Will the Miami Marlins waste the Mike Stanton years? First let’s define the Stanton years.
Under the current MLB CBA which expires this year, a player is eligible for free agency after 6 full years of service. One of the main reasons the Marlins didn’t bring Stanton up from the minors until June last season, is to avoid having the 2010 season count as a full season and thereby extend the period of time they control him. Which means that this 2011 season, his 2nd year in MLB, is technically the first of six he needs to file for free agency [The Freedom from Loria Act]. That would keep Stanton a Marlin through 2016, five more seasons after this one.
Except that no team would sign Stanton to yearly arbitration-determined salaries, between the 2013 [he's a Super 2] and 2016 seasons, only to lose him for nothing the following season. Therefore, at the latest and maybe earlier, the California native would likely be traded before or during the 2016 season when he would be only 26 years old. Mike Stanton’s next non-arbitration contract could make him the highest paid player in MLB. Jeffrey Loria won’t write that check, unless Mike takes up painting. That’s why I believe that Stanton’s Marlins years will realistically last 4 more seasons past this 2011 season.
So who will the Marlins surround Stanton with? I go through each position player — forget pitching and injuries for now — and indicate what I think can be expected — using ESPN and Fangraphs [UZR/150] statistics to compare with other National League players — based on past performance.
Bottom line, unless there’s a Bizarro World Marlins farm system out there somewhere, this franchise doesn’t appear to have enough offense or defense based on its current position players and their performance to date to compete — Phillies and Braves are like the Patriots and Jets — during the next 4 Stanton seasons.
See the position players listed below:
John Buck, Catcher – Below Average
- Batting – OPS [.712] close to the bottom among NL starting catchers in 2011.
- Fielding – Average defensive rankings, combined with one of the worst caught stealing %’s.
- Other – Buck is signed for 2 more of the Stanton years.
Gaby Sanchez, 1B – Average
- Batting – We may need to get over the idea that Gaby is in a slump. His ‘slump’ has made his 2011’s number very similar to 2010. Like Buck, his OPS [.775] is close to the bottom among starting NL 1B in 2011
- Fielding – Has had two very good seasons, ranking 3rd or 4th among NL 1B.
- Other – We may come to see Sanchez’s first half offensive performance like Coughlan’s 2nd half in 2009 [or Ike Austin's 1997 playoff run], an aberration. If it is a slump, it’s costing Sanchez a lot of arbitration dollars.
Omar Infante, 2B – Below Average
- Batting – His OBP [.321] is average and his OPS [.682] is last among NL 2B.
- Fielding – Below average – The good news is that he will never be the worst defensively as long as Uggla is around.
- Other – Free agent likely to be re-signed since 3B and CF are bigger problems for the Marlins.
Hanley Ramirez, SS – Average
- Batting – Just average this year.
- Fielding – 2nd worst shortstop in MLB for the last 2 seasons. The good news is that he will never be the worst as long as Yuniesky Betancourt is around.
- Other – MLB player most likely to be picked up by Bill Belichick’s Patriots.
Mat Dominguez, 3B – Below Average
- Batting – Has not hit for a high average or power in the minor leagues.
- Fielding – Reports say very good.
- Other – To paraphrase Mike Tyson, ‘yeah yeah yeah, they all got a plan in the minors.’
Logan Morrison, LF – Average
- Batting – OBP [.327] dropped 63 points from 2010. HR’s up significantly, yet SLG % [.464] has only improved by 17 points. The National League’s LF with the 4th best OPS [.791] is in AAA.
- Fielding – The converted 1B is one the worst LF’s in the NL.
- Other – Marlins drafted and developed a very good hitter. Then they either taught him a lesson or alienated an emotional young player.
- Batting – His OBP [.357] is about 34 points above his lifetime average. His impressive 2nd half may make his utility role a thing of the past.
- Fielding – His versatility — played 2B, SS, 3B & all the OF positions — has likely hurt his defensive stats, which are average, due to the constant switching.
- Other – His speed and versatility makes him a valuable player.
Mike Stanton, RF – On the verge of greatness
- Batting – In his first full year, has improved in all offensive categories.
- Fielding – 2nd rated [UZR/150] RF in the NL
- Other – Likely National League HR king for years