The Miami Marlins have some unanswered questions remaining for the 2016 season, and Marlins fans wanted to know a few of those answers. This time, they turned to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro for another inbox article, but they really should have turned to me! Here, I answer some more of the questions that readers had for Frisaro.
Is trading Jose Fernandez the only way the Marlins can replenish their farm system as lots of Draft picks haven't worked out, Giancarlo Stanton notwithstanding?
It would not be the only way, but it would be the fastest way. Fernandez would provide the Marlins a huge influx of talent, much of it potentially Major League-ready. The Fish wanted both Julio Urias and Corey Seager from the Dodgers along with Scott Van Slyke, which would have been a huge coup for the team. They requested Patrick Corbin, a Major League starter with 400 good innings under his belt at just 26 years of age, along with Ender Inciarte and last year's first pick in the draft, Dansby Swanson, among others. The team could have restocked its entire farm system on the backs of a deal.
Of course, this tells you that the Marlins are not interested in making a deal, because their offers are ludicrous, and rightfully so. The team has no reason to make a move now, and it could allow Fernandez to build even more value by pitching healthy through the 2016 season. If they get that, he might be worth even more, or he may even decide to stick around. There is not much downside to holding onto him this year, and that does not even consider the Marlins' desire (however off the mark) to be competitive in 2016.
The other way Miami could build is by trading other Major League talent, focusing specifically on Martin Prado and Dee Gordon. However, the Fish are too fond of these players and will likely hold onto them in 2016 as well.
When will the walls be brought in and what exact adjustments can we expect?
I too am interested, and here is what Joe Frisaro said about the fences.
The revisions will most affect the gaps, with the fences being moved in and lowered from the base of the home run sculpture to the corner of the right-field bullpen. Look for center field to be moved in to around 407 feet. The walls will be lowered in some areas to 5 1/2 feet, and be as high as 11 1/2 feet.
It sounds as though the Bermuda Triangle around the home run sculpture is going to be shortened up a bit, and we are going to have Marcell Ozuna cover a little less ground in center field. That's not bad, and it probably will not be a drastic shift from what is happening.
The lowering of the walls may have more of an impact, depending on where these changes will occur. The lowest walls in the stadium are around the sculpture and down the right field line, so if they drop a few more areas down, it may lead to more line drive shots sneaking over the fence.
What's more likely: Trading Marcell Ozuna for a starting pitcher and signing a center fielder, or keeping Ozuna and signing a starting pitcher?
Initially, it was probably the former, now it's probably the latter. The Marlins tried to shop Ozuna, but it seems that the market is lower than what the Fish would like, so they pulled back. This is a good idea, because Ozuna's value will probably never be lower given how well he played the previous season. It is hard to say where he will be next year, but the team at this point will hazard an attempt to find out.
Why make two moves when you can make one, especially when that one fits a little more easily? There are plenty of available starting pitchers in the market right now, and the Fish could pursue any number of names at the moment. The question is whether the team will go after a name like Ian Kennedy or Scott Kazmir, and all of those players would be cheaper than pursuing an outfielder for Miami.
What is the Marlins' greatest need: Corner infielder? Catcher? Pitching depth? All of the above?
Pitching by a significant margin. First base would be listed second, as we discussed earlier in the week. However, Miami should have available options in the rotation and as a potential platoon partner at first base should they look to get added reinforcements. There is no reason for Miami to pursue a catcher, as the team has already re-signed Jeff Mathis and plans on starting young J.T. Realmuto on the job. Martin Prado figures to play out the season at third base, as the Fish also happen to like him a good deal.
Will Don Mattingly let Dee Gordon steal bases?
I don't see why not. In 2014, under Don Mattingly, Gordon stole 64 bases in 83 attempts, so I do not see why all of a sudden that might not be the case this season.
Here is what is interesting to me from Frisaro, however.
How many bases Gordon steals this year may be tied into Stanton. When Stanton is in the lineup, you don't want to run yourself out of innings.
This gets to the heart of the matter with regards to basestealing at the top of the lineup. An elite base stealing threat is not necessary in front of the middle of the order, because those hitters generally have power and can move baserunners effectively. Why have Gordon attempt a steal and potentially lose out when Giancarlo Stanton can simply drive him home with power? Gordon's basestealing is better served near the middle of the lineup, where he can hit ahead of worse hitters who need the assistance moving runners.
Of course, this is mitigated by the fact that Gordon may be among the better hitters on the Marlins. Still, this should be a consideration for a guy as speedy as Gordon, especially given his lack of on-base skills.