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Fish rank 5th...


5. Florida Marlins

The Marlins (eighth in the league in bullpen ERA) are another team that shouldn't rank this high based on their numbers for the season. But over the last month, they've had the third-best bullpen ERA (3.51) in the big leagues. And the difference-maker has been Ugueth Urbina. He has a 0.92 ERA since the Marlins dealt for him, has given up two runs since July 25 and has provided the perfect set-up bridge to surprisingly effective closer Braden Looper. Shaky as their set-up troops can be, the Marlins are fine late. They've converted 72 percent of their save opportunities -- virtually the same rate as the Giants.


What players/scouts say: "Of all the relievers who have been traded this year, Urbina has done the best job." ... "Urbina in Florida has made it a six-inning start for their pitchers." ... "Getting him helped set up the rest of their bullpen." ... "I'll say this about Looper: I was totally wrong about his ability to do that (closer) job."


Jayson Stark Article

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Marlins Rumblings in another Jayson Startk Article


Marlins Rumblings



When people start discussing the impact of the wild card, they often forget its potential impact can reverberate beyond the standings. The existence of the wild card saved baseball -- and got a ballpark built -- in Seattle. It changed the face of the franchise in Anaheim. Now there are folks in the Marlins' organization rolling the dice that the same thing can happen in Florida.


The Marlins gave up two legitimate prospects (Adrian Gonzalez, Ryan Snare) to get Ugueth Urbina from Texas. Then, when Mike Lowell got hurt, they gave up another (Double-A flameballer Denny Bautista) to get Jeff Conine.


But they're hoping the payoff is more than just a wild-card date with the Giants. What this team needs is a ballpark. And their only hope to get one is to make the playoffs, reignite baseball interest and then not unload most of the team the next winter, the way Wayne Huizenga did last time around.



The Marlins will be dealing this winter, though. Before they made the Conine deal, they reworked his contract to trade his $4.75-million salary for next year and a $4.75-million option (or $250,000 buyout) for 2005 for guaranteed salaries of $3 million in both 2004 and 2005.


What that means is that they have no choice to deal one of their veteran bats -- Derrick Lee, Juan Encarnacion or Lowell -- to open a position for Conine over the next two years.


It seems very unlikely they'll trade Lowell now, not after they held a press conference in midseason to announce they were keeping him for the rest of this year. So the most logical scenario is trading Lee, installing Conine at first for two years and grooming prospect Jason Stokes to take over first in 2006.


Jayson Starks

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Our bullpen has come up huge in the stretch run. Our bullpen has done a total 180 from back in May and June. That's mostly because it's a lot of different people, the only 2 remaining from when our bullpen sucked is Looper and Tejera. You can't say enough for the jobs done by Helling, Bump, Fox (this guy has really impressed me), and of course Urbina who I feel has been the MVP of the marlins 2nd half. And Tejera has totally rebounded from a tough first half and has dominated.

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Urbina, MVP of second half? That is quite a statement - but it is nonetheless how funny the media is. They were heavily critical about the acquistion of Urbina, but have now started to see why it was a good, and necessary, move. It is about time that the FO gets props...and we have been getting more of late.

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