Barry Jackson

Marlins’ opener in prestigious slot; who’s responsible for bad Marlins moves?

Justin Bour and Christian Yelich celebtrate a Yelich RBI in the final game of the 2017 season. The Marlins prefer to keep both players, but nothing is definite.
Justin Bour and Christian Yelich celebtrate a Yelich RBI in the final game of the 2017 season. The Marlins prefer to keep both players, but nothing is definite.

A few Marlins notes:

• The Marlins are expected to trade National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton, but they nevertheless will be showcased in the first nationally televised game of the 2018 season.

ESPN announced Tuesday that it will carry the Chicago Cubs-at-Marlins opener at 12:30 p.m. March 29, a Thursday, from Marlins Park.

The telecast will not be blacked out in South Florida. Fox Sports Florida might also televise the game, but that hasn’t been announced.

• So who was responsible for some of the Marlins’ bad personnel decisions in recent years?

According to someone with direct knowledge, it was then-owner Jeffrey Loria and then-assistant GM Mike Berger who wanted to sign pitchers Wei Yin Chen, Brad Ziegler and Junichi Tazawa. None has worked out.

So don’t blame Michael Hill, who is staying on as president/baseball operations. New owner and CEO Derek Jeter dumped Berger and several other front office officials.

Who is making Marlins decisions now? Jeter hasn’t addressed that, but Jeter ultimately can make the call on everything after consulting with Hill and top executive Gary Denbo, among others.

• As the Marlins prepare to trade established major leaguers for prospects, here’s a look at how the Marlins fared so far, in salary-dumping trades this past summer:

With the trade of Adeiny Hechavarria (who hit .257, seven homers, 24 RBI in 77 games for Tampa Bay), the Marlins added outfielder Braxton Lee (led the Southern League in batting at .309 but just three homers, 37 RBI) and right-handed pitcher Ethan Clark (6-4, 2.59 ERA in Class A).

Lee, who is playing well in the ongoing Arizona Fall League, “is more of backup in the majors because he has no pop,” ESPN analyst Keith Law said. “Clark wasn’t a prospect for me.”

With the AJ Ramos trade with the Mets, the Marlins added one strong prospect in right-hander Merandy Gonzalez (13-3, 1.66 ERA for three Single A teams), plus raw outfielder Ricardo Cespedes (.220 in 49 games at Single A).

“If Gonzalez’s fastball takes a step forward, he might be a back-end major league starter,” Law said. “Cespedes hasn’t done anything yet.”

With the David Phelps trade with Seattle, the three right-handed pitchers the Marlins added weren’t high-end prospects:

Brandon Miller (9-7, 4.56 in Class A), Pablo Lopez (5-11, 4.15) and Lukas Schiraldi (2-3, 4.50, three saves but 80 strikeouts in 52 innings).

Outfielder Brayan Hernandez, who was rated sixth in the Mariners minor league system, hit .263 in 49 games, mostly in A ball.

In a realistic best case scenario, “you could see Hernandez becoming above an average regular,” Law said. “He can run, he can throw, he has a pretty good chance to stay in center field or could be really good in right field. But how much power is he going to grow into? He hasn’t played that much. Still feel like we don’t really know. … Miller has a chance to be a back end starter. Lopez and Schiraldi are marginal guys.”