Fixing the Franchise: The Miami Marlins – March and April 2019

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We are back, and just about to the regular season. If you want to catch up on the previous installments, follow the links below:

A Brief History
Spring Training Through Opening Day 2019

Right before the start of the season I realized that I had an opportunity to lock down a few of my new acquisitions.

Contract Extensions

NamePositionAgeOverallYearsAmount
Trevor WilliamsSP26815$22.5M
Aldaberto MondesiSS23802$5.6M
Max Muncy1B28845$17M
Kike HernandezLF27835$22M
Jorge AlfaroC25772$4.2
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Trevor Williams is a solid young arm in my rotation. He is only 26 years old and an 81 overall. With B potential I am confident in giving him a multi-year deal. Locking him down for 5 years at only $4.5M a year is a steal.


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Aldaberto Mondesi is a huge key to the success of my team. He provides amazing speed on the bases and is a solid defender. His bat is not too bad, I am happy to not have to worry about him for a few years at only $2.8M per year.

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Max Muncy was the next player I wanted to negotiate with. This is an absolute steal of a deal for my team. I am able to lock him down in his prime, for 5 years, at only $3.4M per year. Even if he does not continue to establish himself as a consistent starter in my lineup, his versatility maintains that he will be an asset on my bench moving forward.

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Kike Hernandez was next, and his story is similar to Muncy’s. A 5 year deal, at $4.4M per year. If he can’t play everyday throughout his contract he will be a key contributor from my bench at multiple positions.

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I wanted to lock down my backstop and the only original Marlin that I had left. Jorge Alfaro is young, has an amazing arm, and produces pretty well at the plate for a catcher. I have my starting catcher for the next two years at $2.1M per year.

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Looking at where I stand budget wise I am in a solid spot. I have room to pick up some players around the all-star break if I am in a competitive position. I have lots of room heading into next year, and I only have commitments beyond 2020 with young and versatile players.

Opening Day

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It was the Rockies against the Marlins for Opening Day in Miami. Dallas Keuchel vs Kyle Freeland. My Marlins starting lineup was looking pretty solid and I was very confident heading into the season.

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The first three innings were uneventful. Keuchel sat down the first two batters he faced prior to giving up a homerun to Nolan Arrenado. Freeland was perfect his first time through the Marlins lineup.

In the fourth inning Keuchel retired the first two Rockies he faced before giving up a mammoth homerun to Charlie Blackmon, which put the Rockies up 2-0.

In the bottom of the fourth the Marlins finally showed some life at the plate, with two outs Jose Martinez hit a line-shot to the right fielder for an out, but it was the first time the Marlins had hit the ball clean all day.

In the bottom of the 5th, Max Muncy led off with an 0-2 single. A hit and run by Devon Travis moved Muncy to second. An infield single by Jorge Alfaro put the Marlins with runners on 1st and 3rd and only one out. Adalberto Mondesi was able to hit a choke-shot one-hopper to the second baseman. On that, Muncy scored and Mondesi was too fast for the Rockies to turn a double play.

In the bottom of the 6th, Danny Valencia pinch hit for Keuchel, ending his day on the mound. Valencia was hit by a pitch 0-2. Kike Hernandez lined out to second to bring Vladamir Guerror Jr. up to the plate. Vlad Jr. hit a line drive single to right field for his first major league hit.

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Martinez followed that with a fly out to center field, not quite deep enough for Valencia to tag up on. Muncy then hit a single through the five hole to set up based loaded and two outs. The Marlins were unable to capitalize with the bases loaded, with Travis grounding into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.

Valencia was left in the game, and a double-switch was used to bring in a relief pitcher in the five-spot for Devon Travis. Muncy bumped over to second base to allow Valencia to play first.

The rest of the game was pretty uneventful. The Marlins posed no true threat of scoring. The Rockies eventually closed things out with Wade Davis and won 3-1.

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Keuchel was solid on the hill, with 6IP, 3ER, 9K and 0BB. There was not too much for the Marlins to be proud about at the plate – Muncy was the only player with a multi-hit game.

