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.
Now with more than 85 games down, and the All-Star break over, it’s time to see how Marlins’ starting pitchers are expected to fare in the second half of the season, accoriding to the ZiPS projection system. ZiPS was created by Dan Szymborski of Baseball Think Factory and ESPN, and it’s one of the most accurate projection systems available. Last week the focus was on Marlins’ hitters, and now we’ll look at the starting pitchers.
Johnson has had an exceptional season, according to his peripherals, even if his ERA doesn’t reflect it. He holds a 3.07 FIP this year, but has a 4.28 ERA due to some bad luck on balls in play (.352 BABIP). ZiPS expects Johnson’s Defensive Independent metrics to stay about the same in the second half, projecting a 2.93 FIP, and also expects Johnson to have more outwardly measurable success (2.87 ERA).
The one significant change in Johnson this season is his K%. He’s not striking out hitters at the rate he used to–7.6 K/9 in 2012 vs. 8.2 career–although ZiPS does foresee an uptick in strikeouts to 8.1 K/9 the rest of the way. Strikeouts or not, it’s clear Johnson is still a top tier pitcher, and should continue to get batters out.
Buehrle has been solid so far this season, posting a 3.25 ERA at the All-Star break, to go along with an underlying FIP of 3.87. The former White Sox has benefited from a rather low BABIP (.279) and stranding a high rate of runners on base (77.6 LOB%). Both metrics are heavily influenced by luck, and should regress for Buehrle in the second half. For that reason, ZiPS projects Buehrle’s ERA to rise in the second half to 3.77. His FIP, on the other hand, is expected to stay essentially the same over the rest of the season (3.89 FIP).
While all of Buehrle’s peripherals are in line with his career marks, his 1.34 BB/9 is especially impressive. It’s the third lowest walk rate among starting pitchers, and he’s done it while also avoiding a decline in strikeouts. 2012 has produced another respectable season from Buehrle, and he should continue to have success in the second half.
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.
Apparently all those rumors yesterday that the Miami Marlins and their top pick Andrew Heaney were done negotiating were false, as the two sides has come to terms on an agreement, for the $2.6 million the Marlins were offering.
I guess all the criticism that the Marlins met yesterday for being dumb and cheap for taking a hardball stance need to be renounced. But as you know with Marlins fans and baseball fans in general, people only remember the bad the Marlins front office does.
Jim Callis of Baseball America reports that they’ve agreed to a $2.6 million bonus. The left hander out of Oklahoma State will be a quick riser in the Marlins minor league system and should be ready to be a full-time starter sometime in 2014. Heaney projects as a 3/4 rotation pitcher. Heaney never had any leverage in the negotiations and probably realized that any injury or struggle he faced in 2012 without an MLB contract would hurt the amount of money he could potentially get next season.
The Marlins hardball stance, which saved them $200,000, will help them get their third round pick, Avery Romero. Romero, was committed to the University of Florida, but Joe Frisaro expects the two sides to agree to a bonus of at least $700,000.
The deadline for draft picks to sign is not until 5 PM EST Friday, but the Miami Marlins and Andrew Heaney are apparently done negotiating. Jim Callis of Baseball America first reported the news on his Twitter account and Juan Rodriguez, of the Sun-Sentinel, confirmed the news.
According to Rodriguez, the Marlins offered Andrew Heaney $2.6 million, he was seeking the slot amount for the ninth pick, at $2.8 million. The Marlins still have time to negotiate and work out a deal, but it does not seem likely at this point. As Rodriguez pointed out, per Marlins team policy, the require a physical and full bloodwork before consummating a deal. The likelihood of that getting done before Friday are slim.
The Marlins selected Andrew Heaney with the ninth overall pick out of Oklahoma State. If the team fails to sign Heaney, the Marlins will have the 10th pick in the 2012 draft.
Losing a pitcher like Heaney, who was ranked as the best college left hander in the draft, is not a good thing to happen for a Marlins team that has already one of the worst minor league talent in baseball.
As for Heaney, he can return to Oklahoma State for his senior year. Heaney can also go for a stint in Independent Baseball.
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.
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.
Over at Fishstripes, our good friend Michael Jong charts out Carlos Zambrano’s struggles this season in detail. Jong uses Pitch f/X to explain just what difficulties Zambrano has had on the mound and where in the zone he’s gotten hit around in the most. Be sure to give it a read.