Welcome to the MLB Offseason Preview! Click the images for links to useful information regarding each graphic. Confused by the rankings? Click here for an explanation as to how they were sorted.
It’s never good when your owner is a well known part of your franchise, and unfortunately for Marlins fans (if they even exist), we know exactly who Jeffrey Loria is. It disgusts me that he is tarnishing the name we share, and I demand that he start acting competent. But that isn’t going to happen, and hey, maybe that’s not such a bad thing. You know, for entertainment purposes. Oh, you thought I meant for the Marlins? Oh no. Oh no no no, that’s terrible news for the Marlins.
Whereas the Astros are terrible by design, the Marlins are terrible thanks to a design that failed. After splurging in free agency, opening a new ballpark, and finishing in last place in their division with a 69-93 record, the Marlins traded pretty much every player making more than the minimum to Toronto, Arizona, and Los Angeles. There are some bright spots on this team, but it’s far from a playoff spot thanks to some sizable holes littered throughout the roster.
The Marlins weren’t very active in the free agent market just a year after nearly spending all of the moneys, signing Heath Bell, Jose Reyes, and Mark Buehrle to multi-year deals. Instead, in 2013 they got Juan Pierre, Placido Polanco, and Jon Rauch. Those inspired signings failed to do anything beyond putting a warm body on the field (forgoing the opportunity to have a “Double Header at Bernie’s” night were a dead man plays third base), so the Marlins won’t really lose anything from their current roster. I guess the only real loss for the Marlins is Ricky Nolasco, who is an up and down pitcher who at least provided solid innings for the team.
Things are starting to get a little pricey for the Marlins, as Giancarlo Stanton, Logan Morrison, and Steve Cishek are all hitting arbitration at the same time as three of their other teammates. This usually means the Marlins are about to make some trades, but with so little invested in their players long term, the Marlins can feel free to spend some money on extensions. That won’t be easy given the mess that is the Marlins, and no one appears to mirror that sentiment more than right fielder Giancarlo Stanton. The odds of him signing an extension are extremely low, since they basically made a trade that was the polar opposite of The Decision. Can’t you just see the pep rally where the Marlins’ announcer says, “Number three, at shortstop thanks to the Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes trades, Adieeeeeeeeeeeennnnnnnyyyyyyyyy Hech-iaaaaavariaaaaaaaaaa!!!!”
Look at that top three! It’s always great when you can get your outfield to be a legitimate top three in your line up. The problem for the Marlins, unfortunately, is that their infield is absolutely awful. It’s the worst infield in the major leagues and it’s not even close. They have automatic outs at second, short, and catcher and a hole at third. I liked Morrison a couple years ago, but now I don’t know if he’ll ever hit enough to be a real factor, especially given his awful defense. It’s really, really bad. The Astros’ infield is probably twice as good as this Marlins infield, and I think that says it all.
The Marlins’ rotation is actually respectable. This team does have talent on it, but unlike that great outfield, the rotation has a lot of 4 and 5 starters and not much to speak of at the top of the rotation aside from Jose Fernandez, who is amazing. A 2.19 ERA and a sub-1.00 WHIP make him the best young pitcher in baseball who also happens to be one of the youngest players, too. I have concerns with Turner, a product of the Tigers’ farm system shipped over in the Anibal Sanchez trade, and think a lot of the hype behind him came in his age-to-league comparison. I’m just not sure he’ll ever be anything but a fourth starter, but I could certainly be wrong. Eovaldi and Alvarez are fine, but nothing special, and Koehler should be competing for a starting job next season. Cishek should be traded this off season for infield help, but that won’t happen because for some reason no one learned anything from Moneyball, the Kansas City Royals and Joakim Soria, or every single season of the one-inning closer era.
If you are a small market team, it really helps when your top prospect comes the major leagues as a 20-year-old and shoves it for 5 1/2 months, which is exactly what Fernandez did. Christian Yelich is a legitimate two hitter in a line up right now and has yet to truly tap into his power. Marisnick could be a Starling Marte type in center for the Marlins, giving them one of the top outfields in baseball as long as Stanton is still there. Nicolino and Heaney are a couple of nice arms for the team to surround Fernandez with, although Nicolino struggled a bit last season. Third baseman Colin Moran is a much needed upgrade that should get to the majors by the end of 2015 for a team whose infield is absolutely horrendous. Moran was seen as a possible first overall pick, partially due to his age-to-league comparison and his excellent performance in college.
The Marlins badly need to upgrade their infield and unfortunately, they’ll need to do it at the expense of their outfield. Stanton clearly doesn’t want to stay in Miami longer than he has to, so you might as well get as much value as possible. While this trade doesn’t have the splashy prospect that one would typically get back in such a trade, the Marlins will get four pieces ready to contribute right now with little to no service time. The close gigantic holes at shortstop and third base while Skaggs can fall behind Fernandez in the rotation. This trade probably wouldn’t happen because the Marlins would want Archie Bradley over Skaggs, but it’s not a bad trade regardless.
RHP Dan Haren (1/$5 million)
It’s hard to say what the market is going to be for Haren next season, but the Marlins should be able to sign him for a reasonable amount of money if no one goes crazy and gives Haren a multi-year deal. Given the Marlins gigantic home ballpark, Haren’s issues with home runs should be diminished and increase his value for a trade. As long as he’s willing to sign, Haren would be a nice addition to the team.
The reason the Marlins are the 30th team on this list is a combination of a few things: a bad roster, the team’s unwillingness to spend money on players, and a meddling owner. Those last two are on Jeffrey Loria, who has blown up three different Marlins teams now. At least the first two times were after winning World Series.
Loria is the biggest problem for an organization that is unreliable because the guy at the top gets in the way. It’s not just selling off the team, but other things. Things like deciding who is pitching, promotions and demotions of players, and firing managers like fry cooks. Loria is now effectively the general manager, and even the players know it, and they are scared. Oh, and Loria fired his long-time general manager. It’s that bad in Miami right now.
Jeffrey Loria will meddle with the team and it will be a huge story.
Loria is on the radar now. When he was blowing up World Series winning teams, Loria was just cheap. Now he’s cheap and meddlesome. I don’t know what he is going to do, but he will eventually make a move that becomes a national news story that gets talked about a lot more than any of those previously mentioned stories. I don’t know if it will actually put Loria’s status as owner in jeopardy, but something is going to happen. It’s inevitable at this point.
Sum it Up with a GIF (from The Big Lead)
Two Marlins, One Base
This gif says it perfectly. It’s just mass confusion in Miami, and we have no idea who’s in control of the team from a baseball operations side. Will new GM Michael Hill have any power in his role, or is he just going to run the team and hand in his moves to Loria so he can make a final decision? This team has talent, and more is on the way, but the owner situation is a disaster waiting to happen. Loria has never spent money (for more than one season) and is screwing with the team now. Nothing good is coming for this team if things don’t change.