Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
It slipped by everyone here but Bob and his eagle eyes, but Joe Girardi and the Marlins announced a major policy change this past week: from now on, Florida players will be clean-shaven. Girardi, of course, picked up this idea while coaching for the Yankees, notorious whisker-haters that they are.
I wanted to laugh when I read the article, but something held me back. And now, a few days later, I realize what it is: Girardi's right. He's a frickin' genius, really, if you'll pardon my French.
Now of course the policy is silly. While it's true that a majority of World Series winners throughout MLB history have been clean-shaven, the statistical case supporting it's efficacy is still a bit weak. But that's the genius part -- the 2006 Marlins season is not going to be about winning a World Series. It's going to be about taking an extremely young, extremely inexperienced bunch of kids and turning them into major leaguers.
Essentially, Girardi's most important job right now is to teach this huge next wave of Florida prospects how to be professionals. And if a silly policy like this (and, I'd suspect, related policies about dress codes on team flights and such) is what it takes to remind them every morning as they reach for a razor, "Hey, I'm a major leaguer now. I've got to focus," then that job is well on the way to being done before those kids even get to the ballpark.
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While we're on the subject, has anyone else noticed the gaping hole in the Marlins offseason acquisition plan?
Here's yet another list of the prospecty-type kids they traded for:
Travis Bowyer, RP
Gaby Hernandez, SP
Mike Jacobs, 1B
Sergio Mitre, P
Ricky Nolasco, SP
Yusmeiro Petit, SP
Reynel Pinto, SP
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Anibal Sanchez, SP
Scott Tyler, SP
And here's some of the spare parts they picked up as well:
Alfredo Amegaza, INF
Joe Borowski, RP
Matt Cepicky, OF
Wes Helms, INF
Mike Megrew, P
Miguel Olivo, C
Pokey Reese, INF
Dan Uggla, INF
Notice anything missing? Like, people who can catch a fly ball?
As it currently stands, the Marlins are going to go into spring training with exactly one outfield position set -- the one occupied by Jeremy Hermida and his whopping 41 at bats of big league experience. Worse, they only have three other outfielders on their 40-man roster:
- Reggie Abercrombie, whose raw tools have yet to get him above Double-A at the age of 24, or even give him some real success at that level
- Chris Aguila, now 26, who has just 123 major league at bats himself, and will get his best (only?) chance this spring to prove he's not a minor league lifer
- Eric Reed, a poor man's Juan Pierre who stole 40 bases between Double-A and Triple-A, but who also managed just a .335 OBP at Albuquerque last season
In other words, Cepicky -- a 28-year-old who's posted mediocre numbers at Triple-A in the Nats/Expos system the last few years -- is almost a shoo-in for a job if he has two decent weeks this March.
It seems like a really curious omission. GM Larry Beinfest moved quickly to make sure his infield was covered in the short term -- even if Ramirez proves not to be ready for the majors this spring Reese, Amezaga and the like would seem capable of holding down the fort while he develops -- but in the outfield he didn't even see fit to pick up adequate insurance policies for the prospects he didn't trade for. (Don't tell me he couldn't have gotten a Brandon Moss or the like included in the Beckett deal if he'd asked.)
And it's not like they've been developing their own, either. Florida's recent pitching-heavy draft philosophy has produced exactly one 'name' outfield prospect, last year's second-round pick Kris Harvey who hit .300/.320/.479 after signing... in short season Rookie ball.
Personally, I've thought Beinfest was one of the more under-rated GMs in the game the last few years. He's not afraid to take risks, not afraid to think outside the box, not afraid to look stupid if he thinks a deal is the right one for his team, and he has a ring to show he know's what he's doing. But this kind of oversight is just inexplicable. Bad as the Marlins are going to be on the field in 2006, at least with the infield and the pitching staff a plan appears to be in place, and the team's (theoretical) future nucleus ready to be developed.
In the outfield, they've got Hermida, Zilch and Nada. And Nada's big numbers in the Mexican Pacific League aside, he just doesn't seem like any kind of answer.
Also, the Marlins need to completely avoid a Gathright-Olsen swap. Or any Gathright-SP swap
Miggy Cabrera has also been a pretty decent OF in his 2+ full seasons, hasn't he? So it's not like the Marlins have huge gaping empty holes, just huge gaping holes.
In theory they could slide Pokey over or start Helms at 3B, drop Miggy back into the OF with Hermida, and with a swap of one of those tons of SPs for a Gathright-type have a solid, if not 2003 Atlanta Braves-level, outfield.
Or they could trade Dontrelle to the NYM for Lastings Milledge, but then natepurcell over at Dodger Thoughts might explode.
FYI I was at a Phillies/Expos game in 2003 when Cepicky batted cleanup. Instead of Vlad Guerrero. With a .000 avg coming into the game. And I almost cried.
As for Willingham, it all depends on his defense behind the plate... the reports aren't good from the minors, and something tells me a guy like Girardi won't have much patience with a bad receiver. He could end up in left by default, just to keep his bat in the lineup.
I still think he'd be best suited for an AL lineup though, as a regular DH/irregular utility guy.
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