Saturday, November 15, 2014

Stanton & A-Rod?

    OK, maybe I'm a guy whose glass is half full -- or less than half-full --  but let me offering some sobering thoughts about the prospect of signing Stanton to a long-term contract.
    Basically, I'm thinking of the Texas Rangers signing A-Rod. In 2000, the Rangers had fallen to last place. They attempted to revive themselves in one huge move by signing Alex Rodriguez to a 10-year deal worth $252 million -- $63 million more than the second-richest deal, according to Wikipedia.
    I know, I know -- Stanton is not A-Rod. But still ...
    Look at the numbers. The Rangers made a big splash with A-Rod but  nine players are required to play the game (well, 10 in the AL). A-Rod put up huge numbers in 2001, 2002 and 2003 -- 52, 57 and 42 HR, batting averages of .318, .300 and .298. In 2003, he lead the league in home runs, runs scored and slugging percentage.
    Guess what? The Rangers finished in last place each of those four years. Realizing that the deal wasn't working, Texas traded him to the Yankees (though they still own A-Rod a ton of money in a deferred compensation deal).
    If ... if the Marlins can't afford all the championship components to go along with Stanton (and these young stars are going to be getting increased amounts through arbitration, if nothing else, in the years ahead), then I worry the Marlins may end up with a super-star surrounded by a cast that doesn't measure up. And that's assuming that Stanton bounces back from his beaning.
    Anyway, I hope I'm wrong, for I love the idea of having stars that don't disappear as soon as free agency looms. And a long-term Stanton definitely helps attendance.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Andrew Miller facing Miggy (?!)

     When Andrew Miller came in for the Orioles on Thursday night to face Miggy, my mind, well, boggled. ... I'd lost track of Andrew Miller, frankly, and there he was, his tall lanky self, with the announcers crowing about what a great pickup he had been for the Orioles from the Red Sox and how he had become a great fixture of the super Orioles bullpen.
     Miller, one of the Tiger prospects in the Miggy trade that will live in infamy, was a bust as a Marlin. And what did we get for him when we finally traded him away in 2010? I had to look it up: Dustin Richardson, another complete bust, put on waviers the following year. Zero benefit there.
    Maybe it's just my gloomy imagination, but it seems like a lot of folks seem to improve when they no longer have a Marlins uniform on. Here's what the Marlins got for some other players who are in the playoffs this year:
     Jason Vargas -- six solid innings in a quality start for the Royals Thursday night. The Marlins traded him in the Mets on November 20, 2006 for Matt Lindstrom (who?) and Henry Owens (who?).
     Omar Infante -- solid 2B for the Royals. Traded by the Marlins to the Tigers July 23, 2012 for Rob Brantly (two mediocre years with Marlins, spent all of 2014 in AAA), Brian Flynn (25 innings with Marlins over past two years, ERA 8.64) and Jacob Turner (4-7 with a 5.97 ERA in 2014 before being dumped to Cubs). Tigers complained that this was such a bad deal for them that they insisted we also throw in Anibal Sanchez. And of course we did.
    Alejandro de Aza -- My buddy Orlando used to call him Mr. March or "Milk Carton" because he used to have great spring trainings, then vanish for the year with this or that injuries. Now starting outfielder for the Orioles. The White Sox claimed him on waivers in 2009 -- so the Marlins got nothing for him.
    Josh Willingham -- reserve outfielder for the Royals after some solid years with Minnesota and Washington. Traded by the Marlins (with Scott Olsen) in 2008 for P.J. Dean (who?), Emilio Bonifacio (always a disaster in my opinion) and Jake Smolinski (who?).
    And lest we forget ...
    Miguel Cabrera -- top hitter in the ML (BA, HR, RBI, etc) since the Marlins traded him to Detroit. Just to pick at the scab once again, we got in return Andrew Miller (see above), Dallas Trahern (dumped by Marlins without getting any compensation), Mike Rabelo (dumped), Eulogio De La Cruz (dumped), Burke Badenhop (traded in 2011 to Tampa Bay for Jake Jefferies, who seems to have been out of baseball this year), and Cameron Maybin (traded in 2010 to Padres for Edward Mujica and Ryan Webb.  Mujica, who showed considerable promise, was dumped to the Cards for Zack Cox, .282 with eight HR in AAA this year, and Ryan Webb, released 2013 and signed by ... the Orioles).
    So the Tigers got Miggy, and we have ended up with a AAA third baseman.
    Meanwhile, the Tigers saw something in J.D. Martinez, born in Miami, schooled in Broward. When he was released in March by the Astros after a mediocre performance, the Tigers picked him up and he had a super year ... and where were the Marlins?

