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Updated: 2017-11-20T09:00:04-05:00

 



2017 Marlins Season Review: Wei-Yin Chen

2017-11-20T09:00:04-05:00

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Chen’s health and hefty contract provide doubt and uncertainty to the Marlins rotation.

2017 stats: 33.0 IP, 2-1, 3.82 ERA (3.73 FIP), 1.03 WHIP, 6.8 K/9, 0.5 WAR (Baseball-Reference)

When the Marlins signed the Orioles’ Wei-Yin Chen to a five-year $80 million contract before the 2016 season, it was seen as a risky move given the length and expense of the contract. Chen has a history of a prior Tommy John surgery and any initial fears which were felt after the signing have been more than justified.

Emblematic of the Marlins’ payroll issues, Chen has gone 7-5 with a 4.72 ERA in 27 starts and only 156 1/3 innings of two injury plagued seasons with the Fish. Chen was placed on the disabled list on May 5th with left elbow discomfort. Despite coming back as a bullpen arm late in the season, Chen was shut down again in September with shoulder discomfort.

At that point, Don Mattingly stated that “I really didn’t count on him being back this year, honestly,” Mattingly said. “I’m not really sure if he’s going to be able to get back next year. I think this is — I don’t know. I don’t know.” Not a statement that Marlins fans can feel too comforted by.

Chen has a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow, but, similar to Masahiro Tanaka, he has been advised to rest and rehabilitate the elbow instead of undergoing a second surgery. Tanaka has come back fairly well, though he has not been the consistent top of the rotation starter he was when he first debuted with the Yankees.

Not surprisingly given his injury issues, Wei-Yin Chen picked up his player option at the end of the season. With the combination of annual salary and the continuing payout of his deferred $13 million signing bonus, the Marlins owe him $65 million through 2020.

With Chen and Edinson Volquez questionable at best for 2018, the already thin Marlins pitching staff may be stressed even more this coming season, barring pitching received in trades or in free agency. Given the new ownership’s commitment to fiscal responsibility, one can only imagine how they feel about Chen’s contract behind closed doors.​




NL Notes: Scherzer defends Cy Young title

2017-11-19T11:01:02-05:00

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Here’s what’s happening around the National League.

Just one day after Giancarlo Stanton took home the NL MVP title, another NL East star took home his third Cy Young award.

That star is Nationals’ ace Max Scherzer. The fireballer was truly magnificent in 2017, going 16-6 with a 2.51 ERA, even while spending a portion of the season with uncomfortable neck spasms. Scherzer also managed to fan 268 batters.

If Scherzer manages to get through 2018 injury-free, I fully expect him to put up league-leading numbers once again.

Here’s what else is happening around the National League:

The Manager of the Year winners were also announced this week. For the National League, Arizona skipper Torey Lovullo took home the award for the remarkable work he did with the Diamondbacks, who won 93 games just a year after winning just 69. The best manager truly won out in the NL, as Lovullo took a team with all sorts of problems and turned it into a well-oiled machine.

Andrew McCutchen has spent his whole career with the Pirates, but his option expires after the 2018 season. Check out the link to see a possible landing destination for McCutchen in a trade scenario. Hint: the Pirates know a thing or two about this club.

The Rockies are looking for help after a much-improved 2017 season that saw them jump 12 wins from 2016. Their primary target is Jonathan Lucroy. The 31-year-old catcher has been on two All-Star teams, and has long been regarded as one of the best defensive catchers in the game.

The Mets received an encouraging update on perhaps their brightest young star. Outfielder Michael Conforto is progressing faster than expected from his shoulder surgery that sidelined him for the tail end of the 2017 season. Conforto has received clearance to swing a bat by late January, which puts him in position to participate in all of spring training.




