After riding the roller coaster that was Juan Carlos Oviedo for several seasons, the Miami Marlins went out and signed free agent closer Heath Bell last offseason. Bell struggled from the start, and ended the year with an earned run average over five (5.09) and was only able to save 19 games before former manager Ozzie Guillen had seen enough and promoted Steve Cishek to the closer role. Bell was traded to Arizona just weeks after the season ended.
Miami's approach to piece together a bullpen for the 2013 season appears to be the same. As they did in the past, the Marlins have signed free agents to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. The strategy, for the most part, has worked for Miami.
Last season, the Marlins did not rely on free agents as much, because of the trades and signings they had made throughout the offseason. Miami received Edward Mujica (now with St. Louis) and Ryan Webb in exchange for Cameron Maybin. The Marlins also acquired lefty Mike Dunn in the Dan Uggla trade with the Atlanta Braves, and had signed lefty specialist Randy Choate (who was traded to Los Angeles) to a two-year contract.
Throughout spring training, several of Miami's younger pitching prospects are expected to get long looks. Dan Jennings, a young lefty with nominal major league experience, could be a complement to Dunn. Others, such as Alex Sanabia and Tom Koehler, are also expected to have a great opportunity to make the opening day roster as relievers.
Though all of the attention is on the offense (or lack of) because of the blockbuster trade with Toronto, the bullpen is going to play a key role in 2013, due to the fact that Miami will have a fairly young rotation that might not consistently go deep into games.
All Eyes On Marlins Bullpen
Fish Stripes | Jan 21