
Morrison has the benefit of the doubt because his injured knee was never fully healed and can be blamed for his struggles. Hopefully for the Marlins that’s the case.
Over the past week, we here at Marlins Daily have been all over the Miami Marlins’ latest wheeling and dealing as we approach the July 31st trading deadline. We’ve looked at things extensively from the Fish’s perspective in terms of the players on the way out, but now it’s time to take a look at the players the club has added to their organization to see what Marlins fans can expect to see over the next few seasons.
RHP Jacob Turner
Jacob Turner, rated the Tigers’ #1 prospect entering each of the last four seasons by Baseball America, is a 21-year-old righty with the potential to be a top-of-the-rotation starter in the near future. Despite struggling in his first six career big league starts (three in 2011 and three this season), Turner is still considered to be one of the game’s top pitching prospects. His fastball, which sits in the low-90′s, isn’t overpowering, but it’s Turner’s secondary stuff (curveball and changeup) that garners the most recognition. Turner has also made some changes to his arsenal since last season, ditching the cutter he used during his first taste of the big leagues for a slider that could become another out-pitch for him in the future. It’s worth noting that Turner has faced minor elbow and shoulder issues in the past, including a bout with shoulder tendinitis as recently as spring training. Fortunately for Turner, because the Marlins aren’t in contention for a playoff spot this season, there won’t be a need to push the limits of his arm and will have the ability to shut him down at a moment’s notice. And although the numbers from his major league career may frighten Marlins fans, it’s helpful to keep in mind that Turner is still just 21 years old and if he can improve the spotty command he’s shown in 2012 with some more seasoning at AAA New Orleans, he’ll be a valuable part of Miami’s rotation in 2013 and beyond.
C Rob Brantly
It appears that the Miami are not allowed to trade their star players despite greatly under-performing. Trade a .246 hitting Hanley Ramirez for a Dodgers pitcher who could bring just as much baseball value as Ramirez was bringing this year and you get Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports calling Marlins ownership “con men.”
But how does two trades that bring in two pitchers that could end the season in their rotation count as a fire sale?
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that the Miami Marlins have declared Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle off-limits. They are committed to Buehrle and believe that with the departure of Hanley Ramirez, Reyes will play better. They will also keep Giancarlo Stanton, Heyman writes.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports via Twitter that the Marlins are also reluctant to trade Emilio Bonifacio, saying that as Omar Infante’s replacement at 2B, his speedy play suits Ozzie Guillen’s style.
It’s quite possible that the Marlins maybe adding by subtracting.
The Marlins were finished 8th in the National League in runs scored with 717 runs at the end of the 2005 season. After their offseason “fire sale” that sent nearly all of their veteran players, they finished the 2006 season with 41 more runs than their 2005 season total.
Just because big names depart doesn’t mean the Marlins are giving up. Just because four players were traded (two of them entering free agency) for two pitchers projected to finish 2012 in the rotation, doesn’t mean it’s a fire sale.
Fans unconditionally cling on to their well known players. Miami fans are no different. But they equate their departure via trade to surrendering. If the Marlins decide to trade Ricky Nolasco (4.80 ERA) would the Marlins fans cry about it? Probably, but that doesn’t mean that the Marlins are going to be worse without him.
Due to the Omar Infante trade, Emilio Bonifacio returned to his original position which is second base. His speed and quickness in second will help create a potent double play combo with Jose Reyes, who is expected to play better without Hanley’s presence.
Rookie infielder Donovan Solano is hitting .322 with an .406 OBP, and because of the Hanley trade, Solano will get his chance as a starter in the hot corner.
Justin Ruggiano (.367/.430/.683) will no longer be affected by the return of Giancarlo Stanton because Bonifacio moved to second base.
Gregg Dobbs (.300) will be holding down the fort in right field until Stanton returns. These little moves should make them better immediately.
The Marlins will be hosting the San Diego Padres this weekend and Nathan Eovaldi will make his Marlins debut on Saturday. They are a half game out of last place so it can’t get any worse.
Recently… And, by recently I mean today, an article was posted by Marlins Daily writer Tony Capobianco about the Toronto Blue Jays interest in Josh Johnson.
This is not surprising. As a Jays fan I’ve learned that GM Alex Anthopoulos is interested in every better than average player made available by any MLB team.
Just sort of expected that every time a player is mentioned as available Jays fans will hear how the Jays have contacted his team’s GM about him.
The article concludes by saying; “Toronto could be the ideal place for the Marlins to unload and even bring in a star third baseman. In a blockbuster trade, the Marlins can send Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson to Toronto for a bounty of prospects and young third baseman Brett Lawrie.”
Now, as Dave Gersham pointed out, the Marlins have every right to ask about Brett Lawrie. And, sure, they do. But, the article suggests that it is a real possibility to acquire Lawrie, and that’s where I come into play.
This is a point-counterpoint thing where I will go into why Marlins fans should not expect certain players and then give you some insight into the Blue Jays farm system for names you may actually hear.
First, why Brett Lawrie is unequivocally unavailable.
Brett Lawrie is, without question, the best young player on the Toronto Blue Jays. The team has Colby Rasmus and Travis Snider, two players constantly ranked in the Top 10 prospects when they came through the system (Rasmus in St.Louis, Travis in Toronto). Lawrie is better.
He is hitting a very consistent .280/.326/.415 this season, which though not overwhelming compared to Bryce Harper or Mike Trout is very, very good considering that when you look at it, Lawrie hasn’t had a hot streak all-season. He hasn’t had one month where he has destroyed the baseball and because of it his numbers are inflated. Hasn’t happened.
