The Miami Marlins began the offseason with four very big splashes. The normally spend thrift habits of owner Jeffrey Loria went out the window with a brand new ballpark and a wish to contend, not just now, but for the foreseeable future. The Marlins dove in and got not just their feet wet, but even splashed their neighbours in the process.
They need Prince Fielder to complete the transition. They needed Albert Pujols but he’s in California now. They need a big, strong, fearsome power hitter. It seems only the Chicago Cubs and perhaps the Washington Nationals have any practical and realistic interest in Fielder at this point.
The Milwaukee Brewers have stated that, with the signing of free agent Aramis Ramirez, their pockets are empty. They have no interest in their former star, at least not at his asking price. Rumours were flying that the Toronto Blue Jays would take a run at Fielder. Fielder likely wouldn’t play in Canada. The Texas Rangers have been mentioned. The Seattle Mariners and Baltimore Orioles might still be in the running but it is unlikely Prince would sign onto a team which is essentially going nowhere for the foreseeable future. It appears that those rumours were just that, rumors. No online sportsbook favorable odds for the O’s. Click here to check out the odds.
With the relatively quick signings of Jose Reyes, Heath Bell and the signing of Mark Buehrle and new manager Ozzie Guillen, the Marlins didn’t blink, until lately. They seem to have abandoned their frugal ways but need to take one more giant step to complete the transformation. This winter’s signings are a big step towards improving their playoff hopes but are not enough to get the Marlins over the hump in the National League East.
Prince Fielder would be and here’s why.
Jose Reyes, while not a marked improvement over Hanley Ramirez, is a genuine star player when healthy and theoretically allows the Marlins to move incumbent Hanley Ramirez to third, filling a gaping hole which has existed at that position for some time now. I say theoretically because reports are that Ramirez is not interested in a position switch. If Miami can convince their star player to take one for the team, the left side of their infield becomes one of the best in baseball.
The signing of Heath Bell instantly fixes a shaky closer position. Without a star closer, no team can seriously contend or advance far into the playoffs. Many stat geeks will point out that closers are over rated and Miami paid too much for theirs. Tell that to the New York Yankees. Tell that to the teams who don’t have a lockdown ninth inning specialist. Bell will make a big difference. Bell will allow the other bullpen pitchers to return to the setup or specialist roles they are more comfortable with. Bell will take all the pressure off the entire staff. He’s a proven lock the game down pitcher.
Mark Buehrle, while not one of those starting pitchers who rack up the strikeouts and intimidates opposing hitters with a blazing fastball or his mound presence, is you’re much needed, innings eating, dependable game in and game out type of starter. The Marlins need starting pitching. The rotation they entered the winter with is solid, with a true ace as their number one, but Johnson is too fragile. The number two and three starters are hot and cold. They now have a solid anchor, probably a number two arm.
Now the Marlins need to sign a big, scary bat, someone to guide young star Mike Stanton to greatness and to carry the power weight for this team. They need a hitter who can quickly turn a game around and who would allow them to slug it out toe to toe with the Philadelphia Phillies. They need a face for the franchise at a time which might be a critical crossroad. Prince Fielder is that player. He’s coming into his prime. Many scouts contend that in two or three years, Fielder will be slow and cumbersome and a better DH candidate than anything else. The history of baseball is full of big, slow moving, not that great in the field first basemen. That’s why many of them played first base or moved there later in their careers. No one knows how the new Marlin ballpark is going to play but one thing seems a no brainer to me. Sign Fielder for seven or eight seasons.
Do what it takes. As my father used to say, come big or don’t come at all.