Every newspaper writes that guy a check bi-weekly. You know the guy I am talking about—spits out rumors, makes ridiculous trade proposals, is constantly criticizing your team's front office, etc., etc., etc. Well, allow me to be that guy for the Florida Marlins this off season, or, at least for today.
With the annual GM winter meetings taking place in California this week, F-Rods filing for free agency, A-Rods supporting divorces, and waiver wires seeing more action than Jose Conseco's testosterone source in Mexico, much speculation and news will come this week.
Considering the rumors, news, and frequent fire sales of the Marlins, combined with the players whose names have already been circulated out in Cali, here is what your South Florida young'ens ought to do this winter.
Keep in mind, I am no Oracle of Omaha and this is a mix of what I think and want to happen.
The Outfield (The Current)
With a renewed interest in the speed + defense = championship formula held in 2003, the Marlins have some work to do and this is the place to start.
Cody Ross, who became a fan favorite during the year, is in line for a pay raise this off-season and deserves it. Sparing you the actual statistics, the Bill James algorithm predicts that at 28 he will provide 21 long balls, create 67 runs, and have an OPS of 0.813. Though he played CF most of the season, Cody seems to be a shoe-in for RF as Cameron Maybin is set to play CF.
Though a small sample size, Maybin's September performance was like a flashing neon light saying "Future, future, future." I could be wrong, but often times it appeared that FSN had a 100-foot tall neon cowboy standing behind him at all times pointing as well.
With LF and RF settled, it is time to pay attention to the eldest child who has been ignored for his younger, more flashy brothers.
Josh Willingham is, far and way, one of the most intriguing players on the team. He has a lot of pop in his bat, manages the football lights around the baseball field well, and has a great nickname.
Willingham, however, is prone to injury and word today from the Arizona Fall League is that Logan Morrison may be making the switch to 1B to Left. Morrison, the FSL's MVP this past season, is tearing it up and may be more suited to man left field.
In other words—Hammer all over again with a different position of origin. For those of you who don't follow the Minor Leagues, the Marlins have nearly committed to a first baseman of the future in Gaby Sanchez and have a big time prospect, Mike Stanton, quickly approaching the Major Leagues.
They also have Wes Helms, Jorge Cantu and Dallas McPherson in the wings to vie for the two corner spots of the infield this year. Stanton was the piece the Marlins refused to give up for Manny Ramirez, FYI.
What does all of this mean? Hermida, Hammer and Cody could be expendable this year. What do I think? Bye-Bye Herm, stick around Cody and Hammer.
The Infield (The Current)
Let's get one thing out right now. Hanley Ramirez is gone. No, I'm kidding, he is going nowhere and, though signed for several years, he will be around at least into next year once we see what is actually happening with the new stadium (and economy).
I envision a platoon situation with Cantu at first most of the time, McPherson at third and Helms platooning and providing some late inning defense.
This means two things. Firstly, despite a promising September, Gaby Sanchez will have to stand out in Spring Training like Heidi Klum against the female population at Duke in order to get the starting job. Secondly, somebody is gone. Sanchez is too good and too promising to keep bottled up in the minors for another year.
My guess would be that on opening day Cantu is at third with Helms backing him up and Sanchez at first. McPherson can probably be sold for a promising pitcher; Larry Beinfest's favorite.
Second base is Dan Uggla's to lose. His bat is coveted but his defense is iffy. Despite 2nd half struggles which, I attribute to trying to redeem himself for the All-Star Game of death, he is still a solid bat (see doubles numbers, HRs, etc) on a team that is trading away power. If Hermida and Willingham are gone along with Jacobs, Uggla stays. If a team goes crazy with an offer, Uggla goes.
John Baker proved he is worth of the starting catching job this year; with a little work on his defense, he has the potential to be a great No. 2 hitter sandwiched in between Maybin and Hanley. Despite this, the Marlins will look for an upgrade and won't be shy at pulling the trigger on a trade that nets plus defense and a little bit more pop.