That is something that 22-year old ballplayers don’t often have. A true level of consistency.
I grant you, July has been bad, but it also has seen 10-less games (part because of the All-Star break, part because it’s only the 24th).
Trading Brett at 22-years old is like expecting the Angels to trade Trout at 20. It would have to take an incredible, beyond belief kind of deal that the Marlins simply cannot offer with a 28-year old struggling pitcher.
Further, Alex Anthopoulos is obsessed with player control. Every move he makes comes with a player who will be under team control for multiple years after the deal. His goal is to bring in high ceiling talent and prospects and only once has he gone against that (the Happ trade last week), and even then he didn’t trade much prospect depth.
Brett Lawrie is under team control for six years… Josh Johnson becomes a Free Agent in less than two. That is a big discrepancy.
Within a week, the Miami Marlins have traded Anibal Sanchez, Randy Choate, Omar Infante and Hanley Ramirez for two young starting pitchers with minimal Major League experience and three additional prospects.
More trades will soon follow but the perception of another Marlins fire sale has already embedded itself in the minds of many baseball fans and media. This is not another fire sale. This is a summer cleaning.
This team is seven games below .500 and are eight games back from a playoff spot. Are they worse without Omar Infante, who was never the .300 hitter the Marlins thought they were getting from Atlanta? Are they worse without Randy Choate, who’s primary role is to retire one batter per appearance? Are they really worse without a .246 Hanley Ramirez? Are they really any worse without Anibal Sanchez, who indefinitely won’t sign a long-term deal with the club?
Just as I was about to shut my laptop and get some sleep for the evening, a tweet from Jon Morosi caught my eye that contained the words “BREAKING,” “Hanley,” and “Dodgers.” After realizing that you can literally catch anyone’s attention by starting your tweets with “breaking” in all caps, the Twitterverse learned that the Marlins had sent 3B Hanley Ramirez and reliever Randy Choate to the Los Angeles Dodgers for right-handed pitchers Nate Eovaldi and Scott McGough.
Unsurprisingly, the news elicited quite the broad range of reactions on Twitter, although it has calmed down quite a bit now that we’ve learned more specific details of the trade.
I’ll get to talking about the newest Marlins, Nate Eovaldi and Scott McGough, in a second, but first let’s take a look at the biggest motivator in this deal from Miami’s perspective: money. The Dodgers will be taking on all of HanRam’s remaining salary (about $40 million over the next two seasons), which means that the Marlins have already cleared nearly $20 million off their payroll in the past week alone.
It’s possible that the Fish had the opportunity to get better players in return for Ramirez, but in all likelihood, having the option to erase him off their payroll for good was a much stronger incentive and when the Dodgers offered to pick up the tab, they pulled the trigger as fast as they could. For a guy that has posted a line of .246/.322/.430 this season, it isn’t as if his trade value was at an all-time high by any stretch of the imagination. What’s probably most fascinating is that the Marlins spent over $300 million in free agency last winter alone, yet they may have just begun the fastest turnaround to offload money that we’ve ever seen.
I think most of us have ‘that’ friend. The one that we have known for years, perhaps from your childhood, or if you’re my age (26), from high school. The one that, whenever you get together it quickly devolves into a trip down memory lane with one question.
“Remember the time…”
Something like, “Remember the time I wrote about Expectations and how the expectations for the leagues biggest off-season spenders was, and should be, very high?”
That was June 14th and the Miami Marlins were 32-30 and in the middle of a tough losing skid, though still very much in the thick of things. I mean, it was June 14th. Most teams were still in the thick of things.
Unbeknownst to you or I, the Marlins were actually in the middle of what would become an 8-18 month that would see the team fall from reasonable contenders to one of the NL Easts bottom dwellers.
In fact, since that article the Marlins have gone 14-21 and slipped to 11.5 games back of the division leading Washington Nationals.
Let’s try another.
“Remember the time I wrote about Perspective and how ‘On Pace’ is virtually meaningless in May?”
At the time, I was making the arguement that it made no sense to get worried about individual player performance in May.
Well, here’s the thing. It’s no longer May.
Johnson, 28, has a 4.14 ERA with 7.9 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 119 2/3 innings this season and is making an annual salary of $13.75MM in 2012 and 2013.
The Blue Jays are 48-47 and are three games back in the Wild Card chase. Even after acquiring J.A. Happ, they are still looking for starting pitching that can be under club control past this season.
Trading Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante to Detroit was like a flare shot in the air spotted by playoff contenders everywhere. The Marlins will likely keep Johnson but can trade him if the right offer is presented to them.
The Marlins can send Josh Johnson to Toronto for a bounty of prospects and young third baseman Brett Lawrie.
Lawrie is currently hitting .280 with nine home runs and 12 stolen bases. His play is similar to that of 19 year-old outfielder Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals, but doesn’t get as much attention because he is three years older.
Acquire him with prospects and the rebuilding phase of the revamping process will nearly be complete.
It is about time we saw some action from the Marlins this season. Too bad that action was not on the field. Yesterday, the Marlins, who spent a small fortune during the off-season in order to be contenders this year, sent Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez to the Detroit Tigers for, well, let’s face it, Jacob Turner.
Oh yeah, as Dave mentioned here, this trade was historically significant because it marks the first time teams have traded their compensation picks. According to Peter Gammons, The Marlins obtain prospects Rob Brantly and Brian Flynn along with Turner. The Tigers will also now have the last pick in compensation round A (after the first round), while the Marlins will have the final pick in compensation round B (after the second round).