With spring training just around the corner, the Miami Marlins are most likely done with an unforgettable off-season. Usually feeding off the “leftover” free-agents, the front office finally put their foot down and showed they could spend with the big boys. Signing a multitude of talent, today I will grade each notable signing/transaction on the quality of the move.
- JOSE REYES (A-): Perhaps the biggest move in Miami this off-season, Reyes and Miami agreed to a 6 year, 106 million dollar contract. Reyes, who sat at the top of the organization’s wish-list, is coming off a career year where the 28 year old shortstop hit .337 and eventually won the batting crown. Not only does he bring an offensive force to the top of the line-up, but Reyes adds a more athletic and defensive presence at shortstop than Hanley Ramirez. Quicker with his feet and better with his glove, the defensive performance of the squad should see an upgrade. The only downside of the signing is the speculations on Hanley being upset with a move to third base. While it may still be a factor, Hanley claims he is happy with the move and will at third base for life! Reyes adds another “star” to the lineup and will do great in putting butt’s in the seats. The front office hit a home-run when signing Reyes! Assuming he stays healthy……….
- Heath Bell (B): The second major addition to the squad, star closer Heath Bell was signed to a 3 year, 27 million dollar deal. Coming from the San Diego Padres, Bell is a well respected closer and should be considered as one of the best in the game. With a live fastball and nasty curveball, Bell adds a more consistent presence on the mound in the 9th than former closer Juan Carlos Oviedo. (Leo Nunez) Bell is regarded as a great team player and leader and has that uncoachable ability to retire a side. Of course anytime a closer with his resume joins the team it is something to celebrate! However this signing does not deserve a B+ or A in my opinion for a couple of reasons. While Bell is a great player, I still believe the Marlins overpaid the closer for what it’s worth. Being tagged with a number of top free-agents this off-season, I feel like the Marlins could have used their money a little more wisely. Instead of dishing 9 million a year to Bell, the extra money could have gone to the Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson, or Cespedes fund which was more important in my opinion. The Marlins have arms that could fit well into the closer role already. Bell also SUCKS against the Philadelphia Phillies, a problem he will have to face in the eye multiple times this season. Still, whats done is done and the Marlins now have an all-star closer to rely on.
- Mark Buehrle (B+): As a fan of the game, I am not too high on Mark Buehrle. He does not have overwhelming speed, movement, or placement on any of his pitches. He has a low K ratio and dishes out a fair amount of BB’s. His ERA is respectable, but nothing to ride home about. Still, the man eats innings and keeps his team in the game, and for that I commend him. With a good but still unpredictable bullpen, I believe the Marlin’s made a great choice in adding Buehrle. Not only is he familiar with Ozzie Guillen, but his quality of inning’s pitched is EXACTLY what the Marlins need. In fact, Buehrle has 11 straight years of more than 200 innings pitched with 1 perfect game. He is a 3 time gold-glove winner and a 4 time all-star. The man loves to battle and will compete deep into games every time he is out. While I still would have preferred C.J. Wilson, I believe Buehrle was the next best option out there to sign. Being a lefty does not hurt either!
- Carlos Zambrano (B-): The only reason this is not graded a C+ is because we finally got rid of Chris Volstad! Traded to the Cubs, the fish received a MAJOR “high risk, high reward” piece in Carlos Zambrano. Highly recommended by new skipper Ozzie Guillen, Zambrano brings a good arm with a lot of inconsistency and baggage. But let’s be honest here, when Big Z is “on” he is a very dominate pitcher. The man has a fierce and intimidating presence on the mound and has not had a losing season in 9 straight years! Still, anytime you sign a man with attitude and discipline issues there is a risk. If Carlos can get his act together, the Marlins could have pulled “the steal of the year”. There is actually reports that his fastball is topping out at 97 mph! Lets not forget, Big Z is a 3 time all-star and a 3 time silver slugger award winner. I bet a lot of you forgot that the man can hit a baseball. In his career, he sports a .241 average with 23 homeruns and 69 RBI’s. Saying all this, I still refuse to buy in on Zambrano being a changed man and will need to observe him this season before making a judgement.
