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Making Sense of the Miami Marlins' Recent Trades

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With the MLB trade deadline just days away, there are teams scrambling to make last minute moves to improve their club for a playoff push. Then there are the teams that are out of contention and are willing to trade nearly anyone on their roster. Buyers and sellers.

The Marlins weren’t supposed to be sellers.

Coming into the 2012 season the Miami Marlins had World Series aspirations. Art dealer and team owner Jeffrey Loria did everything he could to give the Marlins a new brand. They built a new stadium, made a new logo, hired a new manager, signed a new shortstop and closer and picked up a couple veteran starting pitchers.

They did it all in hopes of making it to the Fall Classic. It didn’t exactly work out as planned. As the dog days of summer approach, the Marlins are still the same underachieving ball club they tend to be year-in and year-out – minus the random years they won the World Series – only now they’re underachievers with a huge payroll.

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The Marlins have declared that they are sellers, and it’s not just any sale. It’s a free for all. Some have called it a fire sale, while others prefer to call it a “blowout sale.” Some people involved in the game have even compared it to the “Hunger Games.” Nobody is off-limits, except for one – Giancarlo Stanton. His raw power is off the charts and may only be challenged by the Angels Mark Trumbo.

Stanton’s staying put.  Anyway, back to the fire sale.

The Marlins made a trade the other day with the Detroit Tigers  (who, by the way, may be the best team in the game and if you’re a betting man. Check out the odds on Detroit to win the World Series, throw down a C -note and thank me later). I get the feeling it was just the beginning of the deal, and the Tigers are only the first beneficiaries.

The Marlins traded second baseman Omar Infante and starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez. Both are huge pick-ups for the Tigers, who were shaky at best at the second base position and needed another quality starting pitcher. Infante was hitting .284 with 8 bombs with Miami and can arguably turn a double play as fast as anyone in the game. As far as Sanchez goes, his ERA was under 4.00 with Miami and he made 14 quality starts in 19 games – which is pretty consistent. He also threw a no-no when he was just 22-years-old, bringing the number of starters in the Detroit rotation that have now thrown no hitters to two.

The Tigers now have someone who can help bridge the time period from Justin Verlander start to Justin Verlander start. By the way – Verlander  has apparently been “linked” to Detroit native Kate Upton (she just turned 20), who has been spotted at multiple Tiger games recently. Apparently chicks dig more than just the long ball now. I actually sat behind Verlander’s parents during one of his spring training starts this year vs. the  Orioles and there was no lady friend in sight. Just saying.

Regardless, this was a good trade for both the Marlins and the Tigers. The Marlins picked up the Tigers best pitching and catching prospects, which is no small haul. They got 21-year-old RHP Jacob Turner, who was the 9th overall pick in the 2009 draft and reasonably has a ceiling of a No. 1 starter, and a floor of a solid, middle of the rotation guy. At catcher, 2010 3rd round pick Robert Brantley is extremely valuable because of his offensive prowess (left-handed swinging), which is rare among catchers nowadays. There just aren’t many catchers who can hit. Any catcher who has been able to hit in his career moves to first base or DH (Mauer, Napoli, etc.). The Marlins also picked up the 6-foot-8 LHP Brian Flynn, who isn’t as highly-touted as the other two prospects, but he could make his way into a big league bullpen.

Heading into yesterday there were still plenty of moves to be made. According to closer Heath Bell, “We just go into our locker room and see who gets traded each day.”

Prophetic. Not long after that comment, third baseman Hanley Ramirez was traded to the Dodgers along with reliever Randy Choate for Nathan Eovaldi and a minor leaguer. Eovaldi is 1-6 with an ERA of 4.15. Unlike the trade with the Tigers, there is a clear winner/loser of this trade. Miami traded away a player in Ramirez who has MVP/Batting Champ potential for a end of the rotation pitcher. Granted, Ramirez has been known to have some make-up issues and a poor attitude, but the Marlins couldn’t get any more in return for a guy who has been the face of their franchise and one of the preeminent hitters in the game for the last half-decade?

Apparently not.

Such is life right now for the Miami Marlins. While the focus only three short months ago was on getting to and winning the third World Series in the team’s history – and then selling off everybody like they always do! – it looks like that ship has sailed. They’re skipping the winning part, and just going straight to the selling.

Heading in to the weekend, the Marlins just may continue to make moves in hopes of unloading payroll and improving the farm. system. Precisely what Loria had in mind…

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