April

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After the first month of the season, the Marlins are 14-15 and 2.5 games back of the N.L. East leading Braves. At this point the team is under-performing, I expect a better performance from them as the year progresses.

Pitching

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Chris Archer has been the bright spot in the pitching rotation – leading the team with a 3-0 record and a 1.27 ERA. Ervin Santana and Trevor Williams have also been solid, with sub 4.00 ERAs. Dallas Keuchel has been god-awful with a 1-5 record and a 5.45 ERA. Chase Whitley has been even worse, he has a 1-4 record and 8.03 ERA. I have faith that Keuchel will turn things around, Whitley is likely to lose his spot if he doesn’t turn things around fast.

Hitting

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Jose Martinez is leading the charge offensively. He has had a solid month at the plate with a .327 AVG. and 5 HRs. Kike Hernandez has shown some solid pop at the plate, leading the team with 7 HRs through the month of April. Starling Marte has had a terrible month and will be losing his leadoff spot (against righties), he only has a .177 AVG through his first 113 ABs.

Around The League

A pretty notable trade took place on April 20th. The Cleveland Indians agreed to send SP Danny Salazar to the Boston Red Sox for CF Jackie Bradley Jr.

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Mike Foltynewicz is leading the charge for the Cy Young Award. Chris Archer is right there with him.

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Justin Turner is hitting up a storm in the first month of the season, with a .407 AVG, 10 HR and 27 RBI.

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Looking at the top prospects in baseball, many have made their way to the Major Leagues early in the season. Of the players on that list, I have a nice surprise with Brain Chu showing up at #13. I may have to find room for him on the Marlins if he produces at AAA.

Minors

Down on the farm we have had some stand out performances:

  • Charlie Weaver – CF (AAA): .330 AVG, 2 HR, 8 RBI
  • Bryce Geiger – 1B (AAA): .325 AVG, 6 HR, 18 RBI
  • Russell Brooks – 1B (AAA): .375, 3 HR, 8 RBI
  • Julio Francisco – 3B (AA): .356 AVG, 1 HR, 10 RBI
  • Daryl Meredith – RF (AA): .358 AVG, 1 HR, 6 RBI
  • Tom Park – SP (AAA): 4-0, 0.98 ERA, 21K
  • Alden Floyd – RP (AAA): 19.0 IP, 1.42 ERA, 16K
  • Elliot Zimmer – SP (AA): 3-1, 1.80 ERA, 24K
  • Marshall Daley – RP (AA): 16.0 IP, 0.00 ERA, 14K

Roster Moves:

  • Sandy Alcantara has been sent down to AA after a terrible month. He was 0-4 with a 7.13 ERA. He will be replaced by Lawrence Jackson in the rotation. Marshall Daley will be called up to AAA in his spot.

Up Next

Next we will take a look at how this Marlins team performed through the second full month of the season. The team is still in contention and is hovering around .500. Hopefully some of the arms on the staff turn things around. We also need some veteran bats to wake up – or they will be losing their spots to the younger guys down in AAA.

Feel free to comment below or on Reddit if you have any suggestions for the squad moving forward.

– Buzz

Fixing the Franchise: The Miami Marlins – Spring Training Through Opening Day 2019

In my last post about the Marlins I went into brief detail about the history of the franchise. You can find that post here. The main point that I wanted to get across was that the Marlins are no stranger to an extreme roster turnover. Nothing is out of the question with that organization and many of their decisions are for lack of a better word – questionable.

Given the opportunity – I think that I could lay the groundwork for another drastic rebuild of the Marlins.

Unfortunately, I do not have any access to the Miami Marlins front office. I am just a simple elementary school teacher. The only tool that I have at my disposal is my Playstation 4 and MLB The Show 19.

With that in mind, here is my plan for tearing down and rebuilding the Miami Marlins for the 2019 season and beyond.

Rules

  • I cannot tinker with trades. I can only offer up players, or identify players that I am interested in.
  • Players have to be played at their primary position, unless there are injuries.
  • That is all I can think of right now.

