Early Season Grades for Miami Marlins' Offseason Acquisitions
The Miami Marlins had quite the busy offseason. While it's still early in the season, some have made better first impressions than others with their performances so far. There's a lot of baseball left to be played, which is great news for a few of these guys.
Let's take a look at how these players have fared so far.
How he arrived: Signed as a free agent ($3.7 million for two years)
On the surface, Jeff Baker hasn't played well.
Pressed into a platoon at second base with left-handed hitting Derek Dietrich because of Rafael Furcal's strained hamstring, Baker has just three hits in 17 at-bats.
But if you check that number next to Baker's .176 batting average, you'll see Baker has at least completed the most important task in baseball: make as few outs as possible. Baker has drawn five walks and has a robust on-base percentage of .375. Because he's been on base plenty, and he's usually at the top of the lineup, Baker has scored five runs. So at least he has that going for him.
Defensively, Baker hasn't helped his cause either as he committed a costly error in a 5-0 loss Tuesday to the Washington Nationals.
With Furcal possibly out until May, Baker will continue to start at second base for the foreseeable future. Whenever Furcal returns, Baker can also spell Garrett Jones at first base or Casey McGehee at third. And if Baker is on the bench, he gets to watch his new teammates play, particularly Giancarlo Stanton, who has batted .324 with three doubles, two home runs and 13 RBIs in the first nine games this season.
"[Stanton] has something, outside of playing with Miguel Cabrera, no one else has," Baker told MLB.com. "That's just the pure raw power."
Currently, Brian Bogusevic is toiling at Triple-A New Orleans after he failed to make the team because of a poor spring.
In 47 spring training at-bats, Bogusevic had a .170/.184/.191 slash line.
According to the Miami Herald, Bogusevic wasn’t pleased when the Marlins designated him for assignment, and he expressed a desire to be traded. Since that didn't happen, Bogusevic accepted the assignment to the minors, according to MLB.com.
On the downside, the Marlins have nothing to show for trading Justin Ruggiano for Bogusevic.
On the plus side, the Marlins saved about $2 million in the transaction, which allowed them to use the savings in free agency. Also, Bogusevic serves as depth if an injury arises in the outfield and the Marlins deem that Jake Marisnick is not ready to be promoted.
You can't grade someone who hasn't played a regular-season game for the organization yet, thus the incomplete.
Like Bogusevic, Capps was sent down to Triple-A New Orleans.
Unlike Bogusevic, Capps wasn't bad in spring training as he had a 3.60 ERA in 10 innings.
With Steve Cishek being the team's closer, A.J. Ramos, Mike Dunn and Dan Jennings as the incumbents, Carlos Marmol as the veteran setup man, and the Marlins deciding to carry an extra reliever who can pitch in long relief or spot start in Brad Hand and Kevin Slowey, there was just no place for Capps on the major league roster.
Like Bogusevic, the Marlins might have nothing to show for trading Logan Morrison for Capps, except for $1.75 million in salary savings.
Capps was not the first reliever called up. That honor went to Arquimedes Caminero, who replaced Jacob Turner (shoulder strain) on Wednesday.
How he arrived: Signed as a free agent ($3.5 million for one year)
Since Rafael Furcal has yet to play because of a nagging hamstring injury, we were almost compelled to give the 36-year-old a failing grade.
But since Bogusevic and Capps received an "incomplete" because they have yet to play for the Marlins, it's only fair that Furcal gets the same grade.
According to the Sun-Sentinel, Furcal has participated in baseball activities, such as taking batting practice and fielding grounders at second base. He said he hopes to play about six games in the minors while the Marlins are on the road be ready when the team returns home April 14. He also told the Sun-Sentinel this:
It's disappointing. I've had a whole year of waiting for this moment, but there are a hundred-some games to go. I just want to be healthy. I expect to play the whole year and not hurt no more.
