Miami Marlins: Steve Cishek Opens Door To Closer Change, Trade With Brewers


Wherever that ball is going, chances are it isn’t the strike zone, as Miami Marlins closer Steve Cishek blew his second consecutive save Monday night in Los Angeles.  Having cast aside two late inning rallies by his teammates, Cishek has blown four of seven chances on the year for a club that leads the majors in blown saves overall. 

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Clearly a move has to be made, and now.  Miami has three options: stay in-house, sign a player they had zero interest in two months ago, or make a trade with the team that beat them out for an arm they heavily coveted this Spring.

The popular in-house name being bandied about is A.J. Ramos.  And on the surface, that’s a no brainer with his 1.06 ERA and 21Ks.

But I am obliged to throw out on big caveat that most seem to be missing. That list does not include Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald, who tweeted out a few weeks ago the following statsheet from Sporting Charts.  While A.J. has been extremely reliable when he enters at the start of an inning, he has been relatively abysmal when having to deal with inherited runners.

At the time Navarro first brought this to factoid to light, Ramos was the second worse in baseball in this metric; as you can see by the recent list, he’s dropped to a more “respectable” tie for fifth.  I think you can make a fair argument that dealing with inherited runners is about as close as a reliever can come pressure-cooker wise to matching the mantle of responsibility placed upon a team’s closer.

Ramos has flunked dealing with pressure so far this season.  Further, if you do move Ramos, you elevate the role of Sam Dyson; Dyson was at Navarro’s first reporting, and still is, the worst in the game at dealing with inherited runners.

The other option actively being discussed, as first reported Tuesday by Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, is signing free-agent reliever Rafael Soriano.  This is in many ways the best option.  As a free-agent, it costs nothing but money to get him. Whatever the asking price is, it is almost assuredly less than it was in the spring.  His career track record shows success, and shows success within the NL East.

But one catch remains -the fact that Miami, along with 29 other teams, showed minimal interest at best until now. Miami reportedly had zero interest, even after missing out on James Shields and a certain Milwaukee closer.

Scuttlebutt around the league, not to mention the time and money put into retooling and locking-in the Marlins’ roster this off-season, suggests that cost was not the major factor in this apathy.  Miami’s stability at closer has changed- whatever Miami found wrong with Soriano in March probably hasn’t.

What’s also changed though is any faith that the Milwaukee Brewers have anything to play for this season- which means sooner or later they’re going to start selling off parts to rebuild. And this could just open the door to Miami getting the player they just missed out on signing at the start of the season-  Francisco Rodriguez.

K-Rod has been dazzling this season, with 7 saves and an ERA of 1.38.  Kyle Lesniewiski of Fansided’s Reviewing The Brew chatted with me a bit about what the Brewers could seek in return for such an acquisition, and suggested that pitching and the corner infield spots would be areas they could use some help with.  Specifically, he suggested a “50 grade arm” and a “45 rated bat” might be enough to pry K-Rod away; after all, he met with mild interest as well this off-season.

However, the Marlins did deal away a lot of pieces in their recent retooling; while the cupboard isn’t exactly bare, management has the option of either moving major pieces or cobbling together multiple lesser ones.  Tyler Kolek and Justin Nicolino should both be considered untouchable as top three prospects, and the third name on that list at season’s start is currently the starting catcher.

But a package of Jose Urena, another touchable top five arm, and infielder Brian Anderson? Maybe that does the trick.  Or Miami tries for something clever, and targets another Brewer- Jonathan Broxton.

Lesniewski offers that “he’s increased his increased his fastball velocity and upped his strikeouts, and FIP and xFIP both say he’s been a lot better than his ERA”, going on to add that “maybe a 45 grade guy with upside.”  Miami might be able to meet that call with just one top-ten prospect, with perhaps a promising throw in.

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I can’t deny I’d be “happy” if it breaks in the next 48 hours that the Fish reeled in Soriano.  But I also have enough restored faith in the front office that if they thought he could help, he would already be on the roster. I’d be happiest if they stuck to their guns, and started Milwaukee’s impending rebuilding project a couple months early.

Next: Does Stanton have a Plate Discipline Problem?