In the past ten days, the Marlins have traded away their starting first baseman, left fielder, and best left handed pitcher all because of money. Each guy was eligible for salary arbitration, which will give each guy a substantial increase in 2009. The decision to trade these three guys should not be a surprise given the Marlins history (1998 fire sale!) and payroll constraints ($21 million dollar payroll in 2008). I can understand why fans would be discouraged after watching the Marlins trade away three of their best players, but by no means does this mean that the Marlins are rebuilding.
Instead, the Fish are merely deciding which guys are expendable based on depth, potential, and salary. Think about it. The Marlins can replace OF Josh Willingham with OF Cameron Maybin, who is one of the best prospects in baseball and looks like a dynamic player. They can replace 1b Mike Jacobs with minor league 1b Gaby Sanchez, who was the MVP of the Southern League (AA) or with Dallas McPherson, who hit 42 homers in AAA this season. And finally, the Marlins can replace Scott Olsen with stud RHP Chris Volstad, who looked phenomenal down the stretch for the Marlins.
The three guys the Marlins gave up are flawed players. Jacobs cannot get on base or play defense, Willingham was hurt and can't play defense, and Olsen is no better than a third starter and a potential headcase. Good players? Yes, but irreplaceable? No. Each one of those guys has a capable replacement, who can probably offer the same production (or better?) at half the cost. That's why I commend the Marlins for the two trades they have made so far.
I look for 2b Dan Uggla to be the next one to go. The fact that the Marlins acquired 2b Emiliano Bonifacio from the Nationals yesterday is not a good sign for Uggla's Ugglies. Think about it this way: Uggla is a good player...a great power hitting second baseman, but simply put, he cannot play defense. Like the Willingham, Jacobs, and Olsen before him; Uggla is a very flawed player, who is eligible for arbitration and is due for a raise. Those factors should lead to Uggla's exit. I would love to see the Giants or Dodgers make a run at Uggla...he'd be a good fit there.
As a Met fan I am very scared of the Marlins in 2009. They still have a ton of talent and I really believe as long as they stay healthy and pitch well, they will compete for the division crown. As a baseball fan, I envy GM Larry Beinfest for continually working within his budget constraints to put a quality product on the field. These trades are not a part of some major rebuilding effort. Instead, the Marlins are building for something bigger and better than they achieved in 2008: a division title.
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