Jose Fernandez has made his first start of spring training, as the Marlins take on the St. Louis Cardinals. Before Fernandez even took the mound the Marlins gave him a 2-0 lead in the first inning when Garrett Jones went to deep to right field, scoring Giancarlo Stanton and himself. An early lead is certainly something that Fernandez was not used to last year.
Just this week, Fangraphs.com published their team WAR projections for 2014. They then compared these projections with the 2013 actual team WAR (wins above replacement) totals to see where to expect improvements or declines in win totals.
Pay raises for pre-arbitration players tend to be small, at least as a percentage of the big-league minimum, which this year is $500,000. But Jose Fernandez is not your typical second-year player and received a raise that is must larger than most with his service time. Thanks to a standout first season in which he was selected to the All-Star team and named the N.L. Rookie of the Year, Fernandez will see his salary increase to $635k.
Veteran infielder Rafael Furcal will be returning to competition for the first time in a year when he leads off and plays second for the Marlins in one of the team's two-split squad games. Furcal, who missed all of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, is anxious to get back on the field.
When it came to finding pitches to hit — pitches that were thrown in the strike zone, pitches the Marlins’ big man could put his barrel on — it was slim pickings for Giancarlo Stanton a season ago. Pitchers were ordered to approach Stanton with extreme caution and, as a result, only three players — Yasiel Puig, Pablo Sandoval and Bryce Harper — saw a lower percentage of pitches thrown to them in the strike zone.
The Marlins and Cardinals begin Grapefruit League play today with defending NL Rookie of the Year Jose Fernandez facing Carlos Martinez. The plan is for Fernandez to pitch two innings. "I saw him first thing this morning and I asked him, ‘are you ready?’ He said, ‘you don’t even have to ask,’" Redmond said.
When manager Mike Redmond saw Jose Fernandez early Friday morning, he asked the starting pitcher if he was ready. Fernandez’s response: "You don’t even have to ask." The reigning National League Rookie of the Year, Fernandez wasn’t lying. In his first Grapefruit League outing, Fernandez gave up two hits, and struck out two over two scoreless innings against the defending National League Champion St. Louis Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium.
The Miami Marlins in 2013 lost 55 games by two runs or fewer. Lackluster offense was a root cause. Another was base running. According to Baseball Info Solutions (BIS), the Marlins shared the cellar in last season's base running standings. Remove the base stealing component from the equation and only the Brewers were less savvy on the bases than the Marlins.
All 40 players on the Marlins' roster are officially signed. The team on Saturday announced that all 28 of their pre-arbitration players reached agreements on contracts for the upcoming season. The list includes Jose Fernandez, Henderson Alvarez, Nathan Eovaldi, Christian Yelich, Tom Koehler and Marcell Ozuna.
With a bounce back in his step, right-hander Henderson Alvarez is expected to throw off the mound on Monday, and he could be joining the rotation by the end of next week.
In a matchup of starters battling back from injuries and vying for a spot in their respective rotations, right-hander Kevin Slowey and the split-squad Marlins topped left-hander John Lannan and the Mets, 9-1, on Saturday afternoon at Tradition Field. Slowey, who went on the disabled list last July 27 with tightness in his right forearm, made his return with two shutout innings.
Around The League
Nelson Cruz grounded out, walked twice and scored a run in his Orioles debut, a 9-7 Baltimore win over Toronto, on Saturday afternoon.
The Phillies didn't seem to mind that Saturday's game turned into a command performance for the Yankees' starting rotation, including Masahiro Tanaka. The little boy in all of them was happy to be a part of Major League Baseball's marquee event of the day.
At Fish Stripes
The Miami Marlins signed Casey McGehee to bounce back following his lone season in Japan, but he left with a lot of poor marks. Can he return to his 2010-2011 form?
Jose Urena offers the Marlins a tantalizing marriage of plus fastball velocity and plus control, projecting to slide comfortably into the middle of the rotation in a couple of years.
Adam Conley, a left-handed pitcher who spent the 2013 season in Double-A Jacksonville, slides in at #5 on the Fish Stripes 2014 Marlins Top Prospects list.
Miami Marlins' catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia is optimistic heading into the 2014 season, and is hoping to become one of the team's primary leaders.