With the offseason underway for the Marlins, it seems that MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro has returned to his classic inbox pieces where he answers questions from the fans. I’m always a big proponent of answering questions for people as well, so I figured I’d once again take a crack at those questions, with a little snarky flare added when necessary. Let’s take a look at this week’s installment.
There is talk that the Marlins will sign big name free agents. They haven’t done so before, will they really do so now? Who might be some of the players they go after?
— Eric F., Hollywood, Fla.
There will come a time for me to go over this, but for now I’d like to get to this point made by Frisaro.
From what I’ve heard in recent days, the team ideally would like to add a free agent who will guarantee huge ticket sales beyond next year. Naturally, the club anticipates big crowds for its first season in its retractable-roof stadium. But what about after that? To generate a long-lasting buzz, the team feels it needs a major impact player who has star power. That’s why I fully expect the Marlins to make a strong push for Albert Pujols. And, yes, I think the team would offer more than $200 million, with the years to be worked out.
Indeed, the Marlins may “go after” Pujols, in the sense that they will make offers to entice him to come to south Florida much like the Oakland Athletics made offers to entice Adrian Beltre to come to their team. But the question is whether those offers will be competitive. Pujols stands to make upwards of $30 million per season on his next contract. He has been the best player in baseball over the last decade if you measure by any Wins Above Replacement metric. In 2011, he hit .299/.366/.541, good for a ,385 wOBA and a 148 wRC+ (48 percent better than the league average hitter), and those were the worst marks of his career.
If the Marlins were planning on paying him more than $200 million, that would be appropriate, but the years would be the clincher. The Fish could offer seven years and $210 million for the soon-to-be 32-year old, but then the team would be left with an enormous contract and not a lot of space left to play with money-wise. Of course, Pujols would instantly add six to seven wins to a team’s ledger, and that would push the Marlins almost certainly into contention range. But how likely are the Fish to commit to such a contract? It would certainly come as surprise to the rest of the league, but it would bring the team instant credibility. It’s something to think about.
As for a move for Prince Fielder, who is mentioned later in Frisaro’s response, I have more trepidation. First basemen are notoriously overrated for their offense, and it is well known that Fielder is a mediocre or worst first baseman defensively, so he is certain to take away a few runs a year with his glove. He needs to be a great bat each year to average the five or so wins a season for which he is almost certainly going to be paid. I’d be more hesitant about that.
I think getting Ozzie Guillen is a great move, but will he get along with the owner and front office? I’m not sure how that relationship will work out.
— Bernardo C., Miami Lakes, Fla.
I’m not sure how that will work out either, but I’m almost certain I won’t care. Jeffrey Loria bought into this mess by wanting to hire Ozzie, so he’ll have to lie with the bed that he made. For what it’s worth, it should at least be interesting to hear about in the papers all the time, and it is certainly not going to affect the play on the field.
Any chance Guillen can talk Javier Vazquez out of retiring?
— Anna L., Miami
Guillen is probably the last guy who can get Javier Vazquez to listen, based on their previously rocky relationship when both were with the Chicago White Sox. Having said that, it seems like Guillen would like to have him back, and after his excellent mid- to late-season run, Marlins fans would be sure to want him back as well. If he returns, it’s almost certainly going to be on another one-year deal with the Marlins, as I doubt he has any desire to get further away from his family. When he comes back, likely for around $8-10 million, we will welcome him with open arms.
For two straight years, Josh Johnson wasn’t able to finish the season. How concerning is this, and will he be ready in 2012?
— Frankie P., Doral, Fla.
It’s very concerning. This was part of the reason why the Fish did not want to sign pitchers for the long haul to begin with. As has been mentioned before, there’s no structural damage to Johnson’s shoulder, so there are positive signs. However, for it to have kept him out all season long is certainly disturbing, and you can’t help but have a feeling that one wrong move could tear the whole thing down and take him out long-term once again. Johnson is entering his third year of a four-year deal, and the Marlins are obviously very wary of his injury past. If he can stay mostly injury-free (and missing the last month in a meaningless stretch run is not so bad in the team’s eyes, I would bet) for the next two years, there is a shot the Marlins will attempt to negotiate another extension. Otherwise, it seems very likely he will not be a Marlin past 2013.
How do you think Hanley Ramirez will respond to having Guillen as his new manager?
— Willie G., Pinecrest, Fla.
I fully expect them to choke each other my midseason.
Not what we’re looking for, you say?
Of course they’ll be fine. Ozzie Guillen only hates pitchers who won’t hit batters that he tells them to hit. Ramirez should be dandy. Unless he starts jogging after balls he kicks into the outfield again. Then we’ll all eat him alive and end up trading him for scraps.
No again? Well, I’ll say this: if there’s anyone who can motivate Ramirez, it’s the fiery gasbag former ballplayer Guillen, that’s for sure.