Or, How I Learned to Stop Doubting Larry Beinfest and Love the Roster
Some of you will probably doubt this most recent move, of trading away a talented prospect in Yusmeiro Petit for a veteran closer in Jorge Julio. A veteran at the ripe old age of 28.
Well, grow up. Larry Beinfest has proven himself to be one of the shrewdest GM’s in the game and his scouting staff and assistants and front office personnel – yeah, even the intern who gets everyone coffee! – have proven themselves to be just that much smarter than the rest of MLB. See 2003, 2004, 2005 and even the “fire sale”-d team of 2006. Each year the Marlins have been in serious contention for the postseason.
Whew. Ok, let’s continue.
So, why is this latest move any different?
Well, looking at the spring numbers for Julio, there is reason to cringe. But since when have spring training numbers EVER serve as an accurate barometer of regular season success? Huh, Abe Nunez?
I must confess – I was on board for the Abraham “Five Tool” Nunez movement for our CF of the future. You bet. Hey, I can’t always be right, right?
Then again, I wasn’t thrilled at reports of us looking at Julio either as our stop-gap measure for closer. Yet, I grew into it.
So, why and how did I come to this conclusion, that Jorge Julio is going to be the answer for the Marlins closing woes this year? Simple – In Larry Beinfest I trust.
There seems to be a template here in place, a formula that is almost can’t fail. For the Marlins closer candidate, it goes like this:
- Must have expiring/one year deal
- Must be undervalued
- Must have prior experience
If Beinfest can find a guy that matches those criteria, he has found himself a match and almost without fail, a gem. Need proof?
- 2003 Ugueth Urbina
- 2004 Armando Benitez
- 2005 Todd Jones
- 2006 Joe Borowski
And now, for 2007, Jorge Julio.
You see, all the names listed here fit into this formula – all have criterium 1 in place, all have been undervalued at the time they were acquired (and another way to cite their value is who/what it took to acquire them), and they obviously all had experience.
What is amazing to me is that the Marlins seem to be able to keep finding these guys. Once they land here in Miami, they all of a sudden turn to gold and go on to get big deals elsewhere. Then Beinfest reloads.
So, one reason to have hope with Julio is that he fits into this formula, this template that Beinfest seems to like in assessing who is available. The other thing to consider is that those three criteria work.
- An expiring or one year deal is a “walk year”. Anyone notice how mysteriously players are more motivated going into their free agency year and tend to have a “career year”? Well, it is all in order to get that big, fat paycheck – right Mr. Beltran? Jorge is in the final year of his deal – and will be looking to impress as he wants to end up with at least 200 saves – and he is only at 99 right now.
- Julio was very much undervalued. The DBacks are committed to Jose Valverde as their closer and seem to not have a place for Julio – which is why the DBacks were shopping him. Trading him for Petit may seem costly, but the Marlins are so stacked in starting pitching talent that they don’t notice. Sometimes, they lose guys on those long bus rides in the minors and don’t even notice for weeks.
- Julio was the closer for the Orioles, which would argue against much “experience” but he does have 99 saves over the course of his career (in 124 save opportunities, which puts him at .798 % – for comparison, Mariano Rivera has a .898 %) and has topped over 20 three times in his 6 year career.
In other words, if Beinfest likes him, and it isn’t costing us too much in the acquisition cost or even having him on payroll ($2.1M), I don’t really see the downside.
The other positive is that this solidifies the bullpen and the roles of the young guys in there. It shortens the game by forcing us to really find consistency for innings 7 and 8 as well – and with the talent the Marlins have added, they should be able to meet this objective much more quickly and more often than they did last season.