Joe Frisaro of MLB.com has kept himself busy by answering the questions many Miami Marlins fans want answered. Some of these questions can be seen in the latest edition of his inbox articles, and since Fish Stripes is an eager contributor of answers to the Marlins community, we too have some thoughts on the matter. Here is your latest Fish Stripes inbox.
It seems like every year a non-roster invitee impresses in Spring Training and makes the team.Chad Qualls did it last year. Is there an invitee who could surprise us this spring, specifically a pitcher?
-- Wayne M., Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
The Marlins invited a few players as non-roster invitees, but a vast majority of the riff-raff are likely to end up in the minors or released back into the general pool. If there is one group of players who could make the roster out of Spring Training, it would be relievers. As Wayne mentions, the Marlins often find a diamond in the rough every year or two for their bullpen among the group of players they invite to Spring Training under no guarantees. Last year, Chad Qualls made it, but so did Kevin Slowey, and Slowey will look to try and latch on again this season.
The rest of the minor league names like Jordany Valdespin are unlikely to make a dent on the roster, but keep an eye out as Spring Training approaches.
Is there any possibility the Marlins will make signingGiancarlo Stanton to a long-term contract a priority?
-- Michael G., Doral, Fla.
Michael G, you are currently asking for a pipe dream. As we noted here on Fish Stripes recently, the Marlins' inability to secure a long-term contract as of this first arbitration season makes a large dent in their efforts to sign him long-term.
Frisaro mentions a particular problem both parties share: they both would like to see more of the other in order to make a decision. Stanton would like to know that Miami is heading in the right direction, and that is understandable. Miami would like Stanton to stay healthy for a full year and display the level of ability he showed in 2011 and 2012, and that is understandable. But the problem is that, with both sides wanting more guarantees, it leaves neither side willing to make the jump and compromise on a deal. These long-term extensions are bets by the organization that the player will do better, but Miami is sadly not yet sure about that. They are also bets that the player will value security, but Stanton is so close to a free agent payday that he is willing to bid on himself over the meager security of south Florida.
The club and player appear to be at an impasse that is unlikely to get resolved. If Stanton reaches a third year or arbitration with the team, he will almost certainly be signing elsewhere the following season. Marlins fans, brace for sadness.
Could the Marlins be looking to sign pitcher A.J. Burnett to add more experience to the rotation?
-- Joshua O., Puerto Rico
Not only does A.J. Burnett have a checkered past with the Marlins, complete with him ending his final season with the team under suspension for whining, but his heart seems tied to another location. Burnett is expected to retire, but if he does not retire, it is likely he will return to the Pittsburgh Pirates for another season on a one-year deal. Burnett found renewed success in Pittsburgh, and he seems happy there at this stage of his career. Why would he want to leave a contender for us?
When the Marlins signed Rafael Furcal, they said he had agreed to play second base because the team already has a shortstop. But what are the chances that Furcal will replace Adeiny Hechavarria at shortstop? Donovan Solano then could play second. Both Furcal and Solano are much better hitters than Hech, and would the team really lose much defensively? Isn't an upgrade at the plate a priority?
-- Pancho V., Miami Lakes, Fla.
Pancho has the right idea but the wrong approach. If Adeiny Hechavarria never figures it out at the plate, the Marlins will eventually have to replace him. I am of the opinion that last season showed us just enough pervasive problems to cast doubt on the idea that he will improve significantly in the future. If it were up to me, the Marlins would begin the search for a long-term replacement now.
But the Marlins as currently constructed do not have the answer to shortstop for the future. Donovan Solano, Ed Lucas, and Rafael Furcal are not future pieces of the next Marlins contending team. And none of the three hold the promise of Hechavarria's premium skill: his defense. The defensive metrics from last year did not believe Hechavarria was elite, but the eyes can tell that he is a talented player who could be a Gold Glover. Neither of the three other players have any one skill as gifted as Hechavarria's glove, and since the Marlins are not trying to win this season, they have time to further evaluate the player with the highest upside.
In this instance, it is not a matter of being patient with a prospect. It is really a matter of playing the only interesting option on the roster.
Paredes was picked up early in the offseason, but it was more to provide the Marlins some much-needed infield depth. The team has very few players in the minors who could fill a spot in case of injury, so Miami took a no-downside flyer on the former Astro. With an option left, what they do with him this season is essentially irrelevant, especially since he has no upside as a player beyond a bench option.