WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN
With Jose Fernandez showing no inclination to sign a long-term contract, the Marlins likely will need to consider trading him at some point instead of risk losing him for nothing after 2018. The question is how soon they do that.
Sirius XM radio host Craig Mish, who has broken several Marlins stories over the years, reported via Twitter (and elaborated by phone) on Tuesday that the Marlins are exploring a trade for Fernandez and there’s a “very high probability” he will be dealt this winter.
The Marlins’ response?
“We do not comment on trade rumors,” team president David Samson texted this afternoon. “Some players are more likely to be traded than others. Jose fits in the latter category… He is a Marlin for at least the next three years and hopefully longer and we look forward to the start of the 2016 season.”
A different Marlins source said that a Fernandez trade would not make sense for them because they have a three-year window with him and the team needs high-end pitching.
Another Marlins source also called such a deal unlikely this winter but did not rule it out. Keep in mind the Marlins were adamant when Giancarlo Stanton rumors surfaced in past years, with executive Michael Hill saying: “We never shopped him. We want the player to be a Marlin.”
Fernandez, a free agent after 2018, will be reasonably priced for one more season; he stands to make a few million this winter as a first-time arbitration eligible player.
Agent Scott Boras, who has squabbled with Marlins management, declined to say Tuesday if Fernandez wants to be traded. Fernandez appeared visibly irritated by the Marlins’ trading of veterans in July.
“The Marlins know Jose Fernandez wants out of Miami ASAP,” WINZ-940 host Andy Slater reported, citing player sources. “One player told me that Jose Fernandez speaks to Marlins management like they’re children.”
Boras not only was angry about the Marlins’ decision to leave Marcell Ozuna in the minors for nearly six weeks this past summer (thus delaying his arbitration), but also because owner Jeffrey Loria didn’t respond to his requests to discuss it.
When Boras criticized the Marlins last week, Samson said: “Our baseball people do what is in the best interests of the team and the player. My strong suggestion to Mr. Boras is that instead of resting on his five percent that he collects from his stable of players, he write a check and buy a team. Because then he would have the opportunity to run a team that he claims to be so able to do.”
The Marlins remain cautious with Fernandez, who went 6-1 after returning last July from Tommy John surgery to push his career record to 22-9.
Hill said the preference with Fernandez is not to place him on a pre-determined innings limit for 2016, but to adjust his workload in-season depending on circumstances, such as high-stress innings.
“[Boras] will in no way be included in [that] process other than continuing to collect whatever commissions he may be entitled to,” Samson said last week.
Regarding the trade story, Samson said today that Fernandez's "choice of representation is not relevant to this inquiry."
### After reviewing circumstances that led to Butch Davis’ dismissal at North Carolina, some inside UM have concerns, even though Davis wasn’t implicated by the NCAA.
Though one person on UM’s advisory search committee (Jonathan Vilma) was recruited by Davis, played for him and likes him, the committee excluded a couple of deep-pocketed donors/Board of Trustee members who strongly support Davis.
Davis remains a fallback option; one UM person said athletic director Blake James knows he has Davis if all else fails.
### We reported last week that the UM administration is under the impression that Texas coach Charlie Strong has interest in the Miami job, and Fox’s Bruce Feldman reported Tuesday that Strong (37-15 at Louisville but just 10-13 at Texas) is indeed interested.
An associate of James said UM prefers to hire someone who has had success as a head coach in college (even better if it’s at a major program) or with an NFL team.
Strong, Georgia’s Mark Richt and Greg Schiano would qualify, as would others whose names are swirling in coaching rumors, such as Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez, Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen or North Carolina’s Larry Fedora. And none of us should be surprised if the search firm hired uncovers a successful active coach that nobody has mentioned, but who has interest in coming here.
UM also is expected to consider Mario Cristobal and Rob Chudzinski because of UM ties and other strengths they bring to the table. Colts coach Chuck Pagano would hold some appeal to UM, but he might not be available until January, long after the search concludes.
### How is it that UM could be outscored 117-21 by teams (Clemson, North Carolina) with similarly ranked recruiting classes in recent years? I posed that question to a few players today.
In UNC’s case, “they came out with a better game plan,” cornerback Tracy Howard said.
