Fish Bites: 71 Miami Marlins And Counting

Steve Cishek is one of the few Miami Marlins with a guaranteed spot heading into an uncertain 2013 season. - Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

As Spring Training is getting closer by the day, the Marlins have extended spring invitations to 71 different players. Unlike in the past, several will have an opportunity to win a spot on the major league roster.

The Miami Marlins of 2012 won 69 games after struggling for most of the second half of the season. Heading into spring training, the Marlins will have 71 players in camp, all fighting for several major league roster spots, few of which are assured to players.

Following the November fire sale with the Toronto Blue Jays, the Marlins made it clear that the organization would be heading in a different direction. A "rebuilding" phase. if you will. Going into Grapefruit League play, the Marlins' roster is far from set.

There are very few things that Miami fans can be certain of. One of them, though, is that Giancarlo Stanton will be starting in right field for at least the beginning of the year. Although Stanton expressed his displeasure with the organization's front office, several, including President of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest, have made it clear that the Marlins won't look to trade Stanton, or at least not now.

Another thing that Marlins fanatics can be confident in is the fact that Steve Cishek will likely be the team's closer. Matt Capps, who at one point was linked to the Marlins, signed with the Indians, and Cishek proved he could close out games at the end of last season.

First base could be Logan Morrison's position to lose. Morrison's best position is first base, though he has played in left field for the past several seasons.

Rob Brantly will likely see the majority of the time behind the plate, with competitions for the second base and center field jobs likely.

In terms of pitching, the Marlins seem to have most of their rotation, highlighted by Ricky Nolasco, set. The bullpen is lacking a lefty, which Dan Jennings could provide if he wins the job.

With spring training quickly approaching, all 71 of the Marlins' spring training invitees will likely be looked at.

- President of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest has acknowledged that the Marlins will have a young team playing spring training games, but hopes that several young players will stand out, as they did in 2006. "We're definitely down to the short strokes," Beinfest said. "If it's a guy or two [we add], I would say that'd be about it. ... We're pretty much there. I would anticipate this will be the group, and it's a relatively large group and a lot of opportunity. There will be some good competition in a number of areas."

- Miami recently hired JefferyGroup, a marketing and communications agency chosen to help repair the Marlins' poor image throughout the community. "We plan to help the team communicate effectively with each of its key stakeholders, including media, community leaders, partners and, most importantly, loyal fans," said Mike Valdes-Fauli, President of JeffreyGroup.

- Miami recently claimed pitcher Sam Dyson off of waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays. Dyson was the Blue Jays' fourth-round pick in 2010. He made his major league debut last season, but appeared in just two July games (two-thirds of an inning).

- Lefty Justin Nicolino, who the Marlins acquired from Toronto in November, won't be rushed to the major leagues. The Marlins aren't planning to rush any of their top prospects. "There's always going to be hype about everyone, and more so for some guys," Nicolino said. "I want to come in here this season, and do what I do best -- continue to work hard. I'm not going to change anything. I'm not going to be anybody different. I'm going to try to go about my business the right way."

- After clearing waivers, the Marlins on Friday outrighted Kevin Mattison to Triple-A New Orleans. The 27-year-old also will be at Spring Training as a non-roster invite. Mattison appeared in several games for the Marlins over the last several seasons.

- Although it might have cost them immediate success, the Marlins can now boast of of baseball's top farm systems. Jose Fernandez is regarded as Miami's best prospect. The Marlins have the second best minor league system in the NL East, just below that of the Atlanta Braves.

- Following a major trade with the Blue Jays, many starting jobs will be up for grabs, unlike last season. "It is different than a year ago. That's all been well-documented,'' baseball operations president Larry Beinfest said, referring to the 2012 camp that featured the Marlins debuts of Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell.

- Construction of the Marlins stadium may cost less than expected, and any savings will benefit the team, which will be able to use the money to offset expenses for maintenance and repairs

Charles Babin of the Miami Herald explains.

Around The League

- After 16 seasons, pitcher Kevin Millwood has decided to retire. "I feel like I can still throw it well, and going out on a high note is a big deal," Millwood told the newspaper. "I just felt it was time to be closer to home and be around the kids more often."

- The Mets are close to a deal with former closer Brandon Lyon, according to a report. Lyon, 33, posted a 3.10 ERA in 67 appearances split between the Astros and Blue Jays last season, striking out 63 batters and walking 20 in 61 innings.

- Former Marlin Hanley Ramirez will look to improve his plate discipline heading into 2013. Ramirez is expected to play shortstop for the Dodgers. "It's really hard to say, 'Don't play for your country,'" Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said at a charity event this offseason. "I'm kind of torn. Selfishly, I'd like Hanley to be in camp playing short every day."

- Corey Hart told a reporter that he was already in rehab mode and was aiming to beat the projection for his return by as much as a month."If it takes a little longer then mid to end of May, but I feel good about end of April," Hart said in a text message, according to AP. "So basically like 2011, when I came back and hit 26 homers in five months."

At Fish Bites

- Larry Beinfest recently assessed the Marlins roster. Find out more here.

- Here is a 2012 review of Miami prospect Jacob Realmuto.

- Did the Miami Marlins reload their farm system well?

- Here is Tales of a Miami Marlins Fire Sale Survivor: Scott Barr.

- Is Marlins Park a financial disaster?

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