March 15, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Miami Marlins left fielder Austin Kearns (26) works out prior to the game against the New York Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Marlins Final 25 Man Roster Taking Shape

Yesterday, Andrew Townes of Fishstripes wrote a wonderful article about how the Miami Marlins are different. He pointed out that the team is different when it comes to making executive decisions, baseball decisions, and when it comes to dealing with fans. Different can be good at times, but as Andrew points out, the Marlins might be too different.

The 2012 year promised a “different” Marlins team, but what we got was a typical Marlins team, which is, in fact, different than the rest of the major leagues. “Different” is usually a good trait, but only in moderation. Rainbow barf home run sculptures and tri-color minimalist Marlin logos are absolutely fantastic. They add to the overall Marlins experience and they make the Marlins stand out from the rest of the National and American League. Ultimately, the Marlins need to have a good product on the field if they expect to get a fan base, an ounce of attention in south Florida or (gasp!) a profit.

The Marlins head-scratching “different” strategy continues to baffle me at times. It happened again when the Marlins staff made key decisions on their roster, which appears to be all set, minus two bench spots.

Earlier in the day Tuesday, the Marlins officially sent Jacob Turner down to Triple-A, after he put together a poor spring training. Turner allowed 14 runs in just 13 innings and walked more hitters than he struck out. The hope is he can work out his kinks in the minor leagues and make a quick return.

With that move being made official, manager Mike Redmond was ready to announce his starting rotation: Ricky Nolasco, Nathan Eovaldi, Wade LeBlanc, Henderson Alvarez and Kevin Slowey.

Slowey won the final rotation spot after having an impressive spring. He struck out 13 hitters and only walked four in his 13 2/3 innings of work. Spring numbers don’t often mean much, and likely won’t in the case for Slowey (career 4.66 ERA), but he at least provides the Marlins with time to let Turner work out his troubles.

The Marlins on Tuesday informed article XX (B) free agents Casey KotchmanAustin Kearns and Chad Qualls they would be make the teams 25-man roster to begin the season. 

The addition of Qualls all but sets the bullpen. Steve Cishek is as expected going to be the closer, with Jon Rauch being the primary set-up man. Ryan Webb, John Maine and A.J. Ramos will join those four to make the Marlins bullpen. I would suspect to see Jose Ceda and a few others as the season goes on.

Casey Kotchman was no surprise to make the team, his strong spring merited him a chance to be the Marlins Opening Day first baseman with Logan Morrison still on the mend. His defense at first base should be a huge boost for the Fish, even if he cannot come around with his bat.

Now we get to the head-scratching move: Austin Kearns. I know I mentioned spring numbers don’t mean much, but it is a major alarm when a hitter that is not projected to hit well, struggles mightily during the spring. Kearns is hitting .091 (3-for-33) with seven walks and 12 strikeouts in Grapefruit League play. I cannot fathom the reason the Marlins want him on the roster.

Kearns has primarily been an outfielder in his career, but can play first base as well. However, if the Marlins wanted someone to play first and the outfield, Kevin Kouzmanoff would have been a better option.

Secondly, Kearns making the team leaves room for only one of Chris Coghlan and Gorkys Hernandez. Both are younger than Kearns and provide more upside. Both have enjoyed strong springs and would be welcome options off of the Marlins bench.

They will compete over the final days for the final outfield spot, but I think Gorkys may have the upper hand because he is out of minor league options. The Marlins would risk losing him if they were to try and send him down. Coghlan still has one minor league option left.

So unless the Marlins decide they can use Coghlan both as an outfielder and in the infield, he could be in jeopardy of not making the team despite a strong spring.

I have always been an Austin Kearns fan and I wanted him to make the team last season, but I don’t see the reasoning behind Kearns making the team this season.

The last position battle is between infielders Chris Valaika and Wilson Valdez. Both are vying for the final spot on the team, as the utility player. Neither player projects to do much in terms of value for the Marlins, but could come into play of Donovan Solano struggles at second.

The winner of those two battles is expected to join the aforementioned Austin Kearns, Kyle Skipworth, and Greg Dobbs on the Marlins bench. That bench is extremely scary and not in a good way.

What do you guys think, should Austin Kearns have made the team over Chris Coghlan and Gorkys Hernandez?

Tags: Miami Marlins

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