Remember going to card shows and each person’s station had larger packs of cards wrapped in paper bags? They usually contained a bunch of cards with mediocre players or the vendor already had 4 copies of it. You would also get a chance for insert cards once in a while, but most likely got to pick out 5 more grab bags than receiving any card with significant value. The Marlins are selecting those grab bag-esque players, hoping for a raise in value over the next year. Most of the players aren’t the most recognizable names, yet some carry a reputation that needs rebuilding or even a foundation.
The Marlins lineup is only looking for a few pieces to fill up their returning cast. These low-risk/high reward players are a perfect fit to sprinkle in some bullpen help as well as bats off the bench. Players like Derrick Turnbow, Seth McClung, Jose Veras already have big league experience with speculation of improving the team along with themselves in a new environment. Kiko Calero was last year’s example of bullpen help resurrecting a career and adding value with his 1.95 ERA in 67 games (1 HR allowed). As expected, he jumped back onto the market for more dollars and had to be replaced.
Another puzzle piece that needs to be added before Opening Day will be a left-handed pinch hitter that can take over in the late innings. Wes Helms secures the right-handed bench role and still works 3B/1B very well. Ross Gload was last year’s lefty who could play 1B/OF and led the league in pinch hits with 36, although he signed with Philly this off-season after the Marlins declined his $2.6 million offer. Russell Branyan was a name popping up recently that sounded intriguing with his 31 HR in 2009, but ultimately was diminished without an offer being made.
So who would be a good option for a veteran lefty off the bench? A lot of names are disappearing by the day as were days away from pitchers and catchers reporting. Names like Adam Kennedy, Chad Tracy, Frank Catalanotto are gone; Jim Edmonds came back after a year so how about Geoff Jenkins or Cliff Floyd? The list is small on players who won’t cost much, but as it gets closer to Spring Training the prices will come down if they are desperate for a job somewhere.
Try this name on for size, Hank Blalock. He’s a 2 time All-Star that has yet to find a team willing to take a chance on a 1B/3B/DH averaging 27 HR/95 RBI a season and is only 28 years old. His batting avg dropped in 2009 to .234 but raised all other stats after 2 down years in Texas. The National League may be a good move for him, as he’s already used to the heat and needs to find a job. Who else could the Marlins pull out of the grab bag to fill this bench role?
Announcing it’s about time wouldn’t be appropriate because patience is half of what being a Marlins fan is all about. Having said that, “It’s about time we made a move!” (Thanks Curb). Less than a month before pitchers and catchers report, the Marlins make the first meaningful move outside of the organization by bringing in some major league experience.
The Fish signed Derrick Turnbow to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training. He will earn $600K if he makes the team roster this April. People mostly remember Turnbow as the closer for the Milwaukee Brewers throwing 39 saves, 7-1 with 1.74 ERA in 2005. Earning his 2006 All-Star appearance he claimed 24 saves, but dropped to 4-9 and 6.87 ERA by season end losing his fireman role.
Well if your looking for resurrection, South Florida is the perfect fit for a former reliever that hasn’t pitched since 2008. A slew of veteran bullpen pitchers seeking that second chance have ended up in Miami and thrived, giving their careers a bounce. Derrick Turnbow is the next in line to follow the molds set by Armando Benitez, Brendan Donnelly, Joe Borowski, Kiko Calero (still available), Joe Nelson and Todd Jones. Turnbow pretty much quit baseball last May after 8 games at Texas AAA (Oklahoma City), putting the ball down altogether to figure things out. Recently though he worked out for a dozen teams and showed he still can throw 95mph with a “slick” slider.
Should be a win-win situation for both parties concerned. Turnbow might be slotted as an 8th inning man at the moment, but if Leo Nunez can’t handle the role of closer don’t be surprised if Derrick gets the call. He’s got experience and can lead the way for most of the bullpen probably showing them a thing or two along the way.
If that wasn’t enough, the Marlins also signed RHP Jose Veras and INF Danny Richar to minor league contracts with spring invites. Veras has played with the Yankees since 2006 until he was traded to Cleveland last season, posting a career 9-6 with 4.42 ERA in 128 innings. Richar spent time with the White Sox and Reds the past 3 years sparingly, but plays all over the infield.