Hill believes Marlins have pieces to contend now
Hope is pitching, offense show consistency as summer heats up
CINCINNATI -- The Marlins aren't happy with their overall record, but the fact they remain within striking distance in the National League East has the organization not thinking about breaking up the central core of their roster.
President of baseball operations Michael Hill said on Sunday the pieces are in place to contend, it's a matter of the offense picking it up and the rotation settling into place.
Hill made it clear the club is not aiming to trade a controllable starting pitcher, or players under contract beyond 2015.
"Any pieces under control aren't even considerations to do anything, other than let them play and get consistent," Hill said. "We still have belief in this club that it's one of 10 and it's capable of playing into the playoffs."
The Marlins entered Sunday at 30-40 and 6 1/2 games behind first-place Washington in the National League East.
"We just need to start playing better," Hill said. "You can't expect the clubs above you to keep treading water and keeping you in it. You've got to take ownership of where you're at and what you want to accomplish. We need to play complete games."
The Marlins aren't throwing in the towel on '15, but improvement must occur before Aug. 1.
"We've got to be closer to .500 to really reinsert ourselves into this playoffs picture," Hill said.
Hill added the plan is to build around right fielder Giancarlo Stanton for the foreseeable future.
"We aren't building for '15. We're building this for '15, '16 and '17," Hill said. "Our right fielder will be here forever."
Starting pitching depth is on the mend. Jose Fernandez, recovering from Tommy John surgery, is expected back on July 2.
Hill noted Miami may go with a six-man rotation once Fernandez arrives, but only through the All-Star break.
"It might be something early with Jose that you might look at doing," Hill said. "But once we get post-All-Star break, we'll be a five-man rotation."
The impressive MLB debut of lefty Justin Nicolino, who threw seven shutout innings in a 5-0 win over the Reds on Saturday, has the team weighing what to do with its rotation.
"This kid is not going to be scared," Hill said. "He's going to be prepared. He's going to go out and compete. He's going to throw strikes. He's going to be aggressive. I think that's what we saw [Saturday], and that's who he is as a pitcher."
Jarred Cosart, on the disabled list with vertigo, also is in the mix to rejoin the rotation. But first, the organization wants to see more consistency in Cosart's rehab performances.
"Cosart is still feeling his way through the adjustments of pitching at the Major League level," Hill said. "We've seen him at his best. We've seen him not as good. We've seen him really command his fastball. We've seen him up in the zone and not command his fastball as well."