Archive for Analysis
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.
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.
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.
With 82 games down, it’s time to see how Marlins hitters are expected to fare in the second half of the season, according to the ZiPS projections system. ZiPS was created by Dan Szymborski of Baseball Think Factory and ESPN, and it’s one of the most accurate projection systems available.
Now the newest member of the Marlins, Lee performed only marginally above replacement level in Houston, worth 0.2 fWAR while hitting .287/.336/.411. Unfortunately, ZiPS predicts a very similar line of .278/.327/.433 the rest of the way for Lee. Still, any offense at all from first base will be a welcome addition, as Gaby Sanchez and Logan Morrison combined could manage just a .236/.292./.359 while playing the position. While most of his peripherals are expected to stay about the same, ZiPS does expect Lee to hit for more raw power the second half of the season, (.156 ISO vs .124) something the Marlins desperately need.
Infante has been one of the few bright spots for the Marlins, hitting .287/.312/.452 along with 7 home runs. However, ZiPS predicts Infante to cool down slightly in the second half for a .283/.322/.401 slash line. After walking only 3.4% of the time through June, ZiPS expects Infante to increase his BB% to 5.3%, a rate much closer to his career average. Infante should also expect to see a drop in power numbers, as ZiPS predicts his ISO of .165 to regress towards his career average of .122.
Reyes has been decent but not spectacular in 2012, hitting .268/.341/.388, which comes out to almost exactly league average (99 wRC+). ZiPS expects Reyes to pick it up in the second half, specifically his batting average and slugging, to the tune of .290/.348/.435. Without the shortstop contributing significantly to the offense, it will be tough for the Marlins to stay in contention in the competitive NL East.
Hanley is another Marlin who ZiPS expects improvement from in the second half of 2012. He’s hit .259/.334/.443 so far, good for a .339 wOBA and worth 1.9 fWAR. Hanley’s expected line of .274/.354/.447 the rest of the way is not drastically different than his slash line from the first half, but even a small uptick would go a long way towards the Marlins playoff hopes.
Posting just a .4 fWAR at the midpoint of the season, 2012 has not been Logan Morrison‘s year. He’s managed just a .242/.317/.433 slash line up to this point, although, ZiPS expects the second half to be much more friendly to Morrison. It projects a .252/.348/.451 line the rest of the way–mostly because Morrison should see more balls in play fall for hits. His BABIP of .253 has been quite unlucky, and ZiPS expects a more luck-neutral .283 BABIP for the last half of the season. Morrison could also benefit from a higher BB%, as ZiPS projects his walk rate to increase from 9.6% to 12.1%.
Stanton has been, by far, the Marlins best player this season, and the second half will most likely be no different. He’s been worth 3.0 fWAR by hitting .283/.364/.555, and ZiPS projects him to essentially match his first half with a .272/.363/.555 line. ZiPS also projects his career-low K% of 24.8% to regress back towards his career strikeout rate of 28%, although it wouldn’t be surprising to see Stanton continue limiting his K’s.
Ruggiano has been one of the hottest players in the majors since being traded to the Marlins, hitting an incredible .409/.487/.818. At some point, Ruggiano won’t be able to keep up the staggering pace, and ZiPS projects him to hit .263/.320/.431 the rest of the way. So far, Ruggiano has benefitted from an astronomical .449 BABIP, but ZiPS expects a .330 average on balls in play for Ruggiano going forward. ZiPS also believes Ruggiano won’t be able to match the BB% and K% that he’s posted so far–it projects his strikeout rate to raise from 16.3% to about 25%, and his walk rate to drop from 13.8% to 7.4%.
Before his injury and subsequent trip to the DL, Bonifacio was hitting .268/.351/.315 over 39 games, worth 0.3 fWAR. Although he won’t return until after the All-Star break, ZiPS still projects Bonifacio to be worth 0.5 fWAR in the second half of the season, and expects him to hit at a clip of .263/.331/.336.
Buck has hit an abysmal .180/.304/.335 (AVG/OBP/SLG) so far, but ZiPS sees some improvement the rest of the way for Buck–although it would be difficult to hit much worse than he has up to this point. ZiPS projects a .222/.309/.371 line from the catcher, for a total of 0.9 fWAR. The changes in On-base percentage and Slugging are rather small, but the system does expect a 42 point jump in batting average.
Data from Fangraphs
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.