2016-12-06T12:59:01-05:00Craig Counsell played second base for the Florida Marlins’ World Championship team. Throughout the offseason, Fish Stripes is counting down the Top 100 All-Time Marlins. Using the Wins Above Replacement metric, each of the 523 players to have appeared in the regular season for the Florida/Miami franchise were considered. The top 100 scores made the list. The floor was set at 2.0, for Adam Conley and others. Today’s player, Craig Counsell earned 2.5 with the club. Counsell was a 6’, 180 lb. second baseman from South Bend, Indiana. Born on August 21st, 1970, he went to Whitefish Bay high in Milwaukee before joining the Fighting Irish ot Notre Dame. The Colorado Rockies selected him in the 11th round of the 1992 amateur draft, with the 319th overall pick. Eight players in that round went on to play in the majors, most notably Counsell (career WAR 22.3) and Casey Blake (career WAR 24.9). Before getting to the Marlins via trade in the middle of the 1997 campaign, Counsell made his way up through the Rockies’ minor league system, with stops in the Northwest League (low-A, Bend Rockies, 18 games, .246/.352/.377/.729), the California League (high-A, Central Valley Rockies, 131 games, .280/.401/.380/.781), the Eastern League (double-A, New Haven Ravens, 83 games, .280/.366/.403/.770), and the Colorado Springs Sky Sox (239 games over parts of three seasons, .281/.336/.404/.739). He also appeared for the Rockies at the major league level, in three games and getting two plate appearances in 1995 and once as a pinch runner two seasons later. In a good-for-him situation, the Rockies sent him to the Marlins for Mark Hutton on July 27th, 1997. Counsell was immediately put into Florida’s starting lineup, and got 47 starts through the end of the season, appearing in 51 games overall. The Fish went 32-20 when he plaeyd and 60-50 when he sat. Although Counsell was well short of the requisite plate appearances for the rate-based statistical leaderboard, he would have ranked first on the team (with a minimum of 180 plate appearances) with a .299 batting average. Counsell slashed .299/.376/.396/.773, showing a lot of patience at the plate by drawing more walks (18) than strikeouts (17). He also totaled 16 RBI through the season, along with 13 multi-hit games. src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/yUtRxa4a32k?wmode=transparent&rel=0&autohide=1&showinfo=0&enablejsapi=1" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" style="top: 0px; left: 0px; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;"> On August 24th, Counsell hit a grand slam in the bottom of the first inning (see above) for a 6-0 lead against St. Louis in a game the Marlins would never trail before eventually winning, 7-1. Two days later, in an 11-0 whitewash of the Chicago Cubs, Counsell hit three singles and a double, scoring twice as one of five players with multiple hits. September 3rd would see him draw a walk and steal a base in the second, hit a no-out, one-on single and score in the fourth, and hit a two run single and score in the sixth. Counsell went 12-for-41 in the postseason, including six-for-14 in the Marlins’ five-game series win in the NLCS over the Atlanta Braves. He also tied the Cleveland Indians in the bottom of the ninth with this sacrifice fly: src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/qvZtn5jwZ1Y?wmode=transparent&rel=0&autohide=1&showinfo=0&enablejsapi=1" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="" style="top: 0px; left: 0px; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;"> In 1998, Counsell survived the fire sale which gutted the World Champions and left us with a 54-108 club. Despite only 400 plate appearances over 107 contests, he led the Marlins wtih 51 walks, and slashed .251/.355/.373/.678, with 19 doubles, five triples, four round-trippers and 40 RBI. The Fish posted a 39-68 record when Counsell played and a 15-40 record when he sat. He had 18 multi-hit games, including five three-hit affairs. On April 16th, in a 12-4 Marlins win over the Philadelphia Phillies, Counsell hit a grand slam in the first inning to put the Fish up 6-[...]
