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Marlins still trying to fill holes

Though no deals are made, ideas and proposals are in play

By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com

 

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Marlins officials filtered into the Winter Meetings on Sunday and Monday focused on finding a closer and center fielder.

 

Early Thursday afternoon, the Marlins left the meetings with those areas unresolved. Still, the team has some ideas and proposals in play, and they could end up coming to fruition in the pending days and weeks.

 

General manager Admin Beinfest certainly was trying to make some sort of splash at the meetings. As eager as the organization is to upgrade, however, it also isn't going to act in haste to deal for dealing sake.

 

"Everybody comes to these things, they want to be active," Beinfest said Thursday. "They want to sign players. They want to trade players. We'll see what happens. We still have some things that are out there. I think they are realistic still at this point. So we'll see."

 

Landing an experienced closer is a front-burner issue. And finding a realistic fit is a challenge.

 

Sources say the Marlins are exploring how to lure veteran Armando Benitez back to South Florida for a second stint. In 2004, Benitez set a franchise record with 47 saves.

 

After that season, the right-hander signed a three-year deal with the Giants worth $21.5 million. For 2007, Benitez will make $7.6 million, which is the catch.

 

Another source said the Marlins have set aside $2 million for a closer, so they would either have to increase that allocation or have the Giants take on a big chunk of the $7.6 million in order to make a trade realistic.

 

While the Marlins are batting around how to bring Benitez back, the team is also talking about signing 40-year-old free agent Jose Mesa, who had a setup role in Colorado last season. Mesa earned $2 million in 2006 and would be in line to sign for about the same figure.

 

In 79 games, he threw 72 1/3 innings for the Rockies, setting up Brian Fuentes. For his career, Mesa has 320 saves, including 27 with the Pirates in 2005.

 

A second former Marlin also may be in the mix. The Tigers are believed to be shopping Todd Jones, who signed a two-year, $11 million contract last December. Jones will make a about $5.2 million in 2007, but Detroit would want solid trade value in return.

 

In 2005, Jones saved 40 games for the Marlins. The right-hander saved 37 for the Tigers this past year.

 

If the Marlins are unable to acquire experienced closers like Mesa, Benitez or Jones, they are prepared to consider less expensive options. They do have internal candidates like Matt Linstrom, Henry Owens and Taylor Tankersley.

 

The search for a center fielder continues as well. A name that has fizzled after being hotly mentioned is Tampa Bay's Rocco Baldelli.

 

Florida is looking for other alternative center-field options.

 

Deals done: A number of ideas were explored, but no deals were completed.

 

Rule 5 activity: Passing in the Major League phase, the Marlins made three choices in the Triple-A portion. They added shortstop Josh Labandeira from the Nationals, and pitchers Cristhian Martinez (Tigers) and outfielder Lorenzo Scott Jr. (Orioles). In the Double-A part of the draft, the Marlins lost one prospect when reliever Kevin Cave was taken by the Pirates.

 

Goals accomplished: With a full contingent of club officials on hand, the Marlins heavily worked the meetings, visiting with a number of clubs and getting a stronger feel for the marketplace. Some possible trade scenarios remain in place, and chances are they will continue to be developed in the upcoming days and weeks.

 

Unfinished business: Still foremost on their shopping list is the need for a closer and a center fielder. Maintaining they won't part with any of their five projected starting pitchers, the Marlins are in the market foremost for a closer and then an affordable center fielder. On Dec. 12, the tender date, the Marlins are considering how many of their 36 players still on the 40-man roster will be tendered. The club's four arbitration-eligible players -- Dontrelle Willis, Miguel Cabrera, Miguel Olivo and Kevin Gregg -- are expected to be tendered contracts.

 

GM's bottom line: "The spotlight is on everybody here to do things; to sign players, to trade players. ... Because things didn't happen here doesn't mean they won't happen." -- Beinfest

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I would agree with Swift that if Benitez is fit, bring him back. Forget Jones or Mesa. In the alternative find a solution among the various candidates we already have. But it all really comes down to the condition of Benitez, not just his knees but his arm as well.

 

I think on a number of levels he "could" be the next step in this team learning how to win at this level. Even if he can only go three days a week, he would mean a tremendous amount to a team that blew so many games in the middle of last summer.

