« Saturday update: Notes on new Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes; Media column | Main | Reader update »

Scouts, ex-GMs analyze Marlins; Fins book draft visits; Heat decision; Canes chatter

SUNDAY BUZZ COLUMN

With everybody expecting this to a long and losing season for the Marlins, who open Monday in Washington, we solicited personnel evaluations from three former general managers (John Hart, Steve Phillips, Jim Bowden) and three veteran scouts. Some feedback:

### The rotation of Ricky Nolasco, Nate Eovaldi, Wade LeBlanc, Henderson Alvarez and Kevin Slowey “is going to kill their bullpen because they will have a lot of five-inning starts,” said one AL scout who watched the Marlins a lot this spring. “It might get ugly quickly. Your No. 1 starter [Nolasco] would be in the back of a rotation of a championship team.”

Other views from the three scouts, who asked that their names not be used because of club policy: “It’s a bad sign when Wade LeBlanc is your No. 3 starter. Heck, I would pass on him as a No. 5 starter.”… “Nolasco has gone backward. The only consistent pitch he has left is his curveball.”…. “Alvarez is a better pitcher than he showed in Toronto. The key for him is getting good sink on his fastball.”… “Liked how Eovaldi looked this spring. He’s going to be a solid major league starter.”

Sirius Radio’s Phillips: “It’s a pretty thin rotation. Slowey doesn’t have the stuff to get away with a mistake.” But Hart said the good news is “Eovaldi and Henderson have good stuff. The development of a third pitch is key for Eovaldi.”

(Sunday update: Eovaldi and Alvarez will start the season on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation; Alex Sanabia and elite prospect Jose Fernandez were promoted to take their rotation spots.)

### One scout said signing 37-year-old third baseman Placido Polanco, who missed time with back problems in 2012, was “stupid. You’re not going anywhere, and he’s going to end up on the disabled list.” Hart said “I wouldn’t want to play him everyday” because of injuries.

But Phillips said Polanco “is one of the smartest players and best situational hitters around. You’re not going to get power or speed, so he needs to hit over .300 to be a functional asset.”

### The evaluators believe Juan Pierre will be productive, at 35. “He’s a nice place card until Christian Yelich is ready,” ESPN’s Bowden said.

Phillips said: “He’s got something left, but he doesn’t have a great on-base percentage [.346 career] because he’s not the most patient guy. He’s not a prototypical leadoff hitter.”

### Bowden predicts Adeiny Hechavarria “will become an above average shortstop and a No. 2 hitter eventually. I really like his range.”… Phillips: “I don’t expect him to hit much.”… Hart: “I love guy defensively. He’s a special defender.”

### The evaluators bemoaned the lack of protection around Giancarlo Stanton. “He’s going to be in a lot of 3-1 counts and needs to be patient,” Phillips said. “It’s going to be a challenge, but he’s up for it.”

### Some were skeptical whether Justin Ruggiano could duplicate last season’s breakout. “Chris Coghlan has had a great spring, and he needs regular at-bats to be productive,” one scout said. “Give him 250 at-bats, and if he doesn’t hit, then you know [2009] was a fluke. When he’s driving the ball the other way, he’s a pretty good player.”

### On catcher Rob Brantly: “I don’t think [.290 in 100 Marlins at-bats last year] was a fluke,” Hart said. “I’m not saying he’s Buster Posey, but he has a chance for a nice future.”… But a scout who watched him this spring said: “He’s got a ways to go defensively. And he needs to work on his game-calling.”

### A scout said second baseman Donovan Solano “would be more of a utility player on a good team. I’m not sold on him as a starter, but he’s a better player than I gave him credit for.”

### The evaluators are hopeful Logan Morrison will get back on track once he returns from knee issues. “I think he can hit .300 with 15 homers and 80 RBI,” Bowden said. But “is that production good enough at first base?” Despite the 23 homers in 2011, “he’s not going to be a big power bat long term,” Phillips said.