But talent-wise? “I mean, think about it,” Howard said. “Look at it. They have some talent. Don’t get me wrong. They have good DBs that can really play. We’ve got good DBs that can really play. They’ve got good receivers that can really play. We’ve definitely got good receivers that can really play.
“They’ve got a good backfield. We’ve got a good backfield. Trenches, I don’t really get into too much because I’m not really sure how that works. But I mean, we’ve got Brad Kaaya as our quarterback. They’ve got a good quarterback as well. Talent-wise, we match up evenly or probably better.”
Linebacker Jermaine Grace put it this way when I asked him the same question: “I feel like every team we play, we’ve got better athletes and better guys all across the board. It’s just really who wants it more and who executes it more, does the job and plays smart, fast and physical. … We’re faster than a lot of teams. We have more athletes and everything else. It’s about coming out and playing.”
Though Rivals.com appears to have overrated UM’s recruiting classes, don’t overlook this: Against North Carolina, UM didn’t even start its only five-star players (Chad Thomas and Howard).
And why can’t UM’s front seven, filled with decent or high-end recruits, dislodge from blocks?
Defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio said: “There were a couple in the last game that were not called that we sent in and probably should have been called. We have to assume we’re going to be held and it’s not going to be called.
"[In practice], we actually tell the offensive guys to hold them because they’re going to hold in a game. We’ve got to be able to utilize our hands, lock off and violently rip off the block. That’s the way we coach it."
### Among rookies who haven’t missed multiple games because of injuries, the Dolphins’ DeVante Parker has played fewer snaps (110) than only two other first-round picks: Cleveland guard/center Cam Irving (103) and Arizona offensive tackle DJ Humphries (none).
And Parker, who didn’t play at all Sunday according to nfl.com’s game book, said it’s easy to feel in the dumps because of his predicament these days, so much so that he has begun watching tapes of great catches he made at Louisville.
“To remind myself I can still make plays like that,” he said.
### Even though Jay Ajayi has averaged 8.1 yards on his first 11 NFL carries, the disparity in carries between Lamar Miller (55) and Ajayi (12) remained lopsided on Sunday because the Dolphins feel more comfortable with Miller’s pass protection, especially late in games and backed up near the goal line.
They also like moving Miller to receiver on some downs, as we saw Sunday.
### Please see the last post for details on the Dolphins' roster move today.
### So much for visions of ending this Heat seven-game homestand at 10-3. Miami dropped to 6-4, and 3-1 on the homestand, with a disappointing 103-91 loss to Minnesota tonight, a game in which Miami missed 16 of 30 free throws, committed 22 turnovers and was outscored 41-22 in the fourth quarter.
Hassan Whiteside was immense, delivering the 20th triple double in franchise history (22 points, 14 rebounds, 10 blocks) but missed three of four throws when Minnesota coach Sam Mitchell employed Hack-A-Whiteside late in the game, prompting Erik Spoelstra to remove him briefly.
The Heat couldn't overcome 10-point nights from Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade and an uncharacteristically quiet night from its bench, which was outscored, 54-13. Gerald Green was rusty in his return, missing four of five shots.
Spoelstra: "Turnovers were the toughest thing we had to deal with tonight. Overall, our defensive grittiness was good enough to take this game, but our offense wasn't efficient."
### Heat center Amare Stoudemire has appeared in only one game, but his agent, Travis King, said Stoudemire isn’t complaining and won’t ask for a trade when most 2015 free agents become eligible to be dealt Dec. 15.
“He’s fine with it; he’s a team player and is glad to be with the organization,” King said. “... He talked to [Erik Spoelstra about the situation]. He has made his money. He doesn’t have to play for another contract. He just wants to win.”
### UM's 2-0 basketball team doesn't play until Thursday (in a tournament in Puerto Rico), but Wednesday is a big day for the program, with the Hurricanes a finalist for two high-end prospects expected to announce their intentions: Miami Norland five-star power forward Dewan Huell (reportedly down to UM and South Carolina) and Massachusetts-based four-star guard Bruce Brown (down to UM and Indiana). Our Michelle Kaufman said Huell will sign with UM.
ESPN rates Huell the No. 21 prospect in the 2016 class and Brown 30th.