The funniest and most Miami Marlins quote of the day goes to president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest, who admitted that the team's recent injuries have forced their hand as of late.
"I don’t even know who is here anymore," Beinfest said after the Marlins scored just one run during a three-game sweep earlier this week by the Padres in San Diego. "It’s been a bad run. It kind of started [the] first day of spring training when [catcher Jeff] Mathis broke his collarbone, and it hasn’t really stopped since. It’s been anything from hamstrings to whatever freak injuries — getting slid into. It’s been a little bit of everything."
Try to ignore the hilarity of the first sentence and look further and you will see that the Marlins did not plan on doing this, but they were forced into it because of the team's numerous injuries. As a result, it appeared as though the Marlins were rushing prospects to replace their injured, when in reality their prospects were simply next in line to be promoted anyway.
The Marlins built up significant minor league depth, but their injury situation could not have been predicted. Sure, the club was hasty in advancing Jose Fernandez, but the Marcell Ozuna promotion was a roster crunch situation, and the Marlins were essentially forced to promote Derek Dietrich because the team was already down two middle infielders. Nick Green was already brought up to take the spot of Donovan Solano, but following Chris Valaika's injury, it was either the prospect Dietrich or current Triple-A denizen Matt Downs, who is a career .264/.330/.434 hitter in Triple-A and a .230/,296/.406 hitter in the majors. Given that both would have required a spot on the 40-man roster, it is understandable that the Fish brought up the prospect over the throwaway minor league veteran.
This is especially true when you consider that the Marlins were already planning on bringing up a number of their prospects this season.
Beinfest said the Marlins, who open a three-game series Friday night against Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium, always intended to bring up their top prospects at some point later this season. But with the loss of two starting pitchers in Henderson Alvarez and Nathan Eovaldi, two middle infielders in Chris Valaika and Donovan Solano, and All-Star right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, Friday night’s starter and top prospect Jose Fernandez, Dietrich and Ozuna were all pressed into duty earlier.
"I don’t know if it messes up the plan," Beinfest said when asked if he’s concerned players are being brought up too early. "You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. I don’t think anybody thought that Derek Dietrich would be here today, but eventually he was going to be here. Eventually, Ozuna was going to be here. Eventually, [outfielder Christian] Yelich will be here, [outfielder Jake] Marisnick will be here. [Pitcher Justin] Nicolino. Eventually, they’ll get here.
Now, it is likely that these players would have seen time on the roster in September, when rosters expand and losing teams like the Marlins host virtual auditions for next season. The fact that they were planning on bringing up names like Dietrich, Ozuna, and even elite prospect Christian Yelich is not all that surprising. The injuries only sped up that process because the Marlins have few options left to them.
Of the various promotions, the only heinous one is Fernandez's, as the Marlins could have skipped one of his starts and saved a year of team control in his prime. In Ozuna's case, the Marlins would have had to put another player on waivers or the 60-day disabled list just to fit a Bryan Petersen or Gorkys Hernandez on the roster.
The only thing that is left to consider is whether these moves mess up Beinfest's so-called "plan." What was the plan for the Marlins' debut of their prospects? We will tackle that topic later today.