[Nameplate] Fair ~ 73°F  
High: 89°F ~ Low: 73°F
Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016

Fantasy Forecast: "The MLB Hot Stove 3"

Friday, January 20, 2006

The state of Florida has had a very bizarre year. Instead of oranges being the state's most popular export, it was fish. And it was not just any ordinary fish like cod, flounder, or snapper, but Marlin.

That's right--Marlin! There have been more Marlins shipped out of Florida this winter than oranges.

OK, so that isn't entirely true, but it sure has seemed like it this offseason. Owner Jeffrey Loria made it known that unless the city of Miami or the state of Florida assists in building his organization a new stadium, that he would not be able to afford to field the kind of team he did in 2005, meaning he was prepared to strike the match that ignited this year's hot stove league and resulted in an offseason fire sale the likes of which we have never seen.

Oh wait a minute--my mistake. Way back in 1997, Wayne Huzienga conceived the first Marlin fire sale soon after leading the organization to their first ever Championship. Back then the Marlins traded, sold and waived such players as Gary Sheffield, Moises Alou, Al Leiter, Edgar Renteria, Bobby Bonilla, Charles Johnson, Cliff Floyd, Kevin Brown, Livan Hernandez and Robb Nen. So, who have they sent packing this time?

In less than three months, the Marlins have bid adieu to their entire infield (including their starting catcher), three out of five of their starting pitchers, their closer, their two best set-up men and their entire outfield. For those of you wondering where Miguel Cabrera went, keep in mind that he is moving from left field to third base in 2006. The Marlins were so caught up in the moment they even sold the rights to one of their players to a team in Japan.

Ordinarily I would list each player that was traded away or signed by another team and speak of how it will affect you in the upcoming year, but there just is not enough room to break down the Marlin's losses.

The Marlins will be without many players worthy of being on fantasy squads. Fantasy-stud first baseman Carlos Delgado was dealt to the Mets. Starting second baseman, Luis Castillo was sent to Minnesota. Alex Gonzalez, who has started at short for the Marlins for seven straight seasons, has not been offered a contract. Mike Lowell, who suffered a miserable 2005, was dealt to the Red Sox where he will probably rebound to be "Comeback Player of the Year." Solid hitting Paul LoDuca was sent to the Mets and will catch for them in 2006. And folks--that is just the infield.

In the outfield, the Marlins will have to replace speedster Juan Pierre, whom they sent packing for Chicago. Also leaving Florida was right fielder Juan Encarnacion, who was recently signed to play in St. Louis. The only other starting outfielder left is Miguel Cabrera, who will be making a move of his own. But, unlike the other Marlin moves, this one takes place internally. Cabrera will move from left field to third base this season to play his natural position.

Now, that is a lot for any team to overcome, but wait! There's more! The Marlins could not claim to have held a true fire sale unless they depleted not only their infield and outfield, but also their pitching staff.

Last year's five man rotation is a distant memory for the Marlins. Late last season the Yankees acquired Al Leiter for the stretch run. Then once the off-

season began, the Fish traded Josh Beckett to the Red Sox. They then watched idly as the Toronto Blue Jays signed A.J. Burnett to a blockbuster deal.

With three-fifths of the rotation history, they moved on to exporting the bullpen. In less than three months Ron Villone, Guillermo Mota, Antonio Alfonseca, and closer, Todd Jones all held press conferences wearing other team's hats. The Fish declined their club option on Alfonseca to soon watch Jones ink a deal with the Detroit Tigers. Then, in a pair of moves that made it look like they were trying to send the rest of their pitching to the AL East, they traded Mota to the Red Sox and Villone to the Yankees. Players Added

Well, as we have already shown, they lost a ton of players. In doing so, they have something to show for it. They made a point to land some of the brightest young players available to them from other organizations.

They landed top prospects like SS Hanley Ramirez from Boston and left-

handed slugging first baseman Mike Jacobs from the New York Mets. In the same deal, they also acquired one of the better minor league pitching prospects in all of baseball in Yusmeiro Petit.

These are the only three that can make an impact in the world of fantasy, and that is only if you have a deep keeper league.

The one thing that they did manage to do is pick up numerous arms to stockpile their minor league system. As much as that will do help their club in the future, it will do nothing to impact your fantasy squad.

Come on--I mean, seriously! Do you really think they could do anymore than they already have? If anything, they may sign a few stragglers off of the free agent pool prior to spring training.

The Marlins go into 2006 with a new player at every starting position. Third base is the only position not in question. Remember, All-Star Miguel Cabrera will be starting there this season. Other than third there will be a real battle for starting spots.

By year's end, I believe the Marlins will field a lineup that includes an infield of Mike Jacobs at 1B, Dan Uggla at 2B, Hanley Ramirez as SS, and Cabrera at 3B. In the outfield you will find Eric Reed, Jeremy Hermida, and Chris Aguila will rise to the top of the pack.

The rotation and bullpen will be up in the air until opening day. The only sure thing is that Dontrelle Willis will be the opening day starter. He is also probably the only starting pitcher worthy of being on your fantasy roster.

As for the bullpen, I suggest keeping an eye on Joe Borowski and Travis Bowyer. If one of them has a strong spring and is given the role of closer, take a chance on them, but only as the fourth option in your pen.

If you have any questions concerning keeper leagues, point leagues, auction leagues, prospects, sleepers, come-back players, etc, send me an email and I will address your question in print.

I appreciate and look forward to receiving your emails. Feel free to send any suggestions or comments you may have to John Ginther at cardfan_yak@yahoo.com.