Marlins should make a run for C.J. Wilson

As lead writer Michael Jong pointed out in an earlier post about the future of the Marlins rotation, the chances of the Florida Marlins getting much pitching help from the minors in the near future looks bleak.   Jeffery Loria has promised to do what ever it takes with the Marlins moving into their new ballpark in 2012. For the Florida Marlins to be able to compete with the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves in 2012, the Marlins are going to need to have a strong pitching staff.

The 2011 season has been unkind to Marlins starting pitchers. The Marlins have used eight different starters this season with very little success. Here’s a quick overview of the Marlins pitchers numbers from this season.

Josh Johnson:

The 2011 season got off to a promising start of Johnson. In just 9 starts, Johnson pitched 60 innings with a 1.64 ERA and a 2.64 FIP. Johnson’s season ended on May 16th when he left the game early against the Mets. Johnson has since been shut down for the season and will be ready for opening day 2012 (we hope).

Ricky Nolasco:

For the past three seasons, experts have been saying that “this is the season that Nolasco will finally pitch up his peripherals.”  Sadly, for the third straight season, Nolasco has not done so. In fact, there’s growing concern with Nolasco’s shrinking K%. Right now, he is sitting at a career low of 16.7%. Nolasco has posted an ERA/FIP/xFIP of 4.39/3.48/3.55 this season. The Marlins cannot afford to have Ricky have another season like this heading into the new park.

Anibal Sanchez:

Sanchez is enjoying one of the best seasons of his young career. He has a decent shot of posting his first career 200 strikeout season and is on pace to post his lowest walk total of his career. Sanchez has especially stepped up his game since Johnson went out. Anibal Sanchez however is set to become a free agent after the 2012 season and there hasn’t been much talk about an extension recently. The smart move would be to lock him up this off-season.

Javier Vazquez:

The best way to summarize Vazquez’s season would be with this post by Michael.Vazquez has been the Marlins best starter since June. However, it’s expected that Vazquez is going to retire after this season. This is unfortunate for the Marlins as he would be a good guy for the Marlins to have pitching for them next season.

Chris Volstad:

I will admit, I am a huge Volstad fan and I want to see nothing more then to see him succeed. However, I don’t know if this success will come with the Marlins. It is rumored that the Marlins will dangle him this off-season as he will be arbitration eligible for the first time. Chris Volstad has turned in a much better season this year, with a 4.50 FIP and a 3.70 xFIP, but he’s still giving up too many home runs and extra bases. The Marlins will need to decide whether or not he’s part of their future.

Brad Hand:

Hand looked brilliant in his first major league start, but has looked lost ever since. Hand was clearly not MLB ready this season and should spend another full season at Double-A before he gets another MLB look.

Elih Villanueva and Jay Buente:

Not much to say other than that these two did not contribute much at all in their starts. The Marlins were murdered in both their respective games with very sub par starts from both.

Clay Hensley:

Hensley did not have much success as a starter and his future in Florida maybe coming to an end. Will discuss this at further length in the near future.

The Solution?

In an article published in USA Today on Wednesday by Bob Nightengale, Nightengale claimed the following:

There are rumblings that the Florida Marlins, who move into a new stadium in 2012 and may be looking to make a splash, will be a big player in the Pujols-Fielder sweepstakes. The Chicago Cubs would seemingly love to steal one of their rival first basemen. The San Francisco Giants, Rangers, Washington Nationals, Toronto Blue Jays, Los Angeles Dodgers, and possibly the Angels could be involved.

I for one am not too inclined to believe these rumors nor am I too crazy about the idea. Signing Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder would tie up a ton of money in one player. The Marlins payroll is believed to be somewhere between $75-80 million next season and signing one of these two to a long contract would probably absorb much of that. Especially for someone such as Fielder, whose not exactly a wizard the glove.

In my opinion, if the Marlins are really going to make a splash in free agency this off-season, the guy they need to keep a close eye on is C.J. Wilson. Wilson will provide the Marlins with a second ace, in case Johnson gets injured again. He would also provide a left-handed arm to a right-handed dominant pitching staff. Wilson is likely to command a big payday as well. However, if the Marlins are intent on making a big splash, I would like for them to go after this guy. A potential rotation of Johnson-Wilson-Sanchez-Nolasco-Volstad would not quite be at the Phillies’ level, but it would give the Marlins a fighting chance in the division.

Argument for Wilson

C.J. Wilson will turn 31 after this season. This would be a huge argument for people that don’t want to see Wilson in a Marlins uniform. However, if you dig deeper into the Wilson’s career, you’ll see that he’s pitched only 685 innings in his career. The majority of them have come in the past two seasons after he was converted to a starter in 2010. How has he done since becoming a full-time starter, here’s a look at his numbers. C.J. Wilson has been a major reason the Texas Rangers pitching staff has done as well as they have. He is their undisputed ace.

Season IP ERA FIP K% BB% WAR
2010 204 3.35 3.56 20.0 10.9 4.4
2011 201 3.13 3.33 21.7 8.0 4.8

As the numbers show, C.J. Wilson has improved this season from last season and looks to be getting better. The Marlins rotation could really use a pitcher like him.

The Florida Marlins, it seems, are intent on making a big splash this off-season. There are rumblings out there that Pujols or Fielder maybe the ones the Marlins are targeting. I however disagree with that sentiment; instead, the Marlins should make a hard run at C.J. Wilson. After all, pitching is the main key for the Marlins to be able to contend in a very tough NL East. A front four of a healthy Johnson, Wilson, Sanchez, and Nolasco could definitely put up a solid fight against the Phillies incredible rotation.

Topics: Albert Pujols, Anibal Sanchez, C.J. Wilson, Chris Volstad, Javier Vazquez, Josh Johnson, Miami Marlins, Prince Fielder, Ricky Nolasco

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