Although the non-waiver trade deadline is still six weeks away, it’s becoming easier to tell which teams will be a buyers and which teams will be sellers.
The Marlins enter today at 32-30 on the season, six games out of first place in what has been an ultra-competitive NL East division. The Nationals don’t appear to be slowing down any time soon, so the moves that the Fish decide to make in July could determine their fate for a wild card spot when the playoff race heats up in September. I’ve decided to take a look at a few names that the Miami could be interested in come July 31st.
1B Bryan LaHair (Chicago Cubs)
LaHair has been one of, if not the biggest, pleasant surprises in all of baseball this season. After spending parts of nine seasons in the minor leagues, the 30-year-0ld LaHair has gotten the chance to prove himself for the new-look Cubs and has made the most of it. LaHair has posted an impressive .304/.388/.591 line to date and his 12 home runs are good for eighth-best in the NL. The Marlins could certainly be a fit for the Cubs’ first basemen, as first base has been huge hole for the club so far in 2012. Despite the Marlins’ potentially-potent lineup, they still rank near the bottom of MLB in slugging percentage, and the numbers would be even uglier if it weren’t for the superhuman efforts of Giancarlo Stanton. LaHair’s trade value is at an all-time high and there will certainly be many other teams in play come deadline time, but adding a bat like his could get the Marlins that much closer to a playoff spot this season.
SP Jason Vargas (Seattle Mariners)
The Marlins’ starting pitching has been one of the most consistent aspects of the club this season, but an injury or string of bad starts could severely hinder a chance at staying in the NL East race. With the lack of top pitching prospect depth in the upper levels of the minors, Miami could be best suited for finding pitching outside the organization. One name that could be in play is M’s lefty Jason Vargas. Vargas has been a reliable middle-of-the-rotation starter for Seattle since being acquired from the Mets in 2009. He’s made 30 or more starts each of the past two seasons and would provide some good depth in the rotation if Josh Johnson’s injury bug came back or Carlos Zambrano swung too hard. He’s on a one-year deal, and with the Mariners anxiously awaiting the arrival of top pitching prospects like Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Taijuan Walker, the Marlins could be able to acquire Vargas at a discounted price.
RP Ryan Cook (Oakland A’s)
Ryan Cook makes the list of potential Marlins’ trade targets due in large part to the fact that he plays for the trade-happy A’s organization, but that certainly doesn’t mean Oakland would give the righty away for free. Just about every club in contention at the July deadline is looking for bullpen help, and adding a power arm like Cook’s could prove crucial in late-game situations. The rookie Cook started the season with a 23-inning scoreless streak that was snapped at the end of May, and has been one of the most impressive relievers in baseball this season, even with the high walk rate. The Marlins’ have posted the fourth-worst bullpen ERA in the league in June at 6.51 and could use a shutdown reliever like Cook, who has allowed just eight hits in 27.0 IP in 2012. If Heath Bell returns to early-season meltdown mode or injuries begin to take a toll, the Fish could very well look to revamp the bullpen and Cook would be a solid acquisition.
The 2012 MLB Draft has officially come to an end and it provided its fair share of drama, as we got a first look at how the new CBA and altered draft rules affected teams’ draft strategies. I discussed the Marlins’ first-round pick, left-hander Andrew Heaney out of Oklahoma State, and now I’ll be taking a look at how the Fish fared on days two and three of this year’s draft.
The Marlins had to wait 95 picks after the Heaney selection to take local Florida high schooler Avery Romero in the third round. Romero played shortstop in high school but most think he has the bat to be able to stick at second or third base in the pro ranks.
Another one of the more intriguing Marlins’ picks on Day 2 was Louisiana prep outfielder Kolby Copeland. An athletic, toolsy outfielder, some were comparing Copeland before the draft to White Sox first round pick Courtney Hawkins. The Marlins were also linked to Hawkins in the days leading up to the draft, but perhaps the club felt they had the chance to get a similarly-skilled player in a later round, thus part of the reasoning behind taking Heaney ninth overall.