Monday, September 29, 2014

2014 Looking Back

Summary -- All we need is a catcher, first baseman, second baseman and third baseman and we've got a chance for the playoffs next year.

    Let me start by saying that I (and folks like me) are one reason why the Marlins are cheapskates when it comes to spending money on ballplayers.
    A lot of us don't like to spend money on the Marlins. This year, I attended 11 games (seeing nine wins, two losses), and to do this I spent a mere $10 on average per game. Four games I attended for free (three as an old fart on free senior Thursdays and one on a free group ticket a buddy got). Another game I got in for $8 -- a fellow had a bunch of Chevron deals.
    Compare that with five out-of-town ballparks I visited -- San Francisco, Oakland, St. Louis, Kansas City, Atlanta -- where I paid an average of $31 a ticket, topped by $49 to see the Cards, a team that sells out often as it draws fans from hundreds of miles around. (Which comes first? Chicken or egg? Great attendance/teams consistently in the playoffs.)
    The upshot is that not only do the Marlins have poor attendance (1.7 million for 2014, according to Baseball, ahead of only the White Sox, Rays and Indians), but they don't get much income from those tickets they do sell.
    That's why (according to ESPN) the Marlins paid a mere $46.4 million in salaries. Only the Astros were lower.
    Now, having said that, let me look at the 2014 team, which did an astonishing job considering they lost their star pitcher in mid-season and their star hitter with several weeks left -- 15 wins better than last year and out of last place for the first time since 2010. They were a lot more fun to watch, compared to last year's stultifying 100-loss season.

Read more here:

    This team prospered because of the young outfielders and the bullpen, but it's a long way from a playoff contention.
    1 -- Salty -- our catcher was paid $6 million this year, $7 million next year, $8 million in 2016, according to For this we got .220 batting average, .362 slugging and pretty poor defense. This guy doesn't get us to the playoffs. I'm hoping Realmuto develops quickly.
    2 -- Heath Bell -- our poorest performer. Well, actually, he's long gone, but he continued to cost $4 million this year -- third highest salary on the team.
    3 -- Furcal -- $3.5 million for nothing. Maybe it was worth a shot, but it certainly didn't work out.
    4 -- McGehee -- .287 BA and led the team in hits. Probably better than we might have expected,  and cheap at $1.1 million. BUT ... he's our third baseman and cleanup hitter, had only four HR and .357 slugging. Marlins need  lot more power out of this position to get to playoffs.
    5 -- Jones -- 13 errors at first base (Salty had 15 btw). Batting .246 with 15 HR and slugging of .411. There are not championship numbers. He cost $2.7 million this year, $5 million next year. Does that make him the next Heath Bell?

Well, I haven't tackled starting pitching, but we'll just go with this. I think Yogi said it: "You can't have too much pitching."

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Rays of hope in 2014

          Well, here we are nearing the end of 2014. The Marlins have lost their star pitcher, and still they are battling. They are on this Saturday morning, Aug. 23, a mere (?!) four games out of a wild card spot. The playoffs remain a distant, shimmering dream, but still, as they start a crucial road trip, a fan can still have some interest.
          What's happened? Stanton is having a great season, of course, but there's more. Yelich, 22,  and Ozuna, 23, keep improving.  So does Adeiny.  I think that's the key. Salty ($6 million), Jones ($2.7 million) and McGehee ($1.1 million) have been improvements but they don't win a World Series. McGehee in particular seems to be reverting lately to his standard career stats, but it's interesting that he does well RISP and also hits into a ton of double plays -- indications that a lot of batters are getting on base before him.
    What's more, the Marlins are doing all this even though their 2B hope, Furcal ($3.5 million), has been a bust, and they're still paying $4 million this year, according to some websites, to support Bell.
    As of today, the Marlins are 6th in NL in runs scored (after being a miserable last most of last year), 5th in on-base percentage, 4th in walks and tied for 8th in home runs (while playing in a cavernous park). They're certainly NOT doing it with speed (14th in NL in stolen bases) or fielding (12th in NL in fielding percentage). Their pitchers are also 12th in ERA. 
    Next year, if Fernandez returns, if they keep Stanton, if they get a couple more pitchers, if ... if ... well, at least we're back to thinking of ifs -- a great improvement after last year's stultifying performance.