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http://florida.marlins.mlb.com/news/articl...sp&c_id=fla

Marlins Focus on Pitching Over Power

Joe Frisaro

10/02/08

 

Before moving forward, the Marlins are wanting to take a step back. Not backwards in terms of their performance, because the franchise is coming off its first winning season since 2005. But the organization would like to remodel some areas in hopes of returning to the style of play that was so successful a few years ago.

 

The 2003 Marlins won the World Series by relying heavily on pitching and defense. Team president of baseball operations Admin Beinfest makes it clear the team is striving to improve in both those areas.

 

If that means sacrificing some power numbers at the plate, the front office seems primed to make changes.

 

"I would like to think any team that I'm associated with, or this team is associated with, will want to put it together around pitching and defense," Beinfest said. "When you have your pitching lined up, you definitely feel you are fortified in the right area. You feel you are going to give yourself a chance every day."

 

Change will be inevitable. In all, 16 players are up for arbitration. The number was 18, but reliever Justin Miller and right-hander Sergio Mitre were released.

 

The question will be how much turnover the squad will have, considering so many significant contributors are in line for hefty raises. Financial limitations once again will be an issue.

 

That said, payroll projects to rise to between $30-35 million, which will be an increase from the $22 million of this season.

 

All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who signed a six-year, $70 million contract in May, will make $5.5 million in '09.

 

What's encouraging is the Marlins appear to have the starting pitching already in order. Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco are the early favorites to compete for the Opening Day job. Rookie Chris Volstad, the 22-year-old promoted from Double-A Carolina in July, has top-of-the-rotation potential.

 

Anibal Sanchez had his ups and downs battling back from right shoulder surgery. When healthy, the 24-year-old is another potential star.

 

The question will be what will happen with lefty Scott Olsen, who enters arbitration and likely will see his salary escalate from $405,000 to about $2.75 million. Of all the starters, Olsen seems the most likely to be traded, especially since Andrew Miller is in the wings to rejoin the rotation.

 

If all goes according to script, the Marlins rotation will be able to stack up with anyone in the National League.

 

"It just depends on if everyone stays healthy," said Johnson, who made a successful return from Tommy John ligament replacement surgery to his right elbow. "That was the key for us in '07 -- we didn't stay healthy. Ricky wasn't healthy, I wasn't healthy. Sanchez wasn't healthy. That's three-fifths of our rotation. That's huge. If we can stay healthy and build off what we've done, we'll be fine."

 

Beinfest isn't addressing any specific players, but the team is excited about the young arms that either saw big league action this year, or are on the way up from the Minor Leagues. Prospects Sean West and Aaron Thompson should be closer to being ready for the big leagues.

 

"When the pitching came back, you can see what it did for this team," Beinfest said. "I think for that reason there is a lot of optimism. When we have our starting pitching lined up, that's how we're going to build."

 

In the first half of this season, the pitching was suspect, yet the Marlins remained competitive with power hitting. For the first time in MLB history, four infielders had 25 or more homers: Ramirez, Mike Jacobs, Dan Uggla and Jorge Cantu.

 

Collectively, the Marlins set a franchise home run record.

 

The byproduct of the power was a high strikeout number, and defensively, the team was spotty.

 

"We need to catch the ball better next year, to go together with this pitching," Beinfest said. "And we need to put the ball in play a little more.

 

"That by no means takes away from what the four infielders did. Scoring runs is scoring runs, whether it is by a home run, you'd like to be able to manufacture, and put a little more speed into the mix."

 

Of the position players, Jacobs, Uggla, Cantu, Josh Willingham, Cody Ross, Jeremy Hermida and Alfredo Amezaga are headed for arbitration.

 

The Marlins have not considered signing any of these players to multi-year deals, so they will have to determine who they are willing to retain.

 

Some projections have Jacobs making from $3.5-4 million next year, and Uggla in line for $5 million or more.

 

"We have four [infielders] here who we can build on and be good for a long time," Uggla said. "That's all we're really thinking about. But at the same time, we all know they don't keep guys for very long here. We're just going to sit back and see what happens."

 

The Marlins appear to be leaning towards retaining Cantu, Amezaga and Ross. Even if the team decides to reshape the everyday lineup, those who aren't back should be attractive on the trade market.

 

Based on their trade record, the Marlins have had success making high-profile trades.

 

"Our expectations every year are to play in the postseason," Beinfest said. "It may sound canned, and insincere, but it's true."

 

CONTRACT ISSUES:

 

Free agents: Luis Gonzalez, OF; Arthur Rhodes, LHP; Paul Lo Duca, C; Mark Hendrickson, LHP; Wes Helms, INF.

 

Eligible for arbitration: Jacobs, 1B; Uggla, 2B; Cantu, 3B; Willingham, OF; Ross, OF; Hermida, OF; Amezaga, INF/OF; Matt Treanor, C; Olsen, LHP; Johnson, RHP; Nolasco, RHP; Kevin Gregg, RHP; Joe Nelson, RHP; Doug Waechter, RHP; Logan Kensing, RHP; and Dallas McPherson, INF.

 

Player options: None.

