Remember the stink when Logan Morrison received permission from Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria to wear No. 5, even though the number had been retired -- as part of the team's Inaugural Game festivities in 1993, no less -- in honor of the team's first president, Carl Barger?
Barger died before the Marlins played their first game. But the team retired No. 5 because it was the number worn by his favorite player, Joe DiMaggio. Then along came Morrison, who two years ago asked to wear No. 5 in honor of his late father, whose favorite player, George Brett, also wore that number. Never mind that retired numbers are supposed to be sacred. Loria gave it his blessing. Problem was, nobody from the Marlins notified the Barger family beforehand to ask their permission.
The Barger family still seems miffed by the slight, and justifiably so.
"We have our own memories of our father, and it was a disappointment when they unretired the number," said Barger's daughter, Betzi.
But wait. Morrison is gone now. The Marlins traded him to Seattle and, well, No. 5 is back in play.
What should the Marlins do? Should they re-retire the number in honor of Barger? Or should they make it available for the next player who wants to wear it?
"We wouldn't object if they did that," said Betzi Barger of re-retiring the number. "But we're not going to pursue it."
What do you think?
This much is certain: Morrison won't be taking someone's retired number in Seattle. Outside of No. 42, which has been retired universally by Major League Baseball in honor of Jackie Robinson, the Mariners and Colorado Rockies are the only two teams without a retired number.
Well, other than the Marlins, that is.
Only 16 years after sceaming "I love you Miami!," former Marlins hurler Livan Hernandez is selling his 1997 World Series ring and MVP trophy. The two items are among several belonging to Hernandez that are being auctioned by Lelands.com
Hernandez was a rookie for the Marlins in 1997 when he was named World Series MVP.
The MVP trophy and World Series ring aren't the only items Hernandez has placed in the auction. Also up for grabs: his 2002 San Francisco Giants N.L. championship ring, 2004 Silver Slugger Award, and the first-pitch baseball he threw from the first Washington Nationals game.
The reserves on both his MVP Trophy and Series ring are $5,000.
Hernandez isn't the only former athlete with items on the auction block. The jersey worn by Duke's Christian Laettner when he made the "The Shot" against Kentucky ($100,000 reserve), Rabbit Maranville's 1914 World Series ring, Jackie Robinson's 1947 Rookie of the Year Award ($50,000 reserve) and Jim Thorpe's moccasins are among the many items being auctioned.
The auction closes Jan. 10.
Since trading Miguel Cabrera in 2007, the Marlins have trotted out five different players as their primary third baseman. Casey McGehee will make it six. McGehee, a 31-year-old free agent who spent last season in Japan following five years in the majors, has signed a 1-year contract with the Marlins. The Marlins had been in serious discussions with McGehee for days.
The deal is worth $1.1 million and includes bonus incentives.
TMcGehee spent five seasons in the majors, primarily with the Milwaukee Brewers, before heading last season to Japan, where he hit .289 with 27 homers and 90 RBI in 137 games for the Rakuten Golden Eagles of the Pacific League.
McGehee [stats] enjoyed his best season in the majors in 2010 with the Brewers when he hit .285 with 23 homers and 104 RBI for Milwaukee. But he tailed off at the plate in subsequent years, and in 2012 hit only .217 with 9 homers while playing for the Pirates and Yankees.
The Marlins have been looking for a stopgap to play third until Colin Moran, their first-round pick in 2013, worked his way up to the majors.
The Marlins have been busy this offseason in trying to upgrade a lineup that ranked last in the majors in scoring. They have signed four new starting position players -- catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, first baseman Garrett Jones, second baseman Rafael Furcal and McGehee -- while trading away Logan Morrison and Justin Ruggiano for a back-end reliever (Carter Capps) and backup outfielder (Brian Bogusevic), respectively.
Third base has been a revolving door for the Marlins ever since the Cabrera trade. They have used Jorge Cantu (2008 and 2010), Emilio Bonifacio (2009), Greg Dobbs (2011), Hanley Ramirez (2012) and Placido Polanco (2013). And they haven't had anyone play as many as three straight seasons at third since the Mike Lowell era ended with his trade to the Boston Red Sox after the 2005 season.
To make room for McGehee on the 40-man roster, catcher Kyle Skipworth was designated for assignment.
LAKE BUENA VISTA -- Before closing up shop at the Winter Meetings, the Marlins on Thursday traded Justin Ruggiano to the Chicago Cubs for a near-mirror image of the outfielder, Brian Bogusevic.
"Really, Bogusevic is a younger version of Ruggiano," said Michael Hill, the Marlins' president of baseball operations. "He can play all three outfield positions and will fill the role that we had identified for Ruggiano."
Which was as an extra outfielder to play behind the projected starting trio of Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna.
