The Outfield Situation
By Alex Agueros
The Marlins are slowly rounding out their 40-man roster with the addition of 22-year old outfielder Marcell Ozuna. It would be a long shot for Ozuna to make the Major League roster, but it creates a nice opportunity to look at the current Marlins outfield situation.
Earlier this week, President David Samson gave an awfully telling quote on the Dan LeBatard radio show, saying if Jeffrey Loria was given the choice between winning 80 games and making a $20M profit, or winning 100 games and losing money, he “would want 90 wins and to break even.” This compromise is an excellent representation of most of the Marlins outfielders.
No player fits the “compromise” image as well as newly-signed veteran, Juan Pierre. Where fellow outfield free agent Michael Bourn is asking for over 5 yrs/$75M, and Angel Pagan is asking around 3-4 yrs/$10-12M, the Marlins spent $1.6M for one year of Juan. So, the Marlins are spending money, just not a lot of it, and not on huge talent.
July 1, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins outfielder Justin Ruggiano catches a fly ball against the Philadelphia Phillies at Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-US PRESSWIRE
With the exception of Giancarlo Stanton, the rest of the outfield borders on the category of, “warm bodies filling a position.” 30-year old Justin Ruggiano established himself as the starting centerfielder the second half of 2012, and compiled a respectable .313/.374/.535 in 91 games. His BABIP of .401 suggests Justin will regress next season, but for now the center field position is his to lose.
The rest of the “warm bodies” on the 40-man roster feature a handful of mid-twenties, six-foot-something, league-average players. All of them are being paid a little, and most of them are giving little in return. This is the compromise at work.Former rookie of the year, Chris Coghlan, spent the majority of 2012 in New Orleans after batting an awful .140/.212/.183 in the majors. The Marlins aren’t in any position to be giving up hope on any able-bodied outfielders, but unless he puts up monster numbers in the Dominican Winter Leagues and Spring Training, Coghlan should start 2013 in the Minors.
25-year old Gorkys Hernandez sat the bench for all but 45 games last season, and after Juan Pierre’s signing and a career line of .256/.319/.346(including his minor league career) he will likely stay there.The remaining three outfielders on the 40-man I haven’t discussed are players destined to toil some years in the Minor leagues, barring a breakout season. Kevin Mattison, and Kyle Jensen are both batting below .300 in their respective Minor league level, while Bryan Petersen was the definition of a “AAAA” player batting .321/.380/.407 at New Orleans and only .195/.272/.257 with the Marlins.
The Marlins would be wise to keep all options open for the outfield situation in 2012 and give each player not named “Giancarlo” a shot in the outfield. Because as long as the front office is playing the compromise between going all-in and being idle, one of these warm-bodies might prove to be an exceptional major leaguer.