LAKE BUENA VISTA -- Yep. You read that right. Garrett Jones, the Marlins' new first baseman, suggested the Marilns could be a much better team than people think. A whole lot better.
"It could be a team that could shock the baseball world," Jones said Tuesday after signing a two-year deal.
It would be a shock, all right, if the Marlins somehow went from worst to first. Only two teams -- the 1991 Minnesota Twins and this year's Boston Red Sox -- have done it. No team has ever gone from 100 losses to a postseason appearance the following year.
But Jones likens the Marlins situation to that of the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he spent the past five years. The Pirates finally ended a 20-year playoff drought this past season.
"Being a team that is developing before everyone's eyes, to be a part of that, is something special," Jones said. "It was kind of like that when I was with Pittsburgh. We developed into a winner, and to see the city ignite and erupt -- it's something special to be a part of."
The additions of Jones and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, both of whom can provide the Marlins with some much-needed pop, makes Justin Ruggiano that much more expendable. And, indeed, the Marlins are listening to offers on Ruggiano, whose 18 home runs ranked second on the team last season.
Ruggiano figures to be no better than the Marlins' fourth outfielder -- insurance in case one of the projected starters (Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna) goes down with an injury. Ruggiano is eligible for arbiration and is projected to make $1.8 million through the process.
According to the Miami Herald's Barry Jackson, the Marlins have expressed interest in free agent outfielder Delmon Young, who could be groomed to also play first and perhaps platoon with Jones. Here's what Jackson had to say:
The Marlins expressed interest in free agent Delmon Young, a former No. 1 overall pick who hit .260 with 11 homers and 38 RBI for Philadelphia and Tampa last season. An outfielder, Young has been taking grounders at first. A Garrett Jones/Young platoon at first would be very solid.... More than a half dozen teams have inquired about Logan Morrison, who will be traded.... CBS said the Marlins are one of eight teams that have inquired about free agent third basemanEric Chavez.
With Jones in the fold, the Marlins are actively shopping Logan Morrison. But the market for first basemen might not be so great, and the Marlins might have to package Morrison in order to unload him for a player (or players) of value.
Check out this story by the New York Post's Joel Sherman on the difficulty the Mets could be having in moving Ike Davis.