The two primary differences between Ruggiano and Bogusevic, Hill said, is that Bogusevic hits from the left side and doesn't cost as much. Ruggiano projected to make in the neighborhood of $1.8 million in his first year of salary arbitration while Bogusevic isn't eligible for arbitration until after next season. Hill acknowledged that money was a factor in the deal.
"Given the fact that we were going to go with the kids in the outfield as the everyday players, we didn't want to allocate the dollars that we had in that role in Ruggiano," Hill said. "We wanted to spend it elsewhere."
Bogusevic is also a "different type of player" in that he he is "more of a contact, more of a gap hitter," than Ruggiano, Hill said. "We wanted to get a more functional bat."
Bogusevic was originally drafted as a pitcher in the first round of the 2005 draft by the Houston Astros but eventually converted to the outfield.
"Defensively he's a solid, average outfielder -- if not the same as Ruggiano, maybe a tick better," Hill said.
Bogusevic owns a career average of .236 with 17 home runs in parts of four seasons with the Cubs and Astros. He stole 15 bases for the Astros in 2012 when he received considerable playing time. With the Cubs last season, Bogusevic hit .273 with six home runs in 155 at bats.
LAKE BUENA VISTA -- The Marlins have reached agreement with the Mariners on a deal that would send first baseman Logan Morrison to Seattle for right-handed reliever Carter Capps [see stats here], according to sources with knowledge of the deal.
Morrison has been on the trading block for weeks.
Capps, 23, made 53 appearances with the Mariners last season, going 3-3 with a 5.49 ERA. Capps was rated by Baseball America as the 7th-best prospect in the Mariners' system after the 2012 system, and was also ranked by BA as having the "best fastball" in the Seattle system.
Morrison became expendable when the Marlins signed first baseman Garrett Jones to a two-year contract. But they were trying to trade him even before then following two seasons in which he battled injuries, missed significant playing time, and saw his production drop.
The Marlins are still looking for a third baseman, either through a trade or free agent signing.
I'll have more on this later as the story develops.
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.
LAKE BUENA VISTA -- Greetings from the Winter Meetings.
The Marlins formally introduced Jarrod Saltalamacchia, their major free agent acquisition, and the catcher actually sounded genuine when he said he had no reservations about going from a World Series winner to a 100-game loser. Furthermore, Saltalamacchia said the Marlins didn't have to make a special "sales pitch" to convince him to sign. (Money always talks).
"The year before in Boston we had lost 93 games and went from last to first," Saltalamacchia said. "So there's no reason why we can't do it here. We've got a great corps of pitchers, and that's where it starts and ends, with pitching."
Saltalamacchia's two young daughters were outfitted in skirts designed in the Marlins colors.
-- Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said the Marlins have no concerns with Rafael Furcal’s surgically repaired right elbow. The 36-year-old infielder missed all of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
“He had one of the best arms in baseball, and we have zero concerns about his arm,” Hill said of Furcal, who signed a one-year deal with Miami.
The Marlins intend to play Furcal at second base and put him at the top of the order.
“We felt like, at his age, moving him over to second could add a few more years to his career,” Hill said. “You put him at the top of your lineup, it lengthens your lineup out. It pushes (Christian) Yelich deeper into a run-producing spot in your lineup, and you start to set the table for the Yelich’s, (Giancarlo) Stanton’s, (Marcell) Ozuna’s and Saltalamacchia’s. And we’re still not done.”
-- The Marlins have not yet had to dip into their “inventory” -- their surplus of young pitching -- to acquire players.
“I didn’t think we would be able to do what we have done without moving inventory to this point,” Hill said. “To think that we filled holes that we’ve filled without touching our inventory is good for us, because as quickly as it’s a surplus, it can be all gone and then you’re in a tough position.”
-- The Orioles, Rays, Pirates and Brewers have all been named as potential trade targets for Morrison. There’s a very good chance the Marlins will deal Morrison to acquire a third baseman. But whether that player is an everyday player or a part-timer who platoons is something the team is still considering.
“There are internal candidates (Ed Lucas, Donovan Solano, Derek Dietrich), that paired appropriately, give you production at third base,” Hill said. “Right now there’s a universe of third basemen, and we’re still arguing through the merits of them.”
-- The Marlins will most likely wait until later in the offseason to bolster their bullpen with a veteran arm to replace Chad Qualls, who signed a two-year deal with the Astros, and Ryan Webb, who signed a two-year deal with the Orioles.
Let's get one thing straight: this isn't December, 2011, again, when the Marilns went nuts at the Winter Meetings in Dallas, throwing cash around (Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Heath Bell, etc.) as if they'd found a gold vein. Everyone knows how that turned out.
Well, here it is two years later and they're back at it, only this time at a much more moderate level. Two days after locking up catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia on a 3-year deal, and one day after securing infielder Rafael Furcal on a 1-year contract, they were working to reel in first baseman Garrett Jones on a 2-year deal worth $7.75 million. Jones was non-tendered by the Pirates earlier in the week after a slight dropoff at the plate, where he hit totaled 15 homers (down from 27 the previous season) and hit .233 (down from .274 in 2012).
