Non-Tender Candidate: Chris Volstad

The Marlins have been a popular team so far this offseason, targeting high-end free agents like Albert PujolsJose ReyesRyan Madson, and Mark Buehrle. While they’re busy trying to lure free agents to their new ballpark in Miami, they also have decisions to make about some players they currently employ. Juan Carlos Oviedo‘s situation is rather unique, but 25-year-old righty Chris Volstad is a more traditional non-tender candidate.

Now four-plus years into his big league career, Volstad has made at least 29 starts for the Fish in each of the last three seasons. During that time he’s pitched to a 4.88 ERA in 499 2/3 innings (88 starts), relying on ground balls (49.9%) rather than strikeouts (5.87 K/9). Volstad does a decent job of limiting walks (3.03 BB/9), but he’s struggled against left-handed batters (.278/.342/.465 against) and tends to be pretty homer prone (1.24 HR/9) despite the ground ball tendencies.

The Marlins may have telegraphed their intentions for Volstad when they declined to invite him to their new uniform unveiling earlier this month. Our projects peg the right-hander for a $2.6MM salary next season, his first time through the arbitration process. Volstad figures to be affordable enough that the Marlins might not have to non-tender him before the December 12th deadline, they could probably find a trade partner. Baseball America ranked him as Florida’s top prospect as recently as 2008, and he’d remain under team control through the 2014 season.

At the moment, the Marlins’ rotation figures to include Josh JohnsonRicky Nolasco, andAnibal Sanchez. They’re making a play for Buehrle and have kicked the tires on C.J. Wilson, and there’s a non-zero chance that Javier Vazquez will return. Brad Hand and the recently acquired Wade LeBlanc are in the mix as well. If they deem Volstad expendable, he shouldn’t have much trouble finding a new team for next season. It’s just a question of whether he gets to choose his next club, or if the Marlins will choose it for him.

In Progress: Marlins Ballpark

Marlins Ballpark will replace the legacy of the memorable Orange Bowl in
Little Havana, adjacent to downtown Miami. Situated on the same footprint, the ballpark is intended to be the anchor for infill and redevelopment on
the site. This new 37,000-seat MLB facility will include a retractable roof to shield spectators from the sun and rain, inherently changing the perception of summertime baseball in Florida for generations to come. The bold vision of the County of Miami-Dade, the City of Miami and the Marlins is portrayed through the architecture as a modern, kinetic sculpture of faceted metal and glass.

Creating an Urban Center

The urban plan proposes a fundamental change in the character of the
old Orange Bowl precinct, recreating the neighborhood street network and reconnecting Little Havana to Northwest 7th Street and Northwest
17th Avenue. Within this framework of public streets, the ballpark, future development and parking garages are presented as urban buildings on city blocks, creating an urban center.

This plan proposes a civic setting for a civic building. Conceived as an urban gallery, the ballpark is located between major public plazas on the east and west boundaries of the site. Parking structures form the other two walls of the gallery, moderating the scale between the ballpark and adjoining neighborhoods. The western plaza is unlike any other place in Miami, changing as the roof is rolled over the park below. The ballpark will provide retail at its base to integrate with the proposed, adjacent retail development, intentionally creating a street edge that connects to the surrounding neighborhood.

The Ballpark as Sculpture

The building is conceived as an abstraction of water merging with land, symbolic of Miami’s coastal landscape. The base of the ballpark will create
a backdrop for urban life with arcades and colorful mosaics reflecting
the diverse culture of Miami. The arcades are capped by large sweeping balconies, allowing a continual pedestrian/spectator experience to the street life surrounding the ballpark. The east and west facades provide transparency to action both inside and outside of the ballpark, visually connecting and reducing the mass. The roof will become the kinetic element of the sculpture, moving as three separate panels to provide shade and weather protection
for all spectators. The roof movements will be reflected in the use of color
as a dynamic addition to the architecture. The seating bowl is comprised
of three decks with fewer than 10,000 seats in the upper deck, resulting in one of the most intimate experiences in all of baseball. Interior features will include atrium spaces filled with color and art, a half-acre operable window to downtown Miami and beautiful colors bathing the concourses.

