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Marlins' newcomers show hint of promise


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A more upbeat article from Capozzi:

 

Marlins' newcomers show hint of promise

By Joe Capozzi

 

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

 

Monday, December 12, 2005

 

In early November, before the Marlins made their first move, agent David Sloane sensed the team was about to undergo a radical transformation.

 

His prediction for what the 2006 Marlins would resemble? "Dontrelle, Cabrera and the seven dwarfs."

 

A month later, six starting players, including Sloane's client, Carlos Delgado, have been traded away because of a cost-cutting mandate. The two marquee players left? Pitcher Dontrelle Willis, 23, and third baseman Miguel Cabrera, 22.

 

Bashful, Dopey and Grumpy are not among the 14 prospects the Marlins got in return. But while the Marlins have started trying to build another solid foundation for the future, they will take their lumps before they become a contender.

 

"They're probably going to lose 100 games (in 2006)," former Toronto manager Buck Martinez said.

 

"They're getting back good players. Is it the ideal way to do things? No, not at all, but look at when they blew up the '97 team, everybody said, 'Who's this Mike Lowell guy? These guys can't play.' But eventually they did play."

 

Mike Jacobs showed power with the Mets last year at first base and will start there in 2006. Shortstop Hanley Ramirez, the Boston Red Sox's top prospect, has a chance to win the job. And Travis Bowyer, who can hit 98 mph with his pitches, might be the closer next year.

 

Anibal Sanchez, Yusmeiro Petit and Ricky Nolasco will compete for spots in the starting rotation, which will be anchored by Willis.

 

"Ramirez is a blue-chip shortstop. Jacobs? Who knows. He had a great start to his career. He has some potential," said Steve Phillips, former Mets general manager.

 

"All young players are no-names until they get a chance to establish themselves. On opening day that may be the case. They will field a team of 25 players and people will start to learn who they are and what they can do. But it's going to be a challenge for a few years."

 

Marlins manager Joe Girardi said cynics shouldn't be so quick to dismiss the 2006 Marlins, who could have a payroll between $16 and $20 million, compared to the $65 million payroll of 2005.

 

But he acknowledged that Willis probably won't get the run support he did while winning 22 games last season, and that Cabrera won't see the pitches he did with Delgado and Lowell protecting him in the lineup.

 

"I am confident (Cabrera) is going to have protection. Is he going to have Murderers' Row behind him? No, but how many people do?" Girardi said.

 

"We are going to be exciting. Don't underestimate these kids. ... Pretty much almost everyone we have gotten in the trades, I would say 80 percent of them have a chance to make the team."

 

Some of the prospects are intriguing.

 

Nolasco, who turns 23 on Tuesday, might have the most potential of the three pitchers the Marlins received from the Cubs for center fielder Juan Pierre.

 

With a fastball in the low 90s, he went 14-3 with a 2.89 ERA for Class AA West Tenn of the Southern League with 46 walks and 173 strikeouts in 161 2/3 innings. He led the league in strikeouts, tied for the lead in wins and ranked third in ERA.

 

Right-hander Sergio Mitre, 24, has the most big-league experience. But he has yet to pitch consistently well.

 

He was 2-5 with a 5.37 ERA in 21 games with the Cubs in 2005. He spent most of his time with Class AAA Iowa, going 5-6 with a 4.33 ERA. In 36 games through parts of three seasons with the major-league club, the 6-foot-4 210-pounder is 4-10 with a 6.12 ERA.

 

"We have an abundance of young starters," Girardi said. "Other teams would probably like to have eight veterans, but we have eight young starters. They have the ability to push each other. When they push each other, they create a very healthy environment."

 

In trading three pitching prospects for Pierre, Cubs manager Jim Hendry admitted to having flashbacks to his last big deal with the Marlins. In 2002, he sent Florida a package of prospects that included Willis.

 

"I knew if we were going to get (Pierre), we were going to get hurt, too. As happy as we are, I can't tell you it didn't hurt a little bit, too," Hendry said.

 

"I commend them for, under tough times, the way they have gone out acquiring a lot of talent in the deals that they have. A couple of years down the road, they're certainly going to be a strong factor again."

 

From the Mets, Florida received pitcher Gaby Hernandez, a third-round pick in 2004 out of high school in Miami. He dominated the rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2004 and the low Class A South Atlantic League in 2005 before struggling at high Class A St. Lucie. He is 19, but throws a lively, two-seam fastball in the low 90s. He had a no-hitter in June.

 

"I don't begrudge anything they've done. It's just a product of that market," said Martinez, who wonders if the latest crop of youngsters will blossom in a market other than South Florida.

 

"This team has won two championships in eight years and nobody cares. Nobody comes to support them. We all talk about the best marketing is to have the best team on the field. Well, they've done that, and for some reason, it's not working. Everybody is criticizing the Marlins for making all these changes, but why would you continue to spend money on these players if indeed you compete and still you're not reaping any benefits?

 

"I feel for Joe Girardi in getting his first opportunity to manage. You look at the team when he agreed to take over (Oct. 19), and it's a dramatically different team than he has right now. But they'll work it out."

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Like Bowyer, if you look at Mitre's splits, he had much more success than his raw numbers project.

 

Mitre:

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/players/gamelog?playerId=5596

 

Bowyer

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/players/gamelog?playerId=6433

 

No question the sample sizes are small but there's alot of good in these numbers, including Mitre's complete game shut-out of the $65 million Florida Marlins on June 14 (lol).

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Like Bowyer, if you look at Mitre's splits, he had much more success than his raw numbers project.

 

Mitre:

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/players/gamelog?playerId=5596

 

Bowyer

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/players/gamelog?playerId=6433

 

No question the sample sizes are small but there's alot of good in these numbers, including Mitre's complete game shut-out of the $65 million Florida Marlins on June 14 (lol).

 

 

Mitre just seems inconsistent. He had several outstanding starts, but then he'd get rocked. Those are just signs of a young pitcher trying to adjust. Definitely seems that his stuff is good enough so that experience will enable him to be a decent pitcher - a number 3-4 type.

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Like Bowyer, if you look at Mitre's splits, he had much more success than his raw numbers project.

 

Mitre:

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/players/gamelog?playerId=5596

 

Bowyer

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/players/gamelog?playerId=6433

 

No question the sample sizes are small but there's alot of good in these numbers, including Mitre's complete game shut-out of the $65 million Florida Marlins on June 14 (lol).

 

 

Mitre just seems inconsistent. He had several outstanding starts, but then he'd get rocked. Those are just signs of a young pitcher trying to adjust. Definitely seems that his stuff is good enough so that experience will enable him to be a decent pitcher - a number 3-4 type.

 

Look who he got rocked by - the New York Yankees, the Chicago White Sox and the (lol) Colorado Rockies. Otherwise Mitre was pretty respectable.

 

And Bowyer, the guy is going into his last appearance of the season with a 1.04 ERA and who lights him up? The Kansas City Royals. Next thing you know he's got a 5.59 ERA.

 

No one knows if even one of these kids will ever turn into something special, but I personally think Beinfest and company really did their homework on these kids and certainly gave us a chance at a future competitive team.

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