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Center field, bullpen are main targets

By Joe Capozzi

 

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

 

Sunday, October 22, 2006

 

With the general managers' meetings three weeks away, the Marlins are setting their sights on plugging the most significant holes in their roster: center field and the bullpen.

 

Baseball sources said the Marlins particularly are interested in center fielders Chris Duffy of Pittsburgh, Willy Taveras of Houston and Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

 

Two Tampa Bay outfielders, center fielder Rocco Baldelli and controversial prospect Elijah Dukes, also could be targets.

 

To get any of these players, Florida likely would have to package surplus pitchers, which includes Renyel Pinto, Yusmeiro Petit and Jose Garcia.

 

Duffy, a left-handed hitter, could lead off or provide speed near the bottom of the order. He hit just .255 this season but was 26 of 27 on steals, the best percentage (96.3) in the majors.

 

The Marlins have been tracking Taveras since 2005, his rookie season. He is a .284 hitter with 67 stolen bases in the past two seasons.

 

Kemp, a rookie last season, started quickly for the Dodgers before finishing with seven home runs, 23 RBI and a .253 average.

 

Baldelli, 25, hit .302 last season in 92 games, with 16 homers and 57 RBI. He was limited by hamstring problems.

 

Dukes is considered a big talent but was suspended late last season for bad behavior. He also was widely quoted complaining about life in the minors.

 

Although the Marlins would be expected to offer pitching for an outfielder, there was talk among team insiders that the club might dangle first baseman Mike Jacobs, who was inconsistent but hit .262 with 20 homers and 77 RBI.

 

Manager Fredi Gonzalez said he expects the team to make a run at free agent Wes Helms, who made $800,000 in 2006 as a bench player but saw more action than expected at first base.

 

How the Marlins will rebuild their bullpen is unclear. The only certainty is that left-hander Taylor Tankersley will return, most likely as the set-up man.

 

Closer Joe Borowski, who earned more than $1 million through an incentive-laden deal, said he would be interested in coming back but wouldn't pass up a better deal. Borowski noted that the Marlins might seek another reclamation project like they did with him, Todd Jones in 2005 and Armando Benitez in 2004.

 

"They might roll the dice again,'' Borowski said.

 

Benitez might be available from San Francisco. He had a career-high 47 saves for the Marlins in 2004, but just 17 for the Giants last season. He has a surgically repaired hamstring and an arthritic right knee.

 

Another bullpen option could be Seattle's Joel Pineiro, who was 8-13 with a 6.36 ERA in 25 starts and 15 relief appearances. He might want to try to revive his career as a reliever.

 

Although it would cost about $28 million to keep the 2006 team together, the Marlins are more likely to bump the payroll to no more than $25 million, if that much. Last season's payroll was $14.9 million.

 

Still, there is speculation that owner Jeffrey Loria might be willing to spend more to field a winning team. If the Marlins improve from 78-84, Loria would be insulated from criticism for firing manager Joe Girardi.

 

The largest salaries will go to third baseman Miguel Cabrera and pitcher Dontrelle Willis. The arbitration-eligible players will get at least $12 million combined. Despite that, Gonzalez said he is confident they will not be traded.

 

"When we talk about the roster, those two guys are always on the roster,'' Gonzalez said of his conversations with the front office.

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Carroll and Sanchez strong start in tha AFL could encourage the Marlin's to trade Jake in the right scenerio. Carroll has been unbelievable at Peoria so far. The 3rd base position is already manned by a half-way decent player, a move to first is a realistic option. Sanchez would go to the minors and would always be a ph call away.

 

I like Chris Duffy, I really do. However if Pierre and Taveras get flogged for empty numbers, well guys there would be a lynching in this Forum with Duffy. Dukes, IMO is no different than Carl Everrett, who has had a very good MLB career abeit being a freakin nut. Tampa holds the cards on him, as i have stated in other postings, decreases the possibility of any reasonable, viable trade.

 

Maybe Taveras is our best option, maybe it's all smoke and mirrors right now

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I would only trade Jacobs for someone like Baldelli. Anyone else and I wouldn't do it. If that trade happened, I would then either re-sign Helms or move Willingham to first (let's face it, he's crap in LF, first base could be his future) and sign a veteran LF.

 

I'll go with that. If we give up Jacobs we should get comparable offensive production.

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For the life of me I don't understand why Pinto, after the September he had, can be considered a "surplus" pitcher when the very thing they need most is to solidify their bullpen.

 

Every time I read something like this I'm just baffled. And to a lesser extent, ditto Garcia although we just haven't seen enough of him to know how much potential he really has at the major league level.

 

**edit**

 

As for trading Jacobs, a healthy and productive spring training would increase his value tremendously. Maybe you trade him now, but if MLB GMs see him come to camp healthy and swinging well, my guess is there would be alot more interest in him then. Right now he's damaged goods.