2016-12-06T09:24:14-05:00While one of the big three closers, Mark Melancon, may have signed with the Giants, but Miami is still very much in the running for the other two. Plus links on A.J. Ellis and Christian Yelich. Marlins News As the free agent market is not awash with high-end starting pitchers this winter, the Marlins have decided that an elite bullpen is the way to go, and they are in hot pursuit of the biggest two names left on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. This interest in the best bullpen arms in baseball comes off the back of the third consecutive season where the Marlins improved in the standings, and felt that a few additional pieces could have possibly propelled them into the playoffs. While not headline news yesterday (the headline of the article is probably more noteworthy), Miami is reportedly interested in veteran A.J. Ellis after losing backup catcher Jeff Mathis to the Diamondbacks via free agency. Like Mathis, Ellis excelled defensively and struggled offensively in 2016. After another stellar season in 2016, Christian Yelich has been awarded the honor of representing Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, and will don the red, white, and blue at Marlins Park in early March. The Marlins are about to enter a bidding war with some of the league’s richest teams, which is probably not what you expected to read just a few short weeks ago. Around the League The stating pitching market was thin to begin with, and it just got a lot thinner as Rich Hill has re-signed with the Dodgers for $48 million. Bryce Harper looks set to overtake Giancarlo Stanton and become the most expensive player in baseball, but not yet according to his agent. 2016 MLB home run leader Mark Trumbo is reportedly looking to sign a deal worth $75 million. As mentioned earlier, Mark Melancon has signed with the Giants. The four-year, $62 million deal contains an opt-out clause after the second year. The Red Sox have picked up manager John Farrell’s 2018 option after the team won the AL East this past season. In the closer feeding-frenzy which is taking over baseball, a free agent star by the name of Edwin Encarnacion has almost been forgotten. [...]
The left-hander threw 127.1 innings for the Pirates as both a starter and a reliever in 2016, and would provide Miami with additional rotation depth.
The Marlins know that there is a lack of star talent available on the starting pitching front this winter, so they are keen to find a diamond in the rough for an affordable price. MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro has added another potential name to that list:
Jeff Locke has spent his entire six-year career at the major league level with Pittsburgh, and actually made his debut against the Marlins as a 23 year-old back in 2011.
Locke enjoyed his best season in 2013, when he went 10-7 with a 3.52 ERA over 30 starts to go along with an All Star nod. Since then, though, his numbers have steadily declined to the point where he was removed from starting duties down the stretch this past season.
Overall, 2016 was a year to forget for the southpaw; both Locke’s WHIP (1.53) and K/9 (5.2) were the worst he has produced since his four starts as a September call-up to end the 2011 season.
While a repeat of his 5.44 ERA in 2017 would not lead the Marlins to the playoffs, Locke would provide Miami with more pitching depth which, more importantly, could just keep David Phelps in the bullpen.
That will be crucial to the success of this pitching staff next season, as losing Phelps to the rotation could quickly lead to the overuse of Kyle Barraclough, A.J. Ramos and possibly Kenley Jansen/Aroldis Chapman, and the idea of an elite bullpen would evaporate in a heartbeat.
If the Marlins sign Jeff Locke, the deal would not make many headlines. However, what it would do is provide the club with another arm which has experienced success in the past. Locke’s career numbers may not be dazzling, but that does not mean that he would not be able to produce solid numbers if he were to sign with Miami.
After another injury-plagued season, Miami will need a fully healthy Stanton if they'd like to compete in 2017.
2016 Stats: .240, 27 HR, 74 RBI, .326 OBP, .489 SLG, .815 OPS, 2.5 WAR
For every good team, there's a player that is essentially the catalyst of their offensive success. For the Fish, Giancarlo Stanton is that player. Don't get me wrong, there is certainly other talent in the lineup (Yelich, Gordon, Ozuna, to name a few). But this team goes as Stanton goes, and if they want to compete for a division title next season, they will need more than what they got from Stanton in 2016.
With 27 home runs and 74 RBI in 122 games, there was no shortage of power from the young slugger. Stanton would endure a vicious slump in the first half of the season, however, which led him to a career low batting average of .240. From May 16 to June 16, Giancarlo put up a slash line of .118/.211/.206. Within that time frame, he also had a strikeout rate of 46%, which doubles the MLB average of 21.1%. Additionally, his fWAR of 2.5 was his lowest since 2013. He posted a 6.5 fWAR and 3.7 fWAR in '14 and '15, respectively. Basically, Stanton remains an incredible talent that is sure to be an impact player for years to come. However, two factors may serve to limit just how much that impact will be: injuries and strikeouts.
