After the continued struggles of the Marlins, it didn’t take much genius to figure out that they would be sellers at both trade deadlines this year. As a quick review of things, this message was sent out early before the July 31st deadline as the Marlins started making deals that eventually led to them trading away Anibal Sanchez, Omar Infante, Gaby Sanchez, Randy Choate, Edward Mujica, and former franchise player, Hanley Ramirez. It was clear that the Marlins would be starting a new era or, in the very least, be trying to go for a “do-over” this offseason. The Marlins accomplished two things – they added young pieces for the future and they cleared some salary. However, as they approach the August 31st deadline, the Marlins are not done. At least, in this writer’s opinion, they shouldn’t be. While I won’t be an advocate for surrendering to the temptation of cleaning house due to the great disappointment that this team has been this season, I will say that there are a couple of pieces still on this roster that this team will benefit from parting ways with.
First, whenever a Marlins fan smells the stench of bad fish or a bad pitching outing, without seeing the game, that fan can almost be certain that Ricky Nolasco was on the mound. Nolasco needs to be traded yesterday. In fact, he needed to be the pitcher that was traded to the Tigers in the deal with Infante instead of Anibal Sanchez, but I guess the former Marlins General Manager, Dave Dombrowski, made another good move by not being interested in Nolasco. Unfortunately, it was Anibal Sanchez instead of Nolasco. For Nolasco, get anything. Just ridding the team of the mistake of giving him a contract would be a bonus. If you get something of value (whether of immediate or future use), it would be icing on the cake. This guy cannot be a key piece for any contender. And he is the posterboy for why a lot of the advanced stats are deceptive. If a front office on another team really thinks that statistics, etc. show that Nolasco can be an excellent pitcher, the Marlins should try to pull the trigger on that hustle…I mean “trade” immediately. Many people learn when they can’t trust someone from the continuous experiences of being let down by that person. Eventually, they decide that they are better off taking their chance with someone else. This is what the Marlins would be gaining by trading Nolasco. Oh, and clearing his bad contract would be a good thing too. Oh, and clearing his bad contract would be a good thing too. Oh, and clearing his bad contract would be a good thing too. Does this need to be translated into Spanish and Creole too, just in case it isn’t understood in the Marlins organization? Maybe someone needs to ask Jack McKeon for his opinion of Ricky Nolasco again. Maybe we can ask an “Average Joe” baseball fan to look at Nolasco’s contract and take a look at how many or what pieces on this year’s free agent market would that fan be able to sign for the price of Nolasco’s contract. I hope I made my point in this paragraph.
Then, there is Carlos Lee whom the Marlins would also benefit from trading. Lee’s efforts can be appreciated and trading for him was a good attempt at getting the Marlins offense going, but it was clear real fast that it was going to take more than Lee or any one bat to spark this team’s offense this season. Also, Lee is a free agent at the end of the season and won’t be returning, unless in a part-time capacity, which he isn’t likely to want to do. Therefore, getting any return for him makes sense – even if minimal. The guy is a great guy to have on a roster, but this is more about the direction that the team is going in and Lee not being a match. If traded or leaving via free agency, we wish him the best. But, it would be better for the Marlins if they got something in return.
Next, and it may have become a cliché at this point, the Marlins need to look into dealing Heath Bell. But that does not need to be said to be known. Just for the point of covering the bases (no pun intended), I’ll restate what has been said hundreds of times by others. Bell needs to be traded because he needs a change of scenery, has pitched poorly, is a bad contract, and probably won’t be able to win his closer’s role back from the younger and more fiscally beneficial Steve Cishek. I think that this covers everything in one sentence. If the Marlins aren’t able to trade Bell, they can certainly use him in a set-up role to attempt to secure the last two innings of games and let Bell rebuild his trade value for next year’s deadlines.
Finally, I will address the John Buck opinions. Many feel that Buck has been a failed addition and should be traded. I won’t go so far as to say that he has been a complete failure, but will say that he has been less than what the majority of people expected. As for what was expected, the expectation that Buck was going to duplicate his offensive numbers from Toronto was not realistic. Buck has always been a hitter that leaves a lot to be desired, but at the same time is a guy that pitchers can’t make a mistake against because he will knock those mistakes over the fence. To expect him to be an offensive force is not based on what he’s been in his career. With the exception of this year’s batting average dipping below .200, Buck’s offense has been what should’ve been expected. On the defensive side, while Buck isn’t going to be confused with Ivan Rodriguez or Johnny Bench, he isn’t a liability behind the plate either. There are other teams that would prefer Buck’s defense behind the plate than the cast that they have on their rosters. This will be seen when Buck is a free agent and he has his share of suitors. There are also a couple of other things to consider. Buck’s contract doesn’t hurt as badly as other Marlins contracts because it isn’t insanely high for his production at his position. Taking a look at other contracts for catchers around MLB can make that point. Finally, there is the transition or “passing of the torch” to catching prospect, Rob Brantly (acquired from Detroit). Brantly has shown that he has his share of rookie mistakes in him. Brantly can use some mentoring from a veteran like Buck and he needs Buck to be there to fill the voids that Brantly has right now in his own game. This duo should stay together for a year until the full-time catching role can be handed over to Brantly for 2014.
Once these deals or non-deals are made, the Marlins will have a clean slab that is only covered with the pieces that they need, to continue to move this franchise in the direction that will bring them success. They can then continue to evaluate their current pieces to determine things such as where Josh Johnson is in his return from his 2011 injury; what type of run producer can best compliment Giancarlo Stanton while being able to drive in Jose Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio; where Nate Eovaldi, Jacob Turner, and Rob Brantly are in their development; whether the prospect Zack Cox (acquired from St. Louis) can take over at 3B next season; does Justin Ruggiano better serve the Marlins as a starting or 4th outfielder; similarly, does Wade LeBlanc help the team more as a lefty starter or long relief/spot starter; whether the team can ever start being offensively productive with Tony Perez’s son being the team’s batting coach; and many other items to take a look at. Then, this franchise can start to get a picture of what players they should look to add via trades, such as a Justin Upton, Chase Headley, etc. or what free agents to look at, such as a Zack Greinke, B.J. Upton, Delmon Young, etc. or even a Josh Hamilton if that was possible. Whatever is determined depends on the moves that are mentioned above as being needed for this next deadline. Hopefully, things will work out and this process will be completed correctly…this time.