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Bargains Scarce for the Marlins


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If the market for relievers remains this competitive next year and beyond (and I see no reason for a huge dropoff next year with MLB revenues at record highs) the chances of the Marlins being able to land their reclaimation project closers year in and year out looks to be a dicey proposition.

 

I think it is time the Marlins turn back the clock on their closer selection process and go with developing a young reliever into our closer ala Robb Nen. The most likely candidates ? Taylor Tankersley and Renyel Pinto. I would say Tank, no question. But the problem in making him the closer is that with him set as the closer the middle relief corps begins to looks shakey.

 

However, with the way the offseason is going I think the Marlins should bite the bullet, make Tank the closer in '07 and shore up the middle relief when they are ready to contend in '08 and beyond. This way the Marlins will no longer have to worry about making trades for oft-injured closers with bad contracts as it looks like affordable free agent reclaimation projects are becoming (or have become) a thing of the past. Below is an article on this years market.

 

HYDE: Bargains scarce for Marlins

Published December 17, 2006

 

Admin Beinfest never thinks about being one of those Richie Rich general managers. He knows what the Marlins can't do. They can't stroll down the free-agent shopping aisle and, if they need relievers, just throw a couple in the cart.

 

And that $15 million outfielder?

 

The Cubs and Red Sox don't even stop to gift-wrap him. The Marlins don't even look.

 

"We've just been waiting for the landscape to settle down a little," said Beinfest, the Marlins' general manager.

 

So he clips coupons and looks behind closed doors, but mostly he waits this winter. And waits. And with the Dolphins out of the playoffs, the Heat months away from them and the Panthers constantly a hockey generation away from hope, it's time to explain why it became harder in recent weeks to be Beinfest.

 

Exhibit 1: Danys Baez. In the old days -- say, last December -- Baez would have been a Marlin pickup from Central Casting. He's relatively young at 29. He's Cuban. He's just what they need: a hard-throwing middle reliever with good control and decent strikeout numbers who has shuttled among four teams.

 

The Marlins called Baez with a simple recruiting pitch: Take a promotion to closer for a year, pitch well for us and then get the long-term, multimillion-dollar contract on the open market.

 

The past few seasons, this thought worked for the Marlins on one side and Armando Benitez, Todd Jones and Joe Borowski, respectively, on the other. The Marlins and Baez seemed a perfect match. One day they were talking with him and the next he signed one of the richest middle-relief contracts with Baltimore at three years and $19 million.

 

This was part of the Orioles' $40 million upgrading of their bullpen. You can see why the Orioles are one of the worst-managed teams in spending money like this. You can also see how Beinfest will have a difficult time finding small-move magic like he has the past several years.

 

Exhibit 2: Gil Meche. He's not exactly a household name, either. He is a starting pitcher who won seven, 11 and 10 games the past three years with Seattle. He has never had an earned-run average better than last year's 4.48. He also has never pitched more than 186 innings.

 

In other words, baseball seems to be full of Gil Meches. But the Kansas City Royals signed Meche to a five-year deal to be their hope, maybe and $55 million possibility. The key three words in the deal are: Kansas City Royals.

 

This is how times have changed. Even the small-market Royals will pay a mediocre pitcher about two-thirds of what the Marlins paid their entire team last year. Maybe it works for Kansas City and Meche becomes a premier pitcher. But if he continues as what he has been for years, the Royals are sunk for years.

 

This has further ramifications for the Marlins: If Meche is worth $11 million, the Marlins' starting young pitchers are worth their weight in gold bullion. Not simply for their talent. But, outside of Dontrelle Willis, the likes of Josh Johnson, Scott Olsen, Ricky Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez will make $360,000 next season.

 

So how can the Marlins afford to trade something as fragile as starting young pitchers, even if they're loaded with them? To replace them would be impossible.

 

This isn't to say the Marlins have no money to spend. Too many people see the Marlins' attendance and majors' puniest payroll and say that. But do some simple math.

 

The Marlins get approximately: $30 million in revenue sharing; $12 million in local TV; $18 million in national TV and $10 million in licensing and merchandising from Major League Baseball. That's $70 million before selling a single ticket, which is a good thing considering the number of tickets they sell.

 

They can't spend like the Yankees or Red Sox. And they aren't so desperate as to roll the dice like the Royals and Orioles. But for the past several years Beinfest hasn't just made trades that smartly upgrade the roster but to spot bargains that worked out for everyone.

 

This winter might prove the end of that. There's talk of bringing Benitez back from San Francisco, where he never worked the magic he did in Florida. Beinfest says some other names are being looked at.

 

"We're always looking for bargains," he said.

 

It's just harder to find them today, which makes it harder to be Beinfest this winter.

