September 9, 2011
Kiss 'Em Goodbye is a series focusing on MLB teams as their postseason dreams fade -- whether in September (or before), the League Division Series, League Championship Series or World Series. It combines a broad overview from Baseball Prospectus, a front-office take from former MLB GM Jim Bowden, a best- and worst-case scenario ZiPS projection for 2012 from Dan Szymborski and Kevin Goldstein's farm system overview.
Today we look at the Florida Marlins. It's time to kiss 'em goodbye.
Signs of disaster: Buster Olney reports word of Loria and team president/Loria stepson David Samson playing a bigger role in personnel decisions, which certainly sounds ominous. Given that the Marlins are headed for their fourth manager in three seasons, how much more meddlesome can they get? As if that's not bad enough, there is concern about Hanley Ramirez's availability to start next season. The three-time All-Star set career lows in all three slash stats by hitting .243/.333/.379 while battling lower back and left shoulder woes, and he took a considerable PR hit via a hatchet job by former Marlin and current special assistant Jeff Conine, who questioned his on-field efforts. Ramirez will undergo surgery next week to stabilize his shoulder, and there's a chance it could be open surgery instead of arthroscopic, with a rehab that extends into next season. If he's unavailable, that's a good amount of star power -- not to mention a potent middle-of-the-order bat -- missing.
Signs you can ignore: As dire as it may look with ace Josh Johnson having made just nine starts this season due to shoulder inflammation, the Marlins' distance from any playoff race provided less incentive to return. He doesn't have a long history of shoulder problems, and it's probably best to think of this in terms of him being ready for 2012 with an additional winter of rest. -- Jay Jaffe, Baseball Prospectus
Marlins manager Jack McKeon is expected to return to his role as special assistant, and the Marlins should try and convince Bobby Valentine to leave his prominent role with ESPN and help lead the young Marlins team into their new park. Valentine, 61, has won in both the United States and Japan, and his experience and leadership capabilities with young talent should allow the Marlins to continue their development of so many good young players like Mike Stanton, Gaby Sanchez and Logan Morrison. Just like McKeon, he'll get instant respect from the few important veterans that matter, like Josh Johnson and Hanley Ramirez, which will be critical as they try climb out of the cellar.
The boldest move the Marlins should make is to go against their history of not pursuing top free agents and enter the market with an overwhelming, record-breaking offer to free agent left-hander C.J. Wilson. He would give them a top-notch left-handed starter at the front of the rotation to put between Johnson and Ricky Nolasco. The Marlins have less than $50 million currently committed to their 2012 payroll, and they should get a revenue boost from their new park. If Florida wants to become competitive in the tough N.L. East, this type of move is a necessity, especially because of the rotations in Philadelphia and Atlanta, and the one that's emerging in Washington. -- Jim Bowden
Hopes and Fears
Worst-case scenario: 68-94
A version of this story originally appeared on ESPN Insider .
Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus.