In my first Florida Marlins Trade Forecast, I gave a comprehensive report on what I felt the Marlins lineup would look like come Opening Day 2009. I waded through in some trade suggestions, some details on Minor League players working their way, and some witty banter.
How did the Marlins respond? If they were one of the 600 people who read the article, they did not agree. Since that time, the Marlins have truly followed up on their decision to build a new team around speed and defense, using a surplus of power, veterans who "cost too much," and fan favorites.
In retrospect, I agree with all but two of their moves.
For those keeping score at home, the Marlins are hitting a respectable 0.333 in offseason moves, by my calculations. If you don't choose to look at it that way, you can say they have a 0.333 winning percentage, which might be much more accurate.
The Marlins moves thus far are as follows, with my grading and critique after:
Kevin Gregg for Jose Ceda
This was a good move for the Marlins, and most sports writers agree.
Gregg, while he did his part for the Marlins bullpen, had worn out his welcome with the small Florida fan base. He seemingly paved his way out of Florida on July 4, 2008, when he couldn't close the door on what should have been a blowout in Colorado. Gregg had notched 61 saves in his time as a Floridian, but suffered injuries this season and was relegated to mop up and setup duties for the later third of the year.
Jose Ceda projects to be a future closer and has drawn comparisons to a less shaky Armando Benitez, as well as Lee Smith. He posted strong numbers as a starter and as a bullpen arm in Single A Daytona and Double A Tennessee last year (3-3, sub 3.50 ERA). The 275 pounder needs some more seasoning and will likely open up the season in the minors; however, with the Marlins propensity to rush trade pieces along, he could factor in to the late innings mix this year.
In the end, this fits the Marlins mold of saving money ($3.5 million most likely), and getting a solid young arm who could become a big time player. Gregg was a non-tender candidate in December if the Cubs waited.
My Grade: A-
Scott Olsen & Josh Willingham for Emilio Bonifacio, Jake Smolinski, and P.J. Dean
This was a perplexing move for the fish; the Nationals definitely got a steal. Olsen, while his ERA and fastball were nothing to brag about, was a 200+ innings pitcher who, despite the occasional run in with the 5-0, was a club house leader and veteran among many rookie types.
Olsen, along with his lifelong Marlin buddy Josh Willingham, were fan favorites traded to show the Marlins were serious about defense and speed.
Bonifacio played in 49 games last year and hit a measly .240. He projects to show little power, average defense and speed on the base paths, although his steals per attempt last year do not support that argument. He will have a lot of work to do to replace Hammer and Olsen, especially if Dan Uggla or Jorge Cantu are moved to make room for him.
It is possible that Emilio, Dean and Smolinski open the season and the minors, and hopefully they all will. Smolinski is a SS who is raw, but a good prospect. The only problem is the Marlins have Hanley Ramirez, Robert Andino, and Alfredo Amezaga—he just doesn't fit unless he takes 10 years to develop. Dean is a few years away, so I will not waste time on him.
My Grade: C—This move reeked of Fire Sale and could still be considered the kindling to that flame.
Mike Jacobs for Leo Nunez
This trade is also perplexing from a Marlins fan and baseball fanatics position; fans of both teams feel they were taken for a ride.
Much like Kevin Gregg, Jacobs had played his way out of Miami. His power seemingly only showed at times it was not needed and his lack of clutch hitting was evident to every Marlins fan who watched regularly. His defense was sub-par, and he cost the Marlins several games, or at least runs, this season alone by his inability to field the bag and throw home accurately.
Jacobs average was...average...and his power was negligible from a fans perspective when you consider when it was shown. He was due for a big pay raise and the Marlins have plethora of corner-infield types to replace him.
Ceda is a lanky fire-baller who struggles with control, much like the rest of the Marlins staff. He had posts average numbers and is another middle to late inning reliever. He does have some experience starting, so he could be an innings eater or long reliever. I would be surprised if I did not see him play some role in the bullpen to start the season.
It is the Marlins' fans view that he could have been traded for a better piece, and the Royals' fans perspective that Jacobs does not help at first, as they have a stock of players at the position, and that they have read Marlin's fans complaints about his hitting and defense. I equate this move to trading a bad contract for a bad contract.
My Grade: B minus—Both teams could have done better for the players involved.
Marlins did not offer arbitration to Luis Gonzalez, Paul LoDuca, Arthur Rhodes. At first blush, all of this makes sense. Luis was looking for a full-time spot, which the Marlins would not offer nor pay for. LoDuca hopes to start, and is most likely out of the Marlins price range. Rhodes, with his N.L. play this season, established himself as a dominant lefty and potential closer who could get a nice contract.
The reason I question it all now?
The Marlins have traded away practically all over their veterans, are in the market for a backup catcher with experience to help guide the young arms, and the bullpen is young and inexperienced. It remains to be seen if Renyel Pinto will bounce back from his late season woes and LoDuca undoubtedly could be cheaper than Pudge Rodriguez as a veteran mentor. Yes, Rhodes would have commanded a nice contract, but is there any sure thing in the Marlins pen? I don't think so.