This ballpark will be a civic sculpture with a strong connection to one place, one neighborhood, one city and one state.

Miami Marlins prez David Samson: City parking garage tax bill not team’s problem

The Marlins don’t get the benefit of the doubt much when it comes to financial matters. It wasn’t surprising the knee-jerk reaction by some was to skewer the club after this week’s Miami Herald article saying the City of Miami is looking at a huge property tax bill for the parking garages around the new ballpark.

Marlins President David Samson addressed the issue Wednesday on his weekly segment with Dan LeBatard and Stugotz on 790 The Ticket. The team had no hand in City taxpayers getting leveled with an unforeseen expense.

“We don’t own the garages,” Samson said. “We bought spots. It’s the same thing as you buying a parking spot in the building where you live and being asked to pay a percentage of property tax. Not that anyone has asked us because it wouldn’t make sense to have a private company pay property taxes of a publicly-owned building.

“That really has nothing to do with the team. It’s really between the city and the county. It’s a city-owned garage. I don’t know if the city pays property taxes on all its other garages or not. These are the same. It’s being run by the Miami Parking Authority. The only thing we are is tenants who are agreeing to buy a lot of spots. It’s like when you pull into a garage in any downtown office building and buy a spot for a day. You don’t pay property tax.”

The Marlins are buying all 5,700 spaces for the 81 home games at $10 each. The City of Miami annually will receive $4,617,000 from the Marlins for those spots, whether they are sold or not. What the Marlins in turn charge fans for those spots is up to them. Samson said he anticipates most if not all of the spaces will be earmarked for season ticket holders.

“The fact is, property tax never even came up in any discussion when it came to the garages,” Samson said. “They were building garages as part of the deal. They asked us to buy the spots and we negotiated what it would cost to buy the spots and that was that. It was a very heavily negotiated part of the deal. It’s not that it was a point of contention that there’s going to be property tax, who’s going to pay it, who’s not going to pay it? That never came up.”

Samson added he had not spoken with anyone in the city or county about it…

**Doesn’t sound like the Marlins will be announcing the ballpark name any time soon. Here’s what Samson had to say about the naming rights deal:

“It will be a name in good taste and a name that will not change over time. It will be a constant name for our entire 50- or 60-year stay there…It’s a very tough negotiating deal and we’re sort of waiting right now to see what happens with the team on the field, so there’s nothing imminent.”…

** Asked about when free agents might start signing, Samson said players generally like to know where they’re headed before Christmas, and it’s typical to see some action plus or minus a week of the Winter Meetings (Dec. 5-8).

Marlins To Meet With C.j Wilson

C.J. Wilson is making the rounds, and one of his East Coast stops will include a post-Thanksgiving visit to South Florida to meet with the Marlins, who seem to be throwing out the welcome mat for every available free agent. The Marlins met with Wilson’s agent at the G.M. meetings last week in Milwaukee. According to the Los Angeles Times, at least 13 teams are interested in the free agent left-hander

Marlins Trade Update

MIAMI — Adding starting pitching depth is high on the Marlins’ offseason shopping list.

On Tuesday afternoon, the team took a step in addressing that area by acquiring left-hander Wade LeBlanc from the Padres for catcher John Baker.

LeBlanc, 27, comes off a 5-6 season with a 4.63 ERA in 14 starts.

A’s Wanted Morrison Or Stanton; Marlins Said No

The Marlins have pursued trades and free agents aggressively so far this offseason. Most recently, Gio Gonzalez has emerged as a possible trade target for the team. Here are the details on the Marlins’ offseason, via Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald:

  • The A’s have demanded a package containing Logan Morrison or Mike Stanton for Gonzalez and the Marlins “flatly rejected” the possibility.
  • C.J. Wilson will visit the Marlins after Thanksgiving. The free agent left-hander met with the Angels last night and has more visits scheduled.

Miami Marlins release 2012 spring training schedule; pitchers hold first workouts Feb. 22

The Miami Marlins today announced their 2012 Spring Training schedule, which includes 14 home contests at Roger Dean Stadium, 17 games overall at the complex, and two exhibition games vs. the New York Yankees at the New Marlins Ballpark, April 1-2.

