Out of a Thousand Fish in the Sea, Marlins Oddly Choose Jennings (and other notes from 5/18/15)

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After the Marlins increased their payroll by about 50% over the off-season with the acquistion of players such as Martin PradoDee GordonDan Haren, and Mat Latos and the free agent signings of Mike MorseIchiro Suzuki, the Marlins front office was expecting the team to be competitive in the NL East as they surrounded their young rising starts Giancarlo StantonChristian Yelich, and Jose Fernandez (rehabbing from Tommy John surgery) with some strong veteran presences.  But after being nearly no-hit on Sunday, the Marlins fell to a 16-22 record and manager Mike Redmond was relieved of his duties after taking over as the club’s manager to begin the 2013 season.

Reports circulated the internet hours after the firing of Redmond with former Marlins player Jeff Conine being brought up as the next manager of the team.  However, those reports were later debunked and the Marlins were just letting everyone know that Monday morning they would make an announcement on who the next manager would be.  Well, when the time came, they made a shocking if not absolutely crazy declaration of Dan Jennings as their new manager.

Jennings had been the general manager of the Marlins, the man responsible for all of the off-season trades and signings, which included handing out the ridiculously insane 13-year/$325 million mega contract to Stanton.  So this is the team that he built, the team that he hand-picked with the belief that they could be winners.  But with no professional coaching or player experience to speak of, this has to be the oddest managerial hiring ever (if you can even call it a hiring, since he was the GM — did he hire himself?).  It reminds me of Major League II when retired third baseman Roger Dorn purchases the Cleveland Indians from the previous owner Rachel Phelps, but in the middle of the season when the team is in a big slump and Dorn is losing lots of money, he sells the team back to Phelps but stays on as the GM and activates himself as a player.  In the movie it worked out for the team since they won the pennant, but I don’t anticipate this going over well for the Marlins.  But at the very least, it should be an interesting experiment to follow and if by chance it is successful, it could actually be groundbreaking and make Jennings the pioneer of a movement of hiring baseball “minds” as coaches and managers as opposed to ex-players or current/former coaches.

For fantasy purposes, I don’t see this having a huge impact on any of the Marlins players.  But it is also hard to say since nobody, not even Jennings himself, knows his managerial style.  We will have to give it a couple weeks to see what Jennings tendencies might be when it comes to things like aggression on the base paths and lineup construction.

Continue reading onward for information about Monday’s slate!

Josh Donaldson – 3 for 5, 1 RBI, 1 R, 2 K.  I have mentioned before how he is a lefty crusher, so wouldn’t you know that he goes 3 for 3 off C.J. Wilson as the leadoff hitter for the Blue Jays on Monday.  Donaldson is on his way to another great year as he is currently hitting .316 with 8 HR, 26 RBI, 29 R, and 2 SB.

Jose Bautista – 3 for 4, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 3 R, 1 BB.  I am a long-time fan of Bautista ever since I owned him in many leagues during his incredible breakout season of 2010, but I am going to have to side with Adam Jones and really criticize the way that he admires a lot of his home runs.  He belted one on Monday that was a no doubter and took a couple seconds to watch it sail off, but come on Joey Bats.  You have hit the most HR out of any player in this decade.  Act like you have hit one before.  He’s hitting .235 with 7 HR, 23 RBI, 27 R, and 1 SB as he continues to work to get his stat line up.

 

Brett Cecil – 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K.  It wasn’t a save opportunity as he came in to finish the game against the Angels with a 4-run lead, but he was facing the heart of the Angels order so it was a welcoming showing.  He began the season as the Jays closer but quickly was removed due to a lack of velocity.  He has since made his way back into the role as his velocity inches back up, but in no way is his job completely secure.  The 20-year old youngster Roberto Osuna is throwing up zeroes night in and night out, so he is someone that could potentially get a look as the closer down the road if Cecil falters.  However, Osuna worked the 6th and 7th innings in this one, so as long as Cecil does adequately then he should maintain the role.

Kole Calhoun – 1 for 5, 1 R, 2 K.  Calhoun was announced as the team’s new cleanup hitter by manager Mike Scioscia with Erick Aybar becoming the new leadoff hitter.  For fantasy purposes, Calhoun is basically trading run scoring potential for RBI potential, so it doesn’t alter his overall value a whole lot, but Calhoun roto owners will want to take note of what categories they are strong/weak in with that regard.  As for Aybar, he obviously gets a boost moving from the bottom half of the lineup to the top.

Chris Iannetta – 3 for 4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R.  Ah, so Iannetta’s bat is alive.  It’s funny to think that Iannetta was once considered to be one of the top power potential catchers in the league.  That was the Coors Field air speaking though apparently.  He has averaged just 9 HR in the three seasons that he’s been with the Angels and he didn’t hit his first HR of the season till this game, a month and a half into the season.