### One scout said Casey Kotchman, who is filling in at first for Morrison, “looks much better than he did last year. Defensively, one of better first basemen in baseball.”

### A scout, on the bullpen beyond closer Steve Cishek: “Really like A.J. Ramos’ arm. To me, Ryan Webb should be better; he has regressed. Mike Dunn overthrows and can’t command consistently.” But “Jon Rauch was a good signing,” Hart said.

### Bottom line? “It going to be a tough year,” Phillips said. “With a lineup without a lot of power, they’re going to have to win a lot of low-scoring games.” But one scout said: “If you factor in the minor league systems, I’d rather be the Marlins than the Mets.”…

And another said: “Mike Redmond will create a more professional clubhouse than Ozzie Guillen did.” Hart: “Redmond is an overachiever. Are they going to make a [playoff] run? No. But I don’t see this as a hopeless case.”

CHATTER

### With the Heat’s recent slow starts (at least until Friday's strong open in New Orleans), Erik Spoelstra’s biggest remaining decision is whether to stick with Udonis Haslem as a starter in postseason or go back to Shane Battier and the starting lineup in last year’s Finals. Consider: The Heat outscores teams by 11 per 48 minutes with Haslem, Mario Chalmers and the Big Three, compared with 18 per 48 with Battier, Chalmers and the Big Three.

Though Haslem is ninth among power forwards in rebounds per 48 minutes, the Battier/Chalmers/Big Three lineup surprisingly rebounds better as a group.

Players guarded by Haslem are shooting 44.6 percent, compared with 37.5 for Battier. Haslem is shooting 51.7 percent, but just 37 percent beyond two feet, whereas Battier is shooting a career-high 42.8 percent on threes.

### The Dolphins says they might bring in competition for kicker Dan Carpenter, and they’re showing interest in Gators kicker Caleb Sturgis, who hit 23 of 27 field goals in 2012, including 8 for 9 from 40 yards or more.

###Among familiar names the Dolphins asked to attend their local workout day on Wednesday: UM’s Brandon McGee, Mike James, Ramon Buchanan and Vaughn Telemaque; UF’s Jon Bostic, and former Krop and Ohio State standouts Etienne Sabino and Travis Howard.

### The Dolphins are among the teams holding a private meeting with speedy, explosive West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin. He would be a bold choice at 12, considering receiver is not a need, and Miami might be able to get a right tackle or pass rusher at that spot, or possibly a corner, though none might be the ideal fit at 12.

### Please see our last post for some tidbits on new Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes.

### There have been encouraging signs this spring from UM offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson, who said “I’ve matured a lot. In the past, I made a couple decisions that might have caused me to be in the doghouse from [Al] Golden. Now, I’ve been top of everything, watching film more, doing everything right academically. I’ve been better on the field and off.”

Henderson said the NFL Draft advisory board told him he would not have been picked in the first three rounds if he turned pro this year. Making himself a first-rounder “drives me a lot.”

### Anthony Chickillo, who needs to exceed last year's four sacks, said bluntly: "I missed around five sacks last year, and that's unacceptable. A lot of people last year expected me to be to a finished product, but I was only a sophomore and there's no doubt I had more [blocking] attention than my freshman year." Chickillo has had a good spring, including batting away and intercepting a Stephen Morris pass in last week's scrimmage.

### Next season’s power rotation is a big concern for UM basketball, which loses five key seniors, but if Shane Larkin doesn’t turn pro (and that's very iffy), Miami should be strong on the perimeter with Larkin, Rion Brown and Garrius Adams and newcomers DeAndre Burnett and Davon Reed.

“I go against Garrius in practice, and the guy is a beast, a terrific player, and nobody knows it,” Larkin said. “Coaches say Reed can be extremely good defensively. And DeAndre might be the best scorer in Dade since Guillermo Diaz.” Burnett spent the past year in prep school after starring at Carol City.

   

Comments