Marlins pitchers and catchers will have physicals on Feb. 22 and will hold their first on-field workout that afternoon. Position players have physicals Feb. 26, with the first full-squad workout taking place that afternoon.

The Marlins play 29 exhibition games, the first coming as the road team March 5 against the St. Louis Cardinals at 1:05 p.m. The Marlins first home contest will be Tuesday, March 6 vs. the Detroit Tigers at 1:05 p.m.

The Marlins’ full 2012 spring training schedule can be found at the end of this blog entry.
Overall the Marlins will play a total of 29 Grapefruit League games, with home games in Jupiter against the Cardinals (three times), Mets (three times), Nationals (two times), Tigers (March 6), Braves (March 13), Twins (March 17), Astros (March 19), Rays (March 20) and Red Sox (March 24).

The Marlins spring schedule will conclude with two games at the new ballpark in Miami against the New York Yankees, April 1 (1:10 p.m.) and April 2 (7:10 p.m.).

Season-ticket packages for games in Jupiter are available by calling (561) 799-1345.

Mini plans of 6+ games will go on sale on Monday, Nov. 28.

Individual tickets for games in Jupiter will go on sale at the Roger Dean Stadium Box Office and local Ticketmaster locations Jan. 21, 2012.

For more ticket information, contact Roger Dean Stadium at (561) 775-1818 or check the stadium’s website, http://www.rogerdeanstadium.com. Additional ticket information can also be found at the Marlins official website, http://www.marlins.com

MARLINS 2012 SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE

DAY DAY OPPONENT LOCATION GAME TIME
Monday March 5 St. Louis Jupiter 1:05p.m.
Tuesday March 6 DETROIT JUPITER 1:05 p.m.
Wednesday March 7 NEW YORK METS JUPITER 1:05 p.m.
Thursday March 8 New York Mets at Port St. Lucie 1:10 p.m.
Friday March 9 WASHINGTON# JUPITER 7:05 p.m.
Saturday March 10 ST. LOUIS JUPITER 1:05 p.m.
Sunday March 11 New York Mets at Port St. Lucie 1:10 p.m.
Monday March 12 Boston at Ft. Myers 1:05 p.m.
Tuesday March 13 ATLANTA JUPITER 1:05 p.m.
Wednesday March 14 Tampa Bay at Port Charlotte 1:05 p.m.
Thursday March 15 NEW YORK METS JUPITER 1:05 p.m.
Friday March 16 St. Louis Jupiter 1:05 p.m.
Saturday March 17 MINNESOTA (ss) JUPITER 1:05 p.m.
Saturday March 17 Washington (ss) at Viera 1:05 p.m.
Sunday March 18 St. Louis Jupiter 1:05p.m.
Monday March 19 HOUSTON JUPITER 1:05 p.m.
Tuesday March 20 TAMPA BAY JUPITER 1:05 p.m.
Wednesday March 21 OFF DAY
Thursday March 22 Atlanta at Orlando 1:05 p.m.
Friday March 23 ST. LOUIS JUPITER 1:05 p.m.
Saturday March 24 BOSTON JUPITER 1:05 p.m.
Sunday March 25 Tampa Bay at Port Charlotte 1:05 p.m.
Monday March 26 Detroit at Lakeland 1:05p.m.
Tuesday March 27 WASHINGTON JUPITER 1:05 p.m.
Wednesday March 28 Houston at Kissimmee 1:05 p.m.
Thursday March 29 ST. LOUIS JUPITER 1:05 p.m.
Friday March 30 Washington# at Viera 6:05 p.m.
Saturday March 31 NEW YORK METS JUPITER 1:05 p.m.
Sunday April 1 NEW YORK YANKEES* MIAMI 1:10 p.m.
Monday April 2 NEW YORK YANKEES*# MIAMI 7:10 p.m.

*Games will be played at the New Marlins Ballpark.
#Games will be played as night games.

