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Center field 3-way battleremains close

By Joe Capozzi

 

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

 

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

 

JUPITER ? Less than two weeks before opening day, the biggest question remaining about the Marlins' lineup might be in center field.

 

"It's still pretty wide open,'' manager Joe Girardi said.

 

Girardi probably won't make his final roster spots official until next weekend. But with the exception of center field, the rest of the roster seems to be falling into place, with there being a good chance of the Marlins having six rookies in their opening-day lineup.

 

Girardi has said only two spots are certain: Dontrelle Willis will start the opener April 3. And Miguel Cabrera will be the third baseman.

 

But going into the final 11 days of camp, the rest of the infield is shaping up to be Mike Jacobs at first base, Dan Uggla at second base and Hanley Ramirez at shortstop, with Josh Willingham as the starting catcher.

 

After Willis, the next three rotation spots could wind up going to right-hander Sergio Mitre, left-hander Jason Vargas and right-hander Brian Moehler.

 

Because of two early off days, the Marlins won't need a fifth starter until April 15, 11 games into the season.

 

That means Girardi could open the season with a four-man rotation and have right-handers Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco ? two of the top candidates for the fifth spot ? open the season in the minors.

 

Left-hander Scott Olsen, another rotation candidate, could open the season in the bullpen. By April 15, the Marlins could move Olsen to the fifth spot or call up Johnson or Nolasco.

 

More uncertain is the outfield. Rookie Jeremy Hermida should start in right field, despite batting.179 this spring with no homers and four RBI. And the Marlins have been looking at Jason Stokes and Wes Helms in left field.

 

Helms should win a roster spot, as a backup infielder if not in left field.

 

Center field remains a three-way race between Reggie Abercrombie, Chris Aguila and Eric Reed. Aguila also could go to left field.

 

"Reggie has played really well. He has cooled off a little bit but that's going to happen,'' Girardi said.

 

"Reed seems like he pressed a little bit early and he seems to be playing better. We're not sure at this point if we will carry both of them or one of them.''

 

Girardi said Aguila, who has the most major-league experience of the three, is still in the mix for center field, even though he has had the least playing time this spring at that position.

 

"It's just (that) we're trying to get a good look at the two younger guys at center,'' Girardi said. "If you're playing Chris out there a lot it's hard to get a good look at them.''

 

The Marlins were interested in trading Olsen to acquire Tampa Bay center fielder Joey Gathright, but the Devil Rays are not as likely to part with Gathright as they were last month. And the Devil Rays have not been impressed with Olsen this spring.

 

If Abercrombie makes the team, he would attend his first major-league baseball game in style ? as an outfielder in the Marlins' starting lineup on April 3 in Houston.

 

"I've been to spring-training games,'' said Abercrombie, who grew up in Columbus, Ga., "but I've never been to a major-league game.''

 

Never as a player or as a paying customer. What will it be like to stand on the field in uniform without ever having walked through the turnstiles with a scorecard?

 

"It'll be kind of freaky,'' he said.

 

 

:lol

 

Not impressed? 14 innings, a WHIP under 1, 2-1 and only one start in which he allowed earned runs. The hell do you have to do to be impressive?

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I know I sound like a broken record...but Petit for Gathright!

 

 

Why?

 

First of all, Petit hasn't had a great spring statistically so his value isn't high for a trade, secondly, Gathright isn't having a great spring for a one dimensional player: 5 steals, 3 caught stealings or a 62.5% stealing percentage...conversely Eric Reed has stolen 4 and been caught once, and the two (Gathright and Reed) have identical .356 batting averages in 40 and 38 AB's respectively.

 

btw, i would trade gaby hernandez to washington for soriano, as long as the nats took on $5M of his ctt.

 

 

Why? He's a free agent after this season and he's made it clear he wants to go back to the AL. I don't think the Marlins are in the market for an expensive rental player.

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I know I sound like a broken record...but Petit for Gathright!

 

 

Why?

 

First of all, Petit hasn't had a great spring statistically so his value isn't high for a trade, secondly, Gathright isn't having a great spring for a one dimensional player: 5 steals, 3 caught stealings or a 62.5% stealing percentage...conversely Eric Reed has stolen 4 and been caught once, and the two (Gathright and Reed) have identical .356 batting averages in 40 and 38 AB's respectively.

 

btw, i would trade gaby hernandez to washington for soriano, as long as the nats took on $5M of his ctt.

 

 

Why? He's a free agent after this season and he's made it clear he wants to go back to the AL. I don't think the Marlins are in the market for an expensive rental player.

