5 Offseason Moves That Could Take Miami to the 2013 Playoffs
There isn't much to say about the Miami Marlins' disappointing 2012 season.
Nothing really turned out the way the team expected. Hanley Ramirez, Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez are gone. Their youth movement that involved Logan Morrison and Giancarlo Stanton sort of worked out while both players dealt with injuries throughout the year. Stanton was able to blossom into the impact player many expected while Morrison did not.
The marquee free agents didn't quite pan out as planned. Jose Reyes is currently hitting .289, well below the .337 AVG he hit last year with the New York Mets.
Mark Buehrle has actually been one of the few players worth the heavy contracts the Marlins shelled out this past offseason. He has done exactly what the Marlins brought him to Miami to do—he's on pace to pitch over 200 innings and win 14 to 15 games.
The Marlins have practically thrown in the towel for this 2012 season, but here are five offseason moves that could help take the team to the 2013 playoffs.
Replace the Front Office
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The players have underperformed this year and manager Ozzie Guillen hasn't been on the top of his game either. But there is no shame to pointing some of the blame at the Marlins front office.
Owner Jeffrey Loria opened up his checkbook this offseason and allowed team President David Samson and general manager Larry Beinfest to throw money at whoever was willing to accept it at the winter meetings.
They were prepared to offer Albert Pujols $20 million a year to play in Miami, and also made favorable offers to CJ Wilson as well as Yoenis Cespedes.
Had the Marlins signed every player they offered a contract to, they could have been facing a colossal debt and would have struggled immensely trying to trade off those types of big names.
The Miami Marlins organization needs to take a look in the mirror when this season is finished and realize maybe poor management had a little something to do with this failure.
In an article written by Danny Knobler of CBS Sports he agrees:
The strong belief around the Marlins is that this season's failures will lead owner Jeffrey Loria to shake up his long-stable front office. The moves could be drastic, and could extend to the top of the team's baseball structure, where Larry Beinfest could be replaced.
Lock Up Youth Long-Term
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The Marlins became sellers at the deadline and made it very apparent that they will be looking to rebuild around a couple of key young pieces on the team.
Hanley Ramirez is no longer the cornerstone of the franchise. That title belongs to Giancarlo Stanton, who continues to baffle those around baseball with his ability to hit the ball further than anyone in recent memory.
According to Ben Nicholson-Smith of MLB Trade Rumors:
Stanton will be arbitration-eligible following the 2013 season (assuming he doesn’t qualify for super two status this year) and he’ll be eligible for free agency after 2016. Recent extensions for the likes of Carlos Gonzalez ($80 million), Andrew McCutchen ($51.5 million), Jay Bruce ($51 million) and Justin Upton ($50 million) could figure in to extension talks for Stanton. However, Stanton's power numbers could separate him from that group altogether.
Miami also has to decide on whether or not Logan Morrison will be their 1B of the future. Morrison didn't quite live up to expectations this year but it also doesn't look like the team will re-sign current 1B Carlos Lee after the season.
If the Marlins can lock up Stanton for the next decade or so, it will show positive signs as to the direction the ballclub intends on going.
Look to Add Another Starting Pitcher
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This all depends on what the Marlins decide to do with current ace Josh Johnson. If they decide to move him this offseason, it will create a large hole at the top of the rotation.
If they decide to keep him, the Marlins need to look to add depth to their starting lineup.
Carlos Zambrano had a strong start to the year but has been used mostly out of the bullpen as of late by Ozzie Guillen. Ricky Nolasco will be eligible for free agency after 2013 and it's still too early to tell if Wade LeBlanc and Nate Eovaldi can be quality starters.
Jacob Turner showed some signs of promise in his most recent start with a six-inning performance, striking out five and walking none.
If Jeffrey Loria decides to open up his checkbook again this winter to try to lure a few free agents down to Miami, there are a few notable starters that could really bolster the rotation.
Zack Greinke, James Shields and Kyle Lohse may be available just to name a few. Adding any sort of proven talent into the rotation that already has Johnson and reliable Mark Buehrle would greatly improve the Marlins' chance at a playoff run next year.
Upgrade Catcher Position
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A quality catcher is hard to come by in MLB. The Marlins thought John Buck was the answer when they signed him away from the Toronto Blue Jays a few seasons back.
Buck has turned out to be a bust and has been hitting under a .200 AVG all season long. The Marlins need an answer at catcher and have been searching for one since Ivan Rodriguez helped the team win a World Series in 2003.
The team received 23-year-old Rob Brantly from the Tigers in the Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante trade while hoping he may be the catcher for the future.
Brantly was playing very well in the minors before being called up but has struggled offensively in his short span with the Marlins.
If the team decides they want more immediate help, this upcoming free-agent class is very deep with talented catchers.
Mike Napoli, A.J. Pierzynski and Brian McCann are some of the more notable potential free-agent catchers that the Marlins could try and make a run at.
Replace Heath Bell as Closer
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Of all the players who have underperformed for the Miami Marlins this season, none are more notable than Heath Bell.
Bell is responsible for six blown saves and five losses along with countless earlier games in the season that he could not close out. Had Bell done his job from the start, the Marlins may have found themselves with a few more tallies in the win column and perhaps may have even led management into thinking twice before selling at the deadline.
Hypothetical situations aside, Bell has never fit in Miami and it seemed obvious from the start. The team should have never committed $9 million a year to an aging closer who had declining power.
The Marlins need to learn from this offseason's mistake and get rid of Bell if at all possible. They've gotten admirable contributions from Mike Dunn and Steve Cishek as a part of the closing by committee Ozzie Guillen switched to.
If the Marlins can unload Bell, they may turn to Juan Carlos Oviedo (a.k.a. Leo Nunez) to fulfill the closer role. Oviedo has been through an awful lot from his suspension for ID fraud and recent injury. He would be able to have a chance to return to the role that was once his if the Marlins bring him back.