THE “YOU BE THE GM” CHALLENGE
Nearly half-way through the season, the Marlins sit only a game-and-a-half out of first place in the National League East and squarely in the hunt for a possible Wild Card spot as well.
The funny thing is, I don’t think anyone who watches this team on a daily basis would tell you it’s played anything close to its best baseball yet. The offense has cooled after a hot start. The rotation is still looking for a couple of pitchers to step up consistently following the loss of Jose Fernandez. The bullpen has been largely inconsistent in front of closer Steve Cishek, who’s having an All-Star caliber year. And the defense hasn’t been nearly as crisp as you know Perry Hill would like.
But here’s the thing: There’s clearly not a perfect team out there. Not in the NL East. Not in the rest of the National League. And probably not over in the other league either.
With the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline now less than 6 weeks away, scouts from all 30 clubs have fanned out across baseball to look for matches. Some teams will be buyers. Others will be sellers. With races across baseball as tight as they are, there’ll probably fewer sellers than you think, and that drives prices way up.
The Marlins have been aggressive so far this year. They’ve jettisoned some under-performing players, and they’ve already gotten ahead of the game by adding 2 pieces to their bullpen in trade pick-up Bryan Morris and free agent Kevin Gregg.
So here’s the question: What else would you do if you were the General Manager of this club?
Would you stand pat, thinking that either 1) What’s already in place is good enough to win, or that 2) Few expected us to be in this spot in 2014, and anything that happens the rest of the way is gravy since I had my eyes on winning in 2015 and beyond with our young nucleus anyway.
Would you be a seller? Are you convinced that the Nats or Braves will go on a run, and this team has no realistic shot at the playoffs this year, but if I dealt a piece or two, I could get some valuable players in return who could help the Marlins win in 2015 and beyond.
Or would you be a buyer? If yes, what would you add? Offense? Starting pitching? Bullpen arms? And if you’re buying, would you do whatever it takes to win this year, saying the heck with the long-term? Or would you fine-tune around the edges for 2014, improving the club marginally in the short term while not dealing away key pieces that can help down the road?
These aren’t easy decisions. They’re complicated by contractual ramifications that you must take into consideration. How much does a player make? Do you control him beyond this season? How much should I give up to get half a season of this guy? Do I give up more for that guy because he’s mine for next year too?
Finally, to make matters even worse, these decisions are also complicated by the fact that you’ll probably have 20 or more other teams looking to add players they hope will put them over the top. And many teams will be looking to fill the same holes you have. When competition for a limited supply of available players is intense, the cost of doing business skyrockets.
So this is what I’m looking for:
In the comment section below, I want 1) your general thoughts on what the Marlins philosophical approach should be at the deadline and 2) if you think they should be buyers, I want your REALISTIC proposals as to what you think the Marlins should AND REALISTICALLY could do between now and the July 31 deadline.
Don’t tell me to send an A-ball second baseman and a Double-A utility guy to the Cubs for Jeff Samardzija, who’s widely reported to be available at the deadline. That’s not realistic. 10 or more teams will make serious proposals to in an effort to acquire Samardzija between now and the deadline and any deal the Marlins would make would probably have to start with a certain left-handed pitcher I wouldn’t think you’re willing to part with. You don’t want Theo to hang up on you, do you? Serious inquiries only please.
Do you trade valuable and desirable pieces off of your current major league roster, filling one hole but potentially creating another?
Do you part with top prospects for a player who you only control contractually for the remainder of this season? (Are you old enough to remember the Red Sox sending a kid named Jeff Bagwell to the Astros because they had to have Larry Andersen? Do you remember the Tigers dealing a kid named John Smoltz to the Braves because they really needed Doyle Alexander?) If you’re going to part with top young talent, you’d better be pretty sure this player puts you over the top.
I’m not sure how many of you will take my challenge here, but I’d love to hear some thoughtful and reasoned suggestions.
I’ll do the best I can to offer my 10-cent critique of as many of the serious ones as I can. And who knows, maybe I’ll even run a couple of ideas past Michael Hill and Dan Jennings.
No generalities. Be specific. Make concrete proposals.
You think you have the smarts to be a big league GM? Let’s go. What’s your plan for the course the Marlins should take between now and the deadline?
Show us what you’ve got in the comments section below.
For more on the Marlins and Major League Baseball, follow me on Twitter at @GlennGeffner and friend me on Facebook at Facebook.com/GlennGeffner. To have new Fish Tales posts and the Stat of the Day delivered directly to you via email, please click the “Follow” button and enter your email address. And you can catch Marlins play-by-play on the radio all season long on new flagship station AM 940 WINZ and the Marlins Radio Network.