The Book of Mike

"This is no junior college. This is the notorious University of Miami.” -- Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis, after getting knocked around for six runs in 2 1/3 innings by the Canes.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Shocker of the Week: Lo Duca's Not a Summer Rental for Fish

Many of you likely received an email version of this press release from the Marlins yesterday. I did, and when I did, I laughed out loud. No, it wasn’t because of my recent spat with the Marlins. I laughed because it seemed like a silly press release to write and submit.

Did anyone really think that the Marlins were acquiring Paul Lo Duca as a two-month rental? I really doubt it. In fact, one of the reasons that many people panned the trade was that the Marlins traded for a thirty-two year old catcher who is due a large raise next year (likely to somewhere in the neighborhood of eight million dollars per year). In case you’re not paying really close attention, that’s about what they were unwilling to pay for one particular other catcher during the offseason. Sure, that catcher has had a more significant history of injuries, but he’s also flat-out a better player. Pudge Rodriguez is a sure-fire Hall of Famer, and he was a key catalyst in the Marlins World Championship last season.

The Fish weren’t willing to pay him though, so he’s in Detroit now. Granted, Pudge barely got more (if he really got more money at all) money from the Tigers than the Marlins were willing to give him, bue regardless, he’s gone. Now the Marlins are going as far as to compare Lo Duca to Rodriguez (see McKeon's comments in the above linked article). That's a dangerous, at best, comparison to make.

And now the Marlins have traded one of their top pitchers, a young first baseman, and a top minor league prospect to the Dodgers for an aging catcher (Lo Duca), an aging set-up man also due for a payday (Mota), and an all-field, no hit outfielder who’s already been given too big of a contract (Encarnacion). So, in a way, the Marlins do owe their fans some reassurances that come next season they’ll have something to show for giving up Brad Penny, Hee Seop Choi, and that other guy (Bill Murphy) who’s now in the Diamondbacks organization.

The response to that is to send out a statement that Paul Lo Duca will be back – next year, at least… possibly. All told, it’s a nice pretty looking statement that says nothing. Will Lo Duca be back next year? Probably. Why? It’s simply because the Marlins have no other real options at catcher. Ramon Castro, if he’s not in jail, hasn’t developed into the player that everyone thought that he would be. Matt Treanor has a nice story, but there are lots of reasons he’s been in the minor leagues for such a long time. Mike Redmond, well, he makes a nice backup.

The moral of the story, boys and girls, is, don’t believe the hype. Sure, Lo Duca’s likely to be back next year, but he pretty much has to be. Yes, he’s lit the world on fire over the past two weeks since the Marlins acquired him, but it’s unrealistic to expect him to continue to keep that up.


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