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Joe Frisaro, his take on things


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I think the Marlins need a little bit of everything: offense, pitching and definitely bullpen help. Out of these three, which do you think the Marlins need the most help on? -- Armando, Miami


Not since the second half of 2003, when the Marlins had Chad Fox setting up either Ugueth Urbina or Braden Looper, has the bullpen been solidified. So of the three areas you mention, bullpen is the most pressing need. Besides, there are so many unanswered questions, with Todd Jones exploring free agency.


Guillermo Mota seems the front-runner to close, and left-hander Ron Villone is under contract. From there, the team has some young arms in Randy Messenger and Chris Resop. Logan Kensing is expected to be moved to the bullpen, and Nate Bump is returning from shoulder surgery.


Paul Lo Duca hasn't been quite as good as he was in Los Angeles. The Marlins also have a great prospect in Josh Willingham. Will the Marlins consider trading Lo Duca for quality pitching? -- Adam S., Pembroke Pines, Fla.


I have to disagree with you on this one. Lo Duca was an All-Star last year. Granted, his power numbers were down, but he was a productive hitter, especially in the first half. To judge him by his final two months is unfair because he was gutting it out on one leg after pulling his hamstring in early August. Before the Marlins fell out of contention in late September, Lo Duca delivered a couple of key hits, including a clutch home run to help win a game in Houston.


Willingham has promise as a hitter, but his defense is in question. He's only been catching a few seasons and is rusty. According to people in the league I've talked to, just about everyone on the team is available via trade. Lo Duca is signed for two more seasons at $13.5 million. I expect Lo Duca will be back.


Any word on whether the Marlins are keeping Alex Gonzalez? -- Jamie L., Lincoln, Neb.


As a free agent, Gonzalez reportedly has attracted interest from the Braves and Cubs. Initially, the slick-fielding shortstop was seeking a three-year contract. Depending on how the market settles, he may be in line for a two-year deal. The Marlins have touched base with his agent, but so many of Florida's intentions remain unknown because the team has been silent on just about everything.


There are some medical concerns with Gonzalez. The past two seasons, he has undergone two surgeries to the same elbow. His throwing arm clearly wasn't right for much of August, when he tried to play through the pain. His most recent elbow scope removed a bone chip that was causing pain. He is expected to be ready for the start of Spring Training, but the Marlins may want to go in another direction. Robert Andino filled in as the starter when Gonzalez went down in September.


Do you think the Marlins will bring in a veteran like Nomar Garciaparra, or will they stay with Andino? -- Chris, Miami


A number of fans are asking this same question. Now that the Cubs have encouraged Garciaparra to look around, it will be interesting to see what the former All-Star's market value is. If he comes at a bargain price, then he could be a one-year option. At this stage of his career, however, his injury concerns make it questionable whether his future is at shortstop. The Cubs started using him at third base at the end of this past season.


It's also in doubt whether Andino is the answer at shortstop. He still is very young and his inexperience showed at times in September.



What players are the Marlins going to trade? Is Juan Encarnacion comming back? And what's up with Luis Castillo? -- Monica C., Miami


Depending on whom you believe, just about everybody on the team -- except Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera -- is on the trading block. Most of the club's intentions have been kept airtight sealed. At the recent general manager's meetings, the club did float a number of big names out to other teams. Carlos Delgado, Mike Lowell, Juan Pierre and Lo Duca have been mentioned as trade bait. Sometimes teams float around names to see what value may be offered in return. Other times, teams are sincerely trying to move their higher-priced players to create flexibility.


From what I'm hearing, don't be shocked if the four players mentioned above are all moved. Encarnacion, meanwhile, is a free agent who likely is headed elsewhere. Castillo is under contract for two more seasons with the Marlins. Expect the three-time Gold Glove winner to return.


Do Lowell, Josh Beckett or Delgado have any say in whether they'll be traded? Do they have to obey the team's wishes? -- Jeannot K., The Hague, Netherlands


As team policy, the Marlins don't include no-trade clauses in players' contracts. Of the three players you mention, Lowell and Delgado are signed to multiyear deals. On the other hand, Beckett is second-year arbitration eligible and is not up for free agency until after the 2007 season. Because Beckett is under club contract, he can be traded at any time.



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