Marlins starters posted a 5.58 ERA this year, worst in the National League. The five with the most starts were Dontrelle Willis, Scott Olsen, Sergio Mitre, Byung-Hyun Kim, and Rick VandenHurk. Only Mitre was able to avoid posting an ERA above 5.00. Marlins president Larry Beinfest has labeled the rotation the team’s #1 area of need this winter.
Olsen and Mitre are cheap, and you can find positives with both. VandenHurk whiffed a batter per inning, and deserves a look in the #5 slot. Kim will depart via free agency. Josh Johnson will miss all of 2008 with Tommy John surgery. Anibal Sanchez hopes to be ready for Spring Training, but he’s a question mark coming off labrum surgery. Ricky Nolasco is also an unknown after a season lost to elbow problems.
What to do with Willis? Juan C. Rodriguez of the Florida Sun-Sentinel notes that he’s likely to earn around $8.25MM in 2008. That’s an added $2MM, plus another $4MM for Miguel Cabrera. If the payroll is to stay at $32MM, one of them has to go. Rodriguez argues that Willis is worth his salary even with reduced expectations. Plus, trading him now would be selling as low as possible.
The pitching staff would receive a huge boost by better defense, and that’s a close second on Beinfest’s list. The Marlins led the league in errors and were last in defensive efficiency. That last part will definitely inflate your pitchers’ ERAs.
It’s probably best not to trade Cabrera, but rather whip him into shape. If the Fish can’t get him to play a credible third base they should move him to first. Hanley could be a consideration for center field, and then Cabrera could be paired with perhaps a Cesar Izturis or Omar Vizquel on a cheap deal.
How would you fix the Marlins, given these two areas of need?