Where Do the Fish Go from Here?
That question is tough to answer. Their moves and dedication to "speed and defense" have resulted in a lack of confidence from a fan's perspective. Larry Beinfest seems to either have gone crazy or is somehow working his magic again, though this year's moves seem more questionable then ever.
Rumor has it that Jeremy Hermida, Jorge Cantu, and Matt Treanor will be on the move before the season starts. In addition, the Marlins are purportedly out for a veteran backup catcher, a veteran starter, and surprisingly, "speed and defense."
It sounds like two of those three could have been had without making other trades. That's a 0.666 winning percentage or batting average, both quite good, for those still keeping score.
What Do I See Happening?
Take this with a grain of salt, as I was very wrong last time, but hopefully with a few more holes created, and more words of wisdom from the media, I will be right one at least one here. I am also going to cast a much larger net for my returns; I will not propose exact trades, but returns I deem fair and would be happy with.
The Marlins have two of the three pieces for the outfield right now. Jeremy is not one of them. I predict he will be gone in my last forecast, and Hammer would stay, and I still believe he will go. I think the Rays, Phillies, Mets, and Cubs will covet him the most, with the later being his destination.
I think the Marlins will try to net a minor league pitcher, OF, and/or catcher in this move. I said he could net Kevin Hart or Donald Veal as a return from the cubs, and would still be happy with them, I do not see it happening as similar types have been netted in the Jacobs and Gregg deals.
If the Marlins trade with Chicago, I would happy with a packaged return of Tyler Colvin (OF), Felix Pie (OF), Welington Castillo (C) or Brandon Gyer (OF) along with a mid-level pitcher, such as Veal. I think the Cubs may also try to throw Jason Marquis in this trade, but they would have to throw a lot of money in with it, making it highly unlikely. The rumored Rays pieces just do not make sense for the marlins given trades that happened already (which means its the most likely trade).
Who Is the Pitcher and Who Is the Catcher?
I am going to jump now to catcher and pitcher. The Marlins have some money to spend, so I would not be surprised to see it used here. I think the Marlins will sign Pudge to a one year deal with LOTS of incentives. He has family in Miami and good history. He was popular with the fans and when I think 2003 World Series, I think him holding the ball in his hand after Jeff Conine nailed somebody at home.
Gregg Zaun or Josh Bard are possibilities here too. The fish had interest in Bard at the deadline. Max Ramirez from Texas is another, though it is hard to see what the Rangers would want now with Laird gone. Perhaps a Hermida trade would work here too, seeing as how the Lonestar Staters lost Bradley now.
The Marlins will trade Matt Treanor this off-season. He's been good to us, but his time has passed in the organization. He is due a raise in arbitration, he is great with young pitchers, his bat and defense are average. Unfortunately, he's battled other catchers and injuries with the Marlins and patience has run out.
Twelve hours ago I would have said he goes to the Tigers, but that's out now. I see Boston, Baltimore, and San Francisco in this race, with the Giants leading. A mild return would be necessary, but it could pair up with a Cantu trade (next section). An Eddy Martinez or Billy Sadler type will get the job done.
As far as a starting pitcher, I think Paul Byrd would be a great fit. Pitchers have a tendency to do well going from AL to NL, and Paul is a veteran that would demand a moderate contract with minimal time. Incentives could be used here too. Matt Clement, Braden Looper, and Carl Pavano are possibilities. Rumor has it Andy Sonnastine is on the block, and that would be a nice piece for the Marlins in a Hermida to Rays trade.
This is a mess, as it was before. No trades anymore here, please! Yeah, unlikely story, I know.
Dan Uggla and Hanley Ramirez are going nowhere, for now at least. The Marlins would have to be blown away with a deal for Uggla right now. Wait for the trade deadline and if they are not in contention, he is the biggest move in July, guaranteed.
I would like to see the IF shape up as Cantu/McPherson platoon at third, Hanley SS, Uggla 2B, Gaby Sanchez at first. It would be optimum to keep some power in the lineup and some experience. The Marlins have made it known Cantu is available though, so Marlins fans have come to learn that means Cantu will be traded.
Cantu will either go to San Francisco, or he will go nowhere (please don't make me eat my words). In the Giants yearning for younger power, he fits the mold, and they apparently like him. He could play first or third for them and I think the Marlins would jump at the chance to land Jonathon Sanchez, because what is a Miami team without a pitcher with a high ceiling and control issues?
I would also be surprised if Alfredo Amezaga or Robert Andino are traded. Fans would prefer Andino, but Beinfest/Loria probably prefer Amezaga for "cost saving" reasons. It's hard to project where they could go and the 2b/ss markets are iffy. Alfredo has been asked on for years, but there are no rumors. I think one will go with Hermida or Cantu or Treanor to net a bigger package.
Please feel free to leave your suggestions or comments below. Hopefully things work out for both of our teams!