The Chicago Cubs and Miami Marlins have to be viewed as the two of the top winners this off-season. Though the reasons that both the Cubs and Marlins are winners could not be more different. The Marlins have succeeded this off-season for doing the thing that a team in the Cubs’ position is expected to do. The Marlins unveiled a new stadium to go along with a new manager in former Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. In addition to the the new stadium and Guillen, the Marlins’ front office finally had the handcuffs taken off and were able to spend freely this off-season.
That mentality has lead the Marlins to sign free agent shortstop Jose Reyes, free agent starting pitcher Mark Buehrle, and free agent closer Heath Bell. The Marlins are also the team we should thank for forcing Albert Pujols out of the National League. The Marlins essentially eliminated the Cardinals from the Pujols’ sweepstakes. While Pujols signed with the Angels and not the Marlins, Miami’s efforts on Pujols should not be overlooked by Cubs’ fans. Nonetheless, the entire baseball landscape is focused on Miami and they will be the team to watch when the 2012 season starts.
Meanwhile, the Cubs are winner but because of any moves they have made to the major league roster. But because of the additions to the team’s front office. Theo Epstein left the Boston Red Sox organization to join the Cubs as the team’s president of baseball operations. In addition, Jed Hoyer followed Epstein to the Cubs’ organization and replaced Jim Hendry as the team’s general manager. With Epstein and Hoyer in place, the Cubs’ major league roster is bound to see improvement over the next couple of seasons.
As we prepare for the 2012 season; and with Carlos Zambrano now being a member of the Marlins’ organization, Cubbies Crib and FanSided friends at Marlin Maniac had a Q&A session regarding the teams’ off-season. After the jump, Ehsan Kassim answers the questions I had regarding the Marlins, as well as Yoennis Cespedes and Chris Volstad.
Cubbies Crib: The Marlins have been mentioned as potential suitors for Chicago Cubs’ starting pitcher Matt Garza. The Cubs are seeking for the moon in any Garza trade, knowing that, what would be a realistic return to expect from the Marlins in any prospective Garza trade?
Marlin Maniac: Realistically, with the recent addition of Carlos Zambrano to the Marlins rotation, the Marlins are likely out on all future rotation
moves. The Marlins truthfully do not have the talent to match up with the Cubs in any Garza trade either way.
Cubbies Crib: If you were to ask any Chicago baseball fan, they would tell you that manager Ozzie Guillen and starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano were the two most controversial figures on Chicago’s baseball landscape. Now Guillen and Zambrano are in the same clubhouse with the Marlins, the two are friends, but will that friendship be for the greater good of the team?
Marlin Maniac: Logan Morrison said the other day on Hot Stove on MLBNetwork, “It doesn’t matter how we do it, we just have to win.” That quote could not be more true. The Marlins have built a clubhouse of very loud personalities. The key is winning. If the Marlins win, everyone will
be happy. However, if the Marlins start off slow, get ready for sports biggest circus. It will be an absolute mess down there if the Marlins
do not win. That is regardless of any friendships. As a fan, I am very excited for the Marlins season, but as a blogger, I am dying to see what happens. Be sure to check MarlinManiac this season for a lot of headlines!
Cubbies Crib: The Miami Marlins are the clear winners this off-season. Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, Mark Buehrle, Guillen,and Zambrano were some of their notable additions. Are the Marlins ready to compete with the Phillies this season and be one of the top-tier teams in the National League?
Marlin Maniac: I cannot answer that question right now. I am skeptical of if the team has enough to compete. Major question marks surround Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson. If either of those two miss any significant time, the season is over for the Marlins. The Marlins still do not have much depth in case of injuries. The rotation is going to be a big factor in whether the Marlins compete or not. If Johnson is not healthy, the rotation goes from a potential top 5 rotation to a bottom of the league one. I already believe the Marlins have the best lineup in the NL East, but adding Prince Fielder or Yoennis Cespedes would separate them from the rest of the pack.
Cubbies Crib: The Cubs and Marlins have been mentioned as the top two favorites to land Cuban sensation Yoennis Cespedes. The Cubs are expected to place an aggressive offer for Cespedes, as will the Marlins. What are your thoughts on Cespedes? Is he worth all the hype that his youtube videos have generated?
Marlin Maniac: I have never been more intrigued by someone who has not proven in the league. When I read his scouting reports, so many things remind me of Mike Stanton. Now, I do not believe Cespedes and Stanton will be the same player in the Majors, but his power, his football build, all are similar. Cespedes also has good speed and while many see him as a corner outfielder, I think he could play center with the Marlins because of the ground that Stanton can cover in right. Those videos are phenomenal. This kid is legitimate in my view. I hope the Marlins go all in for him. I know the Cubs are the most aggressive right now, but I would be shocked if he landed anywhere other then Miami.
Cubbies Crib: Since the Cubs traded Zambrano, the focus has been on the fact that Zambrano is no longer with the organization. But what about Chris Volstad? Was his 2008 rookie season a mirage, or can Volstad become a solidified Starting pitcher in the National League?
Marlin Maniac: Most Marlins fans will tell you that Chris Volstad is a joke and that he has no future in the MLB. The truth is that Volstad has a ton of potential. He was rushed to the Majors by the Marlins before he was ready and now has been labeled a bust. If you look at a similar pitcher to Volstad, Wade Davis, they both have similar numbers, but for some reason, Davis has a ton of value and Volstad does not. I can see Volstad excelling with the proper coaching. I know Theo was very keen on moving Zambrano, but I also believe he saw something in Volstad. He has an eye for talent. I wish Volstad all the best in Chicago. I will be cheering for him in all his start, except of course when he faces the Marlins.
Cubbies Crib: Lastly, before the Cubs hired Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, there was talk that Cubs’ chairman Tom Ricketts was interested in Larry Beinfest. Some criticize Beinfest, though it has always been my belief those critics were wrongly taking aim. Would Beinfest be able to succeed in operating a big market organization? Or would he biting off more than he can chew?
Marlin Maniac: Beinfest was able to put together some good teams with literally no money. He drafted well for a while, but lately the Marlins have stopped spending so much money on the draft, which likely leads to the lack of depth in the Minors now. We all saw what Beinfest has been
able to do with some cash allotted to him. I would never want to lose Beinfest, as I believe he is one of the best in the game. But at the same time, I was kind of hoping that he would go to the Cubs so Marlins fans could finally appreciate what this man has done during his tenure. I would expect Beinfest to get a lot of votes for Executive of the Year. All his critics will likely be silenced once again after this season.
Be sure to check out Marlin Maniac regularly this off-season on the latest on baseball in south beach.