 

That's why I want the Nats to pick up 1/2 his salary! At $5M, he's pretty reasonably priced, and I would be surprised if we don't send Uggla back to Arizona by the end of the season.

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I know I sound like a broken record...but Petit for Gathright!

 

 

Why?

 

First of all, Petit hasn't had a great spring statistically so his value isn't high for a trade, secondly, Gathright isn't having a great spring for a one dimensional player: 5 steals, 3 caught stealings or a 62.5% stealing percentage...conversely Eric Reed has stolen 4 and been caught once, and the two (Gathright and Reed) have identical .356 batting averages in 40 and 38 AB's respectively.

 

btw, i would trade gaby hernandez to washington for soriano, as long as the nats took on $5M of his ctt.

 

 

Why? He's a free agent after this season and he's made it clear he wants to go back to the AL. I don't think the Marlins are in the market for an expensive rental player.

 

That's why I want the Nats to pick up 1/2 his salary! At $5M, he's pretty reasonably priced, and I would be surprised if we don't send Uggla back to Arizona by the end of the season.

 

Why give up a player who actually has a future in Gaby Hernandez for one year of Alfonso Soriano? We're not trying actively to win in '06! And at $5 million, he's still the team's highest paid player...I doubt that ever happens!

 

And Uggla will stick, he may not be more than a utility player by '08 but he won't be returned...there's plenty of space on the roster for position players.

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There aren't many players who could almost single-handedly change the face the Marlins in 2006, and I recognize we are in purely a fantasy world kind of thing here, but acquiring Alfonso Soriano to play 2B, without a doubt would.

 

If there was even the remotest opportunity to go get him (even for one season) you have to know Jeffrey Loria's love of the game, and winning, would motivate him to sign that check in a heartbeat.

 

I wouldn't fathom a guess as to who we would trade to get him but if there were ever a reason to dip into our pool of young pitching, or any position prospects, including Jason Vargas (yeah I know that should cause a stir here), Olsen, Nolasco, Johnson, etc. count me in.

 

Perhaps (and again just fantasy stuff) this is where a trade of Olsen for Gathright (regardless of today's PBP piece) or another pitcher could become a three-way trade where something like this unfolds:

 

DRays get Vargas, Olsen, Nolasco, Petit, Johnson, Mitre (pick one).

 

Nationals get Gathright and Herges.

 

Marlins get Soriano.

 

Uggla slides into the Damion Easley utility role. Soriano bats cleanup with Cabrera, Hermida and Willingham ahead of him, and Jacobs fifth.

 

Anyone who wishes to call me crazy, feel free. There's very little I see that could make a difference in 2006 but OMG "Now batting cleanup for your Florida Marlins...Alfonso Soriano..." is something that would make my heart sing.

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There aren't many players who could almost single-handedly change the face the Marlins in 2006, and I recognize we are in purely a fantasy world kind of thing here, but acquiring Alfonso Soriano to play 2B, without a doubt would.

 

If there was even the remotest opportunity to go get him (even for one season) you have to know Jeffrey Loria's love of game, and winning, would motivate him to sign that check in a heartbeat.

 

I wouldn't fathom a guess as to who we would trade to get him but if there were ever a reason to dip into our pool of young pitching, or any position prospects, including Jason Vargas (yeah I know that should cause a stir here), Olsen, Nolasco, Johnson, etc. count me in.

 

Perhaps (and against just fantasy stuff) this is where a trade of Olsen for Gathright (regardless of today's PBP piece) or another pitcher could become a three-way trade where something like this unfolds:

 

DRays get Vargas, Olsen, Nolasco, Petit, Johnson, Mitre (pick one).

 

Nationals get Gathright and Herges.

 

Marlins get Soriano.

 

Uggla slides into the Damion Easley utility role. Soriano bats cleanup with Cabrera, Hermida and Willingham ahead of him, and Jacobs fifth.

 

Anyone who wishes to call me crazy, feel free. There's very little I see that could make a difference in 2006 but OMG "Now batting cleanup for your Florida Marlins...Alfonso Soriano..." is something that would make my heart sing.

 

 

oh, that sure does sound good... but it sucks having to pick a pitcher, because we don't know who will shine in the Majors and who wont. i wouldnt deal Vargas, because i think he did outstanding last year, and he'll only get better. and i'd deal Mitre in a second because of his stats last year, even though he does seem to be improving. but the rest of them, i don't know. but yeah, that'd be cool.

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Shouldn't Vargas be one of the guys who has a rotation spot locked down?

