Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Marlins started the 2012 season with a plan to put a winner on the field thanks to a brand new stadium and a $191 million spending spree in free agency.
Unfortunately for Marlins fans, that plan began to unravel when the calendar flipped to June and now as the dust settles from the Major League Baseball trade deadline; the team is going through full-fledged rebuilding.
It was probably time for the shift as the team that started the year what fans or management had hoped to have this season.
“I looked at my lineup yesterday, and there was only one guy that was in the same position (from opening day),” Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. “It was (shortstop Jose) Reyes. Everyone else was different. It’s embarrassing for me because we never thought we would go through that situation, not even close to being a scenario this year. No way. But you cannot blame anybody. You’ve got to blame us.”
The Marlins are trying to lay down some roots for the future with several moves that came before the trade deadline. The team landed a former first-round draft pick in third baseman Zack Cox, and a potential center fielder in Gorkys Hernandez on Tuesday.
Before Tuesday, the Marlins had already landed Nathan Eovaldi, a starting pitcher from the Los Angeles Dodgers and Jacob Turner, another first-round pick starting pitcher from the Detroit Tigers in a separate trade.
The biggest Marlin who was initially rumored to be moved, but wound up staying, was starting pitcher Josh Johnson. He’s 6-7 this season with a 4.04 ERA and overall has a career record of 54-30 with a 3.13 ERA in eight seasons with Miami.
“Yeah, it was nice,” Johnson said Tuesday. “It’s over, and I don’t have to answer any more questions about it after today.”
Johnson may still be on the market in the offseason or next year if he can’t come to terms with the team on a long-term deal. But he’s made it clear he would like to stay with the only franchise he’s ever known.
“The rest of my career would be great,” Johnson said. “This is the only thing I’ve known. I’d love to stay here and be a part of it and be part of a World Series here.”
The Marlins have high hopes for Cox who moved quickly through St. Louis’ farm system, playing at Triple-A Memphis before being acquired by the Marlins. He will be sent to Double-A Jacksonville with the Marlins, but may not be there for long.
“Third base is an area of need for us,” Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said. “We thought it lined up. We loved the bat. We loved having a hitting third baseman.”
For now, the Marlins will toss out Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Ricky Nolasco, with Wade LeBlanc, Jacob Turner, and Nathan Eovaldi working through the rotation.
As the season goes on, the team may bring up the young players to see exactly what they’ve got going forward. The Marlins may shift Logan Morrison to first base permanently next year if he can overcome his knee issue and rediscover his bat.
Depending on how Cox develops at third base in the minors, the Marlins infield next season could look like this: 1B Logan Morrison; 2B Emilio Bonifacio; SS Jose Reyes; 3B Mike Cox. With Bonifacio and Reyes up the middle, it would be one of the fastest infield groups in the majors.
The Marlins were not going anywhere fast and now they’ve shed payroll for bad contracts and landed building blocks for the future. It’s likely not going to be a pleasant end to the 2012 season, but there could be glimpses of hope for the future.
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