With the San Francisco Giants' World Series win, the offseason has officially begun. And with that in mind, we here at Fish Stripes know that the readers have a lot of questions, some of which will be answered by MLB.com's Joe Frisaro in his weekly Inbox pieces. But because Frisaro is associated with the Marlins' official website, I figured readers might be interested in a less biased answer. So here I am, to offer the answers you need to hear in the first offseason Marlins Snarkbox! Let's take it away with the questions from this week's Inbox.
In arbitration, Steve Cishek is due to get a big payday. Is he still part of the Marlins' plans for next season?
-- Alex J., Coral Gables, Fla.
Cishek made $3.8 million this past season in his first of four arbitration years, and chances are he will make closer to $6 million this season. It may even be more given his "career" year in terms of saves and performance, minus the ERA. But assuming it stands to be about $6 million, that is a hefty price to pay for a closer on a team with a limited budget. Miami is supposedly bumping the budget to closer to $75 million, but a hefty amount of that is going to its own players and potentially any small additions to a GIancarlo Stanton contract extension. Could Miami use that $6 million set for Cishek on a better alternative?
Probably, but they won't. Miami has been very adamant about Cishek being a part of the team's future, and at least this year he should be around. Remember, this is the same franchise that offered $6 million in arbitration to Juan Oviedo after he turned out to not be named Leo Nunez and was suspended indefinitely. Miami did not end up paying that amount, but they considered it even after signing a closer in Heath Bell. Don't put relief spending past this team, no matter how foolish it ends up being.
Expect Cishek to be in the back of the pen next season, carrying the load with what should be a competent group with Mike Dunn, A.J. Ramos, and Carter Capps back there.
There has been a lot of talk about the Marlins going after a first baseman. Why not give Justin Bour a shot?
-- Carlos G., Miami Gardens, Fla.
I like Justin Bour all right, but I do not see the grand appeal. Bour hit .306/.372/.517 (.379 wOBA) in Triple-A New Orleans, but that was only 24 percent better than the league average this season. In comparison, Mark Canha, who is almost a year younger than Bour, hit .303/.384/.505 (.389 wOBA), and that was 31 percent better than the league average. Why isn't Canha being called as the future of the organization at first base?
Neither guy is all that exciting, and Bour did not exactly light up the Majors in his short stint. He hit .284/.361/.365 (.325 wOBA) with one home run, and fans were clamoring for more over Garrett Jones. Marlins fans probably tired of Jones's play, and I can't blame them, but Bour is not any more the answer than Canha or anyone else the Fish have in the minors right now.
There's no strong solution to the first base problem right now. Depending on how close they feel to competing, the team could pay for more guaranteed wins (Adam LaRoche) or try and buy low on an upside candidate (Ike Davis, which was mentioned earlier here). But the team could easily turn to Canha or Bour, and neither would be good or bad at this time. Both would probably be cheap stopgaps with a remote shot at being decent, which is really all Ike Davis offers at this point too.
Marcell Ozuna should get some love for the Gold Glove as well. His arm was terrific all season long, and his range is underestimated and needs to be tip-top to manage Marlins Park. I do not recall seeing Ozuna take bad routes to balls or fail to get to seemingly routine balls, which is a nice change of pace after years of defensive struggles in the outfield for this team.
The candidates for the center field Gold Glove in the National League are hard to argue with, however. Juan Lagares and Billy Hamilton both have the advanced statistics on their side. I would not be surprised if Lagares ran away with it with the narrative that he had one of the best defensive seasons in center field in recent memory. Span has the memory of the fans as a good defender, and he may very well still be that player now.
Ozuna was good this season, there is no doubt about that. But he may have to settle behind defenders who were just as impressive. But he deserves your attention, and thanks for giving him that Stephanie B!
The Kansas City Royals have shown the importance of speed. Don't the Marlins need to give a serious look at running more?
-- Robbie S., Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
The Marlins might run more if any of their players knew how to do that. Stanton is a few years removed from a terrible baserunning season, Casey McGehee is an equally poor runner, and Adeiny Hechavarria has no idea how to leverage his speed. Marcell Ozuna may get there yet, but his career high in the minors in one season was 17. The only reliable runner on the Fish is Christian Yelich, who actually is a heady baserunner who knows how to exploit his speed, but other than him, the team is kind of slow.
And that's not necessarily bad. If Miami hit better, it would not need much speed. But the focus right now should be getting good players, any type really allowed. If Miami found a base-stealing second baseman or third baseman who also happened to be good, they could get him in there. The team needs talent, speed or otherwise.