The Quest to list the best home grown and the best acquired team for every franchise continues with THE FLORIDA MARLINS.
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When I set out on this journey to break down the best all time home grown versus all time acquired teams, I knew some teams would be harder to compile than others
The Marlins are such a team. They’ve only been around since 1993 and have had some lean years.
But then again they won 2 World Series! That’s as many as the Cubs have won. That’s as many as the Phillies have won. So they must have had SOME good players.
Well going through their rosters has brought about an interesting revelation:
The Marlins have had a horrific scouting department in terms of drafting players.
They’ve had many early picks and way too many Josh Bootys and way too few Josh Becketts. Putting together a 25 man roster became futile. The requirements ceased to be “who was good” and turned into “who made the big league roster?”
And another interesting fact:
They are TERRIFIC at spotting talent on other people’s teams. They have had at least three fire sales of major league talent for other teams farm hands. And the result has been MVP and Cy Young candidates. In other words, as the Marlins have sent Kevin Gregg and Josh Willingham away… you can be sure the players they got for them will be fitted for rings faster than you can say Dontrelle Willis and Craig Counsell.
OK, enough yapping. Let’s see the Rosters.
THE ALL TIME HOME GROWN MARLINS TEAM
If anyone seemed destined to star for a Miami baseball team, it was Charles Johnson. He graduated from Fort Pierce High School, a mere 2 hours north of Miami. He starred for the Miami Hurricanes and then was drafted by the Marlins. C. J. was the first homegrown star, he was a 2 time All Star and 4 time Gold Glove winner. Plus he hit a key homer in game 1 of the 1997 World Series (which he finished with a .357 Average.)
All due respect to Jeff Conine, but C. J. is Mr. Marlin!
STARTING FIRST BASEMAN
Millar spent 4 seasons in Miami and only 3 in Boston. Bet you didn’t know that! Theo Epstein saw there was something special with Millar and it wasn’t just his .306 average, 20 homers and low strikeout totals. He was a clubhouse favorite in Miami and now a folk hero in Boston.
STARTING SECOND BASEMAN
Played most of the 1997 World Championship season in Miami but was hurt for the post season. Unlike almost everyone else on the ’97 squad, he stuck around until the 2003 World Series, where he was a starter. He also became a Gold Glove winner, a two time All Star and hit that foul ball that Steve Bartman really realy wanted.
In game 1 of the 1997 Division Series, Renteria singled to right field for a walk off hit against the Giants Roberto Hernandez. Usually that would be enough for one post season. But then all he did was hit the World Series ending single with 2 outs in the 11th inning, giving the Marlins and their fans a highlight that Cleveland, San Francisco and Chicago Cubs fans can only dream of.
STARTING THIRD BASEMAN
Without a doubt the best hitter the Marlins system has ever produced. He exploded in the 2003 playoffs, became the Marlins perennial MVP candidate and biggest star before being shipped off to Detroit where he gained weight faster than Yaphet Kotto at the end of Live and Let Die. He’s only 26!
STARTING LEFT FIELDER
He’s put up 3 solid seasons with the Marlins where he had some decent power numbers. He’s eligible for arbitration, so WELCOME TO WASHINGTON Mr. Willingham!
STARTING CENTER FIELDER
One of the few first round picks by the Marlins that actually worked out, Kotsay had a few decent seasons in Miami. He never broke .300, never hit 20 homers, never drove in more than 68 runs in Miami, never stole more than 19 bases… but is by far the best center fielder the Marlins have ever developed. Not exactly picking between DiMaggio and Mantle, is it?
STARTING RIGHT FIELDER
Another first rounder that wasn’t a bust, Hermida has shown left handed pop which he wasted no time showing. His first ever at bat was a pinch hit grand slam. He is eligible for arbitration at the end of next year. I wonder what team he’ll be playing for in 2010. We know it won’t be Florida.
TOP PINCH HITTER OFF OF THE BENCH
On the dreadful post World Series 1998 squad, Dunwoody was a starter and finished the season in the top 10 for triples.
Quick, get Cooperstown on speed dail!
THE STARTING ROTATION
By far the biggest star the Marlins have put on the mound, Beckett was the stud of the 2003 World Series. A quick glance of his stats are hardly impressive. He only won in double digits once with the Marlins (15-8 with the 2005 Marlins) and never threw 200 innings in teal. But the image of Beckett tagging out Jorge Posada for the 2003 World Series title is enough for this spot.