State Of The Initial Roster

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This team is not good. Looking at this lineup there are only two players that I could see building around – Brian Anderson and Jorge Alfaro. The rest are either bloated contracts with old players, or younger players that would not produce a competitive roster.

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I am a little more optimistic about the state of the rotation. We are missing a true ace on the hill – and the bullpen is lacking – but at least I have some young arms to work with here.

Budget

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We started out with $71,000,000 on the books for 2019 and only were committed to $17,000,000 for 2020. While that is still relatively low in terms of an overall salary, for the amount of talent that I had, I wanted it to be much lower.

Getting Rid Of The Bad Contracts

My first big move as the new GM of the Miami Marlins was to dump as much salary as possible. Fortunately for me the Marlins do not have many players that I deem keepable. I pretty much took whatever I could get prospects-wise for my big contracts. The first player that I wanted to get rid of was Wei-Yin Chen. He is worth $32 million over the next two years. That is insane for a 33 year old of his caliber.

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I offered Wei-Yin Chen out to the baseball universe and this was the best I could get. A 34 year old outfielder in Jon Jay and two 29 year old D potential prospect. On the bright side I was able to save $10 million for 2019 and remove $17 million from the 2020 season.

To save some scrolling space I made a number of moves in the table below that resulted in some extreme salary savings as well as obtaining a few decent prospects.

TradedAgeOvr.Pot.ToRec.AgePos.Ovr.Pot
Jon Jay3469DRaysJoe Park21C46C
Bryan Holaday3172CRaysLewis Radford183B53B
Martin Prado3567DBrewersEdgar Lopez23CF47C
Matt Albers36RP65C
David Freitas30C59D
Miguel Rojas3072DA’sJuan Franco221B48B
Adam Conley2874CMarinersMarco Montanez203B61C
Sergio Romo3680BIndiansMaxwell Castillo22RP71C
Starlin Castro2982CTwinsCarmen Cedeno18SP64B
Curtis Granderson3874CGiantsJulio Lopez23CP62B
Matt Albers3670CD-BacksSteve Garvey221B48C
Neil Walker3374CMetsRodney Tucker263B48A

Martin Prado was the only player that I was able to move for multiple players, two of which were in their 30’s. Jon Jay and Matt Albers were immediately traded once I received them, they just didn’t fit into my vision for the future of the franchise. Overall, I am pretty happy with this roster clean-out and salary dump. I was able to shed all of my heavy contracts and aging players without having to eat any of the contracts.

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Now I am at a spot where I am totally happy with my player salaries. I am down from $71M to $25M. I went from having $17M guaranteed in bad contracts to being left with $0 committed for the 2020 season.

Trading For Talent

This question gets asked often – if you were starting a franchise, which player would you want to build around?

Unlike the history of the Marlins, I envision this being a competitive and consistent team in the future. I do not want to continue the history of extreme roster turnover. With that in mind – I would want to start my franchise with the #1 prospect in baseball. That prospect being just 19 years old – Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

I went to the Blue Jays and told them I was interested. To my surprise, they came back with the following offer:

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TradedAgeOvr.Pot.ToRec.AgePos.Ovr.Pot
Brian Anderson2579ABlue JaysVladamir Guerrero Jr.193B87A
Trevor Richards2576B
William Ryu2074A

Of course I accepted this trade. I gave up a lot – my two best prospects and a starter from my rotation. I had the opportunity to grab a generational talent – at just 19 years old – I had to take it. Would this trade happen in real life? Probably not. I doubt the Blue Jays would trade him for anyone not named Mike Trout. Guess what? This isn’t real life, and I now have Vlad Jr.

Now that I had the building block of my franchise I needed to fill out the rest of my lineup. I wanted to target versatile players – I want to be able to have about 12 players rotate in and out of the lineup playing consistently.

