Well after a bit of a hiatus, a draining offseason, and a hope for the future.. we kick off the 2011 season with optimism for the Fish. It’s their last season in Sun Life Stadium (Dolphins Stadium) and the transition to the Miami Marlins started with a few offseason moves, including spending money. Something we haven’t done since 2005 when we signed Carlos Delgado to a 4 year/$40 million contract.
Dan Uggla traded to the Braves for Omar Infante and Mike Dunn. I hate parting with Uggla and all his power but his money needs were to high rejecting the Marlins 4 year deal for 5 with Atlanta. Infante is another All-star who hit .321 last year and can play 2nd or 3rd. Mike Dunn is a hard throwing lefty (1.89 ERA, 27K in 19 innings) our bullpen could use in the late innings, so all in all the talent we got back is worth it.
Signing John Buck to 3 year/$18 million deal. Marlins made a cash splash starting the offseason by spending money instead of dumping it. Going out and getting a free agent needed to be done to a position that could not stay healthy. Losing John Baker to Tommy John in early May and Ronny Paulino had issues with PEDs and was released in August. Even Baker’s replacement Brett Hayes seperated his shoulder in August thanks to Nyjer Morgan’s tirade, leaving us with a 4th string (Brad Davis) to finish out the year.
Buck’s signing is a major upgrade because of his leadership behind the plate and a veteran presence he can give our staff. Also he was a All-star last year as well as Infante and could put up some numbers similar to Uggla’s.
Cameron Maybin was traded to the Padres for Edward Mujica and Ryan Webb in bullpen reserves. Good move, I was about to give up on Maybin myself with all the injuries but he is still only 23.
Andrew Miller traded to Red Sox for Dustin Richardson. Miller had run out of options and wasn’t going to make the squad, so getting someone is better than nothing in this 2007 trade bust.
Non-roster invitee Dewayne Wise, from the infamous over the wall “Catch” saving the Mark Buehrle prefecto, might wind up as the 4th outfielder.
Chris Coghlan moves from LF to CF (Logan Morrison now owns left). Will it be a hard transition with that knee surgery that ended his season last July? Something tells me no.
The Marlins seem to be closing in on who might make the final roster spots within the week. The rotation should be set by Sunday with a good idea whose staying and whose going. Speaking of the rotation, another key move was made to show the competition is winding down by sending Andrew Miller to AAA New Orleans. The lefty is retooling his delivery again and didn’t have the best outings this spring, so with an option left on his contract the Marlins are using it to promote someone that’s ready. Miller is 1-1 with 8 walks and 2 strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings Grapefruit League games, which shows he has control issues.
Given their experience and tenure with the team I’m going to assume Anibal Sanchez and Chris Volstad get the 3rd & 4th spots in the rotation, respectively. That leaves one spot left with 3 different options including a reborn Padre (Clay Hensley), a Dutchman (Rick VandenHurk), and a former Oriole (Hayden Penn). My money is on Clay Hensley grabbing that 5th spot, having an excellent spring with his 0.00 ERA, what more can you ask for? VandenHurk might benefit from starting out in the bullpen as a long relief/spot starter, which has seemed to help Burke Badenhop (also sporting 0.00 ERA) find his niche. As for Hayden Penn, I can only hope the Marlins release him and not send him down.
The Marlins did make a release of some kind though, cutting ties with Mike MacDougal who was vying for the closer spot on a minor league deal. Leo Nunez will stay in the closer role for Florida and MacDougal has already signed back with the Nationals where he made 20 saves last season. The Marlins also sent down pitchers Chris Leroux and Hunter Jones (from the Hermida trade), as well as outfielder Scott Cousins and catcher Brett Hayes.
The biggest name to be sent down in recent days is Marlins’ top prospect Mike Stanton, who will start the season off in AA Jacksonville. Stanton has pleaded his case to make the team with 3 HR, 8 RBI, and 3 doubles during his eye-opening spring, yet they can’t rush the 20 year old. The Super Two rule is being closely watched now with top prospects getting to the show too soon, so the earliest you could see him is after June 1. If injuries presume in the outfield with Cody Ross and now Brett Carroll with a strained left oblique, you could see Bryan Peterson get some playing time in April before Stanton. Peterson has 1 HR, 5 RBI, with 11 hits so far this spring.
Anyone think the Marlins are gonna make some last minute moves within the final days like Ronny Paulino or Ross Gload of yester-year?