David Freese – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R.  An Angel though that is showing surprising pop is Mr. Freese who now has 7 HR on the season.  Outside of his 2012 season with the Cardinals when he hit 20 HR, Freese has never hit more than 10 HR in a season primarily because he just doesn’t hit he ball in the air enough with a career fly ball rate of only 25.9%.  However, so far this year he is posting a 29.0% fly ball rate, but the 22.6% HR/fly ball rate is fairly high and probably going to regress.  With that said, he is now in a very good position to possibly hit 15 HR, but his average is suffering as he is hitting the ball in the air a bit more.

C.J. Wilson – 5 IP, 10 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K.  Wilson invited the hit parade out in this one and was due for something like this.  He’s not that great of a fantasy option, but as I said before, if he can continue to limit the walks then he can be a quarterway decent option.

Carlos Gomez – 2 for 5, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 K.  Evidently the hammer that Thor dropped on Gomez on Sunday with the bean ball to the head was not enough to keep him down for even a day.  Gomez returned and hit a bomb and appears ready to battle Thor to become the king of Asgard.

Mike Fiers – 5.2 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K.  So Fiers got very lucky last year to have a .224 BABIP and 82.7% strand rate.  But this year the tables have completely reversed and now he’s on the super unlucky side of things with a .372 BABIP and 67.1% strand rate, which has left him with a 4.75 ERA and 1.54 WHIP on his way to a poor 1-4 record.  Fiers has the 4th highest K/9 in the league at 11.23 K/9, so clearly he has the swing and miss stuff and is hitting his spots a lot of the time.  It wasn’t a great outing versus the Tigers on Monday, but he should be able to turn things around soon receiving some better fortune.  I think he is a nice trade target in fantasy leagues.

Victor Martinez – 0 for 4.  V-Mart goes down with the 0-fer and to add injury to the insult, he’s heading to the DL.  The knee issue that has plagued him since the off-season is not showing a whole lot of improvement.  On May 6, I had this to say about V-Mart: “It is difficult to say when Martinez may begin to regain some of that strength back in his knee so that he can drive the ball.  Right now though, it just seems like you have to bench him if you own him until he starts showing some positive signs, or just abandon ship and try to trade him.”  Well, there you have it.

J.T. Realmuto – 1 for 4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB.  The week that Realmuto got called up by the Marlins, I texted a friend saying “I hear that this J.T. Realmuto is a very quiet guy…he is a real mute.”  My friend replies, “Oh, really?  Weird.”  I then had to go on and explain the joke.  Hopefully you understand my humor and I don’t have to explain it to you.  This was Realmuto’s first HR of his Major League career, and while he’s not a power guy, he actually has some speed for a catcher as he swiped 18 bags at AA last year.  However, he has yet to steal a base in 28 games with the Marlins.  If he ever gets the green light to steal, which maybe he will now that the Marlins have a new manager, then he can be a sneaky fantasy play at catcher.

Dan Haren – 8 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K.  Haren is the owner of a 3.47 ERA and 1.01 WHIP, but the steep decline in his strikeout rate is very discouraging.  From 2013 to 2014 to 2015, he has gone from 8.01 K/9 to 7.02 K/9 to 6.02 K/9.  Unsurprisingly, he has also experienced a big decline in velocity in that period going from about 89 MPH to 86 MPH on his average fastball.  If you can sell an owner on him, then that would be very wise.

A.J. Ramos – 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K.  Ramos came into the top of the 9th in a tie ball game, affirming his role as the closer for the Marlins.  The perfect inning with 2 strikeouts is just icing on the cake.  He is the man right now for the Marlins and should be the man for them for the remainder of the season and future years as well.

Steve Cishek – 2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 B, 0 K with the L.  And then there’s Cishek still finding ways to lose games.

Jarred Cosart – Cosart landed on the DL with vertigo.  Now he gets to spend at least the next two weeks fading his team by betting on whoever the Marlins are playing (with the expectation that the Marlins won’t be winning with the new manager).

Yasmany Tomas – 3 for 5, 2 RBI, 1 K.  I’ve been mentioning how much more I am liking Tomas due to his ability to hit the ball to the opposite field.  He keeps getting the base knocks and is up to a .329 AVG.  The AVG will come down some, but we also should be seeing more power out of him soon.

Rubby De La Rosa – 9 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K.  This was a great 9 inning effort from De La Rosa with his only blemish coming on the Realmuto HR.  He continues to impress and is surely a pitcher to consider if on the waiver wire.  He has pitched better than his 4.08 ERA would indicate, and he does possess some strikeout potential.

