This week, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com released another inbox article, and that means that Fish Stripes is ready to answer the questions the inbox has to provide. Here are some of the burning questions Marlins fans want to know.
This has been one of the most interesting and fruitful offseasons I can remember. It signals the intent of the owner to move forward, as well as bringing the fans back. I am very excited to see Spring Training and the regular season unfold.
-- Melinda R., Fleming Island, Fla.
I like Melinda R's optimism with regards to the offseason. It is indeed a good sign that the franchise was looking to improve, and making a longer-term signing like Jarrod Saltalamacchia was a nice nod to continuity. Marlins fans would like to see players who hang around for some time, and they would like a core group with which to grow up. But there has been significant roster turmoil over the last three seasons, and it will be nice to watch the same group more or less show up again next season.
But the problem is that this same group, even with the addition of free agent talent, is still a bad team. I don't think the fans are quite ready to commit to the Marlins because of that. Continuity and commitment from the front office are a good start, but ultimately it is wins that bring fans to the stadium.
Now that the position players have been covered with the McGehee signing, what do you think the chances are that we can get at least one veteran starter? Also, Mark Canha and Kyle Jensen should definitely have a chance to platoon at first. They have pop and if given a chance, I think they should be able to contribute at the big league level.
-- Mark R., Homestead.
The Marlins seem pretty happy with their group of starting pitchers. Much like last year, they have one elite prospect who is a dark-horse candidate to win a rotation spot out of Spring Training in top prospect Andrew Heaney. While it is unlikely that Heaney beats out more experienced starters like Brad Hand or prospects Brian Flynn or Adam Conley, it would not be the first time the Fish have surprised the world by promoting a pitching prospect earlier than necessary.
Mark's idea about platooning Mark Canha or Kyle Jensen with Garrett Jones at first base would have been good before the Marlins made the Casey McGehee signing. McGehee is likely to steal first base reps and take over the position versus left-handers, with Ed Lucas or Donovan Solano playing third base in those situations. This way, the Marlins do not burn another bench spot on a player without defensive flexibility. The team already has Greg Dobbs doing that.
Now that we know that Jose Fernandez is the real deal, why don't the Marlins give him an eight- to 10-year deal? Wouldn't it be easier to sign him now than when he hits arbitration?
-- Jay E., Plantation, Fla.
Jay E. has the right idea, but the wrong process to go about it. Frisaro says that that just is not how things are done in Major League Baseball, and to a degree he is correct. It is rare for a player like Fernandez, who has proven himself to a degree but still has many question marks in terms of health and future success, to sign an extremely long extension like the one Jay is proposing. The time to sign a long, team-friendly deal was probably before Fernandez debuted, like what the Tampa Bay Rays did with Matt Moore and Evan Longoria. Now that Fernandez is the Rookie of the Year, a contract of that length would be too difficult for the Marlins to project and unnecessary for Fernandez, who is still under team control for a long period anyway.
Plus, as Frisaro mentions, Scott Boras is Fernandez's agent, and Boras is unlikely to agree to anything too team-friendly knowing that Fernandez is a star in the making.
The time to consider an extension would be perhaps next season, once Fernandez gets another year underneath him and he approaches arbitration. The Marlins signed their only true star player extension around the same time period, as Hanley Ramirez signed a six-year deal that bought out three free agent years midway through his third season with the team. If the Fish have any shot of retaining Fernandez, it will come around that time.
Is Derek Dietrich going to be on the 25-man roster come the start of the season?
-- J.G., Ocala, Fla.
Dietrich is in the hunt for a starting job, but the Marlins have acquired too many stopgap talents for him to get a Major League spot as of right now. I imagine the team would prefer to keep Lucas and Solano, who are less important future pieces, on the Major League bench and let Dietrich develop in Triple-A full-time. Dietrich could still be the team's future second baseman, so it is important that he receive plenty of playing time in order to work out the kinks in his game. His work at the plate is still flawed, but he has a decent chance to be a part of the club's future. His best spot would be starting in Triple-A.
Since Brad Hand had a better September than Brian Flynn, would the Marlins consider Hand for the fifth starter spot in Spring Training? They had similar success at Triple-A New Orleans.
-- Al, Kendall, Fla.
Even if Hand were better than Flynn right now, it would not be by a significant amount. Brad Hand has proven over the last few seasons in the minors that he is mediocre. Brian Flynn posted the best starting ERA in the Pacific Coast League last season, and he is significantly younger and a better prospect. Hand only wins the job if Flynn struggles mightily in Spring Training and the team feels he could use a dash more of Triple-A seasoning, It is Flynn's job to lose.
Besides, why would anyone want a non-prospect like Hand pitching over a prospect like Flynn? The Marlins are not going to win many games again in 2014, so the team should try out some of its players who appear ready to perform. Flynn dominated Triple-A last year, and he should get a shot to develop and prove himself in the majors, if only to see what the Marlins have in him.