Fish Bites: Marlins' Performance In Final Weeks May Determine Future Plans

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 22: Giancarlo Stanton #27 of the Miami Marlins warms up on deck during game two of the MLB double header against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 22, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Miami Marlins' owner Jeffery Loria did everything he possibly could to put a winning team on the field. The Marlins wasted no time before signing Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, and Heath Bell to multi-million dollar contracts this past offseason, and two of the three have been solid for 2012 Marlins. Mark Buehrle has been arguably the best pitcher in the Marlins' rotation, as he has 11 wins and an ERA just under 3.50. Reyes, who the Marlins signed to hit in the leadoff spot, had done a decent job hitting third following the Hanley Ramirez trade.

As expected, the Marlins made several significant trades prior to the deadline. Hanley Ramirez, Omar Infante, Randy Choate, and Anibal Sanchez were all traded, however the Marlins received what several major league scouts considered "major league ready" players in return. How those players perform will determine whether they are included in Miami's 2013 plans.

Manager Ozzie Guillen has recently said that the team can move forward in one of two ways. They can utilize the talent they have and accept that it might be several seasons before the youthful core can make the playoffs, or the front office can keep this team together and find the missing pieces through trades or free agency. Either way, Guillen knows he has his work cut out for him.

"If we're going to be younger here, then OK, what kind of young team are we going to have?" Guillen said. "Are we going to go forward, or are we going to stay the same? If we're going to go young, just go young, and suffer for a couple of years and see what happens. Or are you going to compete, and make a mix [of veterans with young players]? Then who's coming here to make the mix? It's all a process."

Young talent is hard to find, however Miami might have enough of it to avoid the "suffering" Guillen referred to. With Rob Brantly behind the plate, Justin Turner and Nathan Eovaldi getting some essential major league starts and experience, Stanton and a solid Jose Reyes, and an outbreak year from Steve Cishek all throughout this season, the Marlins have a good core to build a team around. When the front office and Guillen meet in October to address the direction they want to head in, the number of young players on the roster can have an impact on several decisions.

"We've got to sit down, look at the talent and be realistic about the talent that we have," Guillen said. "The front office, they know better than me, this team. But we cannot miss too much more on the evaluation of the ballclub, of the team."

-Utility man Donovan Solano, who never got an opportunity with the St.Louis Cardinals because of similar utility-type players blocking his path to the major leagues, has had a great rookie season. He has filled in nicely at second base with the injury to Emilio Bonifacio, and has been consistent at the plate. With his play in 2012, Solano might have earned himself a roster spot for the 2013 season. "He should be on the team," Guillen said. "I don't know where. It's too early right now to say he's my starting second baseman, my starting third baseman. I think the job he's done this year, he certainly has a shot next year to be on the ballclub, not just come here and try to make the team."

-Nathan Eovaldi, who the Marlins acquired from the Dodgers in the Hanley Ramirez deal, made his first start against his former team in Los Angeles on Friday night. Heading into Friday's start, Eovaldi was 3-2 with a 3.75 ERA as a member of the Marlins. "It's probably just going to be at the very beginning of game," Eovaldi said, about any added nerves. "It will be down to business after that really. It's going to be hard if they're smiling back at me. That's when it's going to be hard not to smile. It's going to be fun. I feel like I know the hitters pretty well. It all comes back down to being able to complete the pitch and execution."

-Emilio Bonifacio was placed on the 15-day disabled list after exiting Tuesday's game with a knee injury. Coming off of his latest stint on the DL, Ozzie Guillen purposely placed Bonifacio in center to prevent another injury. Guillen is unsure if he will return this season. "Unbelievable," Bonifacio said. "It's tough."