Marlins Trade Rumors: There’s more Fish in this sea than Giancarlo Stanton

2017-11-17T14:01:40-05:00

A round-up of the trade talk surrounding the Marlins players who didn’t just win the MVP but are still desirable in their own right. By now, unless you’ve been frozen in carbonite or in some sort of coma (and if that was the case, welcome back, we’ve missed you!), you’ve likely heard that Giancarlo Stanton is probably going to be moved, even though his preference is to remain a Marlin.* *By the way, isn’t that the most Marlins thing you’ve ever heard, the newly crowned MVP who WANTS to be in Miami is probably going to be traded anyway, because, you know, money. What you may have heard less about are his teammates. Yes, Giancarlo has teammates. Pretty good ones too. Despite the end-of-season records in recent years, the Marlins have not simply been the Miami Stantons, receiving meaningful contributions from several of his comrades on the batter’s side of the ball. Those guys are getting some love in the trade market too, though it’s hard to hear it above the jarring din of blaring STANTON sirens. I thought it high time we set aside an article to address some of these rumors. Dee Gordon The second baseman market this winter seems flush with possibility for teams in need, with Neil Walker available as a free agent and potentially Jason Kipnis, Brian Dozier, Cesar Hernandez, Ian Kinsler available via trade. Dee Gordon is also thought to be on the market, and may be able to provide a spark on the basepaths for teams who have lineups replete with plodders, leading the majors with 60 stolen bases this past season. Of the aforementioned second basemen, only Dozier tallied a higher fWAR contribution (4.9 to Gordon’s 3.3) and is probably the best defender of the bunch. Gordon is owed $38.9 million through the 2020 season and is an obvious candidate for departure given the team’s payroll goals (and the presence of players on the roster theoretically capable of replacing him). The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Mets and Toronto Blue Jays are all thought to be in the market for a second baseman, with the Angels and Mets specifically mentioned as being in on Gordon to varying degrees. Likelihood of trade: High. Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna Those other two Marlins outfielders are kinda good too. Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna are thought to be among the players that Derek Jeter would prefer to keep, but there is no denying they would fetch a substantial prospect load (or, allow Jeter to shed a bad contract ala Wei-Yin Chen by pairing one or the other up with it). Yelich is long thought to be on the verge of busting out in the power department, but even if he never does, he’s still a very valuable player who sprays the ball all over the field and is a solid outfielder with good foot speed. You couple that with his contract — which will only see him making $9.75 million next season, $12 million the following year and then $14 million after that (plus a 2022 option) — and teams will be stepping in line to talk to Jeter about him...if he’s available, of course. Ozuna, meanwhile, just racked up some impressive hardware, taking home the coveted dual titles of Silver Slugger and Gold Glover. While Yelich could potentially become that all-around middle of the lineup bat, Ozuna is exactly that, his 37 home run, 124 RBI, 142 wRC+ literally overshadowed by the dude playing next to him in the field and the lineup. Arbitration estimates finally have him cracking the $10 million mark in salary for 2018, and any team lucky enough to have him in 2018 will also have him in 2019 as well before he finally gets to enter free agency on the verge of turning 29 years old. The St. Louis Cardinals, in addition to being in on Stanton, are known to have interest in both Yelich and Ozuna. The Philadelphia Phillies have made inquiries about Yelich, Marcell Ozuna is said to have caught both the Red Sox and Washington Nationals eye, and, surprisingly, both outfielders are in play for the suddenly looking to spend Oakland Athletics. Tr[...]



What we learned about Marlins prospects from their Arizona Fall League performance