In the fifth round, the Marlins grabbed another high school bat in Austin Dean out of Klein Collins HS in Texas. Though he played third base in high school, the club selected Dean as an outfielder. In watching video of Dean at the plate, you can see that he has a bit of a funky stance and gets out on his front side a bit too much, but he also generates tremendous bat speed that should translate into power in the pro ranks. He’s committed to play at the University of Texas, so he could be one of the Marlins’ tougher signs from the first ten rounds.
The Miami Marlins tabbed Oklahoma State southpaw Andrew Heaney with the ninth overall pick in today’s 2012 MLB Draft.
Heaney was seen as the most polished collegiate lefty of this year’s class, and although he doesn’t have the upside of high schooler Max Fried (taken by the Padres with the seventh pick), Heaney still brings plenty to the table.
The Oklahoma State junior was selected by the Rays in the 24th round out of high school but opted to continue to play Big 12 baseball in Stillwater. He had a breakout 2012 campaign that included being named a First-Team All American, striking out 140 and walking just 22 in 118.1 innings, as well as leading the team with a 1.60 ERA.
You hear it all the time while watching baseball games. It’s one of those widely used baseball cliche that fans, writers, and commentators have latched onto. Some player hits a long homerun and a good 7/10 times I guarantee you’ll hear it referred to as a “bomb”.
I would describe a bomb as a loud, devastating, violent, ‘game’-changing event… So, I won’t argue that the comparison is without its merit.
But, it got me wondering; if homeruns are equated to bombs, what then is a stolen base?
Then it came to me. How about a lightning strike? Fast, exciting, there and gone in an instant with little to no warning, and often beautiful in its dangerousness. Yeah… I like that.
“What are you talking about, Mike?”
Oh, hello again my imagined reader. Allow me to explain.
As of the moment I write this article (about 11:00pm on 05/29) the Miami Marlins lead the entire MLB with 60 stolen bases, 15 more than any other team. This puts them on pace for 194 stolen bases this season, 24 more than the leader last season (San Diego – 170) and the most any team has accumulated since Tampa Bay also had 194 in 2009.
Which would also tie them for the highest total since 1996 when Colorado had 201 SB’s and Kansas City had 195, respectively.
In a league that’s modern era has seemingly moved away from the stolen base in favour of the more ‘fan friendly’ long-ball, it’s exciting to watch a team stealing bases at such an enthusiastic pace.
The 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft, or Rule 4 Draft as it’s officially known, is less than two weeks away and we’re just now starting to get a better feel for where some players are likely to get selected. Unlike the NFL and NBA Drafts, the MLB Draft is notoriously difficult to accurately mock, due in part to the immense collegiate and high school player pool, as well as the overall lack of national television exposure for prospects throughout the prep and collegiate seasons.
The MLB Draft has grown in popularity over the last several years, aided by its first-round broadcast on MLB Network beginning in 2007, as well as recent super-prospects such as Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper drawing national interest. The new Collective Bargaining Agreement will also affect the draft in several ways, with key changes being ten fewer rounds (50 to 40), an expedited signing deadline, and harsher penalties for teams that go over slot.
The Marlins hold the ninth pick in this year’s draft, putting them in a good position to get an impact prospect that has the long-term potential to be a cornerstone of the organization. I decided to take a look at a few draft prospects that should be around when the Marlins make their first-round selection, with some scouting notes and video on each.
RHP Lance McCullers
McCullers is a righty with power stuff out of Jesuit HS in Tampa who didn’t allow an earned run during the entire regular season of his senior year and is likely to hear his name called early on draft day. His repertoire includes a mid-90′s fastball, good slider, and average changeup. McCullers is also part of a good baseball bloodline, as his father Lance Sr. pitched for seven seasons with the Padres, Yankees, Tigers and Rangers. The Marlins took another Florida prep righty with their 2011 first-round selection Jose Fernandez, who has been stellar to start his professional career, and McCullers could be another high-ceiling arm to add to Miami’s minor league system.
Almost immediately after my first two blog posts had been submitted (the Infante blog was submitted on the 13th and posted on the 15th) I found myself having a hard time deciding what to write about next.