 

Source -- http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/basebal...-sports-marlins

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I agree lets get a closer who will remain with the team for 5-6 yrs. I know that the Marlins like mature experienced pitchers, as closers but we didn't do too bad when we used Nen. I don't see Tank as a closer, more like the setup guy. Henry Owens, Harvey Garcia and Vanden Hurk look like they can be closers long term at least until Carlos Martinez is ready to claim the job. Sign Jorge Sosa or Scott Sauerbeck as a veteran reliever presence and lets go with youth overall. That formula has worked for us in the past in all other areas of our team

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I've been calling for stability at the closer position for a long time.

 

I'm not saying go out and get a BJ Ryan, nor will I even get into the argument that it's foolish to use your best pitcher as a closer, but even the king of the interchangeable closer philosophy, Billy Beane, stuck a young guy at the back of the pen in Street.

 

Given the talent in the east, Tank makes the most sense as closer as most if not all of the other team's most important players are left-handed or switch hitters who are substantially weaker from the right side (Delgado, Beltran, Reyes, Chipper, Nick Johnson, Ryan Howard). If you can get a favorable matchup with the game on the line....bingo. Figure that you have Pinto as your other set-up/fireman/loogy and there's no need to hold Tank out.

 

From what I understand, between Gregg, Lindstrom and Owens we may have one if not two capable arms (and by capable I mean give them a one run lead in the 7th/8th and expect it to be held more than blown), and we always have the potential to use Garcia in the 'pen this year as a set up option (which I'd love).

 

So, even though you'd love to address depth and remove question marks around Gregg/Lindstrom/Owens, we have 3 guys I trust more than I don't (Tank, Pinto, Garcia) and 3 guys who we have no idea what to expect...and if we carry 12 pitchers, I guess Messenger gets thrown into the mix. Plus, maybe Martinez comes back in August (ambitious, I know).

 

Basically, the whole point of this tangent is to say that I do truly like our long-term bullpen options with Tank at closer, Garcia at set up, Pinto and whoever thrives out of Gregg/Lindstrom/Owens and in a year Martinez and hopefully Kensing. That's a bullpen where everyone has a defined role, and its no secret that bullpens with defined roles work better. Pitchers have a better idea of when to get ready rather than anxiously waiting the bullpen phone.

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I've been calling for stability at the closer position for a long time.

 

I'm not saying go out and get a BJ Ryan, nor will I even get into the argument that it's foolish to use your best pitcher as a closer, but even the king of the interchangeable closer philosophy, Billy Beane, stuck a young guy at the back of the pen in Street.

 

Given the talent in the east, Tank makes the most sense as closer as most if not all of the other team's most important players are left-handed or switch hitters who are substantially weaker from the right side (Delgado, Beltran, Reyes, Chipper, Nick Johnson, Ryan Howard). If you can get a favorable matchup with the game on the line....bingo. Figure that you have Pinto as your other set-up/fireman/loogy and there's no need to hold Tank out.

 

From what I understand, between Gregg, Lindstrom and Owens we may have one if not two capable arms (and by capable I mean give them a one run lead in the 7th/8th and expect it to be held more than blown), and we always have the potential to use Garcia in the 'pen this year as a set up option (which I'd love).

 

So, even though you'd love to address depth and remove question marks around Gregg/Lindstrom/Owens, we have 3 guys I trust more than I don't (Tank, Pinto, Garcia) and 3 guys who we have no idea what to expect...and if we carry 12 pitchers, I guess Messenger gets thrown into the mix. Plus, maybe Martinez comes back in August (ambitious, I know).

 

Basically, the whole point of this tangent is to say that I do truly like our long-term bullpen options with Tank at closer, Garcia at set up, Pinto and whoever thrives out of Gregg/Lindstrom/Owens and in a year Martinez and hopefully Kensing. That's a bullpen where everyone has a defined role, and its no secret that bullpens with defined roles work better. Pitchers have a better idea of when to get ready rather than anxiously waiting the bullpen phone.

Well stated and well thought out I agree with just about everything The only reason I prefer Tank in the setup role is that i can see him giving 1-2 inings night in and night out vs the 1 batter or 1 inning save role of a closer but your point is very valid Swift.

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Apologies, I didn't see it already posted.

 

As for stability at the closer position, I agree, but I think that will come in the next few years. If Owens/Lindstrom/Gregg doesn't place a hold on it this year, I expect one of our relief prospects like Harvey Garcia to put their stamp on it for years to come.

 

I think Tank is too valuable in the 7th or 8th inning right now to use in the closer's role.

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Been thinking the same thing. And while I know relatively little about him, Lindstrom is one guy I'd like to see get a shot at closing in ST. Maybe that's a bit simplistic just on the strength of a 100MPH fastball, but I think a guy like that would have no greater value then to overpower and intimidate hitters at the end of 9 innings.

 

I would like to keep Tank in a setup role simply because I think it's a much harder role to fill with a consistent pitcher.

 

And if another starter develops, I'm willing to experiment with Ricky as a closer, but not until he has a viable replacement (or two) for his spot in the rotation.

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Most instances of failure in bullpen by committee implementations can be attributed to inadequate talent evaluation and overall failure to discern who the superior relievers are.

 

Oh come on now. As much as we like to pretend we know more than manager X, they have jobs (often for years on end) and we're in front of a computer.

