Blogging the Offseason: Florida Marlins

Friday, December 18, 2009

Blogging the Offseason is a 30 team series in which I ask a blogging representative from each MLB team a series of ten questions about their desires and thoughts surrounding the offseason. Check out all of them here.

And now time for our final edition of Blogging the Offseason. Up today isthe Florida Marlins and our guest is Michael Jong from the Marlins Blog, Marlins Maniac.

1. This answer is probably obvious but... any chance the Marlins go out and bring a big free agent? Or will all their signings be roster fillers?
That's an emphatic "no" on the big free agents question. However, in terms of filler, the Marlins are always out to look for new blood for the bullpen and on the bench, and they usually do this by checking out the talent available at the league minimum. Usually, the Marlins scour non-tendered players in order to find bodies to fill these less important roles, but this season I have been recommending the team look at a $2M or so investment on a player who could platoon in the outfield. Given the propensity of such players in this offseason, it may be possible a little later into the free agent period.

2. You've got some key players who are arbitration eligible this season (Johnson, Lindstrom, Nunez, Uggla, Nolasco), will they attempt to sign any to a long term deal? Will they try to package any in a trade to "get younger"?
Since you asked, obviously Matt Lindstrom has been dealt for some marginal players. The team has different ideas on each of the players listed. For Josh Johnson, the goal was to get him signed to an extension; unfortunately, talks have stalled on this regard due to either side not being willing to budge on their current stances. Dan Uggla will be dealt, in part because he will be too expensive to retain this season and next. The remaining players the Marlins will likely see as year-to-year candidates. Ricky Nolasco just signed a one-year deal, and it appears the Marlins will be willing to go year-to-year with him. This way, the team doesn't have to build in long-term commitments and still retains talent on a budget.

3. Cameron Maybin was supposed to be your centerfielder and leadoff man last year. That didn't quite work out given he had like 5 hits in April. What do you expect from him this season?
Cameron Maybin is expected to be the team's starting center fielder this season. As you noted, he did not start 2009 very well, though he was about as bad as Emilio Bonifacio, another young Marlin whom the team did not displace from the lineup until the trade deadline. After playing well in Triple-A New Orleans, Maybin received a customary September call-up and tore up major league pitching, bringing his season line to a reasonable level (0.6 WAR despite that terrible start and including his decent defense). For me, I expect a decent season from Maybin. I think he'll be worth a little more than a win to the team, combining some below average offense (a bit better than what we saw from the full 2009 season) and average center field defense. If we get that, I would be happy; any more, and it's gravy. If Maybin is an average player next year, the Marlins should be ecstatic.

4. Simple question, your closer in 2010 will be whom?
The closer for this season will be Leo Nunez. The team has seemingly appointed him despite his struggles with the home run last year. The homers were a little fluky, but even regressing the numbers will not make Nunez look all that great. The truth of the matter is that he isn't a good pitcher.

5. If I say to you that you have no choice but to trade Hanley Ramirez and that I'm locking you, your owner and your gm in a room until it gets done. What would you need to get in return to actually be happy the deal was done?
Trading Hanley Ramirez and getting an acceptable return seems almost impossible. If you buy that he's a 6-win player over the next five years, you'd be hard-pressed to come up with a team's farm system that could replace all that value. Even in his last season in the extension he signed in 2008, he would be paid maybe around $10M less than he would be worth in the free agent market. The return would likely have to be something like Justin Smoak, Elvis Andrus, and maybe even Derek Holland, and still I wouldn't be particularly happy with the deal. That's the caliber of deal I would expect back.

6. As a Marlin fan are you A) Proud of your management team given they keep giving you a competetive team despite payroll limitations or B) Annoyed that they have such payroll limitations and can't augment their tremendous prospects with a key free agent here and there?
I am a little bit of both. Despite my distaste for the way the Marlins sometimes make their moves, I have been very proud to be a fan of a franchise that does an amazing job finding talent. They have parlayed one fire sale (1998) into eight years of productive baseball given their payroll limitations. At the same time, I am very critical of the team's ownership in the way they have jerked around the franchise and its fan base with the threats of relocation and the demands for a publicly funded stadium. These things have all been an attempt to justify a low payroll despite adequate income from revenue sharing and other central MLB services. I don't know the finances, but I do know that if you do not spend, the fans won't spend either. I don't know that the fans would spend if the team does, but the alternative definitely would not bring people into the stands. So the short of it is a bit of both.

7. You've gassed your owner and convinced him to spend like the Yankees, which three free agents are you bringing to South Beach?
This year's free agent class is weak, so maybe this season is not the time to spend. The Marlins have weaknesses at third base, corner outfield, and perhaps in pitching. Matt Holliday is a clear choice, as he is the best free agent available. The money he wants may not be suitable, but a five-year deal would suffice. Adrian Beltre is nice choice for third base, and he would likely make decent money here if we could spend like the Yankees. I do not even know if there is a third free agent of interest available any longer, so I'd say we should save that money.

8. Which Marlins prospect are you most looking forward to in 2010?
For 2010, I think the big name on every fan's mind is Gaby Sanchez. With openings clearing up at first/third base, I think the fans know Gaby is in line to inherit one of the positions. He is a bit old to still be a "prospect," but he has not played a lot in the bigs. Two years ago, he won a Double-A Southern League MVP, and he continued to hit well in Triple-A this year. The team has held off bringing him up for too long, and I think it's time everyone got to see how well he could play with ample playing time. He has his problems, particularly a lack of offensive pop for his side of the defensive spectrum, but the team won't know for sure unless they try.

9. I'm giving you the option to cut players without any salary repercussions, is there a single Marlin you would part way with?
Part of the good of having a team with limited financial allowance is that the team can't sign really bad contracts. That being said, I think I would cut ties with Wes Helms, who is the highest paid Marlin acquired through free agency. He's a bench player making a little less than $1M for providing "veteran leadership" and backing up third base. I don't think he's worth his weight.

10. Final Question, you've got a crystal ball, the Marlins win the NL East in _______.
The Marlins will win the NL East in 2012, the very first season of the new ballpark. By then, Mike Stanton and Logan Morrison will be established, Ramirez will be a perennial MVP candidate, Johnson will be locked in long-term, and the team will have a stable nucleus around which to build. The alternative answer is not for a while, because our owner still won't spend and our management still can't find a way to efficiently allocate free agent funds.

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