Throughout the 2020-21 offseason, Fish Stripes is bringing you daily articles as part of the All-Time Marlins Countdown.
We recently passed the midpoint of the countdown. You’ve been accustomed to reading these in Kevin Kraczkowski’s style and tone, but today and every Saturday for the foreseeable future, I will be “pinch-hitting” for him. Enjoy...
300. Nick Vincent
Released by the Giants just as 2020 summer camp was about to begin, Nick Vincent was quickly scooped up by Miami on a minor league deal at the end of June. The Marlins opened the regular season with an unprecedented 17-man pitching staff, but Vincent didn’t make the cut. The club instead assigned him to their alternate training site.
Just three games into the campaign, unique circumstances created an opportunity for the soft-tossing right-hander. Eleven of those 17 active pitchers tested positive for COVID-19. That left Vincent as one of their few available arms with prior major league experience.
There was nothing sexy about the quality of Vincent’s stuff or the batted balls he allowed. His Fielder Independent Pitching mark climbed for the fourth straight year—2.82 FIP in 2017, 3.75 FIP in 2018, 4.51 FIP in 2019, 5.52 FIP in 2020—which will make it difficult for him to land a guaranteed deal for next season.
The 34-year-old got his first taste of postseason competition for the Fish, contributing a scoreless inning in NLDS Game 3.
299. Jim Mecir
Mecir brought his fastball/screwball/cutter pitch mix to the Marlins in 2005 on a one-year, $1.1 million free agent contract. During a two-month stretch from Jul. 15 through Sept. 15, he had 14 consecutive scoreless appearances, holding opponents to a .158/.256/.184 slash line.
Overall, Mecir pitched in 52 games during the ‘05 season with better-than-replacement-level production, but never even signed with another professional team. That’s weird, huh?
In this interview with The Baseball Historian, Mecir offers praise for former Yankees first baseman/current Marlins manager Don Mattingly: “He was not only a great player but seemed like a great person too.”
298. Cris Carpenter
Not to be confused with the NL Cy Young award winner of a similar name, Cris Carpenter was an original Marlin. The club snatched him from the Cardinals with the 37th pick in the 1992 expansion draft.
Carpenter succeeded out of the bullpen, surrendering only one home run in 37 1⁄3 innings. But Florida fell out of postseason contention for good in mid-June. For a team in that situation, it’s always better to flip a veteran reliever while he’s hot than hold onto him too long.
Soon after the All-Star break, Carpenter was shipped to the Rangers in exchange for young right-handers Kurt Miller and Robb Nen. Shrewd move by the venerable (and still active) Dave Dombrowski—Nen would go on to become one of the most impactful relievers in franchise history.
297. Mike Cameron
Cameron had a longer, more consistent peak than I had remembered. For a full decade, he was one of MLB’s best all-around center fielders.
But by the time the former All-Star arrived in South Florida in July 2011, he was riding the bench for the Red Sox, unable to hit his own weight.
The Marlins gave Cameron a more consistent role in center field. At age 38, he became the oldest Fish player ever to spend time at that position in a regular season game and the second-oldest with a multi-homer game, trailing only Hall of Famer Andre Dawson. He persevered through minor knee and hamstring injuries to be legitimately valuable (1.2 fWAR in 45 G).
Cameron’s tenure with the team ended abruptly, though. The Marlins released him on Sept. 13, citing conduct detrimental to the team.
Cameron began 2012 spring training with the Nationals, but retired within a few days of camp getting underway.
296. Brad Boxberger
Boxberger enjoyed a solid bounce-back season in Miami. Inked to a minor league deal in February 2020, it was evident early on that he would occupy an important role in their bullpen.
Officially intrigued by Brad Boxberger after watching his outing yesterday pic.twitter.com/bXLmCTORIn— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) February 25, 2020
The veteran right-hander induced ground balls at a 51.0% rate, the highest of his career. His average four-seam fastball velocity (92.5 mph) was his best since 2016.
Boxberger has several things in common with the aforementioned Nick Vincent:
- He made his first-ever postseason appearances last season, combining for 3 1⁄3 scoreless innings against the Cubs and Braves.
- His listed height is 5-foot-10, tied for the shortest of anybody who pitched for the club in 2020.
- He’s probably one-and-done with the Marlins and currently in wait-and-see mode on the free agent market.