Marge: “I think Bart and Lisa are feeling a little upset right now. Isn’t there something you’d like to say?”
Homer: “There sure is. Kids, you tried your best. And you failed miserably. The lesson is: never try.”
I really should get a pass for this one, you know. How am I supposed to make you care about the Marlins? The Marlins don’t even care about the Marlins. They engage in fire sale after fire sale. They have a sub-.500 streak that’s almost as long as the White Sox’ playoff drought. Around these parts, we joke about #PerpetualRebuild, but the Marlins are actually living it.
In another sense, however, the actual Marlins players are so inconspicuous that this preview perhaps serves even more of a purpose than some others. Without looking it up, could you name the best player on the Marlins? Hell, could you name any player on the Marlins? I’m sure that plenty of you are fantasy baseball players or general MLB fans and could answer these questions, but quite frankly, there’s no shame in drawing a blank.
Well anyway, let’s talk about it. There’s two candidates I can see to answer the former question. The first is Garrett Cooper, who has come flying in from off the radar. Cooper didn’t crack the Marlins’ top 25 prospects as a 27-year-old before this season, but he’s put on a hitting clinic ever since getting past his triceps injury. The second is a 23-year-old righty named Jordan Yamamoto, whom the White Sox won’t face but has provided a big boost to the Marlins’ rotation.
Instead, the Sox will reckon with the trio of Trevor Richards, Caleb Smith, and Zac Gallen. Richards has hit a bit of a rough patch, and guys who have trouble finding the strike zone will be prone to those. He sits in the low 90s and is primarily a fastball/changeup pitcher; the latter is a legitimate out pitch. Caleb Smith is a lefty with three legitimate swing-and-miss offerings, but he has one of the lowest ground ball rates in the majors. Home runs are all that hold him back from being a front-of-the-rotation guy. Zac Gallen has only a few major league starts under his belt, but hitters have had a tough time with his off-speed pitches. He’s a middling prospect with an MLB walk rate higher than his scouting reports would suggest.
Aside from Cooper, the remainder of the Marlins’ lineup is pretty darn nondescript. Brian Anderson — no, not that one, or that one — is a good defender with a some power and OBP skills and a reverse platoon split. The complete package is an above-average player. Journeyman Neil Walker illustrates the need to adjust offensive performance for position. Hitting .265/.345/.393 is usually perfectly acceptable in the major leagues, but it becomes fairly valueless when you make your home at first base. In an effort to get Cooper out of the outfield, the Marlins recently shifted Walker to third in a three-player position switch that also bumped Anderson out to the grass.
Starlin Castro is still hanging around the major leagues and is still swinging at everything, only now he doesn’t hit the ball as hard and grounds into double plays more often than everyone else. Curtis Granderson is here too, but the 38-year-old’s extremely respectable career is hanging by a thread, as he’s been woeful at the plate and losing playing time to a thoroughly uninteresting Harold Ramirez.
At catcher and shortstop, the Marlins start 30-year-old Miguel Rojas and former Phillie Jorge Alfaro. Both guys hit enough to be average-ish players at their positions but — particularly given their ages — not enough to be any more interesting than that. J.T. Riddle and Cesar Puello combine to form a center fielder that would fit in well with the dreck at the back of the White Sox roster.
I’d love to make a general statement here about the direction of the Miami Marlins, but it’s not clear what they’re trying to do, and they’ve had a recent history of quickly opting out of whatever concrete plans that they appear to have. The Marlins’ farm system is short on exciting talent and their major league roster consists of retreads and mostly anonymous guys that remain out of the spotlight for reasons independent of playing for baseball’s least-compelling franchise. Oh well, enjoy the series, everyone.
Probable Starting Pitchers
- Monday, July 22: Trevor Richards vs. Ivan Nova
- Tuesday, July 23: Caleb Smith vs. Dylan Covey
- Wednesday, July 24 Zac Gallen vs. Reynaldo Lopez
- Miguel Rojas – SS
- Neil Walker – 3B
- Garrett Cooper – 1B
- Brian Anderson – RF
- Starlin Castro – 2B
- Curtis Granderson – DH
- Harold Ramirez – LF
- Jorge Alfaro – C
- Cesar Puello – CF
- SP1: Jordan Yamamoto – RHP
- SP2: Caleb Smith – LHP
- SP3: Sandy Alcantara – RHP
- SP4: Trevor Richards – RHP
- SP5: Zac Gallen – RHP
- CL: Sergio Romo – RHP
- RP1: Nick Anderson – RHP
- RP2: Adam Conley – LHP
- RP3: Elieser Hernandez – RHP (I guess? This bullpen is horrid)