At 44-51 and 11.5 games out of first place, the Miami Marlins are shipping off expendable pieces to make room for what looks to be another run at free agency. Today they traded starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez and second baseman Omar Infante to the Detroit Tigers for three prospects.
In Triple-A Toledo, Jacob Turner was 4-2 with a 3.16 ERA and threw 40 strikeouts in 62 innings. He will be reporting to Triple-A New Orleans, which is in a different league. He will now be pitching in the Pacific Coast League instead of the International League where the Toledo Mud Hens play. He will see some time in the Majors in September at the latest.
Catcher Rob Brantly and pitcher Brian Flynn will report to Double-A Jacksonville. Flynn was drafted in the seventh round in last year’s draft out of Wichita State. Brantly appeared in this year’s Futures Game in Kansas City. Multiple scouting reports show that he is an offensive-minded catcher who makes contact, hits for average and doesn’t strike out much and his defense continues to improve and he does a good job of controlling the running game. This is something that the Marlins truly need at the catching position after years of Miguel Olivo, Matt Treanor, Mike Rabelo, John Baker and John Buck. Brantly will surely get the chance to be an every day catcher for the Marlins.
Donovan Solano could get a shot at second base. He’s been hitting.321 as a reserve infielder/pinch hitter so it’s it isn’t crazy to give him a shot. Also look for Emilo Bonifacio to return to the infield as their second baseman.
Wade LeBlanc will likely get his chance to be a part of the Marlins’ rotation. LeBlanc only gave up three runs in 20.2 spring innings and as a reliever this season he has yet to give a run.
As for the Detroit Tigers, their rotation is complete. Verlander, Porcello, Scherzer, Fister and now Sanchez have formed a very solid starting rotation and have filled a gaping hole in second base by inserting Omar infante (.287) in. The Chicago White Sox have better pitchers in their rotation but it will be hard to out-pitch the Tigers with their lineup.
Meanwhile in Miami, this trade is the first of many more to come. The Marlins are highly disappointed with their team and will look to jettison a few more underachievers and revamp their farm system. Then give free agency one more shot.
Like a horde of college football coaches storming to Penn State to salvage it’s remains, many contenders will be circling Marlins like vultures.
On Wednesday, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported that the Marlins were talking to the Tigers about a deal for Infante. John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press wrote today about the need for the Tigers to acquire the 30 year-old second baseman. Tigers second basemen entered Wednesday hitting .196 with two homers and 24 RBIs. Infante is hitting .283 with eight homers, 33 RBIs and 10 stolen bases.
However no one is mentioning what the Detroit Tigers have to offer for Infante. They’re not just going to get him from the Marlins for free.
If the Marlins were to make any deals this season it would be for the benefit of their 25-man roster in the now. Prospects without Major League experience will not cut it, but they might want someone young. Although he is 26-years of age, rookie outfielder Quintin Berry could be the guy that the Marlins go after. In 45 games this year, Berry has hit .292 and stolen 14 bases. He is similar to current Miami center fielder Emilio Bonifacio except Berry is actually an outfielder, not an infielder that was converted in order to get his bat and speed in the lineup.
If a trade between Infante and Berry were to take place, the Marlins can move Bonifacio to second base and with added speed in the lineup, the Marlins would be able to manufacture more runs.
By now, Marlins fans all over the “Twitterverse” has seen and/or heard about Wednesday’s trade rumor reported by USA Today’s Bob Nightengale and later shot dead by ESPN’s Buster Olney involving the Miami Marlins sending third baseman Hanley Ramirez and reliever Heath Bell to the Boston Red Sox in return for left fielder Carl Crawford.
Assuming the well known belief that change of scenery would improve previously dreadful performance, this rumored trade would greatly benefit the Red Sox but not the Marlins.
With Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia currently on the disabled list, the Red Sox could return Ramirez to his original position (shortstop) and shift Mike Aviles to second base until Pedroia is once again healthy. Heath Bell would serve as their setup man and Crawford would be replaced Ryan Sweeney. The Red Sox would be primed for a playoff push.
