It was determined a long time ago that 2012 would not be the Marlins’ season. After expectations were set all to high at the beginning of the year by the impatient front office, Miami began to fall apart during a June month almost as bad as 2011’s. The Fish said goodbye to “franchise player” Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, and Omar Infante as the trade deadline approached. Now, moving into September, the team has to look to solidify a 2013 lineup that they can count on and maybe, just maybe, have some patience with.
Let’s look right now at the spots that are definitely filled for the 2013 season. Number one, Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton has been, and will be the face of the franchise for Miami. The slugger has accumulated 85 home runs already in the big leagues, and he is still 22. He will play right field for the Marlins for, hopefully, years to come.
At shortstop, the Marlins are almost obligated to play Jose Reyes. He signed a six-year contract with Miami last offseason, and they will have to stick with him through thick and thin. Reyes worked a 26-game hit streak this year, a career best, and has been solid at shortstop.
Justin Ruggiano will return as a Marlin next year, at least that is what the front office has conveyed. Ruggiano has been a bright spot during dismal times for the Fish this year. He has speed and range in centerfield, and his bat especially as of late, has been hot.
Logan Morrison needs to return, simply because he has something the Marlins need. He is a powerful left-handed batter, and has experience at first base and in the outfield. The Marlins have not solidified the first base position since Mike Jacobs left the team after the 2008 season. Morrison, especially with his personality, would be much more disposed to staying focused while playing first base as opposed to wandering in left field. If he does play first, that focus could translate to hitting. Morrison is an outspoken extrovert, as I alluded to. He can get himself into trouble, but maybe Miami needs a fun-loving perky player like him to get the clubhouse hyped up. What they do not need, however, is a reality TV show. Thankfully, The Franchise was cut early. HBO’s next victim has not yet been determined.
Between the pitching rotation and the bullpen, few players can be certain they will return next season. In fact, I would say that Mark Buehrle is the only pitcher who can be certain he will come back. He signed a four-year contract with Miami last offseason, so, like Reyes, the Marlins are almost obligated to give him time despite struggles. However, when you’re as bad as Heath Bell, no one will question a release or trade.
For a closer who pitches one inning per game, three or four times per week, a year should be enough time to get out of a rut and get back on track. But Bell was so bad for Miami this year that he needs to go. I simply cannot be patient with him, and I wish him the best of luck in future endeavors.
Believe it or not, the Marlins can actually look forward to something–their prospect catchers. Rob Brantley was acquired from the Tigers in the Sanchez-Infante trade last month. He has started a few games for the Fish, and has looked good in the process. Kyle Skipworth and J.T. Realmuto are both catchers in the minor leagues right now, and are highly-rated prospects. Brantley looks to be the only one of the three that will be ready to catch in the big leagues next year, but one thing is for sure: the sub-Mendozza John Buck has not even come close to meeting expectations.
This month, as the rosters are expanded, the Marlins will dive into their minor league system to try to find anyone who can help them in 2013. They will likely call up one of the above-mentioned catching prospects, and they need to look at third basemen as well, but who knows what Larry Beinfest will cook up. They currently have guys in their own system who can help. For instance, Chris Coghlan played second and third base while he developed, both are positions the Marlins need filled.
September will be an experimentation month, and unfortunately once again it will be a rebuilding month.