 

Club options: Helms, INF ($3.75 million in '09).

 

Non-tender possibilities: None.

 

CATCHER

 

John Baker, .299 BA, 5 HRs, 32 RBIs

Paul Hoover, .200 BA, 2 RBIs, 13 Gs

Paul Lo Duca, .243 BA, 15 RBIs, 16 R (WAS/FLA)

Mike Rabelo, .202 BA, 3 HRs, 10 RBIs

Matt Treanor, .238 BA, 2 HRs, 23 RBIs

 

Treanor and Rabelo were platooning behind the plate at the beginning of the season, but injuries to Rabelo and lack of production offensively at the position made catcher a target at the Trade Deadline. But Baker stepped up since joining the team on July 9 and, shortly thereafter, cemented the starting job for the rest of the year. Baker, a left-handed hitter with a good approach at the plate, figures to be a favorite to start for the team in 2009, but he needs to improve his defense.

 

FIRST BASE

 

Mike Jacobs, .247 BA, 32 HRs, 93 RBIs

Gaby Sanchez, .314 BA, 17 HRs, 92 RBIs (Double-A)

 

Ongoing slumps forced Jacobs into playing only when right-handed pitchers started for the opposing team, but a surge offensively down the stretch put his name in the lineup every day. In the late innings, the Marlins went with Cantu at first base -- and Helms at third -- for defensive purposes. Sanchez, a September callup, figures to compete for the starting job at first base next year if Florida doesn't resign Jacobs, who is arbitration eligible.

 

SECOND BASE

 

Robert Andino, .206 BA, 9 RBIs, 44 Gs

Dan Uggla, .260 BA, 32 HRs, 92 RBIs

 

Uggla started off the year as one of the hottest players in the NL, batting .297 with 23 home runs in his first 70 games. But a rough showing in the All-Star Game and an ankle injury in late June preceded a tough second half. If Uggla, who is arbitration eligible, is not retained, Andino and youngster Chris Coghlan could factor into the equation at second base next year.

 

SHORTSTOP

 

Hanley Ramirez, .301 BA, 33 HRs, 67 RBIs, 125 Runs

 

Chalk it up as another great year for Ramirez. The 24-year-old struggled for a stretch after signing his six-year, $70 million contract while batting in the No. 3 spot, but he got back into the swing of things upon returning to the leadoff spot. Ramirez was voted as a starter in the All-Star Game for the first time and put up a career-high in home runs.

 

THIRD BASE

 

Jorge Cantu, .277 BA, 29 HRs, 95 RBIs

Wes Helms, .243 BA, 5 HRs, 31 RBIs

Dallas McPherson, .275 BA, 42 HRs, 98 RBIs (Triple-A)

 

What started as an open competition in Spring Training between Cantu, McPherson and Jose Castillo -- now with the Astros -- ended with Cantu taking the reigns for the entire season and being one of the most consistent hitters in the team's lineup, mostly hitting in the No. 3 hole. Helms was a valuable pinch-hitter and late-game defensive replacement, and McPherson led the Minor Leagues in home runs. McPherson figures to be another corner infielder competing for a starting job next year.

 

OUTFIELD

 

Alfredo Amezaga, .264 BA, 3 HRs, 32 RBIs, 8 SBs

Brett Carroll, .059 BA, 26 Gs

Luis Gonzalez, .261 BA, 8 HRs, 47 RBIs

Jeremy Hermida, .249 BA, 17 HRs, 61 RBIs

Cameron Maybin, .294 BA, 13 HRs, 51 RBIs, 25 SBs (Double-A/FLA)

Cody Ross, .260 BA, 22 HRs, 73 RBIs

Josh Willingham, .254 BA, 15 HRs, 51 RBIs

 

Center field started as an open competition between the likes of Ross, Amezaga, Alejandro De Aza and Maybin, but Ross proved worthy of playing every day, and Amezaga showed to be more valuable with his versatility off the bench. In left field, Gonzalez filled in for Willingham when he missed 50 games because of a bad back -- and struggled upon his return. Hermida was a fixture in right field for most of the year, but his struggles offensively forced the Marlins to sit their 2002 first-round pick down the stretch. Maybin figures to be a legitimate contender to be the starting center fielder in 2009.

 

ROTATION

 

Josh Johnson, 7-1, 3.61 ERA, 14 GS

Ricky Nolasco, 15-8, 3.52 ERA, 212.1 IP, 186 SO, 42 BB

Scott Olsen, 8-11, 4.20 ERA, 201.2 IP

Anibal Sanchez, 2-5, 5.57 ERA, 10 GS

Chris Volstad, 10-8, 3.13 ERA, 175.1 IP (Double-/FLA)

 

 

 

The re-emergence of Johnson and Sanchez from significant arm surgeries, and the addition of the young Volstad, gave the Marlins a completely different rotation in the second half than they sported on their Opening Day roster. Sanchez was the latest addition to the rotation and, since he came back from rotator cuff surgery on July 31, the Marlins' starters were statistically among the best in the Major Leagues.