The Marlins are in no way short of interesting stories and angles, the same as any professional sports franchise, but as an out-of-city follower it’s not as easy to keep my finger on the pulse of the team and its fans.
And, so I did the only thing I could think of doing; I texted my best friend. I began explaining how difficult it was to write about for a team that I can’t always see play and asked her for advice. She responded asking only which team it was that I am writing about.
The resulting conversation went like this.
Me: “Miami Marlins”
That was all the prompting I needed to begin writing about a 24-year old prospect who was then hitting .284 with a .369 OBP and a .391 slugging percentage. Similar to the Infante article I was jumping on the ‘this guy is awesome!’ bandwagon.
That was ten days ago.
Since, I’ve watched as have all of you as LoMo went 3 of his next 25 and saw his average drop 34 points, his OBP drop 23 points, and his slugging percentage plummet nearly 40 points and I began to re-remember the most important thing for any baseball fan to remember.
Earlier today, while I was having breakfast, I overheard a disturbing statement that immediately grabbed my attention. Speaking to his girlfriend, a twenty-something year old gentleman remarked, very matter-of-factly, “I wish it were legal to just beat the crap out of whoever you wanted to.”
I had many questions running through my head after hearing this, chief among them was how a blueberry bagel could extract so much anger out of a single individual. But that’s beside the point. Anyways, in what has to be the worst segue in history, Giancarlo Stanton happens to be beating the crap out of baseballs. Since the beginning of this month, he’s doing it with increasing regularity, and from what I can tell, Bud Selig has yet to outlaw this behavior.
When you open the season with a roster featuring players of the caliber of Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, Hanley Ramirez, Carlos Zambrano, Gaby Sanchez, Mark Buerhle, and Logan Morrison there is a reasonable expectation that one of those players would be the team’s best player.
Someone forgot to tell that to Omar Infante.
The ten year MLB vet has come into the season on fire leading the team in a multitude of categories including hits (33), doubles (10), batting average (.330), Slugging Percentage (.650), and is tied for the team lead in homeruns with 6, and 2nd in RBI’s with 17.
But, it’s not just his team that he leads. Entering play on May 12th Infante finds himself sitting with the elite second basemen of the MLB, and in many cases, in a league of his own. The numbers, in fact, are so good that putting Infante’s name among the elite is not only warranted but nearly a necessity.
Now, I’ll pause for a moment to say that personally, I’m not a fan of sabermetrics. Don’t get me wrong, I believe many of the statistical categories are eye opening, but conversely I also feel some of the categories don’t serve much a purpose in player evaluating.
The Miami Marlins’ most notable moves of the past winter were undoubtedly the free agent acquisitions of Jose Reyes, Mark Bueherle, and Heath Bell, but perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects was the return of ace Josh Johnson. After missing most of the 2011 season with a shoulder injury, the Marlins entered the year hoping that Johnson would be ready to anchor their rotation in their quest for the NL East crown. But unfortunately for Ozzie Guillen and Co., Johnson’s start to the year has been anything but pretty.
Through seven starts this season, Johnson is sporting an ugly 5.87 ERA and has already had three starts where he has given up five runs or more. And although he’s coming off a solid seven inning start against the Astros in his last outing, perhaps the most concerning element to Johnson’s 2012 campaign was Ozzie Guillen’s recent comments to the Miami Herald, who told the paper that he wondered if Johnson was “not feeling good.”
A troubling epidemic has swept across Major League Baseball over the first month of the season leaving many fans to throw their arms in the air in exasperation, all asking the same question.
What has happened to my team’s closer?
It’s not just you, Miami Marlin fans. Many fans of the majority of teams have sat in stunned horror as their teams have seen 9th inning leads turn into the things nightmares are made of.
Formerly consistent closers like Heath Bell and Francisco Cordero have imploded, seemingly forgetting how to close games. While others, like Mariano River, Scott Downs, Andrew Bailey, Kyle Farnsworth, Drew Storen, Huston Street, and Sergio Santos have seen their seasons halted if not completely ended due to injury.