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As for trading Jacobs, a healthy and productive spring training would increase his value tremendously. Maybe you trade him now, but if MLB GMs see him come to camp healthy and swinging well, my guess is there would be alot more interest in him then. Right now he's damaged goods.

 

 

Yeah but he's also relatively old for an "unkown" quantity, has marginal OBP skills, bad situational hitting and a Preston Wilson-esque hole in his bat.

 

I think it's now or never to deal him, it's either he's our guy or he isn't.

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For the life of me I don't understand why Pinto, after the September he had, can be considered a "surplus" pitcher when the very thing they need most is to solidify their bullpen.

 

Every time I read something like this I'm just baffled. And to a lesser extent, ditto Garcia although we just haven't seen enough of him to know how much potential he really has at the major league level.

 

**edit**

 

As for trading Jacobs, a healthy and productive spring training would increase his value tremendously. Maybe you trade him now, but if MLB GMs see him come to camp healthy and swinging well, my guess is there would be alot more interest in him then. Right now he's damaged goods.

 

While I agree with you about Pinto, and really aside from 2 bad outings in July I think, his numbers all season were pretty nice (take away the 2 games I mentioned and his ERA is around 1.60-1.70). But I think the view with him and Garcia (and also Petit) is that they are starters, and there really isn't a spot for them in our rotation. I think Pinto could and has so far been pretty damn good from the pen, but it's also a question of how long that'll last.

All that said, I'd like to keep Pinto. I feel like he could take either Moehler's Long Relief/6th Starter spot or even fit into the 7th Inning role leading into Tank.

 

And one more thing about Jacobs - they shouldn't even approach this idea unless/until they already have Wes Helms signed for another year or two. And even then, I'd still rather keep Jacobs.

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The question isn't whether he's "unknown" or not, not after 20 homeruns.

 

And while yes to someone who didn't watch him play last season (not you Swift) it might appear his OBP was lacking, anyone in a position of authority (read, GM and staff) in the game has to know he was hobbled throughout the year. Let's face it, it was painful watching him trying to run down the first base line or the bases last season.

 

I don't see the urgency in trading him this minute. There's no reason he can't be moved in March. That said, I agree this is a make or break year for him. I think the organization knows it, and I think he's smart enough to know it too.

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Baseball sources said the Marlins particularly are interested in center fielders Chris Duffy of Pittsburgh, Willy Taveras of Houston and Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

 

 

Taveras and Duffy would be stop gaps. Kemp could possibly make Reggie Abercrombie look like Mark Kotsay. That might be a little extreme, but Kemp is a bad centerfielder and will probably end up a corner outfielder before long.

 

So the Marlins are probably not going to break the bank to get the right centerfielder on the free agent market or trade off our top of the line prospects or this season's top rookies for a centerfielder. Not really much of a suprise there.

 

I do hope they make a serious run at Baldelli though to see if the D'Rays are more willing to be reasonable this time around. That is, not make any Scott Olsen for Joey Gathright type demands.

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The question isn't whether he's "unknown" or not, not after 20 homeruns.

 

And while yes to someone who didn't watch him play last season (not you Swift) it might appear his OBP was lacking, anyone in a position of authority (read, GM and staff) in the game has to know he was hobbled throughout the year. Let's face it, it was painful watching him trying to run down the first base line or the bases last season.

 

I don't see the urgency in trading him this minute. There's no reason he can't be moved in March. That said, I agree this is a make or break year for him. I think the organization knows it, and I think he's smart enough to know it too.

 

 

I think you misunderstood what I meant by "unknown."

 

I don't have the numbers in front of me, but he seemed to be on a power surge when he hit in front of Miggy, and just faded into obscurity when he moved down to 5 or 6.

 

To me, that begs the question (as it also does of Uggla) is how much of the production is talent, and how much is the benefit of the situation, and in either case, where's the upside.

 

Maybe I'm wrong, but in many ways, he doesn't strike me as a guy who's going to hit much more than 20 HR's with a .260 something average...at best. That uppercut is just too damn exploitable, and if he takes that away, he loses his power which is really his one redeeming quality.

 

I'm not calling him a bum, far from it, but he's just not the kind of player we should hold onto at all costs. If he's part of what it takes to get Rocco or the like...do it fast.

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Nothing wrong with discussing possible trades.

 

But instead of wondering and worrying, I let the front office do their thing and then react to it. So far in the history of the franchise, they have done a decent job. I trust Beinfest and his staff totally. He knows a heck of a lot more than I do about baseball and all the players. They'll know how to get the most bang out of the limited resources he has to spend. He knows what he has to offer as trade bait, he knows our needs and surpluses. I'm sure he'll do fine. The only negative is the budget. And that won't be solved until we get our new stadium.

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