MARLINS PREPARE FOR FOURTH VISIT TO THE TROOPS

Team will visit Japan, Guam, Hawaii during 12-day tour

Miami, FL – The Marlins organization is set to visit U.S. troops stationed in Japan, Guam and Hawaii from December 1 – 15, 2011. The tour, organized by Armed Forces Entertainment, will mark the Marlins’ fourth visit to U.S. military personnel stationed overseas. In 2010, the Marlins became the first Major League Baseball team to take active players to visit U.S. troops. At that time, the group visited military bases in Iraq and Kuwait. Earlier this year, players and front office staff traveled to Bahrain, Germany and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Miami Marlins RHP Alex Sanabia starts, loses Arizona Fall League title game

Right-hander Alex Sanabia went to the Arizona Fall League to log some innings after an injury-plagued season. Saturday afternoon, he started for the Surprise Saguaros in the AFL championship game against Salt River. The Saguaros, comprised of prospects from the Marlins, Braves, Rays, Rangers and Royals, lost 9-3 as Sanabia allowed three runs on five hits (one homer) with a walk and two strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings.

Sanabia in his first seven starts was 2-1 with a 5.65 ERA. Opponents hit .283 off him as he allowed 32 hits in 28 2/3 innings with 11 walks and 23 strikeouts.

Have gotten a few Twitter questions about Sanabia’s chances of making the rotation next season. Don’t see that happening, but Sanabia still can have an important role. It’s rare for teams to make it through a season with five starters. Part of last season’s problem was the club had no starting pitching depth in the minors with Tom Koehler and Elih Villanueva struggling at Triple-A, and Sanabia and Sean West hurt. Sanabia will vie to become the first starter promoted when the need arises.

Relievers Evan Reed and Dan Jennings have looked good in Arizona. Reed in 12 games has a 2.57 ERA with five walks and 16 strikeouts (14 innings) and is touching 97 with his fastball. The lefty Jennings has a 3.95 ERA in nine games with five walks and 11 strikeouts in 13 2/3 innings. Both will be in major league camp next spring battling for bullpen jobs.

Jennings (two-third of an inning) and Reed (one inning) both appeared Saturday, each giving up a run one hit. Marlins right-hander Alejandro Ramos pitched a perfect ninth.

Among the Saguaros’ top offensive performers is outfielder Kevin Mattison, who spent last season at Double-A Jacksonville. Mattison tied for eighth in the league with a .349 batting average. His 1.057 on-base plus slugging percentage ranked seventh in the circuit, just ahead of Bryce Harper’s 1.034. The speedy Mattison, who the Marlins added to the 40-man roster Friday, ranked second with 29 runs scored, tied for third with nine steals and tied for first with five triples.

Though he went 0-for-5 in the championship game, Mattison received the Dernell Stenson Sportsmanship Award, presented annually to the AFL player who best exemplifies unselfishness, hard work, and leadership. He also was named to the AFL’s top prospects team.

A couple of other Marlins position players carried themselves well. Catcher Kyle Skipworth in 16 games hit .283 with an .849 OPS and infielder Paul Gran in 13 games went .293-.906. Matt Dominguez’s numbers weren’t all that impressive. He batted .226 with a .698 OPS, but he did play errorless baseball in 21 games. Saturday, Dominguez was 0-for-3 with a walk.

Marlins Express Interest In Gio Gonzalez

The Marlins have expressed interest in left-hander Gio Gonzalez, according to MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. The Marlins are willing to part with Major League players and top prospects to upgrade their rotation, but they aren’t convinced the Athletics would deal Gonzalez

Gonzalez is available, according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com, but the A’s aren’t motivated to move him. They’d like to obtain cheap, young hitters in trades this offseason, according to Knobler (Twitter links). David Villavicencio reported earlier today that the sides are discussing a deal and that Gonzalez is hoping to sign an extension if he’s traded. Frisaro reported last week that the Marlins covet Gonzalez and James Shields, suggesting that Miami will likely trade for one starter and sign another.

Gonzalez, 26, posted a 3.12 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 202 innings in 2011. He led the American League in walks and made his first All-Star team. MLBTR projects that Gonzalez will earn approximately $4.2MM through arbitration in 2012, but he’s a super two player, so he won’t become a free agent until after the 2015 season.

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