Caught up this morning with Michael Hill, president of baseball operations for the Marlins, before he hit the links with players and coaches for the team's annual charity golf event down on Key Biscayne. Hill spoke about the looming competition for the last spot in the starting rotation, as well the thought process on the Carlos Marmol signing, which became official on Tuesday.
First, the Marmol signing.
Hill: "As we made some of our other moves this offseason I always wanted to bring in a guy with a little more experience to just add to our depth. I was really surprised as we got deeper into the offseason the names that were still out there, some very experienced guys with history and closing games. Marmol was a player we followed all winter, obviously knew what happened in Chicago. For anybody who had seen him pitch in LA (after being traded by the Cubs in July) his delivery was cleaned up he was working more at the plate, there were more strikes, everything was better.
"We followed him this winter and saw him pitch a lot. It was that same carryover. We were very pleased with the development he had, better command of fastball, slider more in the zone, working more at home plate.
"It’s just another option for Redmond. I’m not sure how he’ll fit in. Cishek is our closer and we hope that Carter Capps and (A.J.) Ramos are able to move deeper into the bullpen. Wherever he (Marmol) pitches you have a guy with experience, with a resilient arm, never been on the DL."
Q: DO YOU CONSIDER IT A GAMBLE GIVEN HIS RECENT CONTROL ISSUES?
Hill "If we were singing him to our closer but we’re not. We’re bringing him to be part of a solid bullpen. We feel like we have quality already so to add this caliber of player was a no brainer for us.
"From what we saw this winter, closing in Dominican, it was the guy we saw closing in Chicago. We faced him. There has been issues in the past getting the last 3 outs, command because the slider was always there. It was sort of a flailing delivery where his stuff was getting yanked out of the zone. It’s working more at the plate, his stuff is all at the plate. His slider is nasty on right handers and its right under left handers hands."
Q: WHO DO YOU SEE IN THE PICTURE FOR THE 5TH STARTER
It's really a "4 and 5 competition," Hill said, with Jacob Turner all but guaranteed the fourth spot.
"Turner is a big piece of our rotation when he came back form the minor leagues he pitched very well and that’s the Turner who we would have liked to see from the beginning of the season. He came back from the minor leagues, was focused and did what we expected him to do. If he does that he should be a part of that rotation.
"(Brad) Hand had a great (end of season). Sept. He looked comfortable and looked like he belongs in the big leagues.
"Brian Flynn - I don’t think anybody saw the real Brian Flynn in September. A workhorse lefty pitcher, led the PCL in innings pitched, was a force in the PCL. To put up the numbers he did in the PCL was not easy to do. We wanted to give him experience in September. He was tired so I don’t think we got to see truly what he is. He’ll definitely be a part of the competition.
"Tom Koehler. He got more relaxed over the course of the season. So much for the young kids is realizing they belong and they don’t have to do anything differently to be successful in the big leagues."
Hill also said Andrew Heaney, Justin Nicolino, Adam Conley and Anthony DeSclafani should all receive plenty of innings this spring to see what they can do, but are more likely to start the season in the minors.
"We want to give them experience to make sure if and when the need arises we're ready to go," Hill said.
"There are no shortage of candidates. For the first time in a long time we have upper level starting pitching depth. I can’t remember the last time we had upper level starting pitching depth. Staring my 12th season here and we’ve never had it.