Currently, Furcal is at Single-A Jupiter receiving treatment. Once he is running without discomfort and cleared to play, he will begin a rehab assignment with the Hammerheads, according to MLB.com. Marlins manager Mike Redmond said on Saturday that there is no exact timetable for Furcal's rehab assignment, but Furcal is expected to need close to the full 21 days allowed once it begins.
We're just going to wait and see. There is so much that can happen between now and that time frame. I think the most important thing is that we get him healthy, and when he is healthy, he can come to the big leagues and play multiple days in a row.
Reed Johnson had such a great spring (.405/.457/.595 in 42 at-bats) that the Marlins had no choice but to keep him.
As the team's fourth outfielder, Johnson has two hits in nine at-bats.
More importantly, Johnson's value might be in his veteran leadership. For instance, Johnson spoke to 21-year-old staff ace Jose Fernandez right after Fernandez was relieved of his duties one out short of completing the seventh inning in the Marlins' 5-0 win last Saturday. According to some reports, Fernandez was frustrated that he wasn't allowed to finish the job.
"I didn’t want to come out of the game,” Fernandez told the Palm Beach Post. “He told me great job and let us finish it."
Johnson can offer Fernandez perspective after having played with two-time Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay from 2003-07 with the Toronto Blue Jays.
"For him to know why he went only 6 2/3 innings, and to remind him how well he pitched, is a good thing," Johnson told the Sun-Sentinel.
How he arrived: Signed as a free agent ($7.75 million for two years)
Garrett Jones has been solid so far, batting .273 with an on-base percentage of .359 and five runs batted in. His weakness against left-handed pitchers (.193/.234/.340 career slash line with 16 home runs in 503 at-bats) has not been an issue yet as he's had four hits in 15 at-bats against southpaws. Jones addressed this with MLB.com.
When you see a tough lefty and you see a righty, it helps you see the ball better. Obviously, the season is going, so you have to produce. But the more at-bats I get, the better I'm going to get. It's just seeing the ball, seeing release points, it's only going to get better as the season goes on.
What has also helped is Jones' creativity against southpaws. Against the Washington Nationals on Tuesday, the left-handed hitting Jones found a solution to a defensive shift with a bunt single down the third-base line. The Nationals had one defender stationed on that side of the diamond and he was shaded up the middle.
"I was just telling myself this year if I see a big shift I’ll try it a couple of times,” Jones told the Sun-Sentinel. “I practice bunting in BP and take it seriously. You know, why not? If it’s going to happen I’ll try to take it sometimes."
Now, there is some cause for concern.
First, Jones has more strikeouts (12) than hits (nine) in 33 at-bats and he also has a .333 slugging percentage (no home runs and a pair of doubles). But despite the Marlins' three-game losing streak, Jones will have time to straighten things out.
Jones seems to be enjoying his first season in Miami. He noticed how 35,188 showed up at the stadium (94 percent capacity) in last Saturday's 5-0 win over the San Diego Padres.
Jones tweeted this observation, “Great crowd tonight!!! Place was rocking! #fish #win”
How he arrived: Signed as a free agent ($1.25 million for one year)
As a reliever, one bad outing can ruin a month of good work. And that's what happened to Carlos Marmol.
With the Marlins nursing a one-run lead in the eighth inning on Wednesday, Marmol surrendered a grand slam to Jayson Werth as the Marlins lost to the Washington Nationals 10-7. Marmol was charged with four runs and two hits with a walk in one inning of work.
"I was trying to go in and get a ground ball," Marmol told the Sun-Sentinel. "The ball stayed a little over the middle and he hit it good."
Prior to the horrendous outing, Marmol had four scoreless appearances, yielding just three hits and a walk with three strikeouts in four innings. According to the eye test of MLB.com's Joe Frisaro, Marmol had looked effective, dealing nasty sliders and 95-plus mph fastballs.
That's good news for the Marlins setup man, especially given his history of wildness (6.1 walks allowed per inning over his career) and ninth-inning meltdowns.