 

If you want to stick your fingers in your ear and ignore what I have to say that's fine, but closers by committee never work, as do teams with unsettled set-up situations, and we know that it isn't simply because of a poor evaluation of talent.

 

This is the one thing I hate about the stats revolution, it completely ignores the human element of sports.

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Most instances of failure in bullpen by committee implementations can be attributed to inadequate talent evaluation and overall failure to discern who the superior relievers are.

 

 

 

Enough with the friggin talent evaluation. Jesus.

 

 

 

Its as simple as DOES THE GUY GET BATTERS OUT?

 

 

You make it sound like evaluating talent or "discerning who the superior relievers are" is this magical Jedi Knight gift that so many managers lack.

 

Relievers get batters out on a consistent basis or they dont. Simple as that.

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I'm not concerned about our closer. I'd like Benitez, if he's healthy, but since Bryan Harvey, and different owners and GM's, the Marlins have a history of somehow finding a more than adequate closer. While the economics of the game have changed, that affects all positions. I'm more concerned about middle relief, centerfield, offensive improvement from Hermedia and overall improvement from Jacobs, and having a left fielder who's not a defensive quagmire, and seeing at least the same production overall from our young starting pitchers.

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While I do agree that a statistical outlook ignores some important intangibles, I will say that the "human element" often openly embraces the fallacious principles of the game that appear to be in place just to appease simplistic fans.

So you don't believe a pitcher's comfort level with his role and use affects his performance? At least significantly?

 

It would be nice to measure talent in a vacuum and perhaps everyone SHOULD be able to do their best regardless of personal feelings or comfort, but that isn't reality. Reality is that a guy who might do well as a setup man (like Mota) might completely fail as a closer, and a good closer (like Todd Jones) might be just average as a middle reliever. Perhaps that also has to do with how we measure each, and certainly there are guys who just plain can't cut it either way, but it's more simplistic to ignore that the same talented player's performance might suffer or improve based on how it's used, and that there might be a "best" way to utilize it.

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Most instances of failure in bullpen by committee implementations can be attributed to inadequate talent evaluation and overall failure to discern who the superior relievers are.

 

Oh come on now. As much as we like to pretend we know more than manager X, they have jobs (often for years on end) and we're in front of a computer.

 

If you want to stick your fingers in your ear and ignore what I have to say that's fine, but closers by committee never work, as do teams with unsettled set-up situations, and we know that it is simply because of a poor evaluation of talent.

 

This is the one thing I hate about the stats revolution, it completely ignores the human element of sports.

 

Nice reply and I pretty much agree with your way of thinking. Unfortunetly we live in an era where people want to win every single game and if we don't they point fingers and say if it was done their way we would have won. Actually, it's always been that way but now we have the internet to magnify it. But still, these are guys that couldn't realistically get a job on a minor league team keeping the water coolers clean. The same type of people that said Girardi was at fault for Garcia's injury by over working him when in actuality he only pitched 10.1 innings in a little over a month.

I agree that a constant on what a pitchers job is out of the pen is a huge factor. At least the back side of the pen. Simply stated, it is a proven concept. Rotating pen roles rarely works. Over managing is a detriment.

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I still think Darin Erstad would be a fun, very cheap option. But, Ive always been sort of a fan of the guy. Obviously he isnt going to set the world on fire with his bat.. but he is a nice clutch hitter and a solid defender. Plus, another lefty in the lineup wouldnt be the worst thing in the world. Also, he is well-known for his clubhouse leadership.. could definitely see him being a mentor to Hermida.

 

..and if hes seriously thinking of taking a minor league contract from the Angels, why not give him a shot? Coming off an injury, hes not going to get a starting gig anywhere.. a one year deal to start for us could really help him get that one inflated contract to end his career. Who knows.. I think a vet like that in our lineup would be great. And if he cant comeback and play at a ML level, it wasnt that much of a risk.

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That's a bullpen where everyone has a defined role, and its no secret that bullpens with defined roles work better.

Sure, but if the wrong people are in the wrong roles, then it's due to be a bad bullpen.

 

 

P.S. Stability is nice to have if not only for peace of mind. However, the history of relief pitching suggests that the bullpens that bring something (or someone) unexpected succeed.

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To me the reason why most closer-by-commitees fail is because of a lack of talent.

 

Most of the time teams that do that kind of thing don't have the back of the bullpen talent that other teams have and that is why they use the committee, which is then unsuccesful because they have less talent. If you did a closer by committe between between two or three premier relievers it would probably work, imo.

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I honestly believe it (closer by committee) depends first and foremost on the talent.

 

Too often it happens because a team loses the guy they expected to close and sometimes right behind him, their setup guy either gets hurt or is ill-suited for the job. In the case of the Marlins, with so much talent having the experience of a rookie season under their belts, if Tank and Nolasco shared the duties, or some other pairing (it's too soon to know how well Owens or Lindstrom will really perform at this level) the possibility exists that the Marlins could make it work.

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