Meanwhile, the Marlins would have a total of seven outfielders including starting first baseman Carlos Lee and injured right fielder Giancarlo Stanton. Logan Morrison would have to return to his original position and form a platoon at first base with Lee in order for the two of them to receive substantial playing time. Due to Justin Ruggiano’s tremendous start, speedy center fielder Emilio Bonifacio would have to become the utility outfielder once Stanton returns from injury. Reserve outfielder Austin Kearns would thus be expendable and reserve corner infielder Greg Dobbs would become the starting third baseman. Steve Cishek would be the full-time closer, which is the only good that would come out of this trade.
Overall, addition through subtraction would not make the Marlins better than they are now. For their sake, it’s a good thing that this trade rumor was quickly shot dead.
The Marlins haven’t been into the playoffs since 2003. Yet on this day nine years ago, the would-be World Series Champion Marlins was actually in the same position as this year’s Marlins squad.
The 2003 Marlins were five games out of the Wild Card behind the Phillies, Diamondbacks and Dodgers. They were also tied with the Expos and Cardinals.
The 2012 Marlins are six games back, tied with the Diamondbacks and trailing the Mets, Dodgers and Cardinals.
The 2003 Marlins fortified their bench and bullpen with the mid-season acquisitions of closer Ugueth Urbina and outfielder Jeff Conine. Those trades helped propelled the Marlins to the postseason and eventually the World Series. If the 2012 Marlins wish to make it there this season, they will have to do the same before the The MLB non-waiver trade deadline.
The Miami Marlins have Anibal Sanchez, Carlos Zambrano, Randy Choate and Carlos Lee going into free agency after the season. Zambrano has a 4.22 ERA and a 6.50 K_9 rate but is 31 years old, meaning the Marlins won’t likely get enough in return to warrant a trade. They absolutely need to keep Choate (9.13 K_9, 6ER) and they already acquired Lee, making trading Anibal Sanchez their best chance to get either Ryan Dempster of the Cubs or Cole Hamels of the Phillies.
When the Miami Marlins brought in Jose Reyes, Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle last winter, the main goal was to build around star shortstop Hanley Ramirez, Giancarlo Stanton and Co. in hopes that it would lead them back to the postseason for the first time since the magical 2003 World Series championship season. And as we look back on the first half of the 2012 season, one thing has become increasingly apparent: the Marlins’ postseason hopes, and perhaps that of the immediate future of the organization, rest in large part on the shoulders of Hanley Ramirez.
The 2012 campaign has been a roller coaster thus far, and the Marlins entered the All-Star break nine games behind the first-place Nationals. The early season struggles of Josh Johnson, continued struggles of Heath Bell, and injuries to Emilio Bonifacio and Giancarlo Stanton have all played a large part in why the Marlins were one of the most inconsistent teams in the first half of this season but if there’s one thing to take away above all, it’s that the Marlins will struggle to win games if HanRam struggles to produce.
It seems like a “duh” statement to say that if a team’s best player doesn’t play well, that team is also likely to struggle. But the correlation between HanRam’s struggles and that of the Fish’s are particularly striking.
For example, the Marlins finished the month of May firing on all cylinders, going 19-8 and finding themselves just one game back of first place in the NL East as the calendar turned to June. Hanley’s slash line? .322/.364/.525. But all of a sudden, just one month later, the Fish found themselves two games under .500 and 7.5 games behind the first-place Nationals. HanRam’s line for June? Just .227/.312/.381.
Even though the luck dragons may have been in cahoots with Ramirez to some extent during the month of May, there is still plenty of reason to see why HanRam’s success is a key indicator of the success of the club overall. Even with the luck on his side, when Hanley is hitting, it creates more and more on-base opportunities for the guys around him, thus creating the potential for more runs. That’s why it’s no surprise that the Marlins are 12-8 in games where Ramirez records two or more hits, with several of the eight losses coming at the hands of the back end of the Marlins’ bullpen.
