Throughout the 2020-21 offseason, Fish Stripes is bringing you daily articles as part of the All-Time Marlins Countdown.
Kevin Kraczkowski and Nicole Cahill have been capably leading this extensive series the past three months, but today and every Saturday for the foreseeable future, I will be a “pinch-hitter” for them. Enjoy...
150. Edward Mujica
Less than two years removed from being regarded as the top-rated prospect in the Marlins organization, Cameron Maybin was shipped to San Diego in November 2010. The Fish were using their outfield surplus to fortify their bullpen with the additions of relievers Edward Mujica and Ryan Webb.
In 2011, Mujica led all Marlins relievers and ranked fifth on the pitching staff overall with 76 innings of work. Dating back to his Padres days, it marked his fourth consecutive season of improvement in terms of both earned run average (2.96) and fielder independent pitching (3.20). Despite being at the platoon disadvantage, he neutralized left-handed batters—.220/.259/.311, 30 K in 140 PA against them—with his signature splitter. It represented approximately 38% of his pitch usage that year, the second-highest rate among all qualified MLB relievers, according to FanGraphs.
Mujica leaned into his splitter even more in 2012, but couldn’t quite replicate his great results. The month of June was especially brutal, during which he allowed three home runs—each time with at least one runner on base—and the Marlins lost nine of the 11 games that he participated in.
Mujica had only one career plate appearance as a Marlin. In the eighth inning of the July 28, 2011 contest against the Nationals, he hit a liner to right field. Jayson Werth couldn’t catch it, but had positioned himself shallow enough to gather it on a bounce and throw out Mujica at first base with ease.
Mujica walked only 5.0% of batters faced during his Marlins tenure. That’s the lowest walk rate for anybody who has made at least 100 pitching appearances for the franchise (excluding intentional free passes would drop him to a 3.5 BB%).
The Marlins traded Mujica to the Cardinals prior to the 2012 MLB trade deadline in exchange for infield prospect Zack Cox, who never made it to The Show. Mujica earned a 2013 NL All-Star selection, then steadily declined. The Venezuelan right-hander signed with Mexico’s Leones de Yucatán in the spring of 2019, but it doesn’t appear that he contributed during their regular season, and there is no record of him playing professionally anywhere else since then. Mujica is still just 36 years old, so let’s not completely rule out a comeback until he formally calls it quits.
149. Todd Zeile
Todd Zeile had the unusual distinction of playing 40-plus games with three separate teams during the 1998 season. Unfortunately for him, Zeile’s longest stint came with the Marlins in the midst of the most deflating campaign in franchise history.
Zeile arrived in South Florida as part of the seven-player, Mike Piazza/Gary Sheffield blockbuster between the Dodgers and the Fish. He settled in as his new club’s everyday third baseman. Piazza was flipped almost immediately to the Mets; Zeile, however, marinated in the post-championship fire sale squalor for an extra two months.
The 1998 Marlins posted a 24-39 record (.381 winning percentage) with Zeile in the starting lineup and a 30-69 record (.303 winning percentage) in all other games combined. He tied for fifth on the team by hitting six home runs in teal that summer.
The Marlins said goodbye to Zeile on Jul. 31, trading him to the Rangers for prospects Dan DeYoung and José Santos. Their careers stalled at High-A and Double-A, respectively.
Zeile spent the majority of his post-Marlins playing career with Piazza and the Mets (441 games in three seasons). He now works as an analyst on SNY, the regional sports network that carries their broadcasts.
148. Brett Carroll
While researching last week’s Matt Lindstrom write-up, I stumbled upon this Brett Carroll highlight. Enjoy:
"That ball is...CAUGHT! CAUGHT! Ballgame!"— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) January 10, 2021
Brett Carroll, man. pic.twitter.com/cSxQ3uPp2I
That was from 2009, the only major league season in which Carroll performed substantially above replacement level (1.3 fWAR/0.8 rWAR).
Simply making it to the majors was quite an achievement for the 5-foot-11 outfielder. The Marlins drafted him in 2004 out of Middle Tennessee State University. Though the school has produced 100 professional ballplayers, Carroll became only the 10th to ascend to the highest level (four other alumni have debuted since then).
Carroll’s first career home run came against future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson. His second victim was Scott Kazmir, who was only recently removed from his All-Star peak. But Carroll would go on to add just three more long balls to that total.
He racked up 10 outfield assists in 700 defensive innings for the Fish. For context, all of the 2020 Marlins outfielders combined for only six assists over the course of 1,512 innings. As longtime beat reporter Joe Frisaro liked to say, “the best outfield arm that no one has ever heard about.”
Carroll became a minor league free agent following the 2010 season. He briefly passed through the Royals, Brewers, Red Sox, Nationals, Pirates and Blue Jays organizations, failing to stick around with any of them for more than one year.
These days, he’s the owner and operator of BC Athletics in his hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee.