With the MLB July 31st Trade Deadline approaching, and the Marlins pretty much not a playoff contender unless major developments occur, it’s time to start thinking about the deadline and beyond.
Even though the Marlins aren’t a legitimate contender, they aren’t in rebuilding mode either as they are a few steps ahead of that process. They have pieces in place that can put them in the postseason in the very near future. That is if they get the right pieces in place to complement them. They also have some pieces that they are probably better off in parting ways with. Essentially, they are a middle of the pack team, in a tough division, ready to move forward in their rise.
When looking at the pieces to part ways with, we can look at the likes of Omar Infante, Greg Dobbs, and maybe Leo Nunez. The Marlins maybe should also see what type of return they can get for Randy Choate, Javier Vazquez, Wes Helms, and even the recently added Mike Cameron.
The problem is that none of these pieces will bring forth a major return. However, any minimal return to add young organizational depth could be of use and certainly couldn’t hurt. It also could be a plus if the Marlins can pull off another acquisition of a “diamond in the rough” type of player, like they are known for doing.
Additionally, through subtracting pieces such as these, it also opens the door to see what certain players in this organization can do. For example, with Emilio Bonifacio’s rise under Jack McKeon, it would be a great idea to clear 2B by dealing Infante and have Bonifacio play there for the rest of the season to see if he can be the everyday second baseman for next year and beyond. With that, it also opens the door to take a good look at Matt Dominguez at 3B and get him some MLB at-bats. If these two work out, it fills two positional needs before we enter the offseason. Bonifacio also would fill the need for a “true leadoff hitter” in the lineup. If these guys don’t work out, the Marlins cannot go into the new stadium with filler pieces like they did at 3B this year with Dobbs, Helms, and Donnie Murphy. They will need to look around and get something done at these two positions, even if it’s just to bridge the gap to bigger and better things. They need productive players at these positions in 2012.
In the lineup and defense, we also need a long-term CF and another left-handed bat with additional offensive skills somewhere. Now there are many Marlins fans that love Chris Coghlan and feel that he’s that guy, but we need to be honest with ourselves. He has now been injured two straight years and he isn’t a true CF. If there are any doubts, just consider the work that Mike Cameron is putting in out there. It’s head-and-shoulders better than Coghlan’s work. Offensively, even at his best, Coghlan doesn’t offer any “playmaker” abilities other than hitting well as the season moves forward. He isn’t anything special in speed and isn’t much with the power. He can be replaced or moved to a bench role. Just consider if the Marlins moved forward and maybe added just an Angel Pagan or similar type of player in the offseason. They may even want to consider adding another low-risk/high-reward type of player like Grady Sizmore who will almost certainly be available at a bargain. Players like either of these could make a huge difference from anything that Coghlan can do because they have skills that he doesn’t. If things fall into place with getting a player like either of these, and Bonifacio proves to be the real deal (finally), imagine a top of the order of Emilio and a Pagan type setting the table for LoMo, Hanley, Gaby, and Stanton; Or a motivated and healthy Sizemore batting lower in that lineup with maybe Hanley in the 2-hole. Besides, as mentioned, we can keep Coghlan still and find a fit on the bench. If not, we can still use him as a trade chip for another need. The Marlins would be vastly better if they moved in this direction.
In the pitching department, there are nice pieces in place, but important work is still needed.
First, with the starters, the Marlins need to determine whether they can trust that Josh Johnson can stay healthy and can Ricky Nolasco stay consistent. They also need to add some balance to their starting staff with a pair of left-handed starters. In my honest opinion, I don’t think that there can be any trust in JJ’s health or Nolasco being consistent. Therefore, to address this along with the need for left-handed pitching, the Marlins need to get a front-line starter that is left-handed. This may require looking everywhere and willing to trade Nolasco or Anibal Sanchez depending which of the two get the deal done. The only problem is where to find one that is available. That’s why Larry Beinfest gets the big bucks. Doing this would fill the need and not have a JJ trip to the DL hurt as severely as it does now.
With the bullpen, it is simple. In my opinion, the Marlins have nice pieces throughout. The problem is at the backend when it’s time to close the game. As talented as Leo Nunez is, he is not a closer. He lacks the mental toughness as seen in the concern or borderline fear in his eyes when he stands on the mound. He’d make a great set-up guy, but not a closer. Thus, the Marlins need to prepare to add a legitimate one. The question is whether it makes sense to keep Nunez for now and eventually pay him a lot of money to be a poor closer or an excellent set up guy. It is probably safe to say that he isn’t worth it in either role. That would make it doubtful that the Marlins would see him as worth it either. He’s only worth trading at some point. For a replacement, we need to start auditioning the guys we have now to see if we have the solution already here. If not, time to start considering what is available in trades or start thinking about setting money toward a free agent.
As a whole for the arms in our organization now, or anything that can be added through trades, if they can throw and are MLB-ready, put them out there and see what they can do. It isn’t going to hurt us this year and should help us beyond this year.
Once we have figured out everything, let’s get out there and add what is needed. The Free Agent market isn’t compatible with what the Marlins can do and need, so the small needs can be filled there, but the larger needs will have to be filled via offseason trades. However, we can’t get anything started until we know what we need for next year. It’s time to get things moving.