As my colleague Griffin Klett pointed out last week, the rest-of-season ZiPS projections aren’t all that impressive for Hanley over the remainder of the season, with the projections having him at .274/.354/.447 for the rest of 2012. But with those numbers sitting right about in the middle of his May and June slash lines, the Fish can expect to have a chance to play .500 ball at the very least, with the opportunity to go on a long stretch of winning if the club gets a sudden spark from the lineup or a dominant week or two from the pitching staff.
The loss of Giancarlo Stanton may still be the most detrimental loss to the lineup in the short term, particularly because the Marlins have struggled to hit the ball out of the ballpark consistently this season. HanRam’s power has been in a steady decline since he hit a career-high 33 home runs in 2008 and even though he’s improved on his SLG% and ISO from his injury-shortened 2011 season, he’s not likely to go on a major power surge any time soon.
As it stands today, the Marlins sit 10 games out of first place in the East. With the way the Nationals have continued to play all season, it will be a monumental task to reach the top of the division if one of the franchise cornerstones, the one they call HanRam, isn’t able to pick up the offensive in the last few months of the season.
Although the news of the Marlins’ lone All-Star representative Giancarlo Stanton’s knee injury is a big blow to Fish fans, there is still plenty to look forward to this All-Star weekend. Today is the day we get to watch firsthand the top two prospects in the organization, OF Christian Yelich and P Jose Fernandez, compete in the 2012 MLB All-Star Futures Game.
The Futures Game has grown quite a bit in popularity over the last several years, and this year’s contest features a who’s-who list of the game’s top prospects on both the U.S. and World rosters. In recent years, Marlins Futures Game reps have included Jhan Martinez, Logan Morrison, and the aforementioned Stanton, but this year figures to be particularly exciting for fans of the Fish.
At just 19 years old, righty Jose Fernandez started the season by dominating the South Atlantic League, posting a 1.59 ERA while striking out 99 in 79 innings. Fernandez, the club’s first-round pick in 2011, was promoted to Class A Jupiter on June 25, and although he’s struggled in his first two starts there, the Marlins haven’t had a pitching prospect with this much upside since the days of Josh Beckett.
Yelich, the club’s 2010 first-round selection out of Westlake HS in California, was #41 overall on Baseball America’s Top 100 prospect list for 2012 and has also posted some fantastic numbers. Despite dealing with some minor injuries, Yelich has managed to put his hit tool on display this season , posting a slash line of .315/.393/.560 with 10 home runs and 14 stolen bases for Class A Jupiter. Yelich has swung the bat at every level since the Marlins drafted him and he’ll only continue to climb up the prospect rankings if he keeps up his current pace. He even displayed an 80 on the wit scale with a tweet regarding Bryce Harper’s eye injury earlier this season, as seen below.
Fernandez and Yelich are both young but very advanced for their age, and it wouldn’t be out of the question to see debuts around late 2013 for both. It may seem like an eternity with the ups and downs of this season at the big league level, but for a couple hours today, fans can take solace in knowing the talent that is on its way. So rejoice, Marlins fans. This is the future.
Less than a week after Astros’ first basemen Carlos Lee exercised his option to block a trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers, it appears that he’ll now be headed to the Marlins for two minor leaguers, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. The Astros are reportedly on the hook for the remainder of Lee’s $9 million salary this season (excluding the pro-rated major-league minimum) and will receive third basemen Matt Dominguez and left-handed pitcher Rob Rasmussen in return.
The move comes as a bit of a surprise in terms of timing but it shows that Ozzie Guillen’s club is serious about contending for a playoff spot this season. The Marlins’ biggest hole in the lineup has been at the first base spot, with Gaby Sanchez and Logan Morrison both struggling mightily in their time there. Combined, Marlins first basemen have put up a slash line of just .236/.292/.359 thus far in 2012.