Livan has a reputation as a big game pitcher with his MVP awards for both the 1997 NLCS and World Series. But his reputation is inflated. His complete game domination of the Braves in the NLCS was as much the result of an insane strikezone from the late Eric Gregg. And his World Series ERA soared above 5… not exactly MVP like. But good enough to get on this not exactly exclusive list.
Saunders had a 4-6 record for the 1997 Marlins. 3 of those 4 wins came against the mighty Atlanta Braves. He started game 3 of the NLCS against the Braves. He didn’t get the win but the Marlins did. Later had a horrific injury that broke his arm and ended his career. Jose Canseco said it was because of steroid use… which means it was.
Had a surprising 12-10 season for the 2006 Marlins that helped Joe Girardi win the NL Manager of the Year. He has been floating somewhere between mediocre and terrible the next two years. With arbitration looming, Olsen has been shipped off to the Nationals. He's had trouble off the field, including fights with teammates and a DUI. Should help his trade value.
I was in Dodger Stadium this July where I saw Volstad throw his first ever major league start. He lasted 8 2/3 innings and dominated the Dodgers. He finished 6-4 with a solid 2.88 ERA, giving the bargain basement Marlins hope for 2009.
Yeah, Logan Kensing. Folks, if my point isn’t clear enough for you, maybe I should drive it home even harder. The Marlins don’t develop a lot of good players. Kensing is an OK reliever. He won’t kill you. His sub 4.00 ERA was torpedoed by a lousy 4 runs in 0 innings performance against the Braves… but he’s not bad. He has one career save. That’s only one more than me. And yet he’s on this list.
Darensbourg, a classic journeyman, is currently pitching with the Long Island Ducks. He has Don Mattingly’s luck in terms of World Series appearances as he played for the Marlins from 1998 to 2002, missing both the 1997 and 2003 title teams. He has 2 career saves.
OK, I’m reaching here. Johnson was primarily a starter (one of the ones Girardi drove into the ground) but he came out of the bullpen 10 times in the past 4 years and has only 1 fewer save than Logan Kensing.
Alright, fine. I am REALLY stretching here. But I had to acknowledge Robertson who put together a few good seasons for the Detroit. When the Marlins have one of the products of their farm system doing well in the show, I can’t afford to let it slide. Before being sent to Detroit for Mark Redman, Robertson made 5 relief appearances for the 2002 Marlins (including letting up 3 runs in 1/3 of an inning in a September 19 game against the Expos.)
Another surprising homegrown pitcher from 2006, his first two seasons he was a solid middle reliever. Tankersley went 6-1 out of the pen in 2007, averaging more than a strikeout an inning. Had a miserable 2008 but young enough to provide some hope for 2009.
A solid defensive infielder who hit a series tying walk off home run to end Game 4 of the 2003 World Series. Yankee fans still grumble asking why Jeff Weaver was pitching in the game. He also hit a game tying double in game 5 and made a clutch slide around Jorge Posada’s tag in game 6. An All Star in 1999 and made all the plays in the 2003 NLCS, unlike his Cubs counterpart (also named Alex Gonzalez.)
Andino hit a walk off homer against the Mets last April 1. (Think the Mets wanted THAT game back at the end of the year.) The same night he hit a walk off homer in a major league game, his house was robbed. So I guess in the end it was a mediocre day for him.
A classic Quadruple A player... he would light up AAA Albuquerque but then struggle in the bigs. But although manager Jack McKeon was impressed enough by Aguila to put him on the opening day roster he never gave him much playing time. His teammate came to Aguila's defense saying McKeon should be playing him more instead of the old guys. He wound up on the Mets... another team that notoriously overlooks young kids for veterans.
By the way, I added Aguila when I had to eliminate John Baker due to Wesley Hoffman's good eyes. More on that later.
Wait, WHAT? You might be asking. A quick look at the back of his baseball card shows he never played a game with the Marlins. And you’d be right. The solid if not spectacular Winn was drafted away from the Marlins farm system by the Devil Rays in the expansion draft and received a Mike Sharperson-esque All Star Selection.
But hey, if you can find a better home grown Marlins outfielder than Winn that I haven’t included, please e mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Never a spectacular player... hell never a starter. But provided the Marlins with a steady backup and got to play a few games in the playoffs and World Series in 2003, scoring a run in Wrigley Field. Batted over .300 three times with the Marlins and now is Joe Mauer's back up in Minnesota where he hit .341 in 2006.
Originally I had John Baker as the reserve catcher.
But Wesley Hoffman, a SF area comic corrected me. Baker was a product of the Oakland A's system.
The pickings were slim, so Redman's steady play and surprisingly high average were good enough for me.
