What managerial candidates are there for the Marlins? And how likely is a change of manager in 2016?
There's a lot of speculation on whether Dan Jennings will return as manager or transition back into the front office. From what I'm hearing, he is expected to go back to his old general manager's role. First, the Marlins are letting the season play out.
If the club goes on a managerial search, the priority is to find someone with previous big league experience, either as a manager or coach. A few names already being mentioned internally are Jim Riggleman, Bud Black and Ron Roenicke. Other potential candidates are Dusty Baker, Dale Sveum and Charlie Manuel. An internal candidate is Andy Barkett, who managed Double-A Jacksonville to a championship in 2014. Pirates third-base coach Rick Sofield and Dodgers bench coach Tim Wallach are also highly regarded within the industry. Of the group, keep an eye on Riggleman, currently the Reds' third-base coach. Miami is seeking a no-nonsense personality in the dugout.
What can the Marlins do to improve their offense moving forward?
The core of the everyday lineup is pretty much in place. Martin Prado is expected to return at third, and the outfield projects to be Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna. First base is a possible place to add another bat.
Perhaps the biggest decision to upgrade the offense won't come in the form of a player or players. It may be the decision to move in the fences at Marlins Park. Upper management is open to bringing them in and lowering the walls. In recent weeks, architects have already examined Marlins Park to explore possible changes. If the walls indeed come in and are also lowered, the core group of players on the roster should see their power numbers increase.
I expect the ballpark dimensions will be a topic of conversation in the offseason.
The MRI results were encouraging, showing a right biceps strain. Since there is no structural damage, and if the inflammation goes away, then why not get Fernandez back on the mound? He would only pitch if completely ready. If not, Fernandez will likely be on a throwing program until the end of the season. If he does return, I wouldn't be surprised if Miami goes with a six-man rotation to keep him, and some other young arms already in the mix, as fresh as possible.
What is going on with Stanton? When will we see him again?
Stanton broke the hamate bone on his left hand on June 26, and surgery was performed two days later. Recommended recovery is four to six weeks, and we are about at that point. The three-time All-Star is hitting in the cages, but he won't return until he can let it loose and swing without discomfort. In Stanton's case, he swings with such force, you want to make sure he is completely right. And where the club is in the standings, there is no need to rush.
Because of lost time, Stanton will likely need several rehab assignment games. So his return appears to be closer to later in the month.
What's the likelihood of Adeiny Hechavarria getting a Gold Glove Award at shortstop? I think he deserves it, but he doesn't get recognition from a national audience.
Hechavarria has made tremendous strides since arriving to the Marlins in 2013 from Toronto. He's been the only regular from the Opening Day lineup to avoid injury or being demoted, released or traded.
Hechavarria's defensive play has been terrific. He was a National League Gold Glove Award finalist last season, and he should again be in the mix this year. Hechavarria's two error-game on Friday night at Atlanta didn't help his cause, but he's still been deserving.
Gold Glove Award or no Gold Glove Award, I do think Hechavarria is positioned to get a contract extension.
For next year, do you see the Marlins spending or trading for a first baseman? I think Joey Votto would be a nice add.
The fact that Votto is signed through 2023 and is set to make $20 million next year pretty much wipes him off the list of potential targets for Miami.
When Michael Morse was traded, the Marlins noted that the emergence of Justin Bour helped lead to that decision. Bour will get a strong look. He already has 10 homers, and he is a left-handed power threat. It's a matter of consistency.
These final weeks will help determine the direction for next season.
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.