Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Short Term Stops: The All-Marlins Team


The Marlins are a weird team.

They've won two World Series despite never having earned a division title. They play in a ballpark that looks more like an amusement park. And these days they insist people call them the Miami Marlins, despite the fact that they're ingrained in the minds of most fans -- myself included -- as the Florida Marlins.

But even though I still hold somewhat of a grudge against the Marlins for knocking out the Cubs in the 2003 NLCS, I'll always have an appreciation for the club since they're one of just four expansion teams (along with the Rockies, Diamondbacks, and Rays) to have been born during my lifetime. (I was only one year old in 1993, but it still counts.)

And, despite the fact that they've only been around for a little over two decades, the Marlins have a formidable Short Term Stops roster, which makes me happy I'm rebooting this theme with them in the spotlight.



Pitchers

1993 Bowman #390 Trevor Hoffman

"Short Term Stops" Marlins Accolades:

Trevor Hoffman (1993 Marlins, 28 games, half-year stint)

We begin with likely the best closer in baseball history not named Mariano Rivera, and one of my personal favorite short term stops ever.

Selected from the Reds in the 1992 expansion draft (the team with whom he's pictured in his hallowed zero-year rookie card) Trevor Hoffman pitched in just 28 games for the Marlins in '93, collecting the first two of his 601 career saves before being dealt to the Padres in the huge deal that sent Gary Sheffield to Florida.

With Sheffield's credentials, it's hard to argue that it was a bad trade, but you can't help but wonder what Trevor Hoffman might have done in the Florida teal.



2012 Topps Heritage #160 Mark Buehrle

Marlins Accolades:

Mark Buehrle (2012 Marlins, 31 games)

Along with stars Jose Reyes and Heath Bell, the Marlins signed Buehrle as part of their blockbuster offseason in 2011, assembling a star-studded roster that would go on to crash and burn before all our eyes.

The Marlins tumbled to a 69-93 finish in 2012, good for last place in the NL East, though Buehrle was hardly to blame. He turned in another consistent season for the Fish, going 13-13 with a solid 3.74 ERA in his lone season as a Marlin before the great dismantling saw him (and Reyes) dealt to Toronto the very next year.

But God, Mark Buehrle looks wrong in anything other than a White Sox jersey.



2013 Topps #238 Carlos Zambrano

Marlins Accolades:

Carlos Zambrano (2012 Marlins, 35 games, sunset season)

Carlos Zambrano was also a member of that doomed 2012 Marlins squad.

Big Z spent the first 11 years of his career on the North Side of Chicago, becoming perhaps the most polarizing Cub of my lifetime (not named Sammy Sosa). You wanted to hug him when he was going good, and run him out of town when he was going bad. His temper kind of overshadowed the fact that he was a three-time All-Star.

Zambrano nearly sparked a brawl in the last game he ever pitched for the Cubs, who dealt him to the Marlins after the 2011 season.

In what would be his final year in the bigs, Big Z went 7-10 with a 4.49 ERA and became little more than a footnote in Marlins annals.



Catcher

1998 Upper Deck #681a Mike Piazza

Marlins Accolades:

Mike Piazza (1998 Marlins, 5 games, third-of-a-year stint)

Here it is: the most (in)famous short term stop in recent memory, and maybe the best in all of baseball history.

In a shocking turn of events, the Dodgers dealt now-Hall of Famer Mike Piazza to the Marlins in a deal that sent Gary Sheffield (again!) back to LA. In perhaps an even more shocking turn of events, the Marlins turned around and dealt Piazza to the Mets just eight days later. It's rare that any player suits up for three teams in a single season, much less one of Piazza's caliber.

The five games Piazza spent in Florida has become the stuff of legend ever since. I own a handful of cards of him as a Marlin (and it's kind of shocking any exist in the first place, if you think about it). He even hit one of his eight career triples during that quick stint in Florida.

I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say short term stops don't get much better than Mike Piazza as a Marlin.



First Base

2005 Topps #432 Carlos Delgado

Marlins Accolades:

Carlos Delgado (2005 Marlins, 144 games)

Carlos Delgado, one of the more underrated players of my baseball lifetime, spent a lone season with the Marlins in 2005.

He posted just another ho-hum .301-33-115 slash line that year, about on par with his many standout seasons in Toronto. As ever a cost-cutting squad, however, Florida dealt him to the Mets the following season, leaving this as Delgado's only Flagship card as a Marlin.

Unfortunately, it looks like the days of posed shots in Topps are long gone.



Second Base

2002 Fleer Tradition Update #U-196 Pablo Ozuna

Marlins Accolades:

Pablo Ozuna (2000, '02 Marlins, 48 games)

I don't have a great second base nominee here, so let's go with one of the more obscure guys in my player collection ranks: Pablo Ozuna.

Ozuna won a place in my heart -- and my collection -- for being a part of the legendary 2005 White Sox championship club, but his career began back in 2000 with the Marlins. He'd move on to the Rockies (and eventually the Sox) after another handful of games with the '02 Marlins.

Sidebar: I seem to be reminded of how criminally underrated Fleer Tradition was more and more every single day.



Shortstop

2014 Topps #506 Rafael Furcal

Marlins Accolades:

Rafael Furcal (2014 Marlins, 9 games, sunset season)

I could've easily selected Jose Reyes for the shortstop position on this roster, but I think I've bagged on that lackluster 2012 Marlins squad enough.