I made the following additional trades:

TradedAgeOvr.Pot.ToRec.AgePos.Ovr.Pot
Jose Urena2777CPadresFranchy Cordero24CF64B
T.J. Hager2573BDodgersMax Muncy281B78B
Peter O’Brien2869B
Franchy Cordero2465B
Austin Dean2567BDodgersKike Hernandez27LF83C
Darius Craven2046A
Andreas Escobar2666C
Lewis Brinson2462AMetsMichael Conforto26RF80B
Elieser Hernandez2367B
Austin Brice2568B
Pablo Lopez2373BDodgersChris Taylor28CF78B
Willy Ramirez2572ARoyalsAldaberto Mondesi23SS82B
Drew Steckenrider2883B
Jarlin Garcia2668BCardinalsJose Martinez30RF78C
Rosell Herrera2666B
Lewis Radford1853B
J.T. Riddle27B71PiratesAdam Frazier272B77B
Randal Johnson19B56
Patrick Potts23C70
Michael Conforto26B78PiratesChris Archer30SP83B
Rob Harris20C71Trevor Williams26SP81B
Gabby Guerrero25B67YankeesCameron Maybin31CF71C
Troy Tulowitzki34SS69C
Tommy Kahnle29RP77C
Cameron Maybin31C72GiantsGerardo Parra31RF75C
Eric Kratz38C72B
Gerardo Parra31C69AngelsLouis Garcia32RP78C

I decided to move on from Jose Urena – my best starting pitcher at the time. He was the one true salary outlier I had left. His potential was not great either, so I acquired a good outfield prospect in Franchy Cordero. I assumed Cordero would provide better trade value.

I made a ton of moves – players acquired that I deemed as on my major league roster were:

  • Max Muncy – 1B
  • Devon Travis – 2B
  • Kike Hernandez – LF
  • Jose Martinez – RF
  • Chris Archer – SP
  • Trevor Willians – SP
  • Adam Frazier – 2B
  • Aldaberto Mondesi – SS
  • Chris Taylor – CF
  • Troy Tulowitzki – SS

I obviously needed to supplement my roster some more, so I turned to Free Agency next.

Free Agency

I definitely had some big holes to fill (thats what she said) with my major league roster. My pitching staff was limited Trevor Williams and Chris Archer. Dallas Keuchel was available so I went out and saw what I could sign him at.

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Pretty great signing in my option. A former Cy Young winner to be the ace of my staff at under $6 million for a year. Obviously my next move was to grab a closer, and Craig Kimbrel was the obvious answer to anchor my bullpen.

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I feel like the salary was a bit high, but it is only for one season and I am not committed to anything long-term. I can’t complain about that. I can always flip him at the deadline for prospects if we are not competitive.

The next batch of free agents were signed to fill out my bench and my pitching staff. I wanted to keep things short-term and relatively low cost.

Major League Free Agents Signed:

NameAgePositionOVRYearsYearly Salary
Logan Morrison311B731$2.5M
A.J. Ramos32RP802$3.9M
Josh Fields33RP781$2.7M
Pedro Alvarez321B702$1.8M
Danny Valencia34RF732$2.5M
Ervin Santana36SP771$4.1M
Adam Liberatore31RP802$2.0M
Ryan Madson38RP791$3.7M
Chase Whitley29SP771$3.0M

I now have a few solid bats and veteran leadership on my bench. Morrison and Alvarez provide some pop from the left side, while Valencia will be my go to guy against left handed pitching. Santana will be a solid starter in my rotation, and the other arms fill out my bullpen pretty nicely.

Minor League Free Agents Signed:

NameAgePositionOVRYearsYearly Salary
Alfredo Molina24RF721$70K
Charlie Weaver19CF731$100K
Martin Riedling18RF741$100K
Elliott Zimmer19SP651$70K
Cyrus Reyna19RP701$90K
Bryce Geiger181B751$100K
Alex Jordan22SS681$80K
Lawrence Jackson25SP721$90K
Clifton Hand20CF641$70K
Brian Chu24SS711$100K
Antone Cruz18LF751$100K
Russell Brooks211B661$80K
Tom Park 19SP671$80K
Julio Francisco203B621$70K
Guillermo Perez19SP651$70K
Alden Floyd22RP681$70K
Gilberto Becerra21CP691$90K
Jamie Leece223B721$90K
Fuzzy Miklich22CF671$90K

There was quite a lot of talent and potential hidden in free agency. I am excited to see how Geiger, Weaver, and Riedling turn out – there is a ton of talent there with all three being under 20 years old.