With all the lousy first round picks in Marlin’s history (Chip Ambres? Sean West? Jeffrey Allison?) the staff at Sully Baseball felt that one of the few star players drafted by the Marlins should be saluted. Granted Gonzalez became a star with the Padres and never played a game in a Marlins uniform, but we can’t be picky!
Well there’s an expansion team’s All Time Team that, well, reads like an expansion team!
Let’s see if they did a better job trading for a team!
THE ALL TIME ACQUIRED MARLINS TEAM
He was a Marlin for one season, but WHAT a season! He hit for power, he hit for average! He almost single handedly defeated the Giants and Cubs in the playoffs and then won his lone World Series ring. Funny how his career took a nosedive when the Mitchell Report came out.
STARTING FIRST BASEMAN
In 2005, his only season in Miami, Delgado had one of his best seasons. Batting .301 with 33 HR, 115 RBI and a .981 OPS, he helped the Marlins stay in contention until September. One of the good guys in the game… probably not a Hall of Famer, but a tough hitter nonetheless.
STARTING SECOND BASEMAN
How much crap do you think he’s had to endure with that last name? Now he is a 30 homer, 90 RBI guy at second base. The Diamondbaks left him unprotected before the 2006 season. The Marlins plucked him and he’s already made 2 All Star teams. Meanwhile the Diamondbacks need some pop in their lineup. Whoops!
A classic example of how the Marlins stay competitive via trades. They deal off Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell, both heroes from the 2003 World Series team. They become heroes for the 2007 World Champion Red Sox… but in return they get a legit MVP candidate in Hanley Ramirez. He WILL win an MVP… and then get traded… for another MVP. It’s the circle of life.
STARTING THIRD BASEMAN
The Marlins stole Lowell from the Yankees farm system for the equivalent of a can of Sprite. In exchange the Marlins got a Gold Glove, Silver Slugger three time All Star who hit the 11th inning game winning homer in game 1 of the 2003 NLCS. If the Yankees wanted to take his salary back, then Josh Beckett would have been in the Bronx. Instead he was shipped off to Boston. Hooray!
STARTING LEFT FIELDER
I know Livan Hernandez won the MVP of the 1997 World Series. Anyone who watched that series knew Alou was the MVP. His 3 run shot off of Orel Hershiser gave the Marlins the lead for good in game 1 of the Series. He hit another 3 run shot off of Hershiser to give the Fish the lead in their game 5 win. And with the Marlins 3 outs from losing the World Series, Alou hit the leadoff single and scored the tying run. And later as a Cub tried to catch Luis Castillo's foul pop, but Steve Bartman had other ideas.
STARTING CENTER FIELDER
Gave the Marlins some post season experience from his days in Toronto. And then he hit a go ahead grand slam that sunk the Giants in the 1997 Division Series.
STARTING RIGHT FIELDER
If Gary Sheffield makes the Hall of Fame (and his numbers and 6 top 10 MVP finishes makes his candidacy an interesting one) then guess what team he spent the most years with? He has a cluttered back of a baseball card… and seems to wear out his welcome no matter where he goes… but he could be the first person with the Marlins cap on his plaque. It cost the Marlins Trevor Hoffman… but if they have Hoffman, no doubt he would have blown either the 1997 or 2003 World Series… so it was a good deal.
TOP PINCH HITTER OFF OF BENCH
Mr. Marlin! His pinch hit homer earned him the 1995 All Star Game MVP. And he is the only Marlin to play in both the 1997 and 2003 World Series. Plus he opened the Conine Clubhouse Grill in Hollywood, Florida. Go there and tell them Sully sent you!!!
THE STARTING ROTATION
Yankee fans grind their teeth when his name is mentioned. Red Sox fans chuckle. And Sportswriters use him as a cautionary tale for $100 million deals for pitchers. But he put up a Cy Young caliber 1996 with the Fish (17 wins and a 1.89 ERA over 233 innings.) The next year he was terrific as well, throwing a complete game victory to clinch the pennant in Atlanta. Yup, there was a time he was putting together a potential Cooperstown resume. Oh well… he has a ring and $100 million +. Tough to feel bad for him.
Chucked the first no hitter in Marlins history and made a formidable 1-2 punch with Kevin Brown in 1996 that inspired the front office to go all in for 1997. Blue Jays fans still hate him for bolting for Florida.
Will be on TV for the next 50 years. Get used to him.
Swiped from the Diamondbacks for Matt Mantei, Penny was a solid arm for the 2003. Has the strange distinction of winning Game 7 of the NLCS and then winning game 1 of the World Series. Think about how hard that is to do! He also won game 5 of the World Series. Safe to say he earned his ring.
