My good friend and fellow Marlins blogger Strip Club With Stanton mentioned some of the things that he suggested fans do while the Marlins flounder their way through a last-place finish in the 2011 season. While the year has been a complete disappointment for a variety of reasons, there are still a few things left to watch for during this final month of the season. Let’s examine a few of those reasons today:
Mike Stanton is currently standing behind Albert Pujols and Dan Uggla for the National League lead in home runs, and if there is one player on the Marlins that fans should still be watching in this most meaningless of months, it is Stanton. He is currently sitting out games with a strained right hamstring, but when he returns he should have about 15 games or so to try and overtake those two players for the league lead. ZiPS currently has Stanton finishing the season with 36 homers in 615 plate appearances, which is about five or six more than I expected before the season began. If Stanton ends the year with 36, he will have started his career on a 34.2 homer per 600 PA pace, which is simply amazing for a 21-year old.
As fun as watching Mike Stanton hit bombs is, I am also quite interested in seeing how his overall season finishes. Earlier this season, I made the comparison between him and a young Miguel Cabrera, and that comparison is looking more and more apt as the season progresses. Stanton outperformed Cabrera at the plate in his age 20 season and is now hitting comparably at age 21 while playing better defense. If he ends the season somewhere near 4.5 or five wins above replacement, he will outperformed my expectations for him and put him on track for a stellar career.
Dominguez is the only callup of interest for the Marlins this season, as the remaining players are either interchangeable parts or not ready for 2012. Dominguez was initially pegged for the starting third base job before the season began, but after a poor spring and an early season elbow injury, the Marlins are only now getting a good look at how he will handle big league pitching for the first time. The team has to be intrigued by what they might get from him, as he is the primary option for third base in 2012. Unfortunately, his 2011 season has not gone as well as planned after the elbow injury, as he hit just .258/.312/.431 in a hitter’s environment in the Pacific Coast League.
Dominguez was never known for his bat but better known for his glove, but the team will need a good deal both for the 2007 first-rounder to claim the starting role. He’ll have every opportunity to start in September, and hopefully he can impress enough to allow the club to pencil him in for the starting job in 2012, as that will leave one less hole to fill in free agency next season.
The Marlins are interested in Steve Cishek, and I am as well. Cishek is one of the few relievers the Marlins are intrigued by at the closer position, and while I would never find that particular position all that important (closers are the most valuable relievers, but relievers in general are not as valuable as they are usually paid), Cishek’s play this season might have financial ramifications in 2012. If he continues to perform well through the rest of 2011, the Marlins may finally get the push necessary to break ties with Leo Nunez. Nunez will be entering his final arbitration season and will be a decent reliever being paid like a great reliever because of his saves totals. Cishek may not be much better than Nunez, but if he is good enough, the Fish can let go of Nunez and his expected $6 million salary for 2012. In this way, the team can fish out a few more dollars to possibly make a move for a long-term piece in either center field or the starting rotation.
Jack McKeon’s words of wisdom
Beyond players, performances, and the team, there is Trade Jack and his wise words. He is not long for this job, as he is unlikely to be managing the squad in 2012, but whatever wise quips he has left in him for the youngsters on the team, I am certain they will be gold for the media to latch onto. That cigar chomping old guy is like the grandfather you wish you had, telling crazy stories of days long past. Enjoy while he still talks to the media, because soon the Marlins will once again hide him from the public so he doesn’t accidentally embarrass them by calling Hanley Ramirez “Alex Gonzalez” or something.