 

And Soriano...this isn't Arlington, and his defense is likely worse than Uggla's(Soriano's D is attrocious...worst in the modern era), so why would you trade anything for a guy who, in theory, would be exactly what Uggla would be in this ballpark?

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Shouldn't Vargas be one of the guys who has a rotation spot locked down?

 

And Soriano...this isn't Arlington, and his defense is likely worse than Uggla's(Soriano's D is attrocious...worst in the modern era), so why would you trade anything for a guy who, in theory, would be exactly what Uggla would be in this ballpark?

 

haha. what a joke.

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Where's the joke shamrock? Do you even read or you just quote anything I say and make a snide remark?

 

What is known is that away from hitter friendly Arlington Soriano is not good. And @ 2B, Soriano is the worst defensive 2B in 30 years.

 

Perry Hill, for one year(because Soriano would bolt after this season), while awesome is not a miracle worker. And the bad defense would only hurt our pitching staff.

 

Take into consideration the $$ hit, and the fact that ballpark+defense included, you are likely getting the exact same player(s) in an Uggla/vetern platoon at 2nd for about 1/10th the cost.

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Where's the joke shamrock? Do you even read or you just quote anything I say and make a snide remark?

 

What is known is that away from hitter friendly Arlington Soriano is not good. And @ 2B, Soriano is the worst defensive 2B in 30 years.

 

Perry Hill, for one year(because Soriano would bolt after this season), while awesome is not a miracle worker. And the bad defense would only hurt our pitching staff.

 

Take into consideration the $$ hit, and the fact that ballpark+defense included, you are likely getting the exact same player(s) in an Uggla/vetern platoon at 2nd for about 1/10th the cost.

 

Soriano would hit 20 more HR, steal 30 more bases if he slept through 2006.

 

You are right that he is a terrible fit for the Marlins because of his contract demands and how he is severely overpaid for his low OBP potential and defense, but you are out of your effing mind if you are comparing DAN UGGLA to ALFONSO SORIANO.

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Well in a small sample size(20 ab's) @ Dolphin Stadium, he has 0 hr. And over 2/3 of his long balls were at Arlington last season. I honestly am not sure he would hit 20 hr over the course of a season playing in our ball park.

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Well in a small sample size(20 ab's) @ Dolphin Stadium, he has 0 hr. And over 2/3 of his long balls were at Arlington last season. I honestly am not sure he would hit 20 hr over the course of a season playing in our ball park.

 

 

I'm assuming you're including WS AB's in there when he couldn't hit water if he fell out of a boat.

 

He'd be a 30 homerun player in Pro Player (afterall, it does substantially favor righties) and this is coming from a guy who doesn't see any need for him.

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Most of the AB's were from last season in interleague actually. And no I dont see any need for him, at the price the Nationals would ask for, what he would actually bring, and the fact that he'd be gone after the season.

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Most of the AB's were from last season in interleague actually. And no I dont see any need for him, at the price the Nationals would ask for, what he would actually bring, and the fact that he'd be gone after the season.

 

 

I was referring to myself when I said "a guy who doesn't see any need for him." Just to emphasize that I think you're being a tad overly dramatic when suggesting that he'll have little to no value to the team.

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Most of the AB's were from last season in interleague actually. And no I dont see any need for him, at the price the Nationals would ask for, what he would actually bring, and the fact that he'd be gone after the season.

 

First of all, who said he would be gone at the end of the year?.... While it would be rather tough to resign him, it still wouldnt be a foregone conclusion that he would be a one year rental.

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Who cares about the fact he's a free agent next season?

 

The respectability he would bring to this franchise is immeasurable. Go ahead, bring in a Graffanino (who I like) or the equivalent and people are still yawning, bring in a Soriano and alot of people sit up and take notice.

 

I'm not usually one who is into the hero worship, "name" ballplayer thing, but his presense so dramatically the face of the Fish, to me (and again this is just fantasy anyways) this is a 100% no-brainer.

 

There are no guarantees that any of our young pitchers will ultimately take their place among the best of the best. If there were ever a reason to trade one of them, even for a guy who is gone next year, for me, he's the one.

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I agree it's not totally impossible, buy highly likely, that he'd be gone. He's going to want as much or more than Willis and Cabrera would be making in arbitration, and the front office would likely balk at that.

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Back on track to the original post, doesn't look like Girardi's terribly excited about the Aguila/Reed/Abercrombie decision on center field...

 

can't blame him really. I just think you take your lumps, and on the chance that Abercrombie doesn't embarrass himself at the plate, then you might have a long-term answer there. Otherwise Aguila is a bandage for the position in the short term.

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