Series Preview: Five questions with Ehsan Kassim of ‘Marlin Maniac’


May 2, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Miami Marlins left fielder Juan Pierre (9) steals third base during the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies defeated the Marlins 7-2. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe it’s been a while since you’ve thought about the Marlins. They traded Mark Buehrle, they abandoned their pursuit of rekindling Ozzie Guillen’s pre-“I’ve won a World Series, so whatever” form and Giancarlo Stanton is hurt. Jose Fernandez is a pretty neat rookie pitcher, and the White Sox won’t see him this weekend.

Ehsan Kassim, editor FanSided’s Marlins blog ‘Marlin Maniac‘ was kind enough to stop by and give us some insight on life after the huge, fan-murdering fire sale and tell us how Juan Pierre is doing.

1. Since this is a White Sox blog, I have to know what your opinion was on Ozzie, his firing, and life in the post-Ozzie world. 

I never had any issues with Ozzie. For the most part, he had the respect of the Marlins’ entire roster, minus Heath Bell. Too much went wrong in 2012 for all the blame to be placed on Ozzie. The 2012 season was so horrendous for the Marlins, I preferred that upper management would call for a mulligan and allow that team one more chance to prove they could put it together.

Of course, that did not happen. The Marlins got it all wrong when they fired Ozzie Guillen after just one season. That was the first straw with Ricky Nolasco and Giancarlo Stanton that did not sit well. Both of them had a close relationship with Ozzie.

2. What’s the local attitude about the Marlins and their ownership right now? Do you agree with the decision to rebuild and do you have confidence in how its going?

From a pure baseball perspective, I don’t disagree with the move. That team was a mess and really had no future. The Marlins farm system was mostly bereft of talent, minus Yelich and Fernandez. But I do not have much confidence in the Marlins ownership in maintaining that plan. In Loria’s 10+ seasons owning the Marlins, he had never shown any resemblance of a plan and has always been too trigger happy. He makes too many emotion-based decisions and that kills the team.

Loria’s popularity is barely more than Fidel Castro’s in Miami currently. He recently attended his first Marlins game and no one noticed. Most Marlins fans that care a lot are no longer attending games.

3. How is our old friend Juan Pierre doing, and what did you think of the signing at the time?

Juan Pierre has become a platoon player at this point in his career. He struggled badly hitting against lefties the past two seasons, but is still a solid contributor for the team against right-handed pitchers and can be effective when used correctly. Pierre is still amazing in the stealing department. It won’t be long before top prospect Christian Yelich takes over for Pierre.

At the time of the signing, I was a fan of it for nostalgic reasons. Pierre was an integral part of the 2003 Florida Marlins World Series team. Even though his talent has faded, Pierre still is a hard worker and a good example for the Marlins younger players.

4. Alex Sanabia got a little attention for appearing to spit on a baseball during his last start. What do you think was going on there and is it something to look out for on Sunday?

I have no idea what was going on with Sanabia, but as far as I know, I don’t think he does this regularly nor is he a cheater. What Sanabia was wrong and deserved a suspension, but I doubt we see anything the same from Sanabia again. One thing is for sure, the MLB is going to be watching his next start Sunday extra carefully.

5. Other than Stanton coming back–when is that happening by the way–who are the bright spots in this lineup? What kind of player is Marcell Ozuna at this stage of his development?

Stanton should be back some time in mid-June. Logan Morrison should also be back at the beginning of the month. Those two returning to the Marlins lineup should boost the Marlins lineup. Morrison would be replacing the terrible Greg Dobb, that in itself would be a major improvement. Christian Yelich should also be on his way up by mid-June.

With the addition of these three, the Marlins lineup would be a major improvement on what they have been running out for most of the first two months of the season.

As for Ozuna, he is still getting a feel of how he will play in the majors. He is currently hitting over .300, but that is something I don’t see him sustaining. He has never hit for average in the minors and his BABIP sits near .400 currently. He still possess a ton of power and plays great defense in right field.