-Marlins Park is ready in case tropical storm Isaac heads for Miami. The Marlins' new home can withstand winds up to 146 mph. However, ballpark officials are hesitant to react to such a storm right away, in fear that it would switch paths after 16 hours of preparing the roof. "There is sensitivity as to when we do it because we don't want to do it too early if the winds are not elevated, because we have to protect the field as well. If you close the field for three days the grass is going to be damaged as a result," Marlins' chief of ballpark operations Claude Delorme said. "Our objective would be to do it as late as possible. That would be Sunday at the latest, if the storm picks up in intensity."

-Jacob Turner, who was considered the biggest piece the Marlins received from Detriot in the Sanchez/Infante deal, was impressive in his Marlins debut against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday. Turner gave up three runs on four hits and struck out five while only walking one batter over six innings. "Outstanding," Guillen said. "Very relaxed on the mound. Very nice and loose, threw a lot of strikes. He made one bad pitch. I like what I see. He could have gone out there and thrown another inning, maybe two more innings. His body language was outstanding."

-Prior to Friday night's game in Los Angeles, manager Ozzie Guillen said that Justin Turner will remain in the rotation, and Wade LeBlanc will be moved back into the bullpen. Guillen continues to say that he hasn't ruled out a six-man rotation. "Right now, we're going to keep the kid [Turner] in the rotation, and we're going to put LeBlanc in the bullpen," Guillen said. "Then, maybe, depending how we pitch, go with a six-man rotation. It depends on how those guys are going. It depends if we're going to need them."

-In 28 games for the Dodgers, Hanley Ramirez has hit .308 with five home runs and 29 RBIs in 28 games. The Dodgers have used Hanley at shortstop and third base. "I don't think he was trying not to be successful here," catcher John Buck said. "That's why sometimes a change of scenery helps you."

-Despite spending time on the disabled list, right fielder Giancarlo Stanton could have a shot at winning the home run crown. Stanton is on pace to finish the season with 34 long balls, which would match his career high which he set last year. "This kid has chance to be a tremendous, spectacular ballplayer because when this kid learns how to hit and how they are going to pitch to him, it's going to be very fun to watch,'' Ozzie Guillen said.

-There is one common theme among all of the teams Marlins' players were traded to: They are all still in the contention and trying to earn a playoff spot. Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante with the Tigers, Edward Mujica with the Cardinals, and Hanley and Randy Chaote with the Dodgers are all experiencing the excitement of being in the playoff race as the season comes to an end. "Every single game is meaningful," Gaby Sanchez said. "And it's definitely exciting.''

-On the final episode of The Franchise that aired on Wednesday night, owner Jeffery Loria said that "expectations are high for 2013." Loria said he realized early on that "it was broken and had to be fixed." "We need to let our fans know we care about winning as much as they do and we're going to keep trying as hard as they would want us to try," president David Samson said.

Around The League

-The Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox are discussing a deal that could send Adrian Gonzalez to Los Angeles for multiple prospects including James Loney. Los Angeles was awarded a waiver claim on Friday evening. The Dodgers could also receive Carl Crawford, Nick Punto, and Josh Beckett in the deal.

-Mike Morse of the Washington Nationals left Friday's game against the Phillies after being hit by a pitch on the hand by Kyle Kendrick. Morse returned to the dugout after being looked at by the training staff.

-After two left knee surgeries, Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds is ready to contribute. Votto took batting practice with the Reds on Friday, and performed a full slate of baseball activities. "I think it will say a lot about my progress," Votto said.

-Miguel Cabrera is not a fan of being the designated hitter, however after injuring his ankle, Cabrera might be the Tigers' DH for several games. "The [head athletic] trainer suggested I DH him tonight," manager Jim Leyland said on Friday. "So I DH'ed him."

At Fish Stripes

-Justin Ruggiano has been a pleasant surprise for the Marlins this season, however after striking out more often as of late, Ruggiano needs to find a way

to balance his home runs and strike outs

-For the rest of 2012, the Marlins will analyze the players they have. The best way to secure a roster spot for next season is to win games.

-Marlins prospect Jose Urena is having a great year in Greensboro. His fastball can hit 96 or 97, and he also throws a changeup and a slider.

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