Five questions:  Miami Marlins

A lot has changed since the Miami Marlins began their great new era of big spending, Ozzie Guillen and superstars taking their talents to South Beach.

The epoch of Miami glory was over by July. Between then and November, the Marlins had shed a dozen solid major league players:

{exp:list_maker}Hanley Ramirez and Randy Choate went to the Dodgers.
Edward Mujica went to the Cardinals.
Gaby Sanchez became a Pirate.
Anibal Sanchez was gone to Detroit for the pennant run. Omar Infante went to the Tigers, too.
Erswhile closer Heath Bell will set up for Arizona this season.
And in the blockbuster contract dump, Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, John Buck and Emilio Bonifacio made the Toronto Blue Jays an American League East favorite.

And now feelings are so bad for the Marlins that writers are accusing the owners of fraud, the owners are writing open letters to the fans and people feel pity for the players who remain.

Perhaps it is appropriate that there are five questions for the Marlins season asked here. That would be one question for everyone in line for season tickets in a picture taken for the Palm Beach Post with one question to spare.

1. Will owner Jeffrey Loria be able to show his face in public?

Loria has once again stripped the Marlins down to their bare bones and the team will resemble a Triple-A team. He is not exactly the most popular person in Florida and the fan base has little reason to trust that he will keep any familiar faces around.

As he tried to defend himself in his ill-advised open letter to the fans, Loria was correct in saying it was not wise to throw good money after bad and the expensive Marlins did indeed lose 93 games in 2012. They will be younger and hungrier in 2013.

If the Marlins turn into a winner in the next few years with a cast of young kids, he will look like a smart, long-term thinking owner. There is precedent—the World Series-winning Marlins of 1997 (pre-Loria) were torn down postseason and won just 54 games the next year. By 2003, they were world champs again.

Besides, if he wants to hide from Marlins fans, probably the safest place for him to be would be Marlins Park. Very few fans are going there this year.

2. Will Giancarlo Stanton be traded?

The former Mike Stanton is 23 years old and entering his fourth big league season. That makes him the grizzled old veteran of the team. He hit the majors’ longest home run of 2012 and has averaged 40 homers per 162 games in his three-year big-league career. He is the team’s MVP candidate and no doubt will make the All Star team as the Marlins’ representative.

That is assuming he will be a Marlin in July.

The right-handed slugging star would be one of the most coveted trade chips in baseball. He is Justin Upton without the baggage. And he is not happy that most of the team was traded from underneath him. He told the world that after the big Toronto trade,

Mets rumors are already swirling about him. Most teams would give up a top prospect to get his prime years. He would be under a team’s control until the end of the 2017 season. He should be the face of the Marlins and this rebuilding. But the chances of him being dealt away are enormous.

3. When will Ricky Nolasco be traded?

Notice the question is “When will” and not “Will he be”. Every team needs pitching. Nolasco will be entering his eighth season, as a 30-year-old, in 2013. He will make $11 million this year, his last before free agency.

Keeping him for the season does not make sense for the Marlins. He will clearly depart in the next offseason, but Kyle Lohse has taught teams a vital lesson about the value of free agent pitchers.

The Marlins will not get to collect a first-round pick for Nolasco if he doesn’t sign with a team. And if teams would not sacrifice their pick for Lohse, what chance would an inconsistent Nolasco have?

A Hardball Times Update
Goodbye for now.

Wait for a contender to be hammered with injuries and Nolasco will be packing his bags.

4. Will Mike Redmond last as manager?

Redmond seems like a solid baseball man and could very well make a terrific big league manager. And the Marlins will be giving him his first taste of being a major league skipper before he inevitably is fired and joins another team.

Think that prediction is harsh? Take a look at the franchise’s history. The team was formed in 1993. This will be its 21st season. Mike Redmond is the 13th Marlins manager. Contrast that with the Dodgers, who have had nine managers since 1954.

Including interim manager Brandon Hyde, he is the sixth manager for the Marlins since the start of the 2010 season. Management saw Joe Girardi and Fredi Gonzalez do magnificent jobs with miniscule payrolls and rewarded them with pink slips.

Learn the trade, Mike Redmond, and make your rookie mistakes. According to the averages, in 1.61 seasons, you will be relieved of your duties in Miami.

5. How fast can Jose Fernandez and Christian Yelich get to Miami?

The Marlins do indeed have two of the best young players in the minor leagues. Their arrival could give Miami its answer to Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg. The problem is they are 21 and 20 years old and have yet to play above Single-A.

The two were teammates in Jupiter in 2012. They will probably play most of 2013 in Double-A Jacksonville. They could both make cameos in Miami at the end of the season.

By then the big league team, which looks to be a combination of washed-up veterans like Placido Polanco and Juan Pierre and unproven minor leaguers like Adeiny Hechavarria and Henderson Alvarez (part of the return from Toronto) will need a shot of excitement.

And then Marlins fans can rejoice in seeing two homegrown stars make their debut. Then in four years they will watch them traded for more prospects. And the cycle for the Marlins will continue.

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John Dillinger
11 years ago

It’s Jose Fernandez.  I don’t think even Miami will resort to pitching Jose Hernandez.

Greg Simons
11 years ago

Thanks for pointing that out, John.  It’s been fixed.

dennis Bedard
11 years ago

Really?  Do you actually believe John Buck will make the Blue Jays a contender?  A consistent Mendoza line specialist.

Paul Francis Sullivan
11 years ago

I do not think Buck will make the Blue Jays a contender. However, the other players tossed in to the deal (Jose Reyes, Mark Buerhle and Josh Johnson) will have a better chance at an impact.

While most people remember this trade for Buck, I’d keep an eye out on Reyes, Buerhle and Johnson… they may do something.

Chris R
11 years ago

Buck has already improved the Jays…by departing for the Mets.

Paul Francis Sullivan
11 years ago

That’s right!
Forgot he was with the Mets now

Anthony Mastro
11 years ago

It’s just a crime that they basically got a bunch of nothing for the guys they sent to the Blue Jays and the Mets were able to get D’Arnaud for RA Dickey.  The Marlins should have at least gotten a guy like Anthony Gose.  He’d be their CF this year.

Dennis Bedard
11 years ago

The real “crime” here is that the Marlins and the local politicos fleeced the taxpayers for over a billion dollars.  Tough to analyze the downside of a trade when its intent was far removed from any traditional baseball considerations.

Bruce Markusen
11 years ago

I saw Yelich hit an opposite field home run on Saturday against the Mets. It was on a fairly tough pitch down and away. If that at-bat is any indication, Yelich will arrive soon.

John C
11 years ago

I’m very interested in seeing if the 2013 Marlins can post a better record than the Mets.

The 1962 Mets, that is.