In each of the last two seasons, Marmol lost the closer role as a member of the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs eventually gave up on Marmol, trading him to the Los Angeles Dodgers last summer. With the Dodgers, Marmol didn't pitch in as many high-leverage situations, and he had a 2.53 ERA in 21 appearances. Because of his improvement with the Dodgers and how he pitched in winter ball, the Marlins thought it would be a good idea to sign him.
Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill explained why to the Miami Herald.
From what we saw, closing in the Dominican winter league, it was the guy we saw in Chicago effectiveness wise, the good guy. For anybody who had seen him pitch in [Los Angeles], his delivery was cleaned up, he was working more at the plate, there were more strikes—everything was better.
But then Wednesday happened.
How he arrived: Signed as a free agent ($1.1 million for one year)
What a first week for Casey McGehee.
The Marlins third baseman returned from Japan with a bang. He had five extra-base hits and 10 RBI as the Marlins won five of their first seven games. McGehee had such an awesome start, it caught the eyes of many observers.
According to Stats LLC, via the Miami Herald, McGehee and Giancarlo Stanton became the first teammates to collect at least 10 RBI in the first six games since the Colorado Rockies' Dante Bichette and Andres Galarraga did it in 1994.
Courtesy of USA Today's Steve Gardner, McGehee was bestowed the Tuffy Award, which goes to the biggest statistical outliers of baseball's opening week.
Back in the real world, McGehee has earned the opportunity to hit cleanup when the Marlins face a left-handed starting pitcher. The reason behind this is to get as much protection as possible for Stanton, who bats third in the lineup. Prior to this season, McGehee had 112 at-bats batting fourth in his MLB career. He addressed hitting cleanup with MLB.com.
I liken it to hitting behind Prince in Milwaukee. I no longer get my feelings hurt when they pitch around them. I get it. It's the same thing I feel with Stanton. I understand why they would want to pitch around him at times.
At the end of the day, though, McGehee is just happy to be back in the United States. McGehee resurrected his career in Japan as he batted .292 with a team-high 28 home runs and 93 RBI. He helped lead the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles to their first Japan Series title in a thrilling seven games against the 22-time champion Yomiuri Giants.
More importantly, McGehee learned some valuable lessons in humility and appreciation for the opportunity he now has. He knows better than to get comfortable since the Marlins have 2013 first-round pick Colin Moran coming up through the farm system.
"The one thing I’m going to try and take with me is to not to get too wrapped up in the small moments,” McGehee told the Miami Herald. “I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum. ... Nothing is permanent, good or bad."
It's funny that McGehee said nothing is permanent because he has cooled off. Since the Marlins hit the road this week, McGehee has one hit in eight at-bats.
Nonetheless, McGehee's work in the first week has earned him an exemplary grade.
How he arrived: Signed as a free agent ($21 million for three years)
Well, look at this. The Marlins no longer have a black hole offensively at catcher.
Thus far, Saltalamacchia has a .276/.344/.483 slash line with one home run an four RBI. It's a small sample size, but considering the Marlins catchers (Rob Brantly, Jeff Mathis, Miguel Olivo) batted only .194 and totaled nine home runs last year, Saltalamacchia's performance has been a sight to behold.
Not only has Saltalamacchia helped offensively, but he's done a decent job with the young pitching staff thus far. Staff ace Jose Fernandez has yielded just one earned run in 12.2 innings with two walks and 17 strikeouts, while the staff as a whole has a 3.30 ERA.
In fact, about the only disappointment to come Saltalamacchia's way thus far happened about 1,500 miles away.
The Boston Red Sox, whom Saltalamacchia played for from 2010-13 and helped win the World Series last year, invited their former catcher to the ring ceremony last Friday.
They wanted me to come (last week), but I wouldn't have gotten back in time for my game," Saltalamacchia told Fox Sports Florida.