Marlins Spring Training 2013: Demotions, Lawsuits, and Other Notes

Looks like I was wrong about Chone Figgins. Despite hitting .318 this spring with the Fish, he is not viewed as a valued asset over other options the Marlins have in house. He was released by the Marlins this past Wednesday, leaving the team with 42 players left in camp. That means that Figgins could not displace Nick Green, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Matt Downs, and Chris Valaika as an option. Figgins could also play the OF, but with a battle for CF ongoing between Chris Coghlan, Gorkys Hernandez, and Justin Ruggiano, it looks like the team doesn’t need help their either. Juan Pierre is good friends with Figgins, but not so much as to give up his time in LF. I was kind of hoping that Figgins would be an Emilio Bonifacio replacement, but it looks like the Marlins don’t need that. Figgins was a low risk move, as his contract was bought out by Seattle, so it is surprising the Marlins let him go despite solid numbers. That said, the bottom line is Kevin Kouzmanoff will likely win the backup 3B job as he can provide some pop and can also play some 1B.

I was not wrong about Christian Yelich, however – who was demoted. We all know Wonderboy can hit, can field, can do it all – but he hasn’t done it above single A. That is, until this spring when he was wrecking opponent pitching and having fun with the whole thing. He hit .364 with 5 homers and 14 RBIs. The scary thing is, this kid has not reached physical maturity yet. He has all the tools, right now, to be an everyday OF on this club but would have to sort things out experientially. Probably another factor in the Figgins decision was that if Pierre does go down, they can call up Yelich right away. That said, expect this kid to make his debut after the all star break and help propel the Marlins on a surprising run. Teams typically delay bringing up top prospects until mid-June to push their arbitration eligibility back another year – and that is really the final decision to be made on Yelich. He’ll head on up north to AA Jacksonville and play for the legendary Suns – along with Jake Marisnick and Marcell Ozuna. The folks in north Florida could be seeing the OF of the future for the Marlins come 2014 (minus Giancarlo Stanton, of course!).

Looks like the PR firm the Marlins hired aren’t doing a great job of advising their clients. The latest is this lawsuit over season ticket holders not re-upping their seats for next year. They paid $25,000 to sit along the 3B side, but declined to renew because of the addition of a billboard along the 3B fence they were sitting at protrudes about 7″ above where it was at the start of the season. They were contractually obligated to renew for this season at $25,000. Since the Marlins jettisoned their roster, it is likely these clients of the Marlins decided to cut bait, too. We’ll see if the judges agree but most likely this will create more agita for the franchise that was just trying to run out the clock on this latest trade. It would have behooved the Marlins to make a deal in silence and not let this publicity come to light – again.

Wade LeBlanc struggled against the Nationals, but he has been great all spring. In fact, Joe Capozzi seems to suggest, via dialogue with Mike Redmond, that the 5th spot is LeBlanc’s to lose. He is a lefty, and has pitched pretty well all spring, but against the Nats he struggled in keeping the ball down in the zone, something Redmond has been preaching all spring. John Maine may make a play for a spot in the rotation, if Jacob Turner doesn’t get another strong outing. In the very least, both Kevin Slowey and John Maine look to make the roster as long relievers with the potential to spot start. Alex Sanabia, as good as he is, may be the odd man out.

Nathan Eovaldi looks to be the #2 starter behind Ricky Nolasco, who had a strong outing last night against the Mets, throwing 101 pitches. Nolasco is the unquestionable ace of this staff, whether or not he lives up to that remains to be seen but he is relishing the opportunity, reports say. Eovaldi has great stuff and has been able to harness control of his repertoire so his progress looks really good. Henderson Alvarez still seems like a bit of a mystery to me, he gives up a lot of hits still. Jacob Turner will be fine – he is only 21 but has good poise on the mound. The only concern is his leveling off of his velocity, which seems to be stuck on only 91. If he can’t sort things out, the Marlins will replace him with either Slowey or Maine and let him work it out in AAA NOLA.