11/18/10 11:10 AM EST
Trades represent change in Marlins' approach
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
Sarcasm was his response.
"Ah, they're lying around all over the place, those guys," the Marlins' president of baseball operations said to chuckling media members.
Obviously, they aren't. But that's the point, essentially: The Marlins aren't looking to replace power for power. Sure, they would've liked to retain Uggla if a four-year, $48 million contract would've been enough, and, yes, they'll miss his bat in the lineup. But Florida has wanted its lineup to be more adept at fielding and contact hitting for quite some time now.
Replacing Uggla with Omar Infante -- who was acquired in the trade with the Braves -- in the infield speeds that process up.
"It's a little bit of a change for the ballclub," Beinfest said from the General Managers Meetings in Orlando, Fla., on Tuesday. "To replace the home runs, I'm not sure you're going to replace 30. But is that really our objective? Our objective, really when you think about it, is: 'Let's get guys on base and let Hanley [Ramirez] and [Mike] Stanton and [Logan Morrison] and those guys knock them in.' It's a little bit different because we've really wailed the last few years. We hit a lot of home runs in the last four to five years, and this will be a little bit of a different look for us."
The Marlins have ranked among the bottom five in the National League in errors each of the last five years, but in Infante, they get a solid defensive player at second and third base. And if Matt Dominguez wins the starting third-base job in Spring Training, Florida's infield defense will be vastly improved.
It may not create as many runs as the 2010 version -- with Uggla and Jorge Cantu -- but it should save plenty more.
"If Dominguez battles and makes the club," Beinfest said, "he's a well-above-average defender, which we haven't had at third base for quite some time."
As part of their busy first month to the offseason, the Marlins announced the signing of catcher John Buck to a three-year deal on Wednesday. As of right now, joining him in the starting lineup would seemingly be Dominguez at third base -- unless Emilio Bonifacio beats him out -- Ramirez at shortstop, Infante at second, Gaby Sanchez at first, Morrison in left field, Stanton in right and Chris Coghlan -- coming off knee surgery -- adapting to a new position in center.
"We feel good about Coghlan out there in center field," Beinfest said.
Owner Jeffrey Loria on Wednesday called the recent slew of moves by his club "an overhaul, but in the right direction."
The biggest overhaul came to a bullpen that ranked ninth in the National League in ERA last year. The Marlins traded Andrew Miller to the Red Sox on Friday for lefty reliever Dustin Richardson, then got right-handers Edward Mujica and Ryan Webb from the Padres for Cameron Maybin on Saturday. Finally, as part of the Uggla deal, they secured young-but-electric lefty Mike Dunn.
Major League clubs usually carry seven relievers, and Florida already has three right-handers -- Clay Hensley, Brian Sanches and closer Leo Nunez -- with seemingly guaranteed spots next year, not to mention so many others on the fringe.
But more bullpen moves will likely follow.
"We lost 27 games last year after the seventh inning -- 27 games!" Loria said. "If we'd won 10 of those games because of the bullpen and four of them because of defense, then it's a different story."
Loria went on to say, "We are putting any money we have [from not re-signing Uggla] right back into payroll." But that was before the Marlins announced the signing of Buck to a reported $18 million deal. According to FOXSports.com, Florida has between $3 million and $4 million left to spend after that, which wouldn't be enough to reacquire free-agent starter Carl Pavano -- someone a baseball source told MLB.com the Marlins have interest in. As a result, the Marlins could consider making free-agent right-hander Javier Vazquez their top target, according to an ESPN.com report.
But, as Loria stated, "There's nothing off the table."
"We need to make some changes," he said. "We're not fooling around, either."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Gonzo and 'The Show'. Follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. MLB.com reporter Anthony DiComo contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.