More Trades

I really liked where my team was at this point, but I wanted to add a little speed to my outfield. I also didn’t have a great contact guy for the top of my lineup. I took a look at the trading block and saw that Starling Marte was listed on the block.

I decided to make these last few trades to firm up my roster:

TradedAgeOvr.Pot.ToRec.AgePos.Ovr.Pot
Chris Taylor2877BPiratesStarling Marte30CF86B
Adam Frazier2773B
Chad Wallach27B59Blue JaysDevon Travis282B75B
Tommy Kahnle29C79
Magneuris Sierra22B63
Caleb Smith27B74RangersDelino Deshields Jr. 26CF78B
Chris Martin32RP78C

I was a little frustrated to have to include Chris Taylor in that deal. He provided me an incredible amount of versatility in my lineup. I also had to include Adam Frazier, who was slated to start at second base for me. I am pretty excited to plug in Marte at the top of my lineup and in CF though.

After losing Frazier I was able to acquire Devon Travis for a reliever, a career minor leaguer, and a decent prospect. I then sought to add some speed to my bench, as I was not able to add any during free agency. Delino Deshields Jr. provides me a solid option as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement in the outfield and at second base. He can also help Vlad Jr. navigate life as a major leaguer that is the son of a former major leaguer.

Starting Lineup

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I am extremely happy with where the roster is at compared to where it started.

  • Starling Marte has great speed and contact at the top of my lineup – while also providing excellent defense in center field.
  • Jose Martinez is tremendous hitter, defense is a bit shaky but his bat should make up for it.
  • Max Muncy gives me some lefty power from the three hole and versatility on defense.
  • Vladamir Guerrero Jr. is the heart and should of this lineup in the four spot.
  • Jorge Alfaro is one of the few holdovers from the Marlins roster that I inherited. He is a solid young catcher with a decent bat.
  • Kike Hernandez provides me a ton of lineup flexibility and a good bat from the right handed side.
  • Aldaberto Mondesi provides great speed and good defense from shortstop.
  • Devon Travis is a serviceable second baseball with a good bat.

My bench provides me with some good options – especially using pinch hitters in the National League.

  • Delino Deshields Jr. will be primarily used as a pinch runner and defensive replacement.
  • Logan Morrison will be used as a lefty bat off the bench, much like Pedro Alvarez.
  • Troy Tulowitzki is veteran leadership to help out my young players.
  • Danny Valencia is around to attack left-handed pitchers.
  • Erik Kratz will be used sparingly to help spell Alfaro.

Rotation

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The Marlins have much better rotation and bullpen at this point as well.

  • Dallas Keuchel is my Cy Young and the ace of the staff.
  • Chris Archer provides a consistent righty arm and necessary swagger.
  • Ervin Santana brings that veteran leadership and will do a good job eating innings throughout the season.
  • Chase Whitley and Trevor Williams will be solid back of the rotation guys.

The bullpen has some solid guys – but is a different story. It is essentially a group of rag-tag free agents. All solid arms, but none will be with the club for long. Craig Kimbrel is the marquee guy in my pen.

Analysis

As of today (May 16th, 2019), the Miami Marlins are projected to finish the season at 59-103 by FanGraphs – 27 games behind the Phillies in the NL East.

FiveThirtyEight currently has the Marlins with a <1% chance to make the playoffs. They are projected on that website to finish at 55-107.

I am pretty optimistic with where the roster that I have created is at – and fully expect my Marlins to surpass both projected win totals by the All-Star break.

Where do you think my new-look Marlins will end up in the 2019 season? What moves did you like? Which moves do you think will backfire on my franchise? Who should I target as the season progresses?

– Buzz