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Marlins Striving For Wild Card

After no-hitting the Diamondbacks tonight, Anibal Sanchez and the tiny-payroll Marlins are 2.5 games back in the wild card race.

Here's a good article on the unusual route the Marlins took last offseason. It features a quote from our own Dave Littlefield:

"It sounds good to drop down in payroll, but this is not a common tactic," says Pittsburgh Pirates General Manager Dave Littlefield, a Marlins official from 1999-2001. "This is no knock because they have done a nice job with the players they acquired themselves, but one issue I do think people overlook is that there was a lot of talent there to begin with."

True enough. The Bucs wouldn't have the immediate success the Marlins have had if they adopted the same strategy, because there's just not enough talent to sell off, and not enough young talent already in the system.

Over at Baseball Primer, Mike Emeigh responds to Littlefield:

The difference between the Marlins and other teams in the same predicament (like Littlefield's Pirates) is this: The Marlins trust their own talent development people. The Pirates, Royals, Devil Rays, et. al. don't. So when there's a need to be filled, the Marlins reach down and pluck someone from the farm - a Cabrera, a Willis, an Anibal Sanchez or Taylor Tankersley - while the other teams go for cheap free agents or someone else's discards.

Emeigh, as usual, is spot-on. There are two main things separating the Bucs from the Marlins: the first is that the Marlins have shown a willingness to decisively and effectively address their problems by implementing a plan, and the Pirates haven't. And the second is that the Pirates don't have the Marlins' ability to identify talent, either within their own system - think of the Bucs' Rule 5 debacle - or outside it.