2017-11-17T12:30:02-05:00

Seven of the club’s minor leaguers competed in the desert...with mixed results. The Arizona Fall League is typically viewed as a graduate school for top MLB prospects. Its Hall of Fame alumni include many of the game’s best current players—perennial MVP candidate Mike Trout, three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, etc.—and several who are destined for Cooperstown (like Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols and the late Roy Halladay). But this year, the Miami Marlins went against the grain. Rather than send their most highly regarded youngsters, they used the AFL to take a longer look at some wild cards. Even die-hard Fish fans might be unfamiliar with these names. All seven rank outside the Marlins’ top 30 prospects, according to MLB.com, and only two of them (Peter Mooney and James Needy) have any career experience above the Double-A level. The Marlins were one of five teams that sent talent to compete on the Salt River Rafters, along with the Diamondbacks, Orioles, Rockies and Brewers. The 27-year-old Mooney was the oldest player on the entire roster. Needy, 26, was Salt River’s oldest pitcher, while Braxton Lee, 24, was the oldest outfielder. Notice a trend? Their season ended on Thursday. Here are the final stats: Lee’s strong performance was recognized with an AFL All-Star selection. He ranked among the league leaders in stolen bases (fourth among qualifiers), batting average (seventh) and on-base percentage (ninth), serving primarily as the leadoff hitter. The Mississippi native also had the distinction of being the only player to drive in a run against J.D. Hammer, arguably the AFL’s most dominant arm this year. Nine strikeouts during a scoreless outing on Nov. 7 earned Needy Pitcher of the Week honors. He has quickly raised his profile since the Marlins signed him out of independent ball earlier this summer. The right-hander was flown out to the desert on short notice because Dillon Peters didn’t need the added workload, as the Sun Sentinel’s Tim Healey reported. Courtesy of MLB.com Other organizations handled the AFL more conventionally, so Miami’s representatives had opportunities to test themselves against some of the world’s best prospects. Ben Meyer passed this one with ease, carving up the East division-champion Mesa Solar Sox, including star-in-the-making Victor Robles: Ben Meyer of the @Marlins with 6 Ks in 3 perfect frames in @MLBazFallLeague today -- all on :93.9 - #Nats' Robles94.0 - #Nats' Gutierrez93.3 - #Tigers' Simcox93.8 - #Cubs' Rice93.9 - #Cubs' Burks94.0 - #Tigers' GibsonGameday: https://t.co/6AgMJ7zlCA pic.twitter.com/pAXJZ6u7v9— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) November 10, 2017 Meanwhile, Marcell Ozuna enjoyed a career year of his own in terms of both run production (124 RBI) and defense (NL Gold Glove winner). Six writers noticed and included him among their top 10 candidates. Overall, Ozuna finished tied for 15th in the balloting with eight points. It’s the first time since the Florida Marlins era that two members of the team received MVP shares in the same year (most recently Dan Uggla and Josh Johnson in 2010). Source: BBWAA.com If this proves to be Stanton’s final season with the Marlins, what a way to go out! His record-setting performance was already recognized with the Hank Aaron and Silver Slugger awards. And he produced with style, starring in more GIF-able moments than any other player. In a live interview with MLB Network after the big reveal, Stanton called the MVP win “unbelievable” and thanked his father for helping him adjust after a forgettable 2016 campaign. Specifically, adopting a closed stance at the plate made a huge difference, in his opinion. If Stanton stays relatively healthy, there’s no doubt he’ll be a top contender for the award again in 2018...but what uniform will he be wearing? [...]



2017 Marlins Season Review: Dee Gordon

2017-11-16T10:01:01-05:00

The second baseman likely played his way out of town 2017 stats: 653 AB, .308 AVG, .341 OBP, 2 HR, 114 R, 33 RBI, 60 SB, 3.1 WAR (Baseball Reference) The 2016 season was one to forget for Miami Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon after his suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. Gordon, 29, would post a .268/.312/.333 slash line in 248 plate appearances following the suspension, but he failed to play at a high level throughout the season. Gordon had a tremendous bounce-back season in 2017, just missing an all-star appearance. He started the season by posting a .286 average at the plate during April, which was actually his worst month of the season. He also struck out 17 times, and struggled to earn any walks with only three for the month. As the season progressed, so did Gordon’s performance at the plate, though he struggled with consistency. He hit effectively for two months, including a .291 average, five doubles, six RBI and .371 on-base percentage in May. His numbers for June weren’t nearly as impressive as May’s, as his OBP dropped from .344 to .333, and his average dropped from .291 to .280. However he stole 13 bases during June, which was his season high. Once July began, so did the second baseman’s consistency. He hit .327 in July, .313 in August and .345 in September. He hit his first home run in July and seemed to take a more aggressive approach offensively — which paid off for the most part — but he struck out 15 times, and got caught stealing four out of 13 times. Gordon raised his average to .300 in August. Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports Miami Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon (9) connects for a double in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Marlins Park. He finished the season strongly, having his best offensive month of the season. He hit .345, with one home run, four triples and eight RBI. Gordon would finish the season with a .308 batting average — 40 points higher than his poor 2016 season — and also earned nine triples, which was his highest amount in three years. However, Gordon had an odd season defensively, committing the most errors (12) in three years. Despite Gordon loving Miami, his high level of play likely earned a first-class ticket out of town. It’s clear the Marlins’ front office wants to rebuild, and Gordon will make too much money for a team who wants to cut payroll. It would be shocking if Miami didn’t sell high on Gordon’s stock and trade the multi-tooled player for a great return of prospects. During last year’s trade deadline, the Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels and Toronto Blue Jays were all interested in acquiring Gordon, but talks never intensified. Though, these teams are still in a position to acquire Gordon. The young star will never hit for power or drive in 100 RBI, but his dynamic speed, contact and talent on the base paths can vastly improve a team. Don’t be surprised if Gordon’s market heats up during the Winter Meetings. A few teams who could surprisingly enter the Gordon sweepstakes: Milwaukee Brewers, Detroit Tigers (to replace Ian Kinsler who is likely to be traded) and Los Angeles Dodgers...again. [...]