 

BULLPEN

 

Burke Badenhop, 2-3, 6.08 ERA, 13 Gs (8 GS)

Eulogio De La Cruz, 13-8, 5.12 ERA, 31 Gs (Triple-/FLA)

Jesus Delgado, 5-2, 5.43 ERA, 48 Gs (Double-A/Triple-A)

Lee Gardner, 10.80 ERA, 8 ER, 6.2 IP, 7 Gs

Kevin Gregg, 7-8, 3.41 ERA, 29 SV, 38 SVO

Mark Hendrickson, 7-8, 5.45 ERA, 36 Gs (19 GS)

Logan Kensing, 3-1, 4.23 ERA, 48 Gs

Matt Lindstrom, 3-3, 3.14 ERA, 5 SV, 6 SVO

Andrew Miller, 6-10, 5.87 ERA, 29 Gs (20 GS)

Justin Miller, 4-2, 4.24 ERA, 46 Gs

Joe Nelson, 3-1, 2.00, 59 G

Renyel Pinto, 2-5, 4.45 ERA, 67 G

Arthur Rhodes, 4-1, 2.04 ERA, 35.1 IP (SEA/FLA)

Taylor Tankersley, 2-2, 4.02 ERA, 54 Gs (AAA/FLA)

Ryan Tucker, 7-6, 3.52 ERA, 38 Gs (AA/FLA)

Rick VandenHurk, 6-5, 4.76 ERA, 18 GS (AA/AAA/FLA)

Doug Waechter, 4-2, 3.69 ERA, 48 Gs

 

The Marlins' bullpen came into the season as one of the team's strengths. But in the critical months of August and September, it became one of Florida's biggest weaknesses. Rhodes was brought in at the Trade Deadline to provide a veteran, situational lefty and take some of the burden off Pinto, who went on to struggle mightily towards the end. Gregg was shut down for a little while in late August because of knee issues and never regained the job as closer. If the Marlins don't re-sign Gregg, Lindstrom (who assumed the role down the stretch) and Tucker could compete for the closer's job next year.

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Frisaro is just working with what he has at this time. And he did hint at that when he said some of the AE guys will have good trade value and the team is known for it's high profile trades. No speculation on what/who we could get in return. I like that. He's just saying, "This is what it looks like now, but that's going to change when the trades happen." With that in mind, I thought he did a pretty good job.

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None of that is really shocking.

 

Frisaro just writes what the FO feeds him. I think Beinfest just wants the league to know they will listen to offers for Uggla. I don't think he will unload him just for the sake of it, some of the other arb. eligible players maybe, but not Uggla. He'll want some value in return.

 

I was hoping to see a payroll of about $40 million so thats kind of dissapointing.

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Funny that they don't have Raynor in the outfield section, yet they still have Carroll in it.

 

 

Raynor didn't play for the Marlins this year. Carroll did.

The people on lists...played at least one game with the Marlins this year.

 

On the analysis for next year...(which is the paragraph), Carroll isn't mentioned.

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Funny that they don't have Raynor in the outfield section, yet they still have Carroll in it.

 

 

Raynor didn't play for the Marlins this year. Carroll did.

The people on lists...played at least one game with the Marlins this year.

 

On the analysis for next year...(which is the paragraph), Carroll isn't mentioned.

 

 

What I'm saying is that people like Raynor and Coghlan, who didn't play for the Marlins this past season, have a shot to at least be a backup, where that is hard to say for Carroll. I think they should have been mentioned somewhere in the article.

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Funny that they don't have Raynor in the outfield section, yet they still have Carroll in it.

 

 

Raynor didn't play for the Marlins this year. Carroll did.

The people on lists...played at least one game with the Marlins this year.

 

On the analysis for next year...(which is the paragraph), Carroll isn't mentioned.

 

 

What I'm saying is that people like Raynor and Coghlan, who didn't play for the Marlins this past season, have a shot to at least be a backup, where that is hard to say for Carroll. I think they should have been mentioned somewhere in the article.

 

Coghlan was mentioned.

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Funny that they don't have Raynor in the outfield section, yet they still have Carroll in it.

 

 

Raynor didn't play for the Marlins this year. Carroll did.

The people on lists...played at least one game with the Marlins this year.

 

On the analysis for next year...(which is the paragraph), Carroll isn't mentioned.

 

 

What I'm saying is that people like Raynor and Coghlan, who didn't play for the Marlins this past season, have a shot to at least be a backup, where that is hard to say for Carroll. I think they should have been mentioned somewhere in the article.

 

Coghlan was mentioned.

 

 

Sorry, I briefly skimmed the article and didn't see his name under second basemen.

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Funny that they don't have Raynor in the outfield section, yet they still have Carroll in it.

 

 

Raynor didn't play for the Marlins this year. Carroll did.

The people on lists...played at least one game with the Marlins this year.

 

On the analysis for next year...(which is the paragraph), Carroll isn't mentioned.

 

 

What I'm saying is that people like Raynor and Coghlan, who didn't play for the Marlins this past season, have a shot to at least be a backup, where that is hard to say for Carroll. I think they should have been mentioned somewhere in the article.

 

I could see both those players being back ups. But in the minors. There in case of injury or failures by others that are brought in via trades.

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