By Michael Jong
I’m dropping the date label on the Fish Bites pieces. The date’s on top, ladies and gents, you can get a good look yourself! Anyway, on to the news and notes.
– Apparently Hanley Ramirez wasn’t too happy about being hit by a pitch by Jays reliever Dirk Hayhurst yesterday, and wanted some retaliation as protection. Said Ramirez, in Spanish, “You know, incredible. There’s going to come a point where I’m not going to feel protected. I’m going to be scared to hit a home run because I know I’m going to get hit.”
I’m not a big fan of the barbarism that is throwing fastballs at other guys intentionally. I’m not exactly sure how that’s supposed to help anyone. As a pitcher, you’re giving up a base, and as a hitter, you’re supposed to forget these sorts of things the next time you’re up anyway. So you know I’m not a fan of how Hanley reacted to the situation here. But for him to say that he’s going to be scared to hit a home run? Just because the other team is being moronic and childish doesn’t the Marlins should follow suit. The way I see it, if he hits you, hit another home run. That should show them you’re not afraid of the fastball.
– Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post blogs that Gaby Sanchez has moved to third base and might be on his way up to the big leagues. If so, this would be an obvious replacement for the struggling Emilio Bonifacio. I’m glad to see front office management (and this would be something the front office probably requested Triple-A New Orleans to do) is stepping up in trying to get a bat into third base. That being said, what Capozzi opens up afterwards was much more speculative and potentially devastating.
Capozzi mentions that Sanchez could take third base and move Bonifacio or Coghlan to their more natural second base position, opening up Dan Uggla to be traded. The Marlins stand currently a game under .500 and, while it’s still extremely early in the season, well within wild card reach, provided they start playing better. Of course, that sort of positioning doesn’t imply that the Marlins won’t make a move to help the team weather its limited finances as best it can. Uggla has been rumored to be involved in trade rumors ever since the team decided not to hand out a long-term deal to him after giving Hanley a six-year deal. This decision was absolutely correct; Uggla is 29 years old, is a below average defender at his current position, and figures to age in a not so graceful fashion. There was simply no reason to buy out any of his arbitration years for the likely $8 million a year it would have taken.
Right now, Uggla has trade value, and the Giants are rumored to be interested. But the Marlins would be silly to make a deal like this right now. If Uggla is dealt to the Giants, the team would suffer even more offensively than they have right now, especially if the plan was to move Bonifacio to second base. Furthermore, while the Giants do have an excellent set of prospects, none of those guys will be coming over to the Marlins in a trade. The Giants have made it very clear they’re shopping starter Jonathan Sanchez, not top-flight prospects such as Madison Baumgarner or Tim Alderson. Sanchez is 26 years old and has electric stuff, but has yet to put it all together. His walk rate has jumped so far this season, up to a ridiculous 6.71 BB/9. His other peripherals are steady from last year, but the walk rate has bumped his FIP to 4.62 on the year. Do we really need another Andrew Miller-type pitcher in Marlins’ staff?
– The Marlins apparently rejected a straight-up trade of Cody Ross for Jeff Francoeur. With all of Francoeur’s struggles this year, I can’t say I disagree. But let’s look at both players’ production this year. Francoeur has been awful this year, posting a .250/.284/.345 line that is down a bit from last year. But looking at some of his other stats, he’s not faltering any from his rookie campaign. His GB/FB ratio is hovering around 1, as it has throughout his career. His LD% is at 20.7%, right around his career totals. His walk rate has basically been the same terrible total it always was, while his K% has actually gone down, currently standing at a career low 14.7%. As a result, his contact rate is up, so while he’s swinging at everything, he’s certainly hitting more of it. You’d expect that with a LD% at 20% and a decent contact rate, he’d be doing OK, but he’s been horrific. The BABIP may have something to do with it; it’s the same as last year’s, when he had his worst season yet. In that analysis, Francoeur looks like a guy who’s run into some bad luck and has one major hole in his game (he can’t draw walks). That’s not bad, but given his slightly above average glove (last year could have been a bit of an aberration in the field), he certainly could still play.
Ross has been as good in the field, if not better than Francoeur recently, plus he gets a bonus for being a passable center fielder. But as far as a hitting profile, Ross probably profiles as what Francoeur likely would be, a power-hitting outfielder with a poor eye for the strike zone. Cody is swinging at about 27% of balls outside the strike zone, a value that is not as extreme but similar in profile to Francoeur’s. Cody’s actually made less contact than Francoeur and has been significantly luckier (.309 BABIP vs. Francoeur’s .278). The difference between the two has been in the power numbers. Cody’s ISO stands at a robust .212, while Frenchy has a Bonifacio-esque .095.
Frenchy needs time in the minors to rebuild his swing and confidence. He’ll never walk a ton, but if he can get his BA back up in the .270 range, combine that with his solid glove, he could pass as a decent right fielder. As for now, that trade simply would not have worked. Why acquire a younger player (Francoeur is 25) whose ceiling is the guy you have now (Cody is 29)? It would only work if you thought Francoeur could be better in a few years than Cody, but because Frenchy will never develop plate discipline, Ross is pretty much his ceiling.