What are the chances of the Marlins trying to acquire Michael Young from the Rangers? -- Jorge H., Washington
By far, the most e-mails I have received over the past week have dealt with Young. A number of fans have asked if the Marlins would have interest in Young. The answer really is no. There isn't a fit, despite the fact that Young plays third base.
Aside from the $48 million remaining on Young's contract (which obviously is an issue for Florida), the Marlins envision Matt Dominguez as their third baseman of the future. Even if Dominguez isn't in the Opening Day lineup, the Marlins are confident that he will be playing third at some point in 2011.
The bottom line with the Marlins is they are looking to improve defensively. Young would bring more of the same qualities the team has had in recent years -- better bat than glove. The Rangers signed Adrian Beltre because they were looking to upgrade their defense at third base.
Also take into consideration that Texas realizes Young has trade value. So it will be looking for quality in return. Florida's Minor League system already is thin now that Mike Stanton and Logan Morrison are in the big leagues. Dominguez is on the verge of going to the big leagues, which trims the Minor League depth even more. The Marlins can't afford to part with any more of their prospects right now.
Obviously, the Marlins are very tight with their wallets, but could you see them making a move for Albert Pujols if he becomes a free agent? It has been reported that his contract negotiations aren't going well with the Cardinals. -- Ryan S., Miami
On Wednesday night, Marlins president David Samson addressed a Pujols-related question during his weekly radio appearance on 790 The Ticket. On The Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz, a caller asked if the Marlins would pay $300 million to Pujols.
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Answering generally and not specifically to Pujols, Samson said it was highly doubtful the Marlins would offer $300 million to any player. That said, does this automatically mean the team would have zero interest if Pujols eventually became a free agent?
I touched on this a couple of weeks ago, and the facts remain the same. The team would have a difficult time having one player earn $30 million for a season if its payroll is less than $100 million. The payroll may need to be more in the $120 million range to pull it off. So right there, it is highly unlikely that the Marlins would be a fit.
The bottom line is this is all speculative talk by fans and reporters. Who is to say that the Marlins wouldn't make a two-year, $60 million offer if Pujols wants to sign a short-term deal and then re-explore the free-agent market? There are so many other factors that could come into play than having to dish out a standard 10-year, $300 million contract.
What people should realize is Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is the one who would decide if the team pursues Pujols or any high-profile player. He has the final say.
Will the Marlins try to upgrade their rotation by signing a free-agent pitcher like Kevin Millwood or Jarrod Washburn? -- Drew W., Edmond, Okla.
Generally speaking, when we are this close to the opening of Spring Training and a player isn't signed, there is a reason. If a player is regarded as providing a measurable upgrade, then they would been picked up well before mid-February.
That said, I disagree that either Millwood or Washburn are an upgrade over the Marlins' current starting five of Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, Javier Vazquez, Anibal Sanchez and Chris Volstad. Perhaps many don't agree with me, and that is their right, but I think Florida's rotation is one of the best in the National League. The Marlins will run out five pitchers who give them a chance to win every night. Of course, they don't have the track records of what the Phillies now boast, but I still fully expect Florida's rotation to compete favorably with anyone in the NL East. The organization also has depth for its rotation with Alex Sanabia and Shawn Hill, who recently signed a Minor League deal with an invitation to Spring Training.
If Dominguez isn't big league ready in Spring Training, what are the Marlins' backup plans for third base? -- Cesar P., Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
The Marlins probably wouldn't go with one specific player. They likely would use matchups, perhaps even platooning. They could move Omar Infante from second base to third and start Emilio Bonifacio at second base. Or they could platoon Wes Helms and Greg Dobbs, who signed a Minor League deal with a Spring Training invite.
Ozzie Martinez showed promise last year while filling in for Hanley Ramirez. Will he be given a chance to win an everyday job in 2011? -- Sam M., Orlando, Fla.
A natural shortstop, Martinez is blocked at that position by Ramirez. But Martinez is a candidate to win a bench job and be a utility player. His best chance at regular playing time would be second base, but for now, Infante has that position filled.
It is most likely that Martinez will open the year at Triple-A New Orleans as he continues his development.
There is reason for encouragement based on how Martinez played last September, but don't put too much stock in September callup numbers, because they often are misleading. Measure players over a full year, not small sample sizes.
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.