It’s becoming clear that Heath Bell won’t be a part of the Marlins next year. We’ve also heard lately that the Marlins will retrench, with a payroll in the neighborhood of $80m. So, what to do?
A shakeup of some kind is necessary, but I don’t think a gutting and filleting of the team from top to bottom is necessary. I suggest, rather, that identifying a solid core of players, and building from there might be the best approach.
The first step is with the front office. It’s an unfortunate business, but a business nonetheless, and someone’s head has to roll over this season. The Marlins have never actively embraced the use of advanced statistical analysis to influence player acquisition, and Larry Beinfest is the guy who is responsible for that decision. I think he needs to go, and I think a new GM and a couple of stat-heads need to come into the organization. To blame Ozzie Guillen or individual players for the season is easy to do, but I think incorrect. To be sure, Ozzie needs to shoulder some of the grief, but I think he should be allowed to escape some of the blame. The new ballpark has long fences, and only one guy that’s capable of consistently topping them. The new front office staff should start lining up guys that can get lots of line drive base hits and doubles. Here’s a proposed list:
Needs: 3rd base, left field, backup catcher, bench/utility guys
Suggestions: Jonatan Solano as a backup catcher.
Our starting rotation has been pretty good this year, and with better run support, may have been great. I wouldn’t change it very much, but I’d consider trying to pick up someone that might give Jacob Turner a little more time to sharpen his skills as a back-of-the-rotation guy. The bullpen, however, needs a little help. Steve Cishek did a pretty good job filling in for Heath Bell this year, but he really needs to work on his changeup to ice down left-handed hitters effectively. If he can do that in the offseason, great. Otherwise, I’d keep him in the bullpen. Either way, we need a closer, stat. I don’t see a way for Bell to remain on the team, in any capacity.
Trades: Heath Bell
Needs: A closer
I’ve just touched on some of the bigger names. I’d leave it up to the Sabremetricians to determine the fates of the bench and utility players, and to restructure the rest of the bullpen. We’ve got some good guys, but there may be better choices out there that can fit with the position and payroll needs of the team.
That sums up my thoughts about player and front office changes. Maligned as he is, Ozzie is still the manager, and still has a Herculean task in front of him. What Ozzie needs to do is to figure out how to build enthusiasm and energy in a team of guys that have had their asses handed to them for the last six months. He has to cajole, inspire, threaten, punish, reward, and lead the team into next year. That will be the crucible he faces. If he can take a team that has been beaten so badly after such high expectations and lead them to a winning season, Loria should set him up for life.