An old familiar face returns to the Marlins. This time, it isn’t a veteran outfielder or a starting pitcher, but a reliever that had arguably one of the most successful seasons as a reliever for the Marlins franchise. Back in 2004, Armando Benitez was practically unstoppable – he will try to do the same this season, three years later, upon his return.
The deal? Right now the details are not confirmed but it is reported to cost the Marlins Randy Messenger – a long time relief prospect for the Marlins that have left many in the Marlins braintrust wondering if he was going to ever pan out. Messenger’s best chance of doing so seems to be this season, as his 2.44 ERA and 1.43 WHIP indicate he could be turning a corner.
Is this the right move for the Marlins?
First of all, it won’t cost them much. The Giants are handcuffed and forced to deal Benitez mostly due to his alienating acts in the clubhouse, and are willing to eat up most of his $5M salary. And this is Benitez’s last season – he is a free agent after 2007. Kind of like 2004, where he put together 47 saves in 51 appearances, and earned a big pay day as a result.
So, it is a walk year for the closer, and he will be looking to perform in order to get another big deal this offseason.
Also, Benitez, should he take over the closer’s role again, will solidify the Marlins bullpen and as a result, their starting rotation. Owens is coming back, and Gregg is doing a nice job as the closer. Add Lindstrom to the mix as well as a rebounding Taylor Tankersley, and the Marlins have the makings of a tough bullpen that could be among the league’s toughest coming down the stretch.
Consider also that the starting pitching should be getting Josh Johnson back in the near future, and could also be looking to add Ricky Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez as well. That means three starters – Byung Hyun Kim, Wes Obermueller and possibly Sergio Mitre – could all be bumped. This just adds even more depth to the Marlins pitching staff.
If the pitching can become more consistent, and catch up with the explosive offense, we could see the Marlins not only challenge for a wildcard spot, but possibly even the NL East crown. It will depend on how Benitez performs for the Marlins, but regardless, this move solidifies the Marlins bullpen and will help shorten the game for the starters.