On Wednesday evening the Miami Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays agreed to a 12 player deal that will send Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, John Buck and Emilio Bonifacio north of the border in exchange for Yunel Escobar, Jeff Mathis, Henderson Alvarez, and a package of prospects. The size of this trade is somewhat staggering, as is the amount of salary the Marlins have been able to lop off over the last 4 months in the wake of last offseason’s unsuccessful spending spree. This particular deal isn’t quite as large as the Boston-Los Angeles waiver deadline deal, but Toronto is still agreeing to assume nearly $200 million in contracts while taking a big risk in talent. The prevailing narrative that’s currently being written around the baseball-sphere is that this is business as usual for the Marlins whereas the Blue Jays are primed to turn into an AL East powerhouse after making such a splashy move. But I disagree with that sentiment and I don’t believe that’s how things will turn out, and here are a couple of reasons why:
Yesterday a rumor made the rounds about a potential Alex Rodriguez trade between the New York Yankees and the Miami Marlins, one which would involve the Yankees eating nearly every penny of the 3rd baseman’s exorbitant contract. Keith Olbermann was the one who “broke” (or made up, in my opinion) the news on his MLB blog, saying that Marlins’ owner Jeffrey Loria and Yankees executive Randy Levine had some very, very preliminary discussions centered around the embattled 3rd baseman. Let me say this as clearly as I can: These rumors are not true. Olbermann is making shit up. That Yankees, as much as they would love to get out from underneath A-Rod’s crushingly bad contract, are stuck with him, and Rodriguez is stuck with them. And if Olbermann was paying any attention and not just making shit up, he’d know this, and there is a couple of BIG reasons why.
Perhaps no team in baseball outside of Boston has had a more disappointing and distressing season than the Miami Marlins. Following an offseason spending spree that netted shortstop Jose Reyes, closer Heath Bell, starter Mark Buehrle, and manager Ozzie Guillen, (hell the team even made Albert Pujols an offer that was reported to be above $200 million) the Marlins appeared to be in perfect position to re-brand going into their new ballpark. Gone were the nickle-and-dime practices that had plagued the franchise since it’s inception. Instead, the Marlins brass decided to open their pocketbooks to acquire marquee talent in order to drive up interest in the crowded Miami market.
Unfortunately that strategy also fell flat on its face, as the Marlins find themselves among the worst teams in baseball, ranking 26th in runs scored while ranking 22nd in fewest runs allowed. In fact, the Marlins have been so bland, they even had their TV series on Showtime, The Franchise, cancelled after only 8 episodes. Miami now heads into a tumultuous 2013 offseason with a ton of uncertainty and few options to be had. Reinforcements probably aren’t on the way, as the front office enters yet another cutback phase, looking to drop the payroll to somewhere around $80 million. Let’s take a look at what lies ahead.
Perhaps no team in the history of baseball has ever been as balls-to-the-wall aggressive over the course of both trade deadlines as the Los Angeles Dodgers were this season. The Dodgers’ new ownership, a group including Laker legend Magic Johnson, didn’t even flinch at the thought of picking up $300 million plus worth of player contracts if it meant a shot at immediately competing this season. Shane Victorino, Joe Blanton, Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Nick Punto, and Carl Crawford’s contract were all added to the roster mid-season in the hopes of giving LA the offense and starting pitching depth that manager Don Mattingly would need to make the playoffs.
Well thus far the high-priced replacements have, for the most part, stunk up the joint, going 8-13 since August 25th, the day of Adrian Gonzalez’s first game in Dodger blue. That isn’t to say the Dodgers won’t make the playoffs, because they’re 1 game out after splitting a 4 game set with St. Louis, but unless the newcomers, and Matt Kemp for that matter, start playing a little better, Los Angeles isn’t going anywhere.
For the past couple of seasons, Sports Illustrated’s excellent Tom Verducci has written a pre-season article concerning the “Year-After Effect”, which has since been named the Verducci Effect. This link, contains the 2012 version of Verducci’s list, which was published all the way back in mid-January. This type of thinking is especially important when we consider innings caps for young pitchers, as evidenced by the recent shut downs of Stephen Strasburg, Jeff Samardzija, and others.
Basically Verducci tries to highlight young pitchers who have seen a considerable increase in their workloads from one season to the next. It’s interesting research mostly because it attempts to spotlight at-risk pitchers, ones who may see a substantial increase in ERA at best, and ones who may become injured at worst.
By all accounts it’s been a rough season down in South Beach for the Miami Marlins. The team was chosen to host the Opening Night game against the defending World Champion St. Louis Cardinals in their brand new retractable roof ballpark, adorned with sculptures, green walls, dancers, and a night club. The team disappointed their fans that particular April night, falling to the Cards 3-1, while failing to muster much, if any, offense. The lack of run support would become a running theme over the next 2 months as would high-priced bullpen blowups, leading to a 45-52 record. Not quite what owner Jeffrey Loria had in mind when, for the first time ever, he decided to open his wallet, upping Miami’s payroll to $118 million, the 7th highest in baseball. This is even more shocking when you consider the fact that just 1 year earlier the Fish spent just $56 million total on their team, good for the 24th most in baseball. All this spending hasn’t equaled wins however, and with an impatient front office feeling let down, some big moves have been made. Let’s analyze the pair of trades the Marlins have made so far:
The first 2 months of the baseball season has produced quite a few teams rebounding from poor 2011 seasons. Some of these teams, like Miami, went out and spent big to turn things around. Other teams saw internal improvement from 2011, like the improvement of Adam Jones, leading to more runs scored, fewer runs allowed, and more victories. Let’s take a look at the chances for the 3 biggest turnaround teams of 2012, starting with the biggest surprise of all, the Baltimore Orioles.