Instead, let's go with Rafael Furcal, longtime Braves shortstop and 2000 NL Rookie of the Year. Furcal seemed to have resurrected his career during his 2012 All-Star campaign with the Cardinals, but wound up missing the entire 2013 season due to injury. He briefly resurfaced with the Marlins in 2014 in an ill-fated comeback attempt, hitting just .171 in nine contests before calling it a career.

Kudos to Topps for commemorating those nine games.



Third Base

1998 SP Authentic #97 Todd Zeile

Marlins Accolades:

Todd Zeile (1998 Marlins, 66 games, third-of-a-year stint)

It kind of gets lost to history now, but the careers of Todd Zeile and Mike Piazza paralleled one another in 1998.

Zeile was the lesser-known piece sent to Florida in the Piazza deal, and Zeile -- like Piazza -- wound up playing for three teams in '98. He hit .291 in 66 games with the Marlins before being traded to Texas for a couple of minor leaguers in July of that season.

The Marlins would be the sixth of the whopping eleven teams Zeile would suit up for during his 16-year career.



Outfield

1997 Ultra #347 Moises Alou

Marlins Accolades:

Moises Alou (1997 Marlins, 150 games)

Moises Alou's stint in Florida may have been short, but it sure was sweet.

The veteran outfielder had an All-Star campaign during his lone season with the Marlins, posting a .292-23-115 slash line for a squad that would go on to win it all. Sadly, Alou was dealt to Houston that offseason in the great dismantling of that '97 championship club.

One wonders what the Marlins might've done had that team stayed together.



2003 Donruss #285 Tim Raines

Marlins Accolades:

Tim Raines (2002 Marlins, 98 games, sunset season)

Tim Raines made his MLB debut in 1979, a full fourteen years before the Marlins became a franchise.

And yet the former Expos speedster wound up closing out his career as a Marlin in 2002, a classic example of a once-great star who simply held on too long. Raines hit just .191 in 98 games during his age-43 sunset season in Florida, hitting the last of his 170 career homers and stealing exactly zero bases.

Raines didn't get a true cardboard farewell from Topps, but thankfully Donruss was there to pick up the slack.



2009 Upper Deck #146 Luis Gonzalez

Marlins Accolades:

Luis Gonzalez (2008 Marlins, 136 games, sunset season)

Like Tim Raines, Luis Gonzalez also spent his sunset season with the Marlins, a team that wasn't even around when he broke into the bigs.

Gonzalez made his MLB debut with the Astros in 1990 and, while he posted some fine numbers in Houston, he'd really make his mark on the game during his monster years with the Diamondbacks in the early 2000s. Gonzo would call it quits after his final season with the 2008 Marlins, hitting .261 and smacking the final eight of his 354 career homers. 

Once again, Topps failed to produce a true finale, but this time Upper Deck was there to take care of that.



Pinch Hitter

2013 Topps #253 Adam Greenberg

Marlins Accolades:

Adam Greenberg (2012 Marlins, 1 game)

I usually don't have pinch-hitter spots on these rosters, but I have to make a special exception for Adam Greenberg.

Seven years after suffering the most frightening hit-by-pitch I've personally ever seen on the first pitch of his very first big-league at-bat, Greenberg was toiling around in independent ball, never having gotten another plate appearance in the majors after that tragic first one.

Enter the One At-Bat campaign, which sought to get Greenberg that hallowed second taste of the majors. And enter the Marlins, who were willing to grant him that wish. On October 2, 2012, in his first major league at-bat since the horrific beaning, Greenberg stepped to the plate against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, pinch-hitting in the 6th inning.

Greenberg struck out on three pitches, but it still made for one of the more emotional baseball moments of my lifetime -- and one of the most treasured baseball cards of my lifetime, to boot.

That just about does it for this edition of "Short Term Stops."

Thanks for tuning in!

9 comments:

Mark Kaz said...

Wow, the Marlins are world-beaters at the 'cup of coffee' game. Great choices! I had no clue Rock Raines was a Marlin.

Adam Sanders said...

I love this series Nick. Thanks for reviving it. That's quite the crew of people I'd forgotten ever played for the Marlins (except for Piazza and Hoffman).

shoeboxlegends said...

I just want to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this post. I know it's probably a ton of work to put these together, so thanks Nick!

JediJeff said...

1) You swear that Piazza card is the greatest photoshop ever, if not for the facts of the 5 games.

2) Buehrle needs to sign a one day and retire as a White Sox. He should have never left and 56 better be hanging on the facade in Comiskey within 10 years. along with a statue.

3) "One wonders what the Marlins might've done had that team stayed together." Gone broke. That team was built when the Marlins were owned by Blockbuster video store CEO Wayne Huizenga. The 97 team was basically Yankees 2.0 - super high priced players that gelled, something the Yankees couldn't seem to pull off.

John Miller said...

Awesome job Nick. Always learn something from this theme.

Adam Kaningher said...

The Marlins look to have fielded one of the best Short-Term Stops team ever!

Matthew Scott said...

With the exception of Jeff Conine I feel the entire franchise is just one big short term stop.

I agree that Piazza is the biggest short term stop ever.

defgav said...

Always love these posts! Marlins make for a good one, for sure.

Metallattorney said...

Excellent post as usual. Looking forward to your take on the Red Sox. If you need a consult, let me know.