The moves signal a few things:
1) Logan Morrison is as good as gone. If that wasn't already apparent when they were toying with the idea of signing Mike Napoli, it certainly is now with the pending addition of Jones. The Marlins are expected to dangle Morrison at the Winter Meetings in Orlando next week.
2) The infield is receiving a makeover. Not only will Jones take over at first, but the Marlins intend to have Furcal -- a career shortstop -- play second. It's unclear at this point whether the Marlins will continue their search for a third baseman. They could turn it into a spring training competition involving Derek Dietrich, Ed Lucas and Donovan Solano. More than likely, though, they're still sifting through rosters looking for a third baseman.
3) They're spending again. OK, so it's not at the ridiculously insane levels of the 2011 Spending Spree. But they are opening their wallets, at least a little bit (frankly, more than I expected them to). Over the past three days, they've reached (or are about to reach) agreements on $31.75 million in contracts -- $21 million of that going to Saltalamacchia and another $3 million earmarked for Furcal. The Saltalamacchia deal is now official, by the way. Sure, that's barely more than a year's worth of salary for Robinson Cano. But, by the Marlins' usual standards, it's a step up. Their payroll now projects at somewhere around $46 million, which falls into the reported range of $40-50 million.
So tell us what you think? Do you like the moves the Marlins have made so far? Don't like them? The comment lines are open.
The Marlins and veteran shortstop Rafael Furcal have agreed to a 1-year deal, sources have confirmed. But Furcal isn't expected to play short for the Marlins. They intend to install him at second base, which leads to all sorts of other questions.
Furcal, 36, missed all of last season due to Tommy John surgery. Here are his stats.
But the Marlins are convinced of his health, apparently, and intend to put him at second base, according to sources with knowledge of the team's intentions. (The surprising deal was first reported by Ken Rosenthal of foxsports.com). He has played a grand total of 36 games at second over his career, which was spent mostly with the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers.
So what does that mean? Well, it means the Marlins want to upgrade at second. Donovan Solano handled most of the duties there last year. Though Solano provided steady play, he wasn't a game-changer. Derek Dietrich was another possibility to play second and third. But the Marlins aren't entirely sold on Dietrich, as well, and are continuing to look for a third baseman.
The Marlins did not tender an offer to Chris Coghlan before Monday's deadline. But that doesn't mean the Marlins have closed the book on the 2009 National League Rookie of the Year.
To the contrary.
"We're actually trying to re-sign Chris," Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said Wednesday in a conference call with beat writers.
For the Marlins, Hill said not tendering contracts to either Coghlan or Ryan Webb boiled down to a financial decision. According to projections by mlbtraderumors.com, Webb stood to earn $1.5 million through salary arbitration while Coghlan's figure was pegged at $800,000.
"As we looked at our allocation of dollars and roles that each would fill on our club, we thought it would better serve the organization to non-tender both, and to use their dollars elsewhere in helping us put the ballclub together," Hill said. "These are tough decisions, and as we looked at our roster and how we allocated our dollars, it was not an easy decision."
The Marlins would like to bring Coghlan back, in other words, but for less money than he figured to make through the arbitration process -- and perhaps not on a guaranteed, major league contract.
"His role, had he stayed on the roster, would have been as that extra player capacity," Hill said. "It would be a similar role if he were to re-sign with us. If not, be prepared to go to Triple A and be ready to help the club when that need arises."
Since the Marlins are still awaiting the results of a medical physical, the deal with Jarrod Saltalamacchia is not yet official and Hill did not comment on the pending deal. The free agent catcher agreed Tuesday to a 3-year, $21 million deal with the Marlins.
"Anything going on? You hearing anything good? Anybody sign? Any big contracts?" Hill joked with reporters.
Hill said the team could have an announcement to make in the next day or so.
"There could be one (announcement)," Hill said. "I've been reading about some stuff out there. That could be coming to a head in the next day or so."
With the addition of Saltalamacchia, the Marlins might not have a lot of extra spending money with which to acquire more players. They are expected to spend $40-50 million on next season's payroll, and they are already up to $40 million with the signing of Saltalamacchia, who is due to make $6 million in 2014. (The contract calls for him to make $7 million in 2015 and $8 million in '16).
Keep in mind, the Marlins are still on the hook for $6 million they owe to Heath Bell. That money counts toward payroll, as it's coming out of their books. Throw in another $6 million or so for Giancarlo Stanton, as well as another $8 million million more for their other arbitration players, and the total number beings to approach the budget cap.
The Red Sox made Saltalamacchia a 2-year, $18 million offer with incentives, according to this report out of Boston. But the catcher rejected the deal, going instead with the Marlins' 3-year offer even though the average annual value is less than what he would have received from his former team.