Florida Marlins Team Preview

It is a strange franchise that came into existence in 1993. They have never won a division title but have won Two World Championships. They have never won more then 92 games. Twice they have won more then 90 games and both times it resulted in a World Championship. Cub fans look at them more then anyone, and feel a sharp pain that will never go away. The pain of the 2003 NLCS is only a part of it. Cub fans understand losing, but losing to a franchise that has two World Championships in only 17 seasons while they have none during the last 100 years is simply taking the sword and twisting it Bauer style. In 17 seasons they have been over .500 only six times. The question is always asked would you rather be a fan of a franchise who is usually lousy but once in a while puts together a World Championship, or a team like the Braves who win all the time but rarely get that championship?

The Marlins have one of the best players in baseball playing SS for them. A bona fide number one pitcher in Josh Johnson who we will see, and a damn good number two man in Ricky Nolasco who we won't.  Not much to show for trading one of the great young hitters in the game. A Dodger castoff who has found a home in RF for several years now.  A new stadium on the way along with one of the most powerful prospects in baseball. This is a team who can compete right now but probably not enough to dethrone the Phillies or overtake the Braves unless everything goes right for them this year, and their opponents have some unforeseen problems.

Changes:

Notable Losses: Jeremy Hermida, Matt Lindstrom, Nick Johnson, Kiko Calero, Brendan Donnelly

Notable Additions: None

Old Friends:  Cody Ross

Position Breakdown

1st Base- Spring Training competition between Gaby Sanchez and prospect Logan Morrison was won by Gaby Sanchez. Morrison is the better long term prospect but for now Gaby gets to man 1st base. Sanchez has a good eye but little power and little batting average skills.  Kind of Blake DeWitt playing 1st base.

2nd Base- Dan Uggla is the new version of Jeff Kent. A slugging 2nd baseman who can take a walk while pretending to be a 1st baseman playing 2nd base. Since being stolen from the Diamondbacks in the rule five draft of 2003 he has hit 122 home runs with a career .483 slug%. His highest OPS+ has been 126 and the lowest 108. Unlike Jeff Kent he has a serious flaw which is his K rate. It keeps his average below .260 partially negating what would be an excellent OB% if he had a better contact skills. 

SS - Hanley Ramirez is a roto stud and a pretty damn good baseball player.The only SS in the game today who can combine big time power and speed, he has put up an OPS+ of 145, 143, 148 over the last three seasons. From the SS position. In 2007 he was a terrible SS, which negated some of his offensive value. Now he's simply the guy you might pick 1st if you were drafting a team. He's only entering his age 26 season so we might not have even seen the best of him yet.

3rd Base - Jorge Cantu is a player who I was sure was a PED story and even more sure after his 2007 flameout. However Jorge bounced back in 2008 to hit with the same power he had shown in 2005 while improving his pathetic plate discipline. He's still not Mr. Plate Discipline but 40 walks is a hell of a lot better then 19. He's a better offensive version of Pedro Feliz but has little defensive value.

C - John Baker is relatively unknown but he's a decent offensive catcher. Lots of teams have  worse options behind the backstop then John Baker.

CF - Cameron Maybin was the centerpiece of the Miguel Cabrera trade. The 21 year old was expected to become what McCutchen has become in Pittsburgh. It hasn't happened yet but it could happen this year. Maybin has all the tools, and at 23 might be ready to put them together.

RF - Cody Ross continues to man RF, and make the Dodgers wonder what the hell they were thinking in just giving him away. Then again the Reds made the exact same mistake. Many forget he wasn't traded to the Marlins, he was traded to the Reds. Several weeks later he was sold to the Marlins. Nice pickup. He's nothing special but as a cheap placeholder until something better comes along he's perfect.

LF - Chris Coghlan quietly put together a ROY season in 2009. The 2nd baseman found himself blocked by Uggla so when Hermida went down they stuck him in LF where he ended up putting up a shocking .850 OPS. I was pleased to see he won the ROY because I didn't think very many had noticed how good a season he had. Can he repeat that season?

Bench - Much weaker then in past years they need all of their position players to remain healthy. If anyone gets hurt they will need to dip into the minor for help because the bench is stacked with bench players. Bonifacio is the new Alfredo Amezaga with a big difference. He's lousy at all his defensive positions. Paulino, Lamb, Helms,and Barden fill out the bench.

Any lineup that has Hanley Ramirez / Uggla must be feared. If Maybin starts to figure things out along with Coghlan/Ross staying productive this offense will score some runs. Mike Stanton may be a year away but when he comes he will give this team the kind of power they lost when they traded Miggy to Detroit.

Starting Pitching for our Series:

Game One -Chris Volstad is a young pitcher who is showing some skill growth. He was brought up in 2008 at the age of 21 and has struggled. He's not a plus 5.00 ERA pitcher and has enough upside that he could see the other side of 4.00. Not many will remember but in just his 2nd major league game he came to Dodger Stadium and shut down our offense coming within one out of a complete game in only his 2nd start. Fastball(90-91), Curve, and Changeup make up his arsenal.

Game Two -Josh Johnson came back from TJ surgery and was a horse last year, pitching 209 innings of 1.15 whip work.  It was good to see the 25 year old finally make it back after being one of the young fresh arms in 2006 at the age of 22. Aaccording to FangraphsIn  in 2009 he was strictly a FB/Slider mixing in a change up around 6.9%. In his first start of 2010 he didn't throw anything but fastballs and sliders. He may not need to when the average velocity is 95.

Game Three - Anibal Sanchez threw a no - hitter in 2006  then blew out his arm in early 2007, made it back in late 2008. Has yet to look like the pitcher who wowed everyone in 2006. He lost 30 lbs this winter but unless that helps him with his control he may not hold this job for long.

Luckily we miss Ricky Nolasco who I simply love as a pitcher.

Bullpen:

Could be a mess this year unless they find some help. Leo Nunez is the closer but his skills suggest he will struggle. They don't currently have anyone in house who is any better so he gets the gig by default. They do have several big arm pitchers who lost out in the rotation battles when they traded for Robertson. Rick VanDenHurk has the stuff to be a closer and has had mixed success in the rotation. I could see them moving him into that spot if it continues to be problematic. Rounding out the bullpen are Tim Wood, Jose Veras, Giant Re-Tread Clay Hensley, Badenhop, and LHP Dan Meyer, Renyel Pinto. Nothing of note though Meyer can handle LHH. Jose Ceda who is not on the roster has the best skills and might eventually work his way into the closer role but we won't have to worry about him.

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