I was in Florida when Dontrelle was taking Miami by storm in his magical Rookie of the Year campaign. It wasn’t just that he won… it wasn’t just that seemed like a good guy who loved the game… it was that insane wind up and intensity he brought to each pitch that made it a joy to watch him throw. When he nearly won the Cy Young in 2005, he looked like a star in the making.
I’m not convinced he is washed up.
Another pitcher whose very name induces diarrhea from Yankee fans. But like Kevin Brown, came up big for a World Series winning team. He went 2-0 in the 4 game Division Series win against the Giants and then pitched an 8 inning, 1 run gem in the Marlins Game 4 win in the World Series. Went 18-8 in 2004, a remarkable fluke season, in time for his walk year.
The Yankees bit and man oh man was that a waste of money!
Acquired from the Rangers as a farm hand, Nen was the closer for the 1997 World Champs. He saved 35 games that year and won 9 more for good measure. Got some of the ugliest saves in the World Series that you will ever see. He could have used one more ugly save for the Giants in 2002.
Speaking of former Giants closers…
That first sound was any Orioles fan screaming “WHAT????” Then you may have heard a few Mets fans throwing up on their keyboards. Oh wait! Did you hear that? Those were Giants fans laughing like hell and then declaring they will never read this blog again.
Sure, he took the hopes, wishes and dreams of those teams fan bases for all time.
But he put up All Star numbers in 2004 for the Marlins. And thus convinced the Giants he was worth $21 million over 3 years. WHOOPS!
His career seemed dead when the Marlins took a flier on him. He responded with a 40 save, 2.10 ERA season. That netted him an additional $18 million and a trip to the World Series with the Tigers.
A pretty good flier, I would say.
A pickup in the expansion draft, he saved 45 games for the first Marlin team with a 1.70 ERA. He struck out 73 and walked only 13 in 69 inings. Imagine how he would have done for a team that was better than 64-98. The Marlins almost convinced the Yankees to trade a young shortstop named Jeter for him.
It cost the Marlins Adrian Gonzalez but Urbina clinched the Division Series and the NLCS. Oh yeah, later he was arrested for attempted murder when he chased a bunch of farmers with a machete… but he did that AFTER his time with the Marlins.
Here’s another example of how the Marlins win. They sign Kevin Brown who helps them win the 97 series. They then trade Brown to the Padres for Derek Lee, who helps them win the 03 series.
The players they got for Lee didn’t win them a World Series… but the players they got for the players they got for Derek Lee might.
What must it be like to be Craig Counsell? He’s had a nice but hardly spectacular career. But he was a central figure in two game 7 winning, World Series ending rallies. He scored the World Series winning run in the 11th inning for the Marlins in 1997 and kept the rally going against Mariano Rivera in the 2001 World Series.
What I am saying is it must be kind of cool to be Craig Counsell.
He was such a pain in the @ss for the Yankees in the 2003 World Series that he prompted Steinbrenner to impulsively sign Kenny Lofton. Pierre was a terrific contributor for the World Champs but he also performed a jaw droppingly awful rap during the World Championship celebration.
With the Marlins he was a consistent .300 hitter with a lot of power (31 homers in 2001.) When he was with the Expos he was a 4 or 5 homers a year hitter. Then he had a gruesome injury. He came back and his power skyrocketed. Then after the 2005 season, when testing began, his home run totals dropped. He’s still a solid hitter… I’m just saying.
With all due respect to Benito Santiago, Paul LoDuca and Greg Zaun… but Mike Piazza is a Hall of Fame catcher. Granted he was only a Marlin for 5 games and he went from being the face of the Dodgers to the face of the Mets, but he’s MIKE PIAZZA!
The Miami native won 17 games and logged 220 2/3 innings for the 1997 World Champs. He was injured for the World Series but became the “Win it for him!” emotional focus of the team. Hey, it worked!
SO WHO WOULD WIN IN A HEAD TO HEAD SERIES
Why would Miguel Cabrera see a strike? The home grown team needs players who never even made it to the majors while the acquired team has a middle of the lineup with Delgado, Hanley, Alou, Sheffield and Pudge. The only hope the homegrown team would have is if Armando Benitez forgets he is pitching for the Marlins and gains his Orioles – Mets – Giants form.
VERDICT: MY GOD, THE ACQUIRED TEAM WOULD SWEEP THEM… AND THEN BE TRADED FOR MORE PLAYERS WHO WOULD SWEEP THEM AGAIN!
It’s tougher with expansion teams