Matt Harvey – 8 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K.  Tough for Harvey to not come away with the victory in this one.  That’s now two straight games Harvey has allowed 0 runs and gotten a no decision.  He is one of the best.

Jeurys Familia – 1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K with the BS.  Familia is the man who blew Harvey’s win, but I’m sure the Mets will give him a pass on this one since it was his first blown save of the season and they went on to win the game anyway.  His role is still secure.

Randall Grichuk – 0 for 6, 5 K.  Yikes, it doesn’t get much worse than that.

John Lackey – 7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K.  Have you ever heard John Lackey speak?  He sounds like Kermit the Frog.  Just thought I would point that out.

Corey Kluber – 9 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 12 K.  What a follow up to his brilliant 18 K masterpiece performance.  If you didn’t know it already, Kluber is fine.

Zach McAllister – 0.2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K with the L.  Come on, Zach.  Right after I hype you up in “Can Zach McAllister Be the New Tribe Chief?” you go and lose the game?  Make me look smarter next time.  And it is Shaun Marcum who is being summoned to take Bruce Chen‘s spot in the rotation as Chen was DFA’d and then announced his retirement.  So McAllister will have to continue to wait his turn.  But Marcum is far from a sure thing to stick or stay healthy.

Chris Sale – 8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K.  Sale showed much of the same pitch distribution that he has in his previous starts.  So with his second consecutive strong start under his belt, perhaps he is just growing more comfortable with his pitch selection.  I will still want to see more success out of him before I am completely unworried about him and his decreased slider usage, but he’s been proving me wrong in his last two starts.

Jonathan Singleton – Singleton is an Astros first base farmhand that did receive a look last year, showing some power with 13 HR in 95 games, but he was extremely strikeout prone.  He’s been at AAA the whole season so far, but he just had a 7-day stretch there where he hit .357 with 5 HR and 23 RBI.  Yes, 23 RBI in 7 games.  If Chris Carter continues to struggle, then Singleton could find his way up in Houston very soon.  Essentially Singleton is a left-handed version of Carter, so maybe they can form the worst strikeout platoon of all time.

Lance McCullers – 4.2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K.  McCullers made his Major League debut on Monday and it was a mixed bag.  He showed great stuff early on, but then lack of command and control took over and he got into some trouble to inflate his pitch count to prevent him from making it out of the 5th inning.  Pitching at AA before his call up, the 21-year old McCullers was dominating to the tune of a 0.62 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, and 43 K/11 BB in 29 IP.  He has the strikeout stuff for sure, but the control has been and should be an issue for him if he gets any more starts for the Astros.

Coco Crisp – 0 for 4, 1 BB, 2 K.  Crisp has now gone hitless in 10 of 12 games since coming off the DL for a .045 AVG.  He really wants to give Chase Utley a run for his money.  With Crisp struggling so badly, Billy Burns, who was receiving a good amount of starts upon being recalled before Crisp’s return, should be seeing more playing time over Crisp.  Whether he will or not, who knows?  But Burns definitely deserves it.

Drew Pomeranz – 4.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 5 BB, 2 K.  Pomeranz isn’t exactly having the breakout season that I thought he had the potential of and he left Monday’s start with shoulder tightness.  He wasn’t on his way to it anyway, but any type of injury like this would certainly derail his chances of being “This Year’s Alex Wood.”  If only, Marcus Stroman didn’t get injured then I wouldn’t have had to nominate Pomeranz for that title.  Ugh!  It bears repeating that Pomeranz is by most accounts a two-pitch pitcher with a fastball and curveball.  He needs to develop a solid third pitch to be an effective starting pitcher in the Major Leagues and get to that next level.

Ben Revere – 3 for 4, 1 R, 1 SB, 1 BB.  Right on cue from Sunday’s notes, Revere is showing up.

Cole Hamels – 7.1 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K with the W.  Hamels gave the Phillies their 6th straight win on Monday.  Who knew that this Phillies team could pull off such a win streak?

Chad Billingsley – Billingsley is out 4-6 weeks with a lat strain.  Really tough break for a guy who pitched just 2 games in 2013 and missed all of 2014.  The Phillies super thin pitching staff got even thinner.

Julio Urias – Dodgers 18-year old super pitching prospect underwent cosmetic eye surgery and if you ever have seen what Urias looks like then you will know why.  Urias has been cruising through AA with a 3.00 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, and 46 K/9 BB in 36 IP.  While it’s not likely that Urias will reach the Majors this year, this surgical procedure might actually improve those chances.  Urias was going to be on an innings count limit this season, so missing a month to recover from this procedure will keep his innings down and could make him available as a September call up for the Dodgers if they choose to give him that exposure.  It’s still not likely, but it could happen.

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