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Let's not make this offseason a total bust and grab Baldelli.

 

 

 

Exactly.

 

 

Is it really to much to ask that we have a real living, breathing CF'r for 2007?

 

Im gonna kick my TV in if our big offseason addition is Dan Kolb.

 

 

We didnt get Bonds so were still left with the circus act of Willingham's defense in LF. The Bonds deal would have been huge for this team. Bonds to LF, Willy to 1B, Jacobs bye-bye. Now there are many question marks.

 

 

 

At least go get Baldelli. Nolasco has the mental make-up and stuff to close games. And if he fails then they can always go to Tank.

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If Nolasco goes to the pen as the closer, and you get Baldelli by giving up (I shudder just thinking about it) Johnson, Olsen or Sanchez, who picks up the TWO starting pitcher slots you've lost?

I know this was directed at Don, but I think Nolasco must be involved in the Baldelli trade.

 

The Marlins do not need Gagne, Kolb, Mesa, Jones, Benitez, Lidge, etc to be their closer. They do not need to convert one of their better pitchers into a closer (Tank, Nolasco). I know a lot of you disagree with my closer philosophy but surely a Kevin Gregg or someone similar (someone from the Mets trade) will more than suffice for the ninth inning role.

 

The reason the Marlins "revitalize" so many closers is because it is a position where subpar, aging pitchers can potentially thrive.

 

Actually it wasn't directed at anyone. I didn't even notice who suggested it, without going through the thread I think the idea was mentioned a couple of times. I just don't think centerfield is so important you give up the most valuable commodity in baseball, winning rookie pitcher(s). I know I'm in the minority here.

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I don't think this team looks that bad. Do we have holes? Yes. But many teams have holes and suffice. I am actually very excited about our starting pitching. I don't believe that should be touched even for one such as Baldelli. Quality starters will get you much farther than a center fielder could. I say leave the starters in place. Think about the rookie year they had. They can only get better. It looks scary when comparing this group of starters to most other teams.

 

As for the closer, I'm not worried. Closers come and go. If you look at most teams that do not have the likes of Freddy Rodriguez or Mariano Rivera, you fill in the blank, players step up and become quality closers when needed. I'm sure we have enough talent on this team that someone can close. I don't think we do have many holes outside of center field. I'll be comfortable leaving the team as is if need be.

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It's a shame a deal with Baldelli has "fizzled" and we are wasting our time on old fart closers. I'd be a happy camper if we could pickup Rocco this offseason and slide one of our starters into the closer role.

So you'd be happy if we only had 3 of our 5 10+ win starters in the rotation next season? Baldelli would cost us a starter (definately not Mitre) and then some.

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I don't think this team looks that bad. Do we have holes? Yes. But many teams have holes and suffice. I am actually very excited about our starting pitching. I don't believe that should be touched even for one such as Baldelli. Quality starters will get you much farther than a center fielder could. I say leave the starters in place. Think about the rookie year they had. They can only get better. It looks scary when comparing this group of starters to most other teams.

 

As for the closer, I'm not worried. Closers come and go. If you look at most teams that do not have the likes of Freddy Rodriguez or Mariano Rivera, you fill in the blank, players step up and become quality closers when needed. I'm sure we have enough talent on this team that someone can close. I don't think we do have many holes outside of center field. I'll be comfortable leaving the team as is if need be.

 

 

 

 

Welcome to the boards.

 

You make some nice points and I agree with everything.......

 

except.......

 

We already went through one year with the Amezega/Abercrombie platoon. Its a train wreck. I guess I too am in the minority of posters who thinks we need to give up one (of our many) young arms to get a real CF.

 

A CF'r that takes sound routes to fly balls, doesnt catch the ball at his side and can get on base once in a while and not make fundamentally starved baserunning decisions.

 

I personally think Beinfest is dropping the ball hardcore this offseason, but that's me.

by not trading away our talented pitching for old/overrated/constantly injured centerfielders?...its just you

 

 

 

no.

 

he's not alone.

 

What is the one thing we have an abundance of? Young solid pitching. The organization will not go down in flames if we trade ONE of our young arms for a high caliber CF'r

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