Lee, or “El Caballo” as he’s affectionately known, should provide an upgrade at the first base spot in the short term, even if it’s just a marginal one. He’s seen his power numbers decline significantly over the past several years, going from 26 home runs in 2009 to just 5 so far this season. At the very least, he’ll be able to get on base at a better clip than what the Fish have seen from this position in 2012, and for a club that ranks near the bottom of the NL in OBP, I suppose it can’t hurt the cause.
The main incentive for not feeling like this deal is a waste of time is ultimately that the Astros are on the hook for the remainder of Lee’s salary. In addition, there were essentially no options to pull from within the organization, aside from hoping that Gaby Sanchez or Logan Morrison suddenly found their way at the plate. Neither of those options would have been in the best interest of time in terms of competing in the NL East, and I’m not so sure the club would have felt entirely comfortable with either option.
Giving up Dominguez and Rasmussen shouldn’t worry Fish fans, either. Dominguez, who has spent this season in Triple-A New Orleans, has still yet to find a way to put it together at the plate despite being a standout defensively. And even if he had found his stroke at the plate this season, it isn’t like he had a spot on the big club with Hanley Ramirez now blocking his path at third. Rasmussen, a second round selection in 2010, was just recently promoted to Double-A Jacksonville after posting a 4-7 record with a 3.90 ERA in 16 starts for Jupiter. He was ranked the Marlins’ seventh-best prospect by Baseball America coming into the season and could end up as a decent back-of-the-rotation starter, or at the very least a lefty specialist out of the bullpen.
In all, the Marlins’ acquisition of Carlos Lee is a seemingly-pointless move that should only provide a marginal upgrade offensively at the first base position. It’s a move made for practically nothing and the club didn’t have to give up premium prospects, which I guess was apparently enough incentive for GM Mike Hill to pull the trigger.
When the Miami Marlins became one of the most active teams on the free agent market this past winter, most of the attention was focused on their pursuit of Albert Pujols and ultimately the signing of Jose Reyes. Mark Buehrle, who followed his skipper Ozzie Guillen to the bath salt capital of the world, was seen as a solid addition to the Marlins’ rotation, and most figured that the lefty would give fans what he had put up routinely in his days with the White Sox. 200+ innings, a low walk rate and a sub-4.00 ERA. So far in 2012, Buehrle is on pace to do just that, albeit with a surprisingly different approach.
Finally, a series I feel particularly and specifically capable of previewing.
The Toronto Blue Jays are coming to town! Or, from my perspective, going to Miami (I’m Canadian, have I mentioned this?).
Two teams with completely opposite plans when it comes to team building match up in Interleague play sporting very similar records.
The Miami Marlins (33-34) spent $117m to bring in multiple key players in hopes of competing this season in the tough NL East.
The Toronto Blue Jays (35-34) spent $75m with high ceiling, but very raw prospects filling the Major League roster in hopes of competing two seasons from now in the tough AL East.
So, why are these teams playing with similar records? I have no idea, but I think it goes back to my last article.
Miami needs to win this series. I’ll say that first. After what can only be described as an abysmal month thus far they have a Jays team coming to town having lost four of their Top seven starting pitchers coming out of Spring Training and are struggling to gain traction Their top hitters have been underperforming, their young hitters have been streaky, and their bullpen has been overworked in recent weeks while relying on minor league call-ups to eat up multiple innings.
We all have them about pretty much every detail of our lives. Big expectations, small expectations, some we’re aware of and some we have without knowing it.
We expect to wake up every morning, we expect the sky to be blue, we expect work or school to suck and we expect life to continue when it does. Reasonable expectations.
I expect to write a snappy article that makes no sense when I start writing and somehow manages to conclude in a witty fashion. Another reasonable expectation.
However, like many expectations, including my expectation of myself, not all expectations are met every time.
With this in mind I give you the 32-30 Miami Marlins, a team who is just 1-7 in their last 8 games and have not lived up to their overall expectations as a unit.
And with all the lofty expectations that fans and media have for this team, mostly because of the big name acquisitions they had in the off-season, the blame does not and should not fall on those stars.