Some people will point to the freak accident in 2014 (of him being hit in the face by Mike Fiers) as a statistical turning point. But for the most part, that theory doesn't hold much water. Before his season-ending injury in 2015, Giancarlo was on an insane hot streak. In just 74 games, he hit 27 home runs while knocking in 67 RBI. At the time, his slash line was .265/.346/.606 which led to a .952 OPS. To say that he lost a step because of the 2014 incident just isn't true. But even with those numbers, his slump in 2016 was very real and very frightening.
At age 27, Stanton has plenty of time to live up to his astronomically pricey contract. The Marlins don't need Stanton to be a perfect player, they just need him to be himself. Not the injury-riddled/slumping Giancarlo Stanton, but the home-run hitting/solid batting average Stanton that they've seen in years prior.
2016-12-05T12:59:01-05:00Rick Helling started 12 times and appeared 35 times in relief over parts of three seasons with the Marlins. Throughout this offseason, Fish Stripes is counting down the top 100 all-time Marlins, as ordered by Wins Above Replacement (WAR). The countdown’s floor was set at 2.0 (Adeiny Hechavarria, among others). Today’s entrant, pitcher Rick Helling, earned a 2.5 value while pitching with the Marlins. Helling, a 6’3”, 215 lb. right-handed pitcher from Devils Lake, North Dakota, was born on December 15th, 1970. After attending high school in Fargo, at Bishop Shanley, he attended a trio of colleges, Kishwaukee College, Stanford University, and the University of North Dakota. All that college ball did the trick, and Helling reaped the rewards with a first round pick by the Texas Rangers, with the 22nd overall selection in 1992, between Jamie Arnold (career WAR -1.6) and Jason Kendall (career WAR 41.5) Helling had a career mark of 22.6. It didn’t take Helling long to get to the major leagues, but it took him a long time to get there for good. Just two years after his selection he made his major league debut with the Rangers, going 3-2 over nine starts in 1994, with a 5.88 ERA, a 1.538 WHIP, and 25 whiffs in 52.0 innings. He made nine more total appearances at the top level with the Rangers over the next season and a half, spending the balance of his time with the Oklahoma City 89ers in 1996, where he went 12-4 with a 2.96 ERA and a 1.157 WHIP. Despite Texas’ determination to reap the benefits of their investment in Helling, they decided to send him as a PTBNL with Ryan Dempster to the Marlins for John Burkett near the beginning of September, 1996. Helling spent the final month of that season with the Marlins, where he posted a 2-1 record and a 1.95 ERA over four starts and a relief appearance. He struck out 26 batters in 27.2 innings and boasted a ridiculous 0.759 WHIP in his limited time. Over his four starts, he never allowed more hits than he had innings pitched, giving up a total of 12 over 26.2 innings. On September 22nd, in his final win of the season, he pitched eight full innings and gave up just one hit, a seventh inning single to Craig Biggio as the Marlins defeated the Houston Astros, 6-0. 1997 would open with Helling out of the Marlins’ bullpen, and the team posted an 11-20 record in games that he appeared in. He started seven times and ended up with a 2-6 record, a 4.38 ERA, a 1.434 WHIP, and 53 strikeouts in 76.0 innings pitched. On May 5th, Helling pitched six scoreless innings and earned his first win of the season, a 3-0 triumph against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He gave up two hits and two walks while striking out four. May 18th would see him come on in relief and trailing the Pirates, 2-1, then strike out four over three scoreless one-hit innings in a game the Marlins eventually won in 10-innings, 5-3. On June 17th, He started and struck out six over 6.2 innings of a 3-2 win against the Detroit Tigers. The Marlins traded Helling back to the Rangers less than a year after getting him from them, for Ed Vosberg on August 12th. Helling instantly became a stalwart of the Rangers’ rotation after returning, making 147 rotational starts without a miss and pitching at least 215 innings over each of the next four full seasons. He totaled a 68-51 record, a 4.86 ERA, a 1.424 WHIP, and 687 strikeouts in 1008.0 innnings with Texas, then played with the Arizona Diamondbacks (30 starts, 10-12, 4.51 ERA, 120 K’s in 175.2 innings, 1.298 WHIP) and the Baltimore Orioles (24 starts, 7-8, 5.71 ERA, 86 K’s in 138.2 innings, 1.413 WHIP). Baltimore cut him loose on August 18th, 2003, and the Marlins signed him as a free agent four days later. Helling pitched 16.1 innings for the Marlins in 11 appearances through the rest of the season, giving up just one earned run over 16.1 innings for a 0.55 ERA. He had a 0.980 WHIP and 12 strikeouts. He earned a win for the Fish on September 20th, comin[...]
Add back-up catcher to the Marlins offseason target list
Miami Marlins News:
With catcher, Jeff Mathis signing a deal with Arizona this week, the Marlins are now searching for a back-up catcher. While Thomas Telis remains an internal option, Dioner Navarro, Geovanny Soto and AJ Ellis have been discussed as free agent options.
The Marlins signing of Edison Volquez is a start to re-tooling their team but there is still plenty of work to be done according to GM Mike Hill.
Around The League:
The MLB reached a new CBA agreement the passed week. The most notable of changes to the agreement is the All-Star game no longer determining home field advantage. Instead, home field advantage will alternate every year.
This years Hall-of-Fame ballot is headlined by newcomers like Manny Ramirez and Vladimir Guerrero. Tom Verducci gives his take on how he thinks the newcomers to the ballot will fair.
The Rule 5 draft has proven to be a great way to acquire talent throughout the years. This year teams will try to dig for gold and steal a Johan Santana or Shane Victorino type player from another organization.
The Marlins are considering Ellis to fill their backup catcher need.
With Jeff Mathis gone, the Marlins are considering A.J. Ellis to be their backup catcher in 2017, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman.
Ellis, 35, had defensive success with the Dodgers and Phillies last season but struggled offensively, batting .216/.301/.298 with two home runs and 22 RBIs. However, it’s unlikely the Marlins are seeking a top offensive backup option.
In addition to seeking a backup catcher, the Marlins are also considering closing options. The club is interested in Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon, as Heyman first reported Sunday night.
The Marlins seem open to constructing a bullpen that features several dominant arms in the event the starting staff struggles to pitch deep into games.
Though the Marlins might not be open to such a significant payroll increase, Owner Jeffrey Loria is personally reaching out to agents, according to Joel Sherman of The New York Post. That could indicate the club is serious about adding a top closer.
The Miami Marlins have expressed serious interest in adding a big-time closer to form a super bullpen, and they’ve shown interest in the top three closers available, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.
It appears that Miami is the third mystery team that is interested in Mark Melancon. It was thought that Melancon would either go to the San Francisco Giants or Washington Nationals, but it seems like the Marlins are going to enter the battle for Melancon. The team is also interested in Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Miami will have to compete with the big market teams to get one of these three closers, but it seems like they are willing to fight.
Chapman is the most notable of the three, which means he will probably be the most expensive of the trio. Chapman, 28, pitched with the New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs last season. The Cuban native who lives in Miami had a 1.55 ERA with 36 saves and 90 strikeouts in 59 appearances last year.
Jansen, 29, has spent his entire career with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He posted a 1.83 ERA with 47 saves and 104 strikeouts in 68.2 innings pitched in 2016. Los Angeles extended a qualifying offer to Jansen this offseason, which means Miami would have to part with a first round pick in order to sign him.
Melancon, 31, pitched with the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Nationals last season. The right-hander had a 1.64 ERA with 47 saves and a 0.90 WHIP in 2016.
Melancon is likely going to be the cheapest of the three options, but that doesn’t mean he won’t end up being expensive. Expect all three of these closers to break Jonathan Papelbon’s record for most money given to a reliever ($50 million over four years).