What the Florida Marlins Should Do

Overview

The Marlins are once again pacing for a record around .500 — an impressive feat, given a payroll shy of $50 million. Nevertheless, the Marlins are still in fourth place in the National League East and seem unlikely to make a real run to catch up and sustain the pace being set by Phillies and Braves. They could certainly add someone in a similar capacity to the Nick Johnson trade last deadline, but odds are, they’ll hold steady or even move a part or two.

Buy or Sell?

Sell seems like the better option since the Marlins could cash in on a few pieces getting too expensive. Dan Uggla, Cody Ross, and Ricky Nolasco will enter their final year of team control next season; meanwhile, Jorge Cantu and Wes Helms will become free agents (as will Nate Robertson, but the Marlins are only paying him $400K).

Cantu seems like the most likely to be moved. Gaby Sanchez and Wes Helms make him a bit redundant and he’s not going to bring back Type-A compensation in free agency.

Untouchables on the current roster include Hanley Ramirez, Mike Stanton, Josh Johnson, and Anibal Sanchez given how he’s pitched. Everyone else seems like a potential trade target — especially some of the Marlins’ relievers. Leo Nunez will probably stay in place, although they should listen to offers, but rejuvenation project Clay Hensley could lead to an interesting dilemma when it comes to weighing their confidence in his ability versus the guarantee of a return before a potential collapse.

The rest of the Marlins’ roster is a collection of young players and useful and (more importantly) cheap cogs without the kind of trade value that makes them must-goes.

On The Farm

Here’s where the Marlins shine. They just promoted Stanton, but Logan Morrison seems like the future at first base. 2007’s first-round pick, third baseman Matt Dominguez, is currently in Double-A Jacksonville. Meanwhile Triple-A New Orleans holds the team’s top two outfield prospects in Bryan Peterson and Scott Cousins. New Orleans also features a number of former major leaguers who could step in if the Marlins feel uncomfortable burning service time in a losing effort down the stretch.

As for pitching, the Marlins have a drove. There’s Chad James, Ryan Tucker, Brad Hand, Jhan Martinez, and yes, even old familiar names like Andrew Miller and Brett Sinkbeil – although it’s important to note neither is particularly close to their former prospect selves … Sinkbeil especially, he’s essentially a replacement level reliever at the Triple-A level.

The two spots the Marlins have organizational weakness at are the two that form the middle infield, although one could list catcher depending on their evaluation of Kyle Skipworth.

Budget

Just as Ambrose Bierce once wrote, “War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography”, the trade deadline is baseball’s way of teaching Marlins fans how the economic aspect of player development works. Hate him or … well, just slightly dislike him, Jeffrey Loria sticks to his guns when it comes to spending money. All success is credit to the Marlins’ front office’s creativity and ability to strike gold when they’re paying in tinfoil. Something that doesn’t appear likely to change within the next six months.




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10 Responses to “What the Florida Marlins Should Do”

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  1. OremLK says:

    The trouble I have with each of these articles is that you’re presenting “Buy or Sell” as a binary choice.

    It’s not. Sometimes it’s fine to just keep what you’ve got, and not just if you already have a really good team. There is value in remaining competitive without damaging the farm system.

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  2. Temo says:

    “Nevertheless, the Marlins are still in fourth place in the National League East and seem unlikely to make a real run to catch up and sustain with the Phillies and Braves. ”

    Mets fans everyone are whining as we speak.

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  3. Franco says:

    If anything, I think RJ is a secret Mets fan and thus hates on them. The Phils and Braves are more talented on paper, but a small amount of luck could keep the Mets in the division/Wild Card race.

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    • Kevin S. says:

      Like the Wilpons having brain aneurysms, requiring the immediate sale of the team?

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    • wobatus says:

      Is that the paper where Melky and McLouth are decent outfielders, Chipper isn’t showing some age, Jurrjens is healthy, Kawakami can win a game, Lowe is earning his pay and Escobar isn’t playing like utter crap?

      Wait, I haven’t done the Phils yet. That must be the funny pages where the Mets aren’t out-WARring the Phils at every position except rf and 2b. Where Joe Blanton isn’t still starting and Ollie Perez still is.

      Just kidding around Franco. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that Ike can keep topping Howard. But it does happen that for now, statistically, the Mets have outperformed at C, 1b, ss, 3b, lf, cf. And when Beltran comes back, if the Mets play it right and platoon Pagan in rf, they’ll match up there as well (check out Frenchy’s wOBA vs. lefties and Pagan’s versus righties). Now if Ollie and Maine will just stay hurt, and Dickey (and Tak) can keep it up.

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  4. Sandy Kazmir says:

    I could see a lot of these looking at it from the low-payroll perspective of being conservative, keeping the prospects, building for the future. In most cases that’s a pretty good move and takes a lot of guts to make the right long-term move and saying, “Trust the process here, we’ll be better tomorrow for it.” In some instances, though, going for it can be the right move.

    I’ve enjoyed this series so far, but part of me would love to see both sides presented, including what a team would have to give up to acquire guys that other teams might be looking to move. For instance, everyone wants a guy like Adrian Gonzalez, but many fans over-rate their own prospects, and take a biased point of view when it comes to rosterbation. It would be interesting, and sobering, to hear your guys point of view on some of these fringe teams that could go either way.

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    • wobatus says:

      Yeah, in 1997 and 2003 it looks like going for it was a good move. Some teams have won zilch since then and are in no better shape than the Marlins to show for it.

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  5. Lance W says:

    Why would Chris Coghlan be a trade chip and not the second baseman if Uggla were traded?

    Of course, this may be a question for Fredi Gonzalez, who thinks that Uggla is the better second baseman of the two (he told me so), but yeah. I don’t get why Coghlan would be available. Nolasco too, but to a lesser extent, although he probably doesn’t have a ton of value at the moment. Other than that, this sounds pretty agreeable.

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  6. Paul says:

    Surprised there is no mention of Cameron Maybin here. Sort of the elephant in the room that must be part of either scenario, yes?

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