Q & A Session with Ehsan Kassim of Marlin Maniac


Recently, I had the chance to get some thoughts from Ehsan Kassim, the Editor at Marlin Maniac regarding the Fish.  The Marlins and Diamondbacks start a three game series this weekend in Miami.  I will first share Ehsan’s responses to my questions.

How pumped are you to see Jose Fernandez every fifth day?                                                                                                                                                                                         Extremely excited. I still don’t see why the Marlins could not wait a little while to bring him up, for mostly service time issues, but he has proven the Marlins to be correct in their decision, from a pure baseball perspective.  Part of what makes Fernandez great and fun to watch is his confidence. After all he’s been through in his life, facing Major League hitters does not phase him at all.

I expect Martin Prado to have a big series in Miami. Image: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Will Justin Ruggiano be a quality, everyday outfielder?

Ruggiano has all the tools to be an everyday outfielder in my opinion. He won’t hit for a high average like he did last season, but the power from his bat is legitimate. Ruggiano also will not get on base a ton, but his defense in centerfield is above average and he has shown some nice wheels on the basepaths. His early season slash line in 2013 is currently .218/.302/.421 with 7 home runs and 5 stolen bases. Ruggiano is likely a fourth outfielder on a playoff team, but for the Marlins right now, he is more than an adequate starter. In fact, he is the Marlins best hitter right now.

Are you waiting for Kevin Slowey to revert back to his Twins’ days or can he win at least 12 games this season?

No doubt Slowey will revert to his Minnesota days pretty soon. He actually struggled badly in his last start as he was tagged for five runs over 4.2 innings pitched in a loss to the Dodgers. The hope for the Marlins is that Slowey continues to pitch well and is traded well before he starts to regress to the pitcher he was with the Twins.

When will the Giancarlo Stanton trade rumors start up again?

When will they stop is a better question. For Marlins fans, everywhere we turn, we hear a new rumor for how Stanton will be traded to a new team. Of course, each trade rumor comes with ridiculous trade offers that the Marlins would not even accept for a bucket of baseballs. The rumors have died down a bit with Stanton out with his hamstring injury, but upon his return, I would expect them to run rampant again and dominate the trade deadline talk. I doubt Stanton is traded before the offseason though.

We will see Christian Yelich in……..?

Mid-to-late June. Yelich is tearing apart minor league pitching in Double-A since his return from the disabled list at the beginning of the season. It took Yelich a little while to get going, but he now owns a .319/.390/.659 slash line with 17 extra base hits. He should take over for Ruggiano in center if fellow prospect Marcell Ozuna continues to hit in the big leagues or in left field if Ozuna starts to struggle against MLB pitching.

Will Juan Pierre be the first player to have his number retired by the organization?

I don’t believe so. His number 9 jersey will eventually be retired, but Mike Lowell and Jeff “Mr. Marlin” Conine are first in line for that honor. Both players have close ties with the franchise still and should have their respective jersey’s retired soon. Pierre should follow after that duo.

These were my responses to Ehsan’s questions.

What were your thoughts on the Justin Upton trade initially and what are your thoughts on it today?

 I thought the trade was lousy then and I still think it is lousy. I can’t wrap my head around the fact that a 25 year old star who seemingly didn’t cause any trouble with no worries about free agency is no longer with the team. Nothing against Martin Prado who will be just fine and has been great with his versatility but he can’t carry a club like Justin Upton can. Plus, he was a product of the farm system. Very rarely if ever does the team trading the superstar player get equal value in return. Marlin fans know that with Miguel Cabrera. However, it is over and done with and the less I think about it, the better.

So, Heath Bell is your closer? How bad does that suck? (Wait, I think I know the answer to that!)

Isn’t there a saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”? Well, that’s a bit of a stretch but Bell has been better than you think. His ERA is out of whack because he was bombed in his first outing. He has six saves and unless my eyes were playing games with me, I did see him get up to 96 on the gun the other night. The deal was a head-scratcher at the time but Kevin Towers made a wise decision by trading for him.

Cody Ross was a fan favorite in Miami for so many years. How is he doing in Arizona?

Ross is exactly what he has done over his career. He is killing lefties to the tune of a .386 batting average. He started the season on the disabled list and has progressed nicely with his overall average up near .300. Like the rest of the team, he has struggled with runners in scoring position, hitting .241. He seems to fit the mold of what the D’backs want and a term we have heard endlessly:  gritty. Plus, having a guy on the team who bats righty and throws lefty is always cool.

Has Paul Goldschmidt established himself as one of the better first baseman in baseball?

A resounding yes. He is tied for second in the National League in home runs with 10, third in RBI’s with 31 and is tied for sixth in batting at 322. Plus, he has come up with big hit after big hit. At times, he is the D’back offense who has improved his defense greatly. He also will steal a base when the opportunity arises. Recently, he destroyed the Dodgers during a three game series in Los Angeles pounding out four home runs. Ask someone from Lasordaslair what they do when they see Goldy face Chris Capuano.

How has the Diamondbacks pitching staff fared in 2013? Which pitchers will the Marlins face in this series?

 First up will be Trevor Cahill. After struggling early, the sinkerballer has found a groove but little run support to show for it. He is only 2-4 but his ERA is 2.70. Walks are an issue at times as he has issued 20 free passes in 50 innings. He does strike people out (39) which when combined with the walks may explain why he hasn’t pitched six full innings in half of his starts. Saturday will feature Brandon McCarthy who is still searching for his first D’back victory. His last start should have been it as he threw eight shutout innings only to have Heath Bell sabotage him. The ERA is coming down as each start is better than the last one. Sunday, Wade Miley goes to the hill. He has struggled in three of his last four starts. Control has been an issue has he has walked three or more batters in a game in four of his eight starts. After finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting, here is hoping he is not hitting the dreaded sophomore slump.

Make a bold prediction for the series. Which D-Back hitter will have a huge series? Which pitcher?

I look for Martin Prado to come up big. He is pressing under the weight of expectations as the main player in the Upton trade and perhaps a somewhat familiar venue will help him get on track. As for the pitcher, my money is on Heath Bell slamming the door twice on the Fish and blowing kisses to the crowd as he exists the field on Sunday.

Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @venomstrikes