With the hiring of new manager Mike Redmond officially in the books, the Miami Marlins look to start rounding out a roster full of question marks, especially at third base.
Editor's Note: Once again, due to a mistake regarding publishing times, I was unable to get Jon Melton's Fish Bites piece out on Friday. Today, you'll see both Jon and Scott G's Fish Bites. Again, we should have our regular schedule by this Friday.
In 1938, the legendary Abbott and Costello routine "Who's on first" was born. More than 70 years later, the Miami Marlins are confusing and confounding the fans with the very same question. The Marlins will enter spring training for the 2013 season with only one first baseman to speak of (Logan Morrison), and a lot of question marks at the other corner infield spot.
Morrison has been plagued by knee injuries for the better part of the past two seasons, and had last season cut short as he missed nearly 70 games. Though he says the off-season rehab from the September surgery is coming along better than expected, Marlins fans are undoubtedly skeptical, and for good reason.
There are a handful of free-agent options that would be good fits, such as James Loney, Adam LaRoche or Mike Napoli. LaRoche is coming off a career year after belting 33 home runs and driving in 100 RBI, and will likely come with a hefty price tag. Napoli has become a productive player since being injected into the lineup everyday, but he could be a time-slot hit, a product of a potent lineup. Loney would be the most "Marlin friendly", as he would come relatively cheap and has been one of the most consistent hitters in the NL for years. He isn't much of a power hitter, so if pop is what you're looking for, there's always Carlos Pena. He's guaranteed to hit around .200 but he's averaged 29 homers and better than 85 RBI for the past five seasons.
The Marlins got virtually no offensive production from the corner infield spots and assuming Morrison is healthy, that still leaves a glaring need at third. The signing of Kevin Kouzmanoff adds some veteran leadership to a young squad but is hardly the answer. Kouzmanoff is a bench player at best, and Greg Dobbs, while having a fairly successful 2012 campaign, isn't the kind of player the Fish need on the hot corner. The free agent market for third basemen is ridiculously thin, so the hot corner may have to wait until 2013.
-The Marlins brought in a Bronx hero on Thursday, hiring Tino Martinez as the new hitting coach. Martinez is tasked with raising a team average that ranked 24th last season.
-The Boston Herald is reporting that the Marlins are unlikely to move Josh Johnson before Opening Day. Several teams are likely to kick the tires on the former All-Star, though his value has decreased due to injury. The Marlins will likely track his progression through the early parts of the 2013 season before making any moves to trade Johnson.
-On May 21st of last season, Giancarlo Stanton broke the left field scoreboard in Marlins Park with a Roy Hobbs-esque grand slam. Stanton's slam is up for a 2012 GIBBY award and fans are encouraged to vote as many times as they like. The polls close on December 2nd, the awards are on December 4th. Knowing Miami, they'll still be counting on December 5th.
-The Sun Sentinel is projecting a rough first season for new skipper Mike Redmond. The article notes several holes in the roster, most notably - drum roll please - third base.
Around the League
-Baseball purists hate the idea of instant replay in baseball, and Wednesday's announcement of replay expansion will likely add fuel to the fire. According to Joe Torre, MLB and the commissioner are looking into instant replays for fair-foul plays and "more than that." This has assured every Yankees-Red Sox meeting will now run over seven hours.
-It seems the Dodgers are inching closer to a trade for starting pitching, according to MLB.com. The Dodgers are looking to rebound from a disappointing end to the 2012 season, after a slew of trades netted the team little "magic."
At Fish Stripes
-Here at Fish Stripes, the Marlins' off season needs are a top priority and some of those needs may be filled through trades. For an in-depth look at the Fish's "trade bait", look no further.
-The Marlins will be forced to take a look at re-signing some big names to big-deals this coming season, including Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton will likely demand a $100 million extension, and the Marlins may have to pass on an extension for Johnson, whose trade could help fill holes in other places.