The Pitching (The Current)
I am not going to deal with the Bullpen too heavily except in my trades. The Marlins have already made a trade and a claim to work on this and the only other major change coming is Kevin Gregg's disappearance and Matt Lindstrom's baptism into closing. Or perhaps he was baptized this season and we are waiting the Confirmation in the fall (this is more in line with the seasonality of these ceremonies, right?)
The rotation is going to include Nolasco, Volstad, and Johnson. The front office loves to rush traded prospects to Miller will be given a shot if he isn't in long relief. That leaves Olsen, the P.M.E.T.B.T. (player most expected to be traded) and Anibal Sanchez.
There were early whispers of the no-hitter pitcher being on the block early, but not much since. Joe Girardi may have ruined this kids arm and of the two, I would like him to go. Nonetheless, the Marlins know value. Actually, they thrive on value. Sanchez has promise and is cheap - Olsen is the wily veteran, potential clubhouse cancer, player that can net the largest return.
Given the news the front office can increase the pay, I expect the team's rotation to be Nolasco, Olsen, Johnson, Miller, Volstad. If I had to decide between any of these players and Anibal...sorry buddy, thanks for the memories, er, memory.
The Current. Alfredo is going nowhere. Helms just signed, so he ain't leaving either, despite it making sense to make him available.
The team. The Future. Note: this is pure speculation and some are contingent up others happening or not happening.
On the Block: Hermida (OF), Willingham (OF), Carroll (OF), Morrison (OF/1B), Andino(2B), Uggla (2B), McPherson (3B), Helms (Utility), Pinto (RP), Tankersley (RP), Gregg (RP/CL), Sanchez (SP), Olsen (SP)
Desires: Defensive Catcher with some pop, a vet.eran LF or RF, OBP, pitching prospects
The caveats: Several outstanding OF, 1B, and SP in the minors. Tucker will probably be converted into a bullpen guy, one of the 1B into a 2B or LF. Solid catching and SS prospects a couple years away.
Anibal Sanchez, Ryan Tucker or Taylor Tankersley to the Cleveland Indians for Kelly Shoppach. Kelly is young, solid defensively and a good hitter. Nick Cafardo reports they would want a young, closer type for him which makes Tucker a possibility but will the Marlins be willing to part with him? Of the teams looking for a catcher, the Marlins have the most possibilities to match up and Shoppach fits their needs and desires perfectly—Sorry Bake.
Jeremy Hermida to the Chicago Cubs for Kevin Hart or Donald Veal. This trade is more about salary dumping than necessity. The cubs have been rumored to be interested Hermida and the Marlins front office is split whether he is a bust or not. His potential is to high to sell low and the Marlins will stick to that line or stick with him.
Hart is a solid prospect who played well in limited MLB time but the Cubs want him to stay a starter and they may not have room for him there. Veal is the marlins type - shaky but good when he's on. Crafty Lefty with great potential... seems a good fit.
Josh Willingham to the San Francisco Giants for Emmanuel Burris and Clayton Tanner. Tanner is a top 20 prospect but probably won't turn out to be THAT special. He is the typical Marlins left pitching prospect.
Burris is a switch hitter who played well when showcased in September. He fits the mold of what the Marlins are trying to build toward in their 2003 model. The reason they get both players? Hammer is GREAT when healthy and it is another sell high or keep trade. That being said, I don't follow the Giants and this may be asking a little too much for Hammer. The Giants may be a better fit for...
Dallas McPherson to the San Francisco Giants for Emmanuel Burris or Clayton Tanner. Prospect with great potential for another. Dallas is young and solid at third which is a need of the Giants.
Scott Olsen to the Texas Rangers for Gerald Laird. Contingent upon the first, pure speculation Shoppach trade. The Rangers are going to be very active this winter and they have a surplus of catching. Both teams have expressed mutual interest - who pulls the trigger and what other pieces get thrown in?
Kevin Gregg to the Colorado Rockies for Jhoulys Chacin.
The Rocks are not bring back Fuentes and Gregg has the stuff to close physically, he just needs to get the mental aspect back. He is better than their other internal options. Chacin is a top prospect with fast stuff and decent locations—can he put it together in the Majors? The Rox and Marlins have matched up before, could they do it again?