The ultimate head-scratcher
The fun of running a baseball blog is being able to argue both sides of a transaction. In nearly every case, I can describe the rationale behind what the Marlins did while also critiquing them. There are shades of gray.
As Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors reminds us, the Feb. 2019 trade that sent Nick Wittgren to the Indians is an exception. Miami designated Wittgren for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for a past-his-prime Neil Walker. This is despite the right-hander having one minor league option remaining, performing relatively well in the majors the previous season and still being extremely affordable and controllable (pre-arbitration eligible). Drafted and developed by the Fish, he made his offseason home in South Florida and was expecting his first child in the spring.
In exchange, the Marlins received fellow right-hander Jordan Milbrath, roughly the same age as Wittgren without any of the MLB experience.
In 2019, the Marlins bullpen was consistently one of the worst in baseball. Milbrath provided no assistance while Wittgren enjoyed a breakout in Cleveland, keeping his earned run average below 3.00 for nearly the entire season.
Rejuvenated by Taiwan
Rakuten Monkeys ace Justin Nicolino raves to C. Trent Rosencras about how fortunate he is to have signed to play in the Chinese Professional Baseball League (subscription required). Their regular season opened in late April, though Nicolino’s first scheduled start was postponed by rain after a few innings. In his next opportunity, the left-hander almost tossed a complete-game shutout.
Nicolino’s career in the states stagnated after the Marlins parted ways with him two years ago. He pitched at the Triple-A level for three separate organizations, never receiving a call-up.
Traditionally, the CPBL is not a springboard to get veterans back to the majors—leagues in Japan and South Korea and winter ball in the Caribbean are known to have a higher talent level. But of course, it helps Nicolino to put something new on tape while most of his peers are idling at home.
Who do you love to hate?
MLB.com selects every team’s favorite nemesis, focusing on active and recently retired players.
Their pick for the Marlins is Bryce Harper, citing an incident from Harper’s rookie season:
Harper has done his share of damage against the Marlins on the field, recording a career slash line of .293/.400/.548 vs. Miami with 92 RBIs, his most against any team, and 28 homers, his second most. The 27-year-old also has repeatedly found a way to rankle both the club and the fan base. In a game at Marlins Park, then-Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen complained to the umpires that Harper’s bat had too much pine tar on it. His next time up, Harper pointed a cleaner bat in Guillen’s direction. After the game, Guillen called Harper’s action “unprofessional.”
I think most of you would agree that this animosity has cooled since then. Harper has been unseated by another flamboyant outfielder within the same division: Ronald Acuña Jr. There’s nobody who Fish fans currently root against harder.
Ronald Acuña doesnt want any of this pic.twitter.com/1ypSvlOX66— The Fish Army (@FishArmy305) February 8, 2020
For those of you who have been following the franchise since the beginning, who gets the distinction of being the Marlins’ all-time antagonist?
- There are five new uploads to our GIF database, bringing the total to 141. Regardless of when the MLB regular season starts, every Friday for the foreseeable future will bring more highlights, bloopers and reaction shots that Marlins fans won’t find anywhere else. A $5 Venmo payment (please include your email address in the message) gets you lifetime access!
- It’s Lewis Brinson’s 26th birthday! Check out the full list of past and present major leaguers born on May 8.
- Jesús Aguilar joins Corte 4 (in Spanish) on their latest podcast episode to discuss everything from his minor league journey to the 2020 Fish, available on all pod platforms.
- It’s Episode 4 of Behind the Plate with Francisco Cervelli. As you can tell by the apron, he went with another Italian recipe (focaccia barese).
- And speaking of behind the plate, new Marlins catching coach Eddy Rodríguez demonstrates the proper stance for aspiring backstops.