- John Baker–>Wade LeBlanc (B): I know most of you are probably thinking, “How does this trade get a B ranking?” Simple, we upgraded without downgrading. Isn’t that the point of trading? The first move of the off-season, the Marlins shipped reserve catcher John Baker to San Diego for 27 year old lefty Wade LeBlanc. While LeBlanc did not have great numbers, he managed to stay in San Diego for the past 4 years and actually has his fair share of moments. He does not have a blow away fastball, usually topping out at 86mph. Still, LeBlanc has an above-average slider and a change-up that some consider “unbelievable”. With John Buck locked in at catcher and Brett Hayes coming off a good year, Baker at BEST would have been a third catching reserve or bench bat. With Greg Dobbs returning as a lefty on the bench, Baker was lost in the shuffle. LeBlanc most likely will start in AAA, but to receive a quality reserve arm for the rotation in exchange for an aging 3rd catcher is a good deal in my opinion. I actually believe Wade will find himself in the rotation sooner than later.
- Aaron Rowand (C+): After being waived by the San Francisco Giants, the Marlins were quick to ink Aaron Rowand to a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training. Rowand, a former all-star and gold glove winner, brings a veteran and experienced CF to the outfield. With CF currently being held down by super utility man Emilo Bonifacio, having an experienced backup on the bench is a smart move in my opinion. Rowand is excellent defensively and will come up with his fair share of moments at the plate. Just 4 seasons ago, Rowand slugged 27 homeruns with 89 RBI’s. While he still has to battle Chris Coghlan, Bryan Petersen and Scott Cousins, I expect Rowand to win the job and make his presence known off the Marlins bench.
- Nick Green (C-): Another minor league contract with a Spring Training invite went to utility infielder Nick Green. If this name looks familiar, it’s because Green was actually Boston’s opening day starting shortstop in 2009. Mainly known for his glove, Green will be given an opportunity to earn a spot on the bench. Most likely, Green will be assigned to AAA and remain there unless an injury or urgent issue takes place. With the way the Marlins have been spending money, it would have been cool to see Edgar Renteria come back and spend his final years in Miami. But business is business and Green came cheaper.
- Austin Kearns (C-): Austin Kearns has not had the career he envisioned. Maybe it was the pressure? Maybe the his hype was just overrated? Who knows. Kearns was looked at early in his career as being the “big guy” for the Cincinnati Reds. He and Adam Dunn combined to make a duo that was supposed to be “one of the best in baseball.” However Kearns struggled greatly in Cincy, and that continued throughout his career with other clubs. He is below-average at best in the outfield and has a very poor arm. His bat CAN be beneficial, yet it’s costly the majority of the time. With the crowded outfield, I really did not understand the signing, but I am pulling for Kearns to make a little more noise for himself and his career.
- Resigning Greg Dobbs (B+): Perhaps the best 2010 Marlin minor league contract given out, Dobbs showed the league that he can play ball too. A career long pinch hitter, and a good one at that, Dobbs was forced to start many games at 3B, 1B, and even some outfield. At the age of 32, Dobbs logged 411 plate appearances while hitting a respectable .275. He was actually above .300 a majority of the year until a cold streak hit him. With such a good year, the Marlins rewarded Dobbs with a 2 year, 3 million dollar contract. I am ALL for this deal and I am very glad we have Dobbs back next year. When we need a hit off the bench, he will be the first option looked to. While he will not get nearly as many plate appearances this year, he will still play a vital role for this years team.
OTHER NOTABLE MOVES (With Major League Experience)
Topics: Albert Pujols, Austin Kerns, Bryan Petersen, C.J. Wilson, Carlos Zambrano, Chad Gaudin, Chris Coghlan, Cincinnati Reds, Edgar Renteria, Emilio Bonicacio, Gregg Dobbs, Hanley Ramirez, Heath Bell, J.D. Martin, John Baker, Jose Reyes, Juan Carlos Oviedo, Mark Buehrle, Miami Marlins, Nick Green, Ozzie Guillen, Rob Delaney, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Scott Cousins, Wade LeBlanc, Yoenis Cespedes