Top 10 Marlins Games from 2017

2017-11-15T10:00:04-05:00

The cure for your offseason scaries Well everyone, it’s November 15th, and we’ve all made it to The Upside Down. It’s been 17 days since World Series Game 5, 43 days since Brian Dozier hit a home run in the first at-bat of the playoffs, and 45 days since the Marlins last took the field. As a direct effect of the season ending, it is significantly colder and it inexplicably gets darker an hour earlier than normal. The inescapable conclusion is that this world is just a little brighter with baseball in it. If you’re like me, now that the season is over, you might have a void normally reserved for baseball, that currently sits empty. You need to fill that void. And if you’ve made it to this site, and you’re reading this article, you might not be able to fill your void with just any baseball — you might just need Marlins baseball. You purchased a subscription to watch the Dominican Winter League for $35. You read the prospect and hot stove reports every day. Heck, you even decided to sit down and watch The Sandlot or Bull Durham. In the end, it’s not enough. You hunger for the crack of a Giancarlo Stanton bat. You feen for a Marcell Ozuna throw-out at home. You yearn for the sound of Rich Waltz’ voice, raising in pitch as a Marlins hitter drives one “deep to left.” If you fit any of the above descriptions, and you have an MLB.tv account, you may be in luck. The braintrust here at Fish Stripes has come together to compile a list of the ten best Marlins games from the 2017 season. Use them as you please. You can binge them all in one night, like a season of Stranger Things, or you can use them sparingly, just barely quenching your thirst for Marlins baseball, and spreading the games out until Opening Day of 2018. Until then, this may be all you have: choose wisely. Honorable Mention/Losses 4/3/17 MIA 2 @ WSH 4 — Hope springs eternal on Opening Day. Marlins mount a small comeback, but the bullpen gives up the game to Bryce Harper and Adam Lind | Recap | MLB Link 4/11/17 ATL 4 @ MIA 8 — Rally Cat spurs Marlins onto victory in home opener | Recap | MLB Link 4/13/17 NYM 9 @ MIA 8 — Fish fall in 16 to the Mets | Recap | MLB Link 10. 5/23/17 MIA 11 @ OAK 9 Marlins hang on in the 9th to win a slugfest in the Bay | Recap | MLB Link Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports With a record of 15-28 heading into the back end of May, Don Mattingly had to do something to wake up the bats. After moving Giancarlo Stanton up to second in the order, the Marlins offense came together for 11 runs, including seven in the first three innings, and two in the last to stifle the surging Athletics. Mattingly would keep Stanton in the two-hole for the rest of the year in a story that ended with 59 home runs. 9. 7/17/17 PHI 5 @ MIA 6 Marlins walk-off on rival Philadelphia | Recap | MLB Link Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports The stars for the Fish sparkled in an ol’ fashioned NL East showdown. While Stanton seized the NL homer lead with a two homer night, Bour won the night’s long-drive competition. It took 10 innings to finish this one — who saved the day for the Fightin’ Fish? You’ll have to find out yourself! No spoilers! 8. 4/16/17 NYM 2 @ MIA 4 Riddle me this: who’s that new shortstop for the Marlins? | Recap | MLB Link Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports The headline says it all. After a number of injuries limited the play of Marlins’ infielders, budding shortstop JT Riddle made his debut on April 11th. Five days later, the Marlins found themselves in a predicament against the Mets. After the bullpen blew the lead in the top of 9th, with the game squared at two, Marcell Ozuna led off the bottom of the 9th with a single. Miguel Rojas followed up with a double; Ozuna tried to score from home, but after Yoenis Cespedes corralled the carom with a bare hand and delivered a strong relay throw, Asdrubal Cabrera threw a stri[...]



The top prospects that the Marlins could get for Stanton

2017-11-14T13:00:03-05:00

If the slugging superstar has to go, then Miami will have to acquire a future star (or two) in return in order to accelerate the rebuild, and keep the fans happy. The very first day of the GM meetings in Orlando did not end with Giancarlo Stanton jetting off to another city for an introductory press conference, but there were plenty of rumblings suggesting that scenario may occur in the not-too-distant future. The situation is pretty clear for the Marlins: they cannot afford to have the payroll as high as it is (in the region of $140 million next season for the current roster) while they are operating at a loss, like they have been for the past few seasons. With that comes the painful task of having to move the face of the franchise and his $25 million salary. The Cardinals, Red Sox, and Phillies all reportedly have serious interest in the 28 year-old, and regardless of whether or not the Marlins offer to kick-in some cash to cover Stanton's enormous salary in any potential deal, they will be searching for at least one elite prospect in return for arguably the most dominant hitter in franchise history. What the Marlins need in order to break their postseason drought is quality starting pitching, as a lack thereof in 2017 was the main reason why a record-setting team, offensively, was playing golf the day after game 162 was played instead of gearing up for the playoffs. With that in mind, below is a brief look at the top pitching prospect from each of the aforementioned interested teams that may well end up in Miami's rotation at some point in the near future. Alex Reyes, Cardinals St. Louis’ top prospect and the the number 14 prospect in all of baseball (mlb.com mid-season rankings), Alex Reyes could well have been an established major league starter already if it was not for a slight UCL tear which required Tommy John surgery in February. Over 46 MLB innings (five starts) in 2016, Reyes went 4-1 with a 1.57 ERA while striking out 10.2 batters per nine innings. He possesses a three-figure fastball at times, and throws it alongside a strong curveball and solid changeup which both result in a lot of empty swings. Reyes would be ready to start for Miami as soon as he is healthy and, once he cuts down on the number of walks he allows, he could quickly become the team's ace. It is also worth noting right-hander Jack Flaherty, the Cardinals’ number three prospect (and number 47 in all of baseball). Another young pitcher who has been given a taste of the big leagues, Flaherty does not appear to have as high of a ceiling as Reyes right now, but he could be more of a safe bet due to not having undergone Tommy John surgery thus far in his career. Jay Groome, Red Sox Although a trade with Boston could involve a package centered around 2017 preseason number one prospect Andrew Benintendi as a direct replacement for Stanton in Miami's outfield, Jay Groome is an intriguing name, and he is currently the jewel of the Red Sox farm system. The number 42 prospect in baseball (and number four lefty) throws his fastball in the upper 90s, but it is his curveball which catches the attention of scouts. His newly-developed changeup has potential, but still needs work before it becomes a solid third pitch. At 19 years old, Groome needs some time to develop, but with a six-foot-six frame to build upon, and experts already comparing him to Roger Clemens, he could definitely be worth the wait. Sixto Sanchez, Phillies Sixto Sanchez (Phillies number two prospect, 46 in all of baseball) came out of nowhere to dominate the Gulf Coast league in 2016, and he enjoyed similar success this past season (3.03 ERA over 95 Single-A innings). Like the other two big name prospects in this article, Sanchez has a big-time fastball which he can ramp up to 98mph with tantalizing command. He has a smooth delivery, and his secondary, off-speed pitches show real promise. Like Groome[...]