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?
So Before the full squad workouts start for Spring Training, I’m gonna take a stab at Opening Day’s lineup and rotation (hoping against injury)…
1.) Chris Coghlan – LF
2.) Cameron Maybin – CF
3.) Hanley Ramirez – SS
4.) Jorge Cantu – 3B
5.) Dan Uggla – 2B
6.) John Baker – C
7.) Cody Ross- RF
8.) Logan Morrison -1B
9.) Josh Johnson – P
1.) Josh Johnson – RHP
2.) Ricky Nolasco – RHP
3.) Chris Volstad – RHP
4.) Sean West – LHP
5.) Anibal Sanchez – RHP
Closer.) Leo Nunez – RHP
The time is finally here for all baseball maniacs to get excited, as pitchers and catchers are reporting to Spring Training all this week. And for a team that hasn’t made many off-season acquisitions, it’s not surprising the Marlins picked up another piece for their bullpen before everyone starts working out. Of course the big money went to 9 arbitration eligible players (Cody Ross just won his case for $4.45 million), so the Marlins are still being thrifty about who they want to bring into camp.
Former All-Star Mike MacDougal has been given a minor league contract with a Spring Training invite by the Marlins. The deal is worth $700K if he makes the big league roster, including $75K in performance bonuses. Without any major league deals outside the organization, MacDougal was offered the 2nd highest amount of money this off-season on a minor league contract (Seth McClung gets $800K for making the team).
Pitching most of his career in the AL with the Royals and White Sox, MacDougal was very hit or miss. In 2003 he reached All-Star status grabbing 27 saves for Kansas City and 21 more in 2005, but was eventually traded to Chicago mid-2006. By 2009 he had a 12.46 ERA after 5 games and was released by the White Sox, eventually getting scooped up by the Nationals in mid June. The switch to the NL was just what the reliever needed, as most pitchers perform better within the land of no DH. MacDougal was thrown into the closer role in Washington after they ran out of options (trading Joel Hanrahan to Pittsburgh and Joe Beimel to Colorado). He then converted 20 of 21 save opportunities with a 3.60 ERA on a last place team.
Having already hired Randy St. Claire as the new pitching coach (Washington pitching coach ’03-’09), the decision to bring MacDougal aboard makes total sense. He has experience closing games if everything doesn’t work out with Leo Nunez in that role. Hopefully changes don’t need to be made and these newly acquired relievers like MacDougal, Derrick Turnbow, and Seth McClung will be signed and help bolster our bullpen.
Also, the Marlins are inviting some position players to camp hoping to fill that lefty off the bench role. It’s not anyone like my suggestion of Hank Blalock (although keep your eyes on him), but names you might not of heard from in a while.
Mike Lamb was invited to camp, who you might remember from his Houston Astros days when he averaged 12 HR/60 RBI from ’04-’07. He last played in the majors in 2008 splitting time between Minnesota and Milwaukee for their playoff push. Lamb signed with the Mets last season but never got the call back up to the big leagues. For all the injuries the Mets had through out the year they should’ve taken a chance on him since he plays 1B/3B/OF.
Jason Lane is another former Astros outfielder trying to re-emerge from the trenches. He last played in 2007 for Houston, then was given to San Diego as part of a conditional deal playing in only 3 games the rest of the year. Since then he signed with the Yankees and Boston in 2008, as well as Toronto in 2009 with no luck of a roster spot.
The Marlins aren’t just giving away bench positions though, so it should be a tight race between the veterans. If none of them work out, I can see a trade during Spring Training to bring in some talent.
Nearing the deadline for arbitration figures, the news keeps rolling in that the Marlins are getting things done. Leo Nunez will earn $2 million in his first year of arbitration, being the logical choice to closing games in 2010. Nunez had 26 saves out of 33 opportunities last season after Matt Lindstrom got injured, and secured the closer position the rest of the way.
Also, Jorge Cantu signed his name on the dotted line for a $6 million contract minutes before the deadline this afternoon. Cantu is a very important piece to this lineup sitting in the clean-up spot, and his 42 doubles and 100 RBI prove it. Yes, his HRs were down from 29 (2008) to 16 (2009), but he had 8 HR in the first month of games last year. Battling through injuries and loopiness from his cholesterol medication to still play 149 games (batting .289) is hard to accomplish for any major league player.
Lastly, the only player to not reach an agreement with the team is Cody Ross. He will be going to a hearing sometime in February, as the Marlins team policy is to not negotiate after the deadline has passed. Cody earned $2.225 million last season and with his career he plans on cashing in like Dan Uggla did in 2008. Another 24 HR/ 90 RBI won’t be missing from the lineup, as I’m sure he’ll get signed. He’s a fan favorite